The really important stuff

Managing your sciatic pain doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass. (pun intended!)

Managing your sciatic pain doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass. (pun intended!)

Spending the last 18 years specializing in pain management, out of the thousands of clients I have helped, at least 80% of them came in for either Sciatica or Migraines. Since 40% of adult Americans experience sciatic pain either chronically, or acutely in their lifetime, I felt this an important topic to share a few tips on. Sciatic pain occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed causing severe pain in the low back, hip and often also shoots down the length of the entire leg. The pain can almost knock you over, as you feel like you’re losing your footing. Most people can manage their symptoms without medical intervention by receiving regular massage therapy, stretching, self massage, herbs/ supplements, and hot and cold therapy. I speak from professional expertise, and from having personally experienced sciatica during both my pregnancies, and on and off since my minis were born as well. 


Malikah Karim of PURE Wellness and Coaching tells us that “I understand sciatic nerve pain can be really painful, I have had it during both my pregnancies. It makes people believe something is very wrong, and movement seems to make it worse, so they sit more, and reduce activity, but I know the opposite to be true. Research shows that activity actually helps reduce the pain and duration of pain for people suffering from sciatic nerve pain. So please take it easy during a flare up, but as the pain subsides stand, sway, shimmy, and walk as much as you can to avoid long periods of sitting and sedentary behavior that has been proven to worsen sciatic nerve pain outcomes.”

Massage Therapy– Creating openness in the muscles around the sciatic nerve can significantly decrease that pain, by decreasing the compression. My favorite techniques for treating sciatic pain are sports massage, trigger point therapy, and neuromuscular therapy. By combining the deep assisted stretches, and the repetitive stripping of those same loosened muscles clients tend to feel increased range of motion and less pain. With regular massage therapy maintenance (every 2 to 4 weeks), most people are able to resume their normal activities with rare or no flair ups. I think it is very important to note that this type of massage therapy is just that; therapy, it is not your relaxing, fall asleep massage. It hurts, it is not pleasant, but my goal is not to give you a nap, it is to help you actually get relief long term. I tell my clients that what you get on the table with me is an hour of pain, to hopefully live pain free for a few weeks, or months. No pain, no gain. 


Herbs/ Supplements– I’ve outlined a few tried and true homeopathics below:


Turmeric- Turmeric is widely adored by naturopaths for its anti inflammatory properties. Clinical trials have proven its efficacy in treating back pain. If you like indian food, eat up and load up on this awesome plant, if not you can always purchase it in supplement form from your local herb shop.

Yucca Root- Yucca Root also fights aches, and pains with its anti inflammatory properties. Yucca is packed with resveratrol; a powerful antioxidant phenol, which fights inflammation and free radicals. I like to make yucca fries out of fresh or frozen yucca, because they are delicious and nutritious, however yucca is also available as a supplement if yucca fries aren’t your jam.

Devil’s Claw- Devil’s Claw is an herb that has been used by naturopaths since approximately 1904, it is said to be one of the best remedies for pain or swelling in the body.

Self Massage– For those who may not have the time, or budget to see a licensed massage therapist regularly, no worries, this one you can easily DIY it! My favorite tools for at home self massage are either a tennis ball, or a massage gun.

Shannon Somogyi of Mobile OM Yoga & Wellness tells us “My favorite treatment is a combination of two things. One is from my Yoga Therapy practice, using tennis balls on the feet to “roll and stretch” the fascia and muscles out. Many do not know that the sciatic nerve runs along the meridian line from your feet to your low back. I often times like to show my Yoga Therapy clients this technique to help stretch out their feet and back. (Also great for plantar fascitis) What I like to call, “A Two-fer”. My favorite yoga pose is either version of pigeon. It just depends on how I’m feeling that day.”

Tennis Ball– Using a tennis ball on the feet, and in the hip to roll and stretch out the fascia can be incredibly helpful. I found these videos on you tube very informative and easy to follow:


Massage Gun This literal power tool annihilates the fascia, muscles, and I can almost feel the vibrations deep in my soul. Think of a jack hammer, with a soft rubber end piece digging deep with vibrations into your tight as concrete muscles. If you have not experienced the massage gun yet, let me know and we incorporate it in any massage session at no additional cost to you. Or if you wanna just check it out and self demo before you purchase one for at home use, just shoot me an email and we can set up a time for you to stop by the office and give it a test drive.




Hot and Cold Therapy– Try warm epsom salt baths before workouts, and ice packs after to control the vasodilation, and vasoconstriction to the hip and low back area. By controlling the circulation to the area, your body can naturally speed up recovery.


Stretching– I saved the best for last! Stretching is always the one I hear folks struggle with the most often due to lacking time or energy, or simply forgetting. As a busy mom, wife, business owner, and blogger I understand your struggle. However it costs you less of your time to spend 20 minutes per day stretching than if you have to take a full day off of work because you are in pain. Aubrey Eicher from The Well Personal Fitness tells us that Massage and Stretching are the best remedies for sciatic pain, she created a video for ease:

So please I urge you, make time for this. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite sciatica pain relieving stretches below:

  • Pigeon pose-


  • Cobbler’s Pose-


  • Cobra Pose-


  • Eye of the needle pose-


  • Pyramid Pose-


  • Seated Spinal Twist-


  • Extended Triangle Pose-


  • Happy Baby Pose-


  • Rag Doll Pose-


  • Camel Pose-


Try these out and discover what combo works best for you! It will take work, but you will get there!

And as always, I am here if you need me,

P.S. I know we could all benefit from an immune system, wellness or mood boost during these crazy times. That’s why for a limited time I’m offering 15% off of ALL of the Old Mechanicsville Health Spa online products. You can click here to shop, and use code VIP15 at checkout. 

Four Steps to Restoring Your Health and Well-Being in the Time of COVID


Four Steps to Restoring Your Health and Well-Being in the Time of COVID


Now that we’ve been dealing with COVID-19 for a few months, changes that once seemed temporary have turned into a new reality. If this new reality is starting to weigh on you, we know how you feel! It’s not easy dealing with the ongoing stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of being in a pandemic. That’s why it’s so important to have healthy coping strategies right now – because when we don’t take care of our health, we all run the risk of letting that stress and anxiety spiral out of control.


#1  Keep Up Healthy Habits

Many of us had good routines for physical and mental self-care before the pandemic (think everyday activities like exercising, eating a balanced diet, and making time for hobbies like yoga). The trouble is that gyms closed down and schedules changed, making it hard to keep up with those healthy habits.


If you’ve gotten out of these habits, you may find that your physical and mental health have started to suffer. Fortunately, you can find easy solutions for getting back into these habits. Restart your yoga practice by joining an outdoor session at Old Mechanicsville Health Spa, try some new healthy recipes, and get your heart rate up with a high energy home workout.


Of course, these are just a few of the many everyday health habits that you can still do – even in the time of COVID. The great thing about restarting these habits is that they benefit your health in more ways than one, so you’ll have more energy, sleep better, AND have a better handle on managing stress.


#2  Create a Healthy Home

Even if you’re a complete introvert, spending months at home gets old after a while, especially if you have family members who are also feeling trapped. This feeling can bring everyone down, leading to disagreements, complaining, and all sorts of other frustrations. The solution is to cleanse your home of all that negativity!


Start by clearing away clutter, and if you need space in your home for work or exercise, take the time to set up those designated spots. Once you’ve gotten rid of the clutter, give your home a thorough cleaning to get rid of dirt and grime too. You may even want to let in some fresh air and diffuse essential oils to help balance everyone’s mood. Remember that your environment plays a major role in how you feel, and taking these small steps can make a huge improvement for the whole family.


#3  Get Outside Some Too!

Most of our everyday routines take place at home these days, but don’t let that keep you from getting outside too. If you live in an area where the population isn’t too dense, simply taking a walk or jog around the block is a safe way to get some fitness along with Vitamin D from the sun.


However, if your favorite park or other outdoor spot has gotten extra crowded lately, follow Pop Sugar’s tips to maintain social distance, wear a mask around others, and choose a time of day when fewer people are out. Just be sure to protect your skin from the sun when you go outdoors. Being in nature is great medicine for mental health, but the sun’s rays can be harmful if you aren’t careful to wear sunscreen.


#4  Reach Out

Last but not least, everyone needs to stay connected to others, even as we stay physically distant. The Mayo Clinic recommends using technology to stay connected, along with making time to do special activities with the people who are in your household. It’s also perfectly acceptable (and in fact, a really good idea!) to reach out to friends, a professional counselor, or a spiritual advisor if you’re still struggling.


Some people call what we’re going through a “new normal,” but there’s nothing normal about life these days. Since normal isn’t in the cards right now, the best we can do is adapt to the reality we’re living in. This means keeping an open mind, trying some new ideas, and most importantly, making your health your top priority.

P.S. I know we could all benefit from an immune system, wellness or mood boost during these crazy times. That’s why for a limited time I’m offering 15% off of ALL of the Old Mechanicsville Health Spa online products. You can click here to shop, and use code VIP15 at checkout. 

Photo credit: Pexels

Can essential oils kill viruses in the air around you?

Photo by Mareefe from Pexels


The short answer is yes, but within limitations, and if used properly.

I am blogging  today because something(s) I am very passionate about seem to be under attack lately in the media. Specifically natural health, essential oils, and individuals abilities to determine their own plans for protecting themselves and promoting their own immune systems. I realize some people believe in essential oils and some do not. If you google the subject, half of what you read will claim it is all “witchdoctery”, while the other half praises their efficacy. This article, as with anything I write, is based on scientific research, classes I have taken, personal testimony, and books I have read.

I’m sure you all read about the recent post made by a social media influencer, and beauty guru where she wrote that essential oils being diffused into the air would kill the coronavirus because they were anti viral. Then later a famous western medicine dermatologist claimed “Sorry, anti viral essential oils don’t exist.”  while publicly shaming the original poster who was trying to help others. It saddened me and made me a bit angry that the doctor was so close minded to something she clearly did not want to understand. First let me define the word antiviral.

Antiviral as defined in the book Essential Aromatherapy means it prevents viral growth.


The facts are:

  1. Antiviral essential oils do exist.
  2. There is plenty of scientific research to support their efficacy.
  3. Diffusing antiviral essential oils into the air can prevent further growth of viruses, preventing their spread when used properly.


I will preface this by saying that my resources for this article are:


  1. The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, By Valerie Ann Worwood, PhD
  2. Essential Aromatherapy, By Valerie Ann Worwood, PhD
  3. The Aromatherapy Bible, By Gill Farrer- Halls


About the authors of the aforementioned books:


Valerie Ann Worwood

Valerie Ann Worwood is one of the world’s most well known experts on aromatherapy and essential oils. She is a consultant clinical aromatherapist with a doctorate in complementary medicine, as well as the author of ten books on the therapeutic use of aromatherapy. She has been Chairperson and Chair of Research for the International Federation of Aromatherapists, and she has acted as a consultant and expert on the clinical use of essential oils internationally. She is a reflexologist, and member of the London and counties society of Physiologists.  She runs her own clinic in Romford, England, conducts research on aromatherapy and its effects on endometriosis and infertility, and is a consultant to several natural beauty and health clinics. In addition, she lectures all over the world on the benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils.


Gill Farrer- Halls

Gill is a Tibetan traditional Buddhist. She has spent extensive time in India and Nepal and has worked with the Dalai Lama. She is a writer and freelance producer based in London. She is considered an expert in Eastern Medicine, and specializes in the healing power of plants.


I apologize for the very long introduction, however I wanted to make the point that I was typing fact and not simply my own opinion.


Now let’s get to it! Let’s start with which essential oils have proven effective as antivirals.


  1. Cinnamon Essential Oil:

Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, and Jamaica. Cinnamon essential oil is effective at treating influenza, warts, coughs, colds, viral infections, arthritis, aches, and pains. Quote from The Aromatherapy Bible page 350; “Cinnamon is used less in aromatherapy than most of the other spices, but it is excellent in a burner to ward off colds, flu, and ALL other airborne infections and contagious diseases.” Cinnamon is warm, and comforting, and makes me think of being little and the smells in my great grandmothers kitchen after she would pick the peaches off the tree and make cobbler. Do not use cinnamon essential oil: during pregnancy, on persons under 18 years of age, on people with sensitive skin, in baths.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels
  1. Clove Essential Oil:

Cloves are native to Indonesia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, West Indies, and Zanzibar. Clove essential oil is effective in treating warts, toothache (because of its analgesic properties) , fungal infections, tummy troubles, viral infections, and stress. Clove is utilized in the kitchen as a traditional mulling spice. I adore it in the elderberry syrup we retail at the spa, it makes the immune powerhouse syrup taste like an apple pie! In ancient Egypt, clove was utilized in “mood perfumes” for its aroma, but also to create a pleasant mood. Do not use clove essential oil: during pregnancy, on persons under 12 years of age, on people with sensitive skin, in baths.


  1. Eucalyptus (Radiata) Essential Oil: 

Eucalyptus is native to Australia, Tasmania, America, Brazil, China, Portugal, Russia, and Spain. Eucalyptus is effective in treating viral infections, headaches, cough, sinus infections, colds, bug bites, and stings. The tree has been called “White Top Peppermint, and was first distilled in 1788 by doctors John White and Dennis Cossiden. Please note there are quite a few different types of Eucalyptus essential oil, the only one that is anti viral is “radiata”, the others “globulus”, “smithi”, and “polybractea”, etc do not have anti viral properties.  Eucalyptus has a menthol-like smell that is very crisp, cool,  and clean. There are no known contraindications for eucalyptus essential oil.


  1. Melissa Essential Oil:

Melissa is native to The Mediterranean, and Europe. Melissa essential oil is effective for calming anxiety, relieving stomach cramps, treating herpes, treating yeast infections, and viral infections. Melissa is a bit rare, and it takes a lot of the plant to produce essential oil, so melissa is one of the more expensive essential oils. The smell is similar to lemon balm. Bees tend to be drawn to the melissa plant. Melissa is one of the best essential oils for mental health as it is calming but also uplifting and reduces feelings of depression, and anger. There are no known contraindications for melissa essential oil.

Photo by Ian Panelo from Pexels
  1. Oregano Essential Oil:

Oregano is native to Morocco, Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Oregano is effective at treating respiratory infections, bronchitis, rheumatism, arthritis, general debility, muscular pain, viral infections, and bacterial infections. Oregano is one of my favorites, the smell is so potent it seems to purify and overpower any other scent in the air, and it grows so abundantly that the oil is super affordable for all. The crisp smell always makes me think of a zesty pizza sauce. Oregano is another one that bees seem to favor. Do not use oregano essential oil: on children under 18 years of age, during pregnancy, or in baths.


  1. Ravensara Essential Oil:

Ravensara is native to Australia and Madagascar. Ravensara is effective at treating viral infections, liver infections, lung infections, respiratory ailments, chicken pox, diarrhea, reducing fever, and wounds. It smells woodsy and camphor like. The seeds are used in cooking as “Madagascan Nutmeg”. Ravensara has also been used to make rum. There are no known contraindications for ravensara.


  1. Tea Tree Oil:

Tea tree oil is native to Australia and Tasmania. Tea tree is the most powerful disinfectant essential oil ever discovered as it is antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. Tea tree oil has effectively treated athletes’ foot, yeast infections, thrush, herpes, but bites, acne, shingles, and warts. It is also used to boost the immune system. Tea tree oil is 100X more powerful than carbolic acid (AKA phenol) and yet it is safe for humans! There are no known contraindications to tea tree oil, and it is one of the very few oils that can be used on the skin neat (without dilution).

Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels
  1.  Thyme Essential Oil:

Thyme is native to Algeria, USA, France, Germany, Greece, Morocco, and Spain. Thyme is a versatile, necessary tool in your tool kit because it treats a huge variety of conditions. Historically it has been proven effective for treating viral infections, bacterial infections, fluid in the lungs, poor circulation, respiratory infections, gout, acne, anorexia, warts, lethargy, ADD, and much more. What is unique about thyme as an essential oil is that it is also a lymphatic stimulant, so it increases the removal of waste and toxins from the body, at the same time as it prevents infections. Thyme is also a natural bug deterrent.  Quote from Essential Aromatherapy; “Red Thyme is one of the best anti- infectious agents when diffused in the atmosphere”. However it is recommended that it be used sparingly. Do not use thyme essential oil: on children under 18 years of age, during pregnancy or breastfeeding, on persons with hyperthyroidism, heavily dilute for use on skin, and avoid prolonged use.


To diffuse any of the above oils please remember less is more. Do not overdo it, too much of a good thing can be toxic. Fill your diffuser with cold or cool tap water before adding oils, and always clean your diffuser before and after each use to prevent cross contamination. I suggest cleaning by just wiping out with white vinegar.


Below are a few virus annihilating blends using the aforementioned oils (but if you do not want to make something yourself, I have pre-made blend suggestions for you below, along with a discount to use if you’d like!).


A good rule of thumb for diffusing essential oils is 4 to 6 drops per ounce of water so it is important to know how much water your diffuser holds. For example, below recipe #1 contains 5 drops total will work well in 1 ounce of water, double the recipe for 2 ounces of water, OR recipe #4 contains 12 drops total so you need 2 to 3 ounces of water. So please take this into consideration when purchasing the correct diffuser for your needs.


  1. 2 drops melissa, 2 drops eucalyptus, 1 drop tea tree
  2. 3 drops clove, 3 drops tea tree, 1 drop cinnamon
  3. 3 drops oregano, 3 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops ravensara, 1 drop clove, 1 drop cinnamon
  4. 4 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops melissa, 3 drops tea tree, 2 drops thyme.
  5. 5 drops oregano, 4 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops thyme
  6. 2 drops melissa, 2 drops clove, 2 drops ravensara


Or just try a few drops of a single oil you really enjoy, such as 4 drops of oregano (my personal go to).


As mentioned, if you’re not keen on playing chemist in your kitchen you can always purchase a blend already put together by professionals such as on guard, or breathe. On guard contains wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils Breathe blend contains laurel, eucalyptus, peppermint, melaleuca (tea tree), lemon, cardamom, ravintsara, and ravensara essential oils.

P.S. I know we could all benefit from an immune system, wellness or mood boost during these crazy times. That’s why for a limited time I’m offering 15% off of ALL of the Old Mechanicsville Health Spa online products. You can click here to shop, and use code VIP15 at checkout. 

Happy redolence friends!





Why Licensing and Insurance is important at the day spa.

By: Nakira Venible, with edits By: Brandi Bovell, LMT, LA, CNHP

Protect yourself when receiving Spa Treatments by always asking to see license and Insurance prior to your services.

In a new reality for the Spa and Salon industry, there have been several news stories surfacing about unlicensed and uninsured practitioners, and the devastating effects. This became a harsh revelation for some after visiting a day spa for relaxation and pampering but instead ended up leaving with an infection or injury. It is extremely important for those who are practicing as massage therapists and aestheticians to have a license to not only protect themselves but ensure the safety of their clients. Unfortunately, because the police and state boards do not investigate until there has been a complaint, many are operating across the country illegally every day. Furthermore, many now harbor sex trafficking victims who offer illegal services under the guise of the spa industry.  Continue reading to learn more and protect yourself.

There is a story from New York, where a spa owner that was prosecuted for performing liposuction on a customer and inserting the fat into her buttocks area for a small fee of $500. This unlicensed surgery went entirely wrong when the young lady who received that service nearly died from the injuries that she received. After beginning to feel extreme pain and developing a fever, the young lady went to a hospital where she was diagnosed with bilateral buttock abscesses and had to undergo operation. It is said that the owner of this Spa is not licensed to practice medical procedures yet was doing so at not only one, but two different spas. This spa owner was charged with “Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree, pursuant to New York Penal Law 120.25, and two separate counts of Assault in the Second Degree, pursuant to New York Penal Law 120.05.”

Yikes, scary right? If that wasn’t enough, there is a story of a man who went to a massage therapist in Seattle, WA who performed a massage that resulted in the client having a torn ligament in his left arm. It later surfaced that the massage therapist was not licensed and was practicing without ever receiving any formal training, or national testing for competency.–my-le-1859797.html

To hit more closely to home, here in Virginia, we have many salon and spa services that are operating illegally without being licensed or insured. These practitioners often refer to themselves as “body workers”,  “body work practitioners”, “masseuse”, “masseur”, “facialist” or “skin specialist” in an effort to mislead the public into believing that they are licensed. More specifically, in Chesapeake Virginia, there was a Asian massage studio that was shut down due to the discovery of prostitution happening within the business. The 53 year-old owner was arrested along with 14 other women working there, after an undercover police operation discovered proof that there was indeed prostitution and sexual acts taking place inside the studio, further investigation proved that none of the employees were licensed to practice massage. Kinda makes you wonder if the state was more adamant about enforcing licensure if perhaps things like this could be prevented before they start.

It’s crazy to hear stories like this from your own state, which is why it is very important to research a salon or spa service before visiting. To ensure the legitimacy and legality of the day spa, massage practice, or skin care clinic you are about to visit, research the business and look for titles such as: “Licensed Massage Therapist” or “Licensed Aesthetician”.

There are several state specific requirements that are set in place in order to obtain a massage  therapist or aesthetician license in order to perform massage therapy or skincare services. In Virginia, an individual that is looking to obtain their aesthetician license must complete 600 hours of schooling for a general license, and 1,200 hours of schooling to get a master license. Once all schooling is completed the individual must pass an exam that entails the universal precautions and state specific requirements that all practicing aestheticians must follow in order to receive their license. This is necessary in order to ensure the individual is properly trained in what to do/ not do to prevent injury or infection of their client. More information about Virginia massage therapist requirements, visit:

There are two ways that you can check for the license of a Spa as an extra precaution to ensure the legitimacy of the Spa you will be visiting. One way to check is by looking for the license inside the establishment. Spas must always have their license posted and in a conspicuous place for their customer to see. If you do not see this, ask to see their license and insurance, they are required by law to show you on demand. When looking it over check to make sure the name matches the name of the practitioner provided to you, and check the expiration date, if its expired they are not practicing legally. Another way is by researching their license online since it is a public record. You can easily obtain information on your massage therapist’s license by visiting the website of the Department of Health Professionals and clicking license lookup To see the license of the Spa that you plan to visit, you can also visit the website of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations You can also lookup an Aestheticians license on DPOR’s website Keep in mind that just because you have checked for a license online prior to your visit, you still need to request to see their liability insurance upon arrival. If someone does not want to show you either of these things, leave immediately and contact: 1. The local police, 2. Department of Health Professions (DHP), and The Board of Nursing (BON) for massage, or 3. Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations (DPOR) for Aesthetics.

Here at Old Mechanicsville Health Spa, we are more than happy to show our clients our licenses and insurance as they are proudly displayed on our walls and in our team’s achievement book. It is always one of our goals to create a peaceful and safe environment for our clientele.  Your safely is extremely important to us and to help protect you all we find it essential to provide you all the information that you need so that you are aware and knowledgeable in what to look for when visiting a day spa.

Additional Links below:

City of Richmond regulations regarding Massage Therapy:

County of Hanover regulations regarding massage therapy:

State of Virginia Regulations regarding Massage Therapy:

State of Virginia Regulations regarding Aesthetics: