allergy testing

Testing for Food Sensitivities - As Easy As 1-2!

Have you tried many different diets for general health improvement, for pain reduction, for weight loss, or for countering arthritic and inflammatory conditions? Do you have elevated inflammatory markers (such as ESR or hsCRP), osteoporosis, or other chronic health concerns, only to find yourself continuing to be tired, in pain, overweight, or just not getting better? If so, the culprit could be delayed, “hidden” food sensitivities. These are reactions in the body that are quite different from the immediate allergic reactions that some people experience (such as the whiff of peanut butter that sends a grade-school kid to the ER).

Delayed food sensitivities can be very confusing. In medicine they are referred to as Immunoglobulin G (IgG) reactions. Symptoms can present in many different parts of the body, and can include:

  • Chronic sinusitis, sneezing, nasal discharge
  • Fatigue, especially after meals
  • Gas, bloating, diarrhea
  • Black circles under the eyes
  • Ear infections
  • Migraines
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Watery eyes, itchy eyes
  • Itchy skin, skin rashes
  • Muscle and joint pain

The good news is that it’s SO easy to have your food sensitivities tested. The test involves a simple blood draw or finger prick, with which either an IgG-only or a combined IgG/IgE test is ordered. The results, which take approximately 2 weeks, clearly delineate how reactive your body is to each individual food item tested.

Once food sensitivities are determined, adopting a bulletproof eating plan by cutting reactive foods out of your diet can make an enormous difference in your progress towards health and vitality. As easy as 1 - 2!

For more information about food sensitivity testing, please ask your healthcare practitioner or contact us.


cleaning house

5 Non-Toxic, Simple Cleaning Recipes for a Healthier Home

Spring is here! But before you snap on those gloves for a top-to-bottom house scouring, check out the labels on your cleaning products. Most conventional cleaners are dangerously toxic, with the average cleaner containing over 60 toxic chemicals! Here are just a few ingredients that may be lurking under your kitchen sink:

  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • Propylene glycol
  • 2 Hexoxyethanol
  • 2-Butoxyethanol
  • Ammonium Hydroxide
  • Viden EGM
  • Liquitint Sky Blue Dye
  • Perchloroethylene
  • Triclosan
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

Manufacturers of conventional cleaners tend to note that in small quantities these ingredients aren’t likely to be a problem. However, when exposed to them routinely and in combinations that haven’t been studied, there is no good way to accurately assess the risks. Individual chemicals do get studied, and many of those that have ended up in our household cleaners have been found to be hormone disruptors, neurotoxic, and toxic to the reproductive system.

More and more people are finding that they are “chemically sensitive” and cannot tolerate household cleaning supplies, fragrances, and body care products. Headaches, skin burns, dizziness, breathing problems, nausea, and instant-onset fatigue are some of the symptoms associated with exposure.

If you want to get toxins out of your home, protect yourself and the environment, here are a few simple recipes to replace conventional cleaners, at a fraction of the cost. And, they're fun to make!

 

Window Cleaning Recipes

Combine in a 16 oz spray bottle:

  • ¼ cup rubbing alcohol
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups distilled water
  • 10 drops of essential oil, if desired- lemon, orange, lavender, bergamot, tea tree

Spray and wipe. This cleaner is good for windows, mirrors, stainless steel, aluminum, chrome, ceramic, and plastic.

 

All Purpose Cleaning Recipe

  • Combine in a 16 oz spray bottle:
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 20 drops essential oil, depending on preference: oregano oil, clove oil, lavender oil, lemon oil, orange oil are some options

Shake until mixed, then spray on and wipe.

Note: for cleaning marble or granite, substitute ¼ cup castile soap and 1 ¾ cup water for the vinegar/water combo, as vinegar can be tough on these surfaces. Do NOT use vinegar on granite or marble surfaces!!

 

Toilet Scrub Cleaning Recipe

Combine in a 16 oz bottle:

  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 20 drops of your chosen combination of essential oils- consider lavender, grapefruit, lemon, tea tree, rosemary

Squirt into basin and let sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the bowl with a brush.

 

Wood Floor Cleaning Recipe

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup distilled water (leave out of you have waxed floors)
  • 10-20 drops essential oils of your choice

Gently wipe floor with a microfiber sponge or wrung-out mop.

 

Tile and Grout Cleaning Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 10 drops essential oil- consider lemon, orange, grapefruit, bergamot
  • Moldy Grout Cleaner
  • 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 part water
  • 20 drops each of tea tree and lavender essential oils

Spray and let sit at least an hour, then wipe down with a sponge

 

Homemade Dishwasher Soap Cleaning Recipe

  • 1 part borax
  • 1 part washing soda or SAL soda. Increase if your water is hard

 

Have fun cleaning the toxin-free way!

 


Bergamot oil

Bergamot Essential Oil

Bergamot essential oil is widely known as the queen of all oils for balancing the emotions. It has been used to settle anger, fear, anxiety, moodiness, depression, for improving fatigue and insomnia, to mitigate stress, and to increase happiness and confidence. It has a balancing, uplifting, and gently warming quality that simultaneously energizes and calms, and is wonderful for harmonizing moods and feelings. Bergamot is the perfect choice for depression accompanied with anxiety, in particular when accompanied by lavender essential oil.

In Eastern medical traditions (such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine), it is said to have an affinity towards the nervous, digestive, urinary, respiratory systems, liver, balances the spleen, stomach, and heart meridians, as well as the third and fourth chakras. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has been successfully used for conditions such as indigestion, loss of appetite, bloating, and nausea. Bergamot is also known as a powerful antiseptic, and may be diluted for treatment of skin or scalp conditions, as well as for dressing of wounds, and applied to acne and boils. Of course, please consult with a physician prior to use.

Bergamot can also be a fun addition to baked goods, by adding a drop or two to the batter for batch of cookies or muffins, diffused into a room, and added to bath water.

Bergamot is my go-to oil. Mornings, evenings, and in-between.

 

Snow Lotus Bergamot Essential Oil:

Latin name: Citrus x bergamia
Plant part used: The rind
Origin: Calabria, Italy
Production: Cultivated and certified organic
Extraction method: Cold expression
Fragrance profile: A smooth blend of sparkling fresh-citrus notes mingling with full-bodied fruity-sweet notes.
Fragrance energy: Lemony-sweet
Properties: Balancing, uplifting and gently warming
Complementary blending: Lavender, Grapefruit, Lemon, Coriander leaf, Neroli, Grand fir, May chang, Lemongrass, Juniper, Jasmine absolute, Roman camomile, Coriander seed, Helichryum
Caution: Bergamot increases skin photosensitivity: avoid any exposure to sunlight, including sunbed tanning, for at least 20 hours after applying Bergamot oil on the skin.

 

GENERAL CAUTION WITH ESSENTIAL OILS: Essential oils are very strong. They are typically for external use only. Properly dilute all essential oils in lotion or vegetable carrier oil before massage or other topical use. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, have any health conditions, or are taking medications, please consult your healthcare provider prior to using essential oils.


forest

Forest Bathing: The Benefits of Being in Nature

Have you heard of forest bathing?  Also called “forest therapy,” it really just means spending time in the forest. But the term also refers to the health benefits we get by doing so. The concept comes from Japan, where, like in many other places, people recognized that they felt better and even physically healthier by spending more time outside in nature.  In recent years, researchers in Japan have been conducting medical studies to measure the effects of spending time in nature on the body. What they found might surprise you.

Participants in the studies who spent time in nature had:

  • Decreased Inflammation: Multiple studies found that people who spent time in the forest had measurably less biological markers of inflammation compared to those who stayed in urban environments.
  • Reduced Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress is what ages us. And antioxidants counter this oxidative stress, thereby slowing the aging process. Thus, taking a walk in a forest is akin to an antioxidant power boost!
  • Better Immune System Function: Spending time in the forest improved immune function and reduced immune dysfunction. It strengthened weak immune systems and regulated overactive ones. In studies where immune system cells and signaling molecules were measured before and after forest bathing, the health-regulating immune cells increased after a period of time in the forest, while dysfunctional immune activity went down.
  • Decreased Levels of Stress Hormones: Forest bathers had lower levels of adrenaline and cortisol, two major stress-related hormones. Even neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin seemed to be more balanced in the forest bathers.
  • Better Mood: Not surprisingly, people who spent time in the forest reported feeling less stressed. They felt more relaxed, “natural,” and had feelings of restoration. They had less tension, less depression, less anxiety, less confusion, less fatigue, and less anger or hostility.
  • Lower Blood Pressure: Forest bathers had measurably lower blood pressure. Even those who initially had high blood pressure were able to lower it by spending time in the forest. Forest bathers also had a lowered their pulse rate.
  • Better Blood Sugar Control: Even diabetic patients were able to benefit from forest therapy. It can actually help the body to maintain better blood sugar levels.
  • Increased Vitality and Vigor: People who spent time in the forest felt more alive and more energetic, while simultaneously feeling more relaxed and peaceful.

The above benefits can be found with forest bathing alone, but some studies also looked at the effects of spending time outdoors combined with exercise. Not surprisingly, the benefits are further increased. People who spend time in nature feel better than those who don’t, people who exercise feel better than those who don’t, and people who exercise in a natural setting feel the best of all. By combining the two, we get exponential benefits. 

One deterrent to being outside in the Spring for some people is allergies. If you have allergies, the very idea of spending more time outside might seem to bring on that familiar runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, etc. However, forest bathing along with targeted immunotherapy may improve, and perhaps eradicate, the body's tendency to react against air-borne triggers.

Most of us seem to know that we feel better when we spend time in nature, and here on Whidbey Island we are incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by so much beautiful forest! It is unfortunate that life’s distractions can sometimes get in the way of simple pleasures like going for a walk in the forest. It is empowering to have dedicated scientific research to show the profound benefits of spending time outside, because sometimes it's nice to have a little reminder.

Time for a walk.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997467/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4113871/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22948092

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377916/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4720772/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27109132

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4963577/

http://www.besjournal.com/Articles/Archive/archive/No3/201207/t20120712_64252.html