Holistic Wellness

8 Ideas to make you LOVE drinking water!

In my field I have heard every reason under the sun that my clients have avoided drinking enough water. The most common reasons however are; “I dislike the taste of water”, “I have to have my water at a specific temperature”, or “I am busy and forget”. I’ve also been that customer at a restaurant when the server brought my water over and I instantly wanted to spit it out because it tasted foul. I could instantly tell they had not changed the filter in a while. I am a water snob, so I understand your dilemma, and I wanna help!

My first suggestion is to make sure you have access to good quality water at home and at your office. Most refrigerators now include a water dispenser that dispenses filtered water. Just make sure you follow the manufacturer’s suggested schedule for changing the filter. At the office I have an Avalon Water Filtration Cooler installed, and we always get compliments on how good our water tastes. I bought a half gallon jug off of amazon that I fill up at home or my office before heading out anywhere. That way I know I’m carrying good quality and good tasting water with me.

I personally love for my water to be ice cold, and will not drink it any other way. The half gallon jug I bought on amazon is insulated. It will keep my water cold if I fill it up with ice in the morning. I can refill it multiple times per day and it will stay cold.

If you still do not care for the taste after the above 2 suggestions, try adding in a bit of natural flavor with the ideas below.

#1 My personal favorite water add in is fresh mint leaves. I like to pinch a few (or a lot) off the plant, rinse, and then break them apart when dropping in to release flavor. Our mint garden is over growing at the spa, if you need some mint just come grab it. Everything we grow here is always free to anyone. You can also easily grow these at home. I like spearmint and peppermint the best, and they grow like crazy in a sunny spot. They also come back every year!

#2 Another super refreshing add in that also helps ease tummy troubles is fresh ginger root. For the soda drinkers, this is your swap! Out with the ginger ale, in with the ginger water! Simply peel a piece of ginger (I like approximately the size of my thumb), then slice into nickel sized rounds. Toss in your water, give it a little swirl and enjoy. This is also an excellent choice during pregnancy to calm the nausea and reflux.

#3 If cleansing and weight loss is your goal, and you love citrusy beverages, try a sliced citrus fruit. Lemon, Lime, or grapefruit are popular choices to give your water a kick. Drinking water with added citrus fruit freshens breath, and provides Vitamin C. Additionally it can help flush the kidneys, promoting optimal kidney function.

#4 Berries! It is hard to think about a southern spring without thinking about fresh strawberries. Adding sliced strawberries to your water reduces bad cholesterol, inflammation, and tastes amazing. Berries also look pretty in your water! If you’re not a strawberry fan, blackberries or blueberries are also nice, and any berry add in is great for heart health.

#5 Raw Honey adds a sweet pop when stirred into water in small amounts. Consuming raw honey on a regular basis has been shown to decrease allergic response to environmental allergies. Raw honey also helps reduce diarrhea by helping to rebalance the gut. Raw honey is also loaded with antioxidants your body needs to fight free radical damage. Raw honey might be a good add-in for you if you like sweet and are seeking beautiful, healthy skin.

#6 Try mixing a few different add-ins until you find the best combination to satiate your taste buds. Think Strawberries & Mint, or Lemon & Blueberry. Let your creativity guide you!

Are you really washing your whole face?

Are you really washing your whole face?

 

Hey there! Odd question, are you remembering to wash behind your ears? How about your eyelids? We should talk!

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Recently in working with clients, I have noticed more and more middle aged men and women complaining about “tiny white bumps” around their eye area. Upon getting their beautiful faces underneath my magnifying lamp and doing a thorough inspection, I see it is milia that they are finding bothersome. milia are actually small cysts, and not to be confused with acne even though they are often caused by not enough exfoliation just like acne is often caused by. milia are usually harmless, and simply keratin trapped under the surface of the skin. milia are typically white and hard, and upon extracting pop out like a very tiny white pearl, although they can become yellow or green if bacteria is also trapped with the keratin.  Although acne develops when a pore becomes clogged, milia develops under the epidermis when the epidermis does not shed itself quickly enough trapping dried keratin cells. Our skin sheds less frequently as we age, making exfoliation imperative for ageing gracefully. I’m also treating many blackheads in and around the ears, lately. Additionally being in the armpit of winter, I am treating lots of chapped, cracked lips, which is to be expected, but my thought was with a little education on homecare, we can nip this in the bud!

 

When I asked my clients “Are you exfoliating your eyelids, and under your eyes when you exfoliate your face?” The most common answer I got was “Well no, I do not exfoliate near my eyes”, while staring at me perplexed like I had 3 heads and my pants were on fire. The concept of exfoliating around the eyes was absurd to most people. The responses were similar when I asked my clients about ear and lip exfoliation. 

I decided to do a survey after this being a regular conversation piece on my treatment table. I created a survey using Survey Monkey, titled “Are you washing your whole face?”. My survey went over common areas of cleansing and exfoliation that I suspected folks may be missing in the shower, based on trends I was seeing on my treatment table. I asked about how people were washing/ exfoliating their earlobes and behind their ears. I mean didn’t everybody’s Grandma always say, “Don’t forget to wash behind your ears!”? Mine did! I further asked about lip scrubs. My survey also questioned peoples habits for exfoliating their eyelids and under their eyes. At this point you may be asking what these areas all have in common besides being attached to your head. Well the biggest common denominator I was beginning to see was that people truly did not know how or why they should exfoliate these areas, and these issues I was treating in office were easily (and very affordably) preventable and/ or treated in the shower at home. After I created my survey I copied the link to facebook, and overnight I had over 65 responses. The responses confirmed my suspicions.  

 

Below are some statistics from my survey:

 

  1. 25% of people surveyed do not exfoliate their face ever.
  2. Only 12% of people surveyed exfoliated their eyelids, and under their eyes.
  3. 57.5% of people surveyed have never exfoliated their lips.
  4. 87.5% of people surveyed do not exfoliate their ear lobes or behind their ears.
  5. 33.33% of people surveyed do not wash their ears in the shower, instead simply let the run off from washing their hair rinse them.
  6. 47.5% of people surveyed had never heard of milia.
  7. 17.5% of people surveyed have been diagnosed with milia and/ or had them removed.

 

Additionally, in the area of my survey where people could type in “other”, 3 people commented that “I do not need to do this, as this is not a problem for me” in regards to milia. My first thought to this was, this sounds silly to me as this is like saying, “My breath doesn’t stink, so I do not brush my teeth”. You brush your teeth to prevent issues, not to correct issues, and you should think about your ears, eyelids, and lips the same way. Ever heard the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”?

 

Well the good news is, this is for sure “job security” for me, however part of my job is properly educating my clients on proper homecare. So let’s start that ounce of prevention!

 

    1. Lips- Let’s start with the easiest one! A DIY lip scrub. In your kitchen grab ¼ cup of plain white sugar, place inside a small container that you have a lid for, add 1 tablespoon of honey, then add a carrier oil (I like olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil) 1 tablespoon at a time while stirring gently until your desired consistency is reached. You want it to be thick enough that you can scoop it out with your fingers without it immediately falling apart. Think playdough. Put the lid on the container and store in your shower. Every time you shower (using clean hands) scoop out a dime sized amount of your concoction and scrub your lips with it. If you accidentally get in your mouth no worries, totally edible ingredients. Rinse clean. Use a good, hydrating lip balm after you get out the shower, and your lips will stay kissably soft all winter. 🙂
    2. Ears- Most of the time simply washing them with the same cleanser you use on your face when you wash your face will keep them bacteria and blackhead free. However since ears lobes and behind the ears are typically more oily than the rest of your scalp and face, if you usually use a cream or lotion cleanser on your face, you likely need something more foamy for your ears. Keep in mind, I am not at all suggesting putting a cleanser inside your ear canal, however the lobes and behind the ear need some love. Trust me, I’ve seen it all 18 years in this industry! Try a few different cleansers, see what works best for you. My favorites are our dermaclenz cleanser or skin script glycolic cleanser for daily cleaning in the shower then I just save some suds for my ears after I wash my face! I use our microdermabrasion cream or AHA/ BHA exfoliating cleanser on the days i exfoliate (usually once a week for me), however if you exfoliate your face more often than that, just exfoliate your ears whenever you are exfoliating your face. 
    3. Eyelids and directly below the eyes- Since around the eyes are the most common place for milia to develop, exfoliating these areas gently is key to preventing these from ever becoming an issue for you. If your regular facial cleanser already contains exfoliating ingredients such as; malic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid or retinol using your regular cleanser very gently in these areas, while being careful not to get in the eyes will likely do the trick and keep the milia away. However if you are already having issues with milia, or have been diagnosed with milia previously, you may need something a bit more abrasive.  I like to use my regular script glycolic cleanser daily in the shower, them microdermabrasion cream on the days i exfoliate (usually once a week for me), however if you exfoliate your face more often than that, just exfoliate around your eye area whenever you are exfoliating your face. In the office when clients come in with existing milia, I like to use diamond tip microdermabrasion over the affected area to resurface. Then once the skin is prepped, I extract them.

 

I hope you found this article insightful. Please remember if you are past the point of homecare, and need professional help with any of the issues above, I am here for you. 

 

In health,

 

Brandi

 

Ingredient Spotlight; Borage

Ingredient Spotlight; Borage

 

Borage and Strawberry Salad

Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels

Borage, the herb of courage & bravery! Native to the Mediterranean, it was used by soldiers before going into battle because it was believed to encourage bravery.

 

The borage plant is a beautiful star shaped flowering herb, and can grow up to 2 feet tall. It is unique as all parts of the plant except the roots are edible. The flowers and leaves have a crisp, cucumber like taste.

 

Borage seed oil is used in skin care products for its anti inflammatory properties, and is commonly used for treating eczema and atopic dermatitis. Borage seed oil is abundant in GLA (gamma linolenic acid), an essential fatty acid with a plethora of internal and external benefits for the human body. It is actually the most abundant plant source of omega 6. I really love borage seed oil as an anti acne ingredient because it is so gentle. On the comodenigecity scale of 0 to 5, 0 meaning “will not clog pores”, and 5 meaning “will clog pores”, Borage seed oil is at a 2, which means “will not clog pores for most people’. Borage seed oil has been shown to improve skin’s barrier function, and helps to prevent TEWL (trans epidermal water loss). This is important for dehydrated skin, as keeping skin properly hydrated prevents many signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles, and crepey skin. You can drink water all day, but if your skin’s barrier function is damaged, you will lose much of it from your epidermis.

 

Borage seed oil is commonly found as an active ingredient in cleansers, serums, and moisturizers. I encourage you to do your own research to discover if the borage plant can benefit you! 

 

Migraines, Tension Headaches, Cluster Headaches, oh my! Goodbye!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

6 Natural ways to get this pain to go away!

 

Nothing Can stop you in your tracks like pain at your temples, behind your eyes, or neck pain that radiates up into your brain into a throbbing, squeezing awful agony. Let’s stop this mess without chemicals!

 

There are many different types of headaches, and many different causes, however there are a few tried and true remedies that can help you get relief and usually keep them away for a while. Let’s chat!

 

#1- Hydrate (with plain ol’ water, not that fancy, sugary garbage):

Dehydration is a major, and very common cause of many different types of headaches, and the easiest and cheapest to fix! Plain filtered water! Forget that old formula of (8) 8oz glasses a day, as we all have different size, shape and builds, instead a simple formula is:

 

Take your body weight= A

2 =B

Number of ounces per day you should drink= C

 

A / B= C

 

  1. I weigh 150lbs, 150/2 = 75, so I need 75ozs of water per day as my minimum, i try to drink around a gallon per day so I’m way over my minimum.

 

#2- Supplementing if something is missing in your diet (most of us need a little herbal help, it’s OK):

 

A: Fish Oil/ Cod Liver Oil- getting enough essential fatty acids are essential for preventing headaches.

 

B: Capsicum- Capsicum is dried hot peppers, so internally it heats the body. Heat causes the blood vessels to vasodilate which increases movement of blood. Increased circulation also increases oxygen to muscles. Increasing blood and oxygen to the brain is specifically helpful in relieving migraines, thunderclap headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Bonus, herbs that help with circulation also help prevent heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. So eat up that spicy food, or take a supplement if spicy food is not your jam. 

 

C: Willow Bark- Willow bark is what aspirin is made of, except of course in aspirin a bunch of crap chemicals your body does not need are also added. Skip the junk and get the real stuff from the earth. A bottle of dried willow bark in vegan caps is about $8 to $12 a bottle, and no junk added! Bonus, willow bark is also what salicylic acid acne treatments are made from, so it may help with your acne too!

#3- Essential Oils:

 

A: Lavender & Peppermint– My favorite long time tried and true remedy is taking 1 drop of lavender oil, 1 drop of peppermint oil, and 1 drop of olive oil then rubbing the 3 together in my palm, next rubbing on my temples and occiput. Next I cup my hands over my nose and inhale and exhale deeply. 

 

B: Rosemary– Rosemary is also a vasodilator, like we discussed earlier in regards to capsicum, so works very similarly. I like to add 5 drops of rosemary in my diffuser and let it fill the air around me. 

 

  1. Ginger– Ginger can be used in so many ways! Ginger essential oil can be added to a diffuser like rosemary, or you can add fresh ginger root to your water, you can use the dried herb in your cooking, or simply buy the lozenges for $16! Ginger is also available as a tea.  

 

#4- Chiropractic Care:

 

Dr. Janine Scherm from Scherm Family Chiropractic P.C. told me; “Let’s face it headaches can not only be a pain but can interfere with day to day life.  Oftentimes we push them aside and trudge through our day until they become a “normal” part of living.  Well, I’m here to tell you that headaches are not normal at all.  They are a sign that something is going wrong in some areas of your body.  Can chiropractic help?  Yes; depending on the type of headache.  Most headaches or migraines can be caused by either tension or trigger points in the soft tissue or can be because of spinal misalignments creating pressure on the nerves that travel to the head creating these headaches/ migraines.  Spinal posture, day to day activities and traumas (macro and micro) are among the few causes of these misalignments.  As Chiropractors we are trained to seek out the areas of the spine that have these alignment issues and correct them using spinal adjustments.  This frees up the nerve allowing it to function properly.  If you have any questions on if chiropractic can help you please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

 

#5 Avoid your triggers:

 

Easier said than done right! Well, let’s make it easier, start a food diary, and continue for at least 14 full days. I mean write down everything you put inside your body, and how you feel on a given day, along with times. See example below:

 

Breakfast: 8am, 2 hard boiled eggs, an apple, 16 oz of water.

 

Breakfast Snack: 9:17AM, yogurt, 8oz coffee.

 

9:45AM, experienced bloating

 

Lunch: Noon, ham sandwich, 12oz soda, potato chips

 

2:15pm, experienced a headache, realized I had a project due to my boss was going to be delayed.

 

By writing down everything, you can start to chart patterns, and potentially find your triggers, and determine, if your triggers are food related, stress related, or something else completely. 

 

#6 Capsicum Hot Rub:

 

We sell this! My favorite quick fix is massaging a little capsicum cream on my neck and shoulders, the heat penetrates quickly opening up blood flow and oxygen to my brain, and calming down that annoying pound.

 

I hope these suggestions help you, drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts!

 

Green Tea; A must have for your Skin, your Spirit, and your Body! 

Green Tea; A must have for your Skin, your Spirit, and your Body! 

Photo by Maria Tyutina from Pexels

 

Green tea originated in China, and is made from the buds and leaves of the camellia sinensis shrub. Green tea has been drank and applied topically worldwide by shamans, naturopaths, and everyday people. It has been claimed as a treatment for cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, aging skin, acne, heart disease, and inflammation, and many just consume it because they enjoy the flavor. 

Green tea extract is often one of the first 10 ingredients listed in skin care products used for wrinkles, acne, rosacea, or normal skin. Ingredients are listed in cosmetics and skin care products by potency, for example the first ingredient listed will be what makes up the most of the product, and the last ingredient listed makes up the least amount of the formulation, and so on for ingredients listed in between. Green tea being listed so high attests to its properties as an active ingredient. 

The plant polyphenols in green tea are naturally antimicrobial and anti inflammatory, so when applied topically can treat existing acne, prevent future acne, and soothe the associated redness. This glycolic renewal gel increases cell turnover, treats acne, and helps prevent wrinkles by increasing cell turnover. Green tea is added to prevent the typical inflammation associated with glycolic acid and keep it balanced while active.

Green tea is rich in antioxidants, helping prevent damage to the skin, and heal existing flaws. For this reason, it is often a super star ingredient in sunscreens, and rosacea remedies. Some of my favorites for hypersensitive skin types include: our aloe sleep mask, our hemp moisturizer, or our peptide treatment lotion.

The caffeine in green tea can be used to depuff those under eye bags. By increasing circulation and vasoconstricting the blood vessels those under eye circles we all seem to fight over 35 are history. Save your used tea bags for an eye pillow, or try an eye cream that already has the green tea extract in it. 

According to an article published in Medical News Today in 2018, Green tea helps with weight loss!

According to Cancer Research UK,although many people believe it helps with cancer, the research is inconclusive so far. 

The American Association of Retired Persons suggests that people with high cholesterol consume green tea to lower cholesterol levels.

I love green tea, my favorite way to enjoy it is hot with a teaspoon of CBD infused honey. Do you like green tea? What is your favorite way to enjoy it?

 

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:

 

https://youtu.be/TJJlrs_z41A

 

https://youtu.be/YVCMzPJa8eY

 

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. 

https://youtu.be/rUt3zoIbZh0

 

    

 

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- 

https://youtu.be/M1gEGLtF1p0

 

  • Cobbler’s Pose-

https://youtu.be/s5265rtPTMg

 

  • Cobra Pose-

https://youtu.be/XU0wJ0OTopU

 

  • Eye of the needle pose-

https://youtu.be/MQ9JUY_c3-0

 

  • Pyramid Pose-

https://youtu.be/ldJsEyxA5cI

 

  • Seated Spinal Twist-

https://youtu.be/ciGK6HyYqV4

 

  • Extended Triangle Pose-

https://youtu.be/tj8E3ibD2KM

 

  • Happy Baby Pose-

https://youtu.be/Ppku7i3ypGM

 

  • Rag Doll Pose-

https://youtu.be/7L7bS5jGuVI

 

  • Camel Pose-

https://youtu.be/W6ts23PqPiY

 

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, brandi@oldmechanicsvillehealthspa.com

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. 

FEET in the water, ASS in the sand!

FEET in the water, ASS in the sand!

 

 

Why is a trip to the beach so DAMN healing?

 

“A little bit of sand between your toes takes away your woes” – Anonymous

 

Always feel better mentally, physically, spiritually if you go to the beach? We all do, there is actual science behind it!

 

  1. Vitamin D- The sun nourishes you with Vitamin D! The sun’s rays (yep, the same ones that cause skin cancer) trigger your cholesterol within your body to pump out natural vitamin D to nourish your body. Vitamin D is not common in foods but is necessary for calcium absorption. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in children. Vitamin D is also essential for proper immune function. Perhaps this is why some believe COVID-19 will simply “go away” during the summer. 
  2. Ultraviolet Rays- The sun’s rays kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are so powerful as a sterilization tool that worldwide HVAC companies are selling out of inner duct units that recreate these rays. We use the Remy Halo at my spa. People are purchasing these units for commercial and residential use to prevent the spread of the current pandemic. They run from about $400 to $3500 installed, but you can get these benefits for free, go outside and let the sun heal you!
  3. Salt Water- Saltwater is incredibly healing! Ever been told by a doctor to gargle warm salt water for a sore throat? The salt helps dry up the excess fluids and pull out the germs. Or to take a steamy epsom salt bath for achy muscles because the magnesium sulfate helps with muscle recovery? Saltwater also helps dry up acne. I have seen a lot of sea salt toners hitting the market in professional skin care lines lately, although you could easily make your own. (Recipe at the bottom of this blog). Furthermore saltwater is an excellent source of trace minerals that can easily be absorbed through the skin and beneficial to our bodies.  
  4. Waves- The sound of the waves crashing on the sand is meditative. Many spas (mine included), have sound machines in their relaxation area to recreate this sound because it is so relaxing. We also have probably 15 different CD’s with this sound, some with a gentle guitar playing while the waves crash, and some with gentle choral singing along with the oceans’ natural sound, and some only waves because people love this sound! Who doesn’t want a mental journey to the beach while being massaged or receiving a facial? We even have a popular signature service on our menu to recreate a day at the beach with hot stones, and coconut oil. 

 

In summary, your best self-care may be as simple as investing in that beach trip you have not been prioritizing! If not, at least hop in a kiddie pool in the backyard. 

Homemade Sea Salt Toner-

 

6 oz distilled water

2 oz witch hazel

½ teaspoon of sea salt

A few drops of your favorite essential oils

 

Shake until salt dissolves. Apply with a cotton ball after washing your face over acne or blemishes. Don’t forget to moisturize after! 

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. 

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!

 

 

 

 

Licorice root is a powerhouse ingredient for fighting sun damage!

 

Licorice is a native weed to Europe and Asia. Its Root is widely used for its oddly sweet extract. You may be familiar with licorice candy, although like everything else these days, its rarely actual licorice root used in candy anymore, instead usually a man made flavoring.

 

The Ancient Egyptians first documented use of Licorice in 360 A.D. They thought of it as a universal remedy for pretty much all ailments from eye disorders, to tummy troubles, to skin rashes and everything in between. They made it into beverages for easy consumption. The plant was dried and placed inside King Tut’s tomb.

 

The Chinese believed it beneficial for treating coughs, colds, flu, depression, lethargy, bad breath, and more. It is still a popular choice amongst Chinese herbalists.

 

Licorice Root is a robust anti oxidant,which helps fight free radical damage when applied topically. Antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage, environmental toxins, and premature ageing. Licorice is also used to hush hypersensitive skin being one of the few proven ingredients to have a calming effect on rosacea and eczema. It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it super effective for calming skin and reducing puffiness, making it an excellent go to for under eye treatment products. I always recommend products containing licorice root to my clients with hyper-pigmentation, sun spots and/ or  melasma because it contains liquirtin and licochal which reduce melanin production. These components of licorice have been shown to be as effective as hydroquinone (a drug prescribed for hyper-pigmentation) at reducing enzyme activity that produces melanin, according to a 2009 study done by The Pakistan Association of Dermatologists. When combined with a good old retinol (vitamin A derivative), the duo reduces pigmentation, while increasing cell turnover, out with the old, in with the new! It can even be found in many sunscreens. Another unique benefit of using licorice to treat sun damage is because it naturally contains UV blocking enzymes, it doesn’t increase the risk of sunburn during treatment (photo-sensitivity) like its competitors. 

 

Licorice root can also be taken internally. Licorice is similar to the popular drug mucinex in how it causes expulsion from the lungs. It cleanses the lungs by ridding them of old mucus, while producing new mucus to protect. No wonder the Chinese have used it for many years to treat coughs and colds. Licorice is also an effective treatment for heartburn when ingested. Licorice also balances the bacteria in the gut, and has been used to treat Dysbiosis. 

 

I think we can all agree this is one weed that we shouldn’t be pulling, unless it’s to make tea or tinctures. 

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. 

Boosting Your Immune System Now & Always: The Best Defense is a Good Offense!

 

Boosting Your Immune System Now & Always: The Best Defense is a Good Offense!

 

During these uncertain, and scary times, I believe it is my duty to share my knowledge on immune system health. I feel that the best preventative medicine is a defensive one. By strengthening your immune system you are less likely to catch a viral or bacterial infection, and if you do, your body is stronger for the fight. Below I will provide a brief outline of some of my favorite tried and true methods for a rock solid immune response.

Check it out!

 

Goldenseal- A perennial herb from the buttercup family, Goldenseal is found in North America. There’s documentation to support its use as early as 1798 by the Cherokee Indians. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it’s used today in Eastern Medicine as immune system support. If taking Goldenseal, follow the manufacturer suggested dosages to avoid overdose, which can be toxic.

 

Limes- Limes are naturally high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, making them an excellent go-to staple for boosting your immune system. If plain lime juice is too sour for your taste buds, consider adding it to a smoothie (immune smoothie recipe below), making Lime-Aide, or squeezing on top of a dish for garnish. In addition to boosting your immune system, limes can support healthy skin, help with weight loss, and ward off bad breath.

 

Immune Boosting Smoothie (tastes kinda like V8)- 

 

2 tomatoes washed and cored

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

1 celery stalk, ends removed

1 carrot, peeled and ends removed

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic

Small chunk of ginger, peeled

2 ice cubes

 

Blend in blender

 

Enjoy!

 

Oranges- I don’t think mentioning that oranges are full of Vitamin C is news to anyone, but they are also jam-packed with vitamin B6, antioxidants, and limonoids. So, in addition to making your immune system tough, they help regulate energy, fight cancer cells, and make your skin glowy and fabulous. Eat these guys raw, or make some orange chicken!

 

Lemons- Lemons are another great immune boosting citrus, loaded with Vitamin C and B vitamins, and make a super tasty garnish! So pucker up, buttercup. 

Zinc- Zinc is a trace mineral. It boosts our immunity by controlling the actions of proteins in our body, preventing excessive inflammatory response. As with anything, don’t overdo it. In addition to helping a healthy immune response, it has been used and shown effective for preventing acne, relieving diarrhea, alleviating ADHD, and when used topically, it’s great for healing burns.

 

Elderberry- Elderberry is a flowering plant used to create elderberry syrup. Please note: Elderberries cannot be eaten raw, because when raw they are toxic. However, made into a variety of forms it can be used for year-round immune system support. In addition to immune benefits, elderberry syrup has been shown effective in treating chronic pain, constipation, and reducing cholesterol.

 

Cayenne Pepper AKA Capsicum- Ever wonder why you get hot while eating spicy foods, besides the actual spice itself? Cayenne Pepper is a vasodilator (meaning it expands your blood vessels), so it increases circulation, which will shorten the duration of any infection in the body by getting things moving. Kind of like how you get a fever when your body is fighting an infection, your body’s natural vasodilator. Additionally, capsicum is naturally high in Vitamin A, which is great for keeping away acne. It is also loaded with beta-carotene which is great for eye health. I personally adore spicy foods so another excuse to eat them is welcomed, however, if hot is not your jam, oral supplements are available. 

 

Oregano- Oregano has antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Essentially a natural antibiotic, natural antiviral, and anti-fungal. I prefer to take an Oil of Oregano supplement daily during cold and flu season, but it’s also fun to increase the use of this dried herb in meals. Oregano has been used in medicine and in food for over 4000 years. Hippocrates was known to advise its use for treating coughs, indigestion, and fever. Oregano as an essential oil can also be diluted and mixed with witch hazel and water to make a surface disinfectant. (Who is suddenly craving pizza? I’m lying – I’m always craving pizza!)

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Olive Leaf- Although lots of Americans enjoy olives on their pizzas and in their salads, many do not realize that the leaf of the olive tree is full of antioxidant properties! Olive leaf also regulates cytokines (the immune system messengers), making it a must-tool in your immune system toolbox. Historically, it has been used to regulate blood sugar, prevent heart attacks, and chewed on as a snack in Yemen. Although I have only ever personally used it in its supplement form, olive leaf tea is popular with our European neighbors.

 

Mushrooms- A good combination of mushrooms in one supplement is usually best for immune support as each kind of mushroom has a different nutrient makeup. For example, shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamins B and D, selenium, amino acids, and enzymes, since it is technically a fungus. Chaga mushroom, on the other hand, helps your immune system by fighting free radicals with its powerhouse of antioxidants. Other mushrooms that are good for immune health are turkey tail, cordyceps, lion’s mane, maitake, and reishi. (I really feel like I’m naming all my favorite pizza toppings now. Eat up!)

 

Probiotics and/ or Kombucha- Maintaining healthy gut bacteria is super important for a strong immune system – as we all know the old saying, “you are what you eat.” Cells in your gut actually produce a ton of antibodies that are used throughout the body to fight disease and dysfunction, so take good care of your intestines. Probiotics are good bacteria that support healthy gut function, and can easily be purchased in a gel cap form to swallow.  However, for those who don’t mind a slightly vinegar tasting sweet tea, kombucha is fermented tea that is loaded with good bacteria for your gut. (I love kombucha, but it is unique).

 

Enzymes- Enzymes occur naturally in certain foods, or can be purchased in a supplement form. Enzymes help break down foods, speeding up healthy digestion and making the body and GI tract more alkaline. Your body constantly seeks balance and works hard to maintain the healthy neutral alkaline zone. Bacteria and Viruses enjoy an acidic environment, and do not survive well in a more alkaline one. Enzymes also help the body absorb nutrients better because of how they break down ingested foods and supplements. Enzymes are naturally found in papayas, pumpkin, pineapple, bananas, and avocados.

 

Ginger- Ginger is high in antioxidants, as well as magnesium, zinc, and iron. Ginger has antimicrobial properties that kill viruses, and bacteria. Ginger also increases circulation, speeding the body’s natural immune response if already sick. Ginger also offers very versatile options as it can be consumed as a tea, added as a dried root while cooking, added as a fresh root while cooking, or even honey and ginger lozenges for sore throats.

 

Turmeric- Turmeric is another magical root. It is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral. It also increases the body’s response of T cells (the cells that protect the body from pathogens and cancer). It has also been used to relieve symptoms of depression and support healthy liver function. Turmeric can be purchased as a supplement, or found in a variety of cuisines (especially Indian cuisine). (As if I need any excuse to eat at my favorite Indian restaurant).

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Sunflower Seeds- Sunflower seeds are high in magnesium, which is a natural immune booster. Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, which help your body fight cancer while also helping your immune system to rebuild cells. Sunflower also contains high amounts of zinc, which we discussed earlier is an immune ally. So eat up those yummy, little treats for your health. 

 

Garlic- Long renowned as nature’s antibiotic, garlic keeps away the cold and flu. I personally get a ton in my diet, because I love garlic, but you can always grab in supplement form if you do not care for the taste. 

 

Echinacea- Echinacea is a flowering herb that has been used for decades to combat cold and flu. Echinacea contains phenols, which increase antioxidant activity. Echinacea supplements can be purchased at most herb or vitamin shops. 

 

Vitamin C- In addition to helping our immune systems, Vitamin C has been used in IV infusions to help during cancer treatments. Vitamin C also helps reduce blood pressure, lowers risk of chronic disease, and also prevents iron deficiency. Drink some Oj or grab a supplement! 

 

Raw Honey- In addition to soothing a sore throat by coating the back of the tongue and mucus membranes of the throat, honey has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Buy local honey to your area for a decreased inflammatory response to local allergens. It is also an energy booster, so say bye-bye to the afternoon slump!

Colloidal Silver- We have all heard the folklore as kids that silver wards off vampires, but it actually does ward off colds, flu, bacteria and viruses. If you have ever heard that your antique “real” silverware is naturally antibacterial, guess what? It’s true. Bacteria, germs, viruses cannot live on silver surfaces. Now, there are supplements containing silver that can be ingested internally. It comes in a liquid or lozenge form.

 

In addition to great supplements and a balanced diet, good lifestyle choices are imperative!

 

Sleep- Make sure you are getting enough ZZZ’s. Sleep helps maintain proper cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates many processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. 

 

Water- Ever heard the phrase “You’re not sick you’re thirsty”? Dehydration can literally make us sick, or flush our bodies when we are sick. We should all try to drink half our body weight in ounces every day. For example if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day. Amazon makes it easy these days with encouraging jugs with straws. 

 

Move your body-  Daily cardiovascular exercise or general muscle and joint movement such as tai chi, or yoga should be a quintessential part of your immune plan. Muscle contraction and joint movement naturally push lymphatic fluid through the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is how your body cleans itself & rids itself of toxins. So – get out and get moving! Or do a workout at home. Either way, move your bod!

 

I hope this helps you stay well.

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.