Human Health

Best Produce to Buy Organic

cat with fruit

Summer is a time to enjoy the bounty of nature in the form of fresh fruit and vegetables.  However, with the increasing research showing the harmful effects of pesticides used on our produce, do you dare to eat a non-organic peach?

Should I Buy Organic Produce?

Not all fruits and vegetables have the same pesticide load.  By shopping wisely and purchasing organic versions of those fruits and vegetable most likely to contain pesticides in their conventional form, you can reduce your risk of ingesting potentially harmful chemicals.

The Best Produce to Buy Organic

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Imported grapes
  • Pears
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Lettuce

The Best Non-organic Produce

The produce least likely to be contaminated by pesticides, and thus safest to buy conventional versions of, includes more vegetables than fruit. Most have skin or a peel that further protects from potential pesticides. Topping the list with least traces of pesticides are:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Avocado
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple

Use these lists as a guideline and enjoy your fruit and veggies!

Amber doesn’t care for fruits or veggies, but she says she’s heard some kitties actually enjoy them.  Does your cat like fruits or veggies?  Which ones?

Distance Healing for You and Your Pet

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As those of you who’ve been following me for a while know, in addition to being a writer, I’m also a Reiki Master Practitioner.  You can find out more about my work with pets and with people on my Healing Hands website.  One aspect of Reiki that is often intriguing to people new to the concept of energy healing is distance healing.

Distance healing, also known as remote healing, is an energetic healing process that can be best explained through the principles of Quantum physics.  It has been proven to be extremely effective, sometimes even more effective than local, hands-on healing.

How does it work? 

Quantum physics shows us that everything is made up of energy, and everything is connected.  Everything is part of the same, continuous whole.  Long distance healing is “wireless” healing.  We accept that cell phones, televisions and even our garage door openers work in this wireless way.  It’s not much of a leap to accept that all energy travels that way, including the energy of healing.

In a distance healing session, the practitioner connects with the person or animal requesting the healing energetically.  Every living being has a unique frequency, and the practitioner tunes into that unique energy.  We are all part of the same unified field of consciousness, and it’s simply a question of “dialing in” to the correct frequency.  Once the connection is made, the practitioner sends the healing energy to the recipient.  

Recipients of distance healing report the same sensations recipients of hands-on healing experience, such as a sense of heat or tingling in certain parts of the body, a sense of calm and peace, and a deep sense of relaxation. 

Success Story (human):

A client needed major dental surgery and requested distance Reiki to help with pain control and accelerate healing.  Reiki was sent the day before the procedure, during the procedure, the evening after the procedure, and twice more in the days following the procedure, two days apart.  The client reported less pain, less bleeding and more rapid healing than with prior surgeries of a similar nature.

Success Story (pet):

The owner of a fifteen-year-old cat with virulent nasal discharge caused by calici virus requested distance Reiki.  The cat was not eating or drinking and was frail and had very little energy.  After just one distance Reiki session, this kitty started eating – in fact, she got up towards the end of the session and went to her food bowl and ate for the first time in days.  Improvement continued with subsequent sessions.  Her owner reported that she had more energy and seemed stronger.

Why choose distance healing over hands on? 

Other than the obvious reason – the person or animal requesting the healing is not in the same geographical area as the practitioner – distance healing can be a good option for animals who are skittish about being with strangers or too hyper to sit still in a strange environment.  It can also be great in an emergency situation, since a distance session can usually be scheduled with very little advance notice.  For humans with busy schedules, distance sessions allow them to benefit from the energy without having to make time to drive to and from the session.

I offer distance Reiki sessions for pets and for people.  Distance sessions for pets typically run 15-20 minutes, distance sessions for people 20-30 minutes.  Please contact me to schedule a sesssion for your pet or for yourself.

If you have any questions about distance healing in general, or Reiki in particular, please post them here!

Afraid of the swine flu? Don’t be.

You can’t turn on the computer, look at a newspaper, let alone watch television without being bombarded with news about the swine flu.  Words like epidemic and pandemic are becoming part of everyone’s vocabulary.  It’s hard not to be afraid in the face of this barrage of fear-inducing rhetoric.

This is a good time to use your head, and to harness the power of your thoughts.  To begin with, don’t let yourself get caught up in irrational fears.  Think this through.   Statistically, more people die in car accidents than in an epidemic, and yet, we all get into our cars each and every day without giving it much thought.  Today, we have the best medical care, the best public health system, and the best world-wide communication methods in the history of the planet.  This is not 1918.  This is the flu – not the black plague.

Make smart decisions that support your well-being.   Make small choices each day that add up to make a difference in how you feel.  Eat healthier, get more exercise, cut back on sugar.  All of these choices contribute to boosting your immune system.  Find things that bring you relaxation – get a Reiki treatment or a massage, take a hot bath scented with relaxing aromatherapy oils, read a good book, watch a funny movie.  And of course, spend time with your pets!  That’s the best way to relax that I know of. 

And above all else, stop worrying.  Worry creates stress, and stress weakens your immune system.  One of the Reiki precepts is “Just for today, I will not worry”.  If that’s too tall an order, try it for an hour.  Another way to get a handle on worry is to allocate a specific time each day for worrying – during that time, let yourself go nuts.  Worry all you want.   Take it to the ultimate worst case scenario.  You’ll quickly realize how crazy most of your worries actually are.  In fact, take a clue from your pets – they never worry.  They live in the moment.  When you live in the moment, there’s no place for worry.

And those of you who’ve followed me for a while already know what I’m going to say next:  don’t watch the news!  Don’t fill your energy with all that negativity.  You have the power to choose where you direct your attention and what you let into your energy field.  You don’t have to stick your head in the sand, but make the choice to not let what’s going on in the world affect your mental and physical health.

Allergy Relief from a Neti pot

Spring brings flowers and trees and newly growing grass.  Unfortunately, for many people, these joyful harbingers of warmer weather and longer days also mean the beginning of allergy season.  Allergy medications relieve symptoms, but often come with unpleasant side effects.  A natural alternative that has been helpful for many allergy sufferers is the regular practice of a nasal wash by using a Neti pot.

The nasal passages are lined with a thin layer of mucus that is one of our body’s first lines of defense against disease.  A nasal wash keeps this layer of mucus moist, clean and healthy.  And compared to other nasal wash techniques, using a Neti pot is easy.  A nasal wash can be as routine as brushing your teeth.

Rinsing with saline solution is a time-honored practice in the Orient.  Here in the West, the nasal wash has been used for decades as a means of treating sinus problems, colds, allergies, and post-nasal drip and to counteract the effect of environmental pollution.

Breathing through the nose filters and conditions the incoming air. The nasal passages are lined with a thin layer of mucus that traps dirt, dust, and pollen and moves steadily to the rear of the nasal cavity and settles in the throat, where it is swallowed.  Saline nasal rinses carry some of these impurities out of the body before they reach your stomach.

They also keep this protective layer of mucus functioning properly.  If the mucus becomes too thick and dry or too thin and runny, it is easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate the nasal lining and cause the swelling and excess discharge of mucus we call a “cold.”  That’s why gargling or sniffing a little salt water at the first sign of a cold is a staple of folk medicine.  The Neti pot continues these time-tested traditions of hygiene.

For some people, the nasal wash is as routine as brushing their teeth. Others use it for specific purposes. Suggested uses:

  • Do the nasal wash to wake up, clear your nostrils, and start the day breathing freely.
  • Use it to remove excess mucus when you are experiencing nasal congestion.
  • Do it several times a day during the allergy season to rid the nostrils of pollen and other allergens.
  • Use the nasal wash when you’ve been exposed to soot, dust, smoke, or other airborne contaminants.
  • Use it to dissolve mucus build-up in dry climates or in air-conditioned or heated rooms, or after air travel.

I’ve been using a Neti pot regularly for several years, and I rarely get a cold, nor do I have allergy problems.

A nasal wash is not a substitute for medical treatment. Anyone with chronic inflammation of the nasal passages or other ear, nose, or throat disorders should seek medical attention.

Neti Pot can be purchased online or at Whole Foods grocery stores and other health food stores.

Your pets can contribute to your pollen allergy.  If your pets go outside, they’ll inevitably end up attracting pollen to their fur.  Wipe them down with a damp towel when they come inside – that way, when you cuddle with them, you won’t breathe in a concentrated dose of pollen!

amberrelaxing
Amber prefers to enjoy spring from inside.

Eating gluten free

I recently read an excellent book on the topic of eating gluten free:

glutenfreeIn Eating Gluten Free, Shreve Stockton, author of “The Daily Coyote” and a professional photographer, presents a unique blend of information and recipes, including helpful cooking and preparation hints.   Stockton was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2003 and has devoted herself to sharing all that she has learned about living well, and eating well, with this prevalent condition.

 

From the book:

“The wheat-free/gluten-free diet is one of the fastest growing nutritional trends in this country. …  Gluten intolerance causes an auto-immune reaction in the body, which means that the body basically attacks itself.  … The resulting damage can be physical or neurological, and symptoms can range from gastrointestinal distress to depression, anxiety and fatigue.  …  In its most severe form, celiac disease, damage shows up in the small intestine.  When even the smallest amount of gluten is ingested, it triggers the body to attack itself, a process that inflames the lining of the small intestine, which makes it impossible to absorb nutrients.  … Gluten intolerance is frequently misdiagnosed and symptoms are often ascribed to numerous other conditions.”

“Many people who are not gluten intolerant are nevertheless discovering the health benefits of a wheat-free/gluten free diet.  …  Grains containing gluten are difficult to digest, they compromise the body’s ability to maintain maximum health, and they can even have an adverse effect on brain chemistry.”

While I’m not gluten intolerant, I found the book inspirational in general as far as healthy eating and making changes to one’s eating habits is concerned.  I’m intrigued with the health benefits a diet lower in or free of wheat and other harmful grains and plan to investigate further.  The book may even get me to start cooking, since the author makes getting started sound fairly manageable.  As a confirmed non-cook (my stove currently serves as an extra desk ….), that’s saying something! 

Many of the recipes sound absolutely delicious, from the hot cakes made with sorghum flour and applesauce to the buckwheat banana bread to the creamy cauliflower soup to the hippie bars (part cookie, part cake).  A wide variety of smoothie recipes is already getting me out of my protein powder/banana smoothie rut.

Humans are not the only species who can have problems with digesting grains.  Our pets also do better on grain-free diets.  See my previous posts “Amber is on a diet”  and “How to choose healthy foods for your pet” for more information about healthy and grain-free diets for your pets.

Conscious choices about cosmetics

For those of us who embrace conscious living as fundamental to everything we do, making conscious choices about what to put into our bodies is an important part of our lifestyle.  But what about what you put on your body? 

The skin is our largest organ, and it is not a solid barrier.  It’s a penetrable organ that easily absorbs what is put on it – a capacity that is used effectively by delivering many lifesaving medications to the blood stream through the skin.  However, the flip side of this easy absoprtion is that our skin also easily absorbs chemicals, especially with repeat exposure.   One third of the cosmetics products currently on the market contain chemicals that are linked to cancer.  Of the more than 10,000 ingredients used in personal care products, 89% have not undergone any safety testing.  Given those statistics, doesn’t it make sense to be conscious about the products you use on your skin every day?

The European Union Cosmetics Directive, established in 1976 and revised and updated multiple times since, bans the use of chemicals that are known or strongly suspected to cause cancer, mutations and birth defects.  In 2004, the directive was amended to require all companies selling cosmetics in the EU to remove these chemicals from their products.   Many US companies sell their products on the European market and have been required to reformulate their products.  However, just because a company sells its products in Europe does not mean that the same products you purchase here in the US meet EU standards. 

Read your labels before purchasing cosmetics.  Just because something is labeled “natural” and has pretty designs of wholesome ingredients on the label does not necessarily mean that it is chemical-free.  Look for brands that comply with EU regulations.  Some brands I like are Avalon Organics, Shikai, Weleda, and Dr. Hauschka.

Another consideration that is important to me when choosing cosmetics and personal care products is that they are not tested on animals.  Look for the Leaping Bunny logo – it provides the best assurance that the products you use are cruelty-free and have not been tested on animals.

Slow down

Slow down, you move too fast
you’ve got to make the morning last
just kickin’ down the cobble stones
looking for fun and feeling groovy.

Remember the old Simon and Garfunkel Song (The 59th Street Bridge Song)?  Do you move too fast through your days, or do you take the time to kick the cobble stones and feel groovy?

When I rush through my days without being fully present in each moment, I feel like time has passed me by.  I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything, and at the end of the day, I just feel exhausted.  It’s easy to get caught up in this mode of being – we all have to do lists that are a mile long, and demands on our time are coming at us from all directions.  When days are that full, it becomes even more important to slow down and remind ourselves to stay in the moment.

Animals are masters at this.  That’s what they do – they live in each moment.  Need some help to remind you to slow down?  Take a break.  Take a few moments to pet your cat or dog.  It will slow you down and remind you that life is not to be rushed through, but  to be savored.

Slow down today.  You may just end up feeling groovy!

Meditate with your pet

Meditation is usually viewed as a spiritual practice, but research shows that there are innumerable health benefits as well.  Most physical illness is caused by stress, and meditation provides stress relief by calming down the mind and body.  A regular meditation practice is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body.

I often hear people say “I can’t meditate.  I can’t shut down my thoughts.” 

You don’t have to.   Simply making the commitment to sit quietly for fifteen, ten, even five minutes a day can have beneficial effects.  Don’t judge yourself – if you find that you can’t quiet your mind, try and simply acknowledge your thoughts, and then gently let them go.

Your pets can help you meditate.  If you can’t clear your mind, try focusing on the purring cat in your lap or the sleeping dog by your side.  Focus on the love you share with your pet.  While this may not be what some purists consider meditation, I can guarantee you that it will change your state of mind to one of peace and relaxation.

contemplating-007Amber is meditating.

Go on a news diet

The single most effective step you can take towards better mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health is to stop watching the news.    You are discerning about what you put into your body – why not use that same judgment about what you allow to enter into your mind?  All the bad news and stories of gloom and doom are not an accurate reflection of what goes on in the world.  Despite the distorted view we’re being offered by the media, there are far more good things happening in the world every day than bad things.    Why do you allow yourself to be bombarded with a constant barrage of negativity when you have the choice to push the off button?   Negative emotions such as stress, worry, fear and depression are vibrations that affect what you attract into your life.  If all you’re seeing and hearing is negative, don’t be surprised if that’s what you see reflected in your daily life, and in the status of your health.

Try it for one day.  Don’t watch any news, don’t read a paper, don’t listen to  news radio, don’t scour the internet for news stories.  You will be surprised how much better and lighter you will feel.

Your pets will thank you, too.  Animals are sensitive to the vibrations around them and pick up on your stress and negativity.  For more infomation on how your stress affects your pets, click here

pillowAmber doesn’t watch the news.

Pain in the neck

I’ve been dealing with some neck pain lately – just some muscle tightness, and I’m well on my way to recovery with the help of some soft tissue work and chiropractic adjustments, but it’s, well, a pain in the neck.  Something that really helps is lying on the floor with a rolled up towel supporting my neck for 5-10 minutes a couple of times a day.  It helps re-educate the muscles to what proper alignment is.

I keep the rolled up towel under my coffee table to remind me to do this.

neck-support Amber demonstrates proper neck support