Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that are best used either inhaled or applied to the skin. The use of aromatherapy in religious ceremonies, perfumes and beauty care, and to treat illness, goes back about 3500 years. Ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Greeks and the Romans all used plants and the oils extracted from them for medicinal purposes.

Aromatherapy, inhaling essential oils, seems to work by stimulating the limbic system which is the part of the brain having to do with emotion. Today, essential oils are being marketed as weight loss aids, pain relievers and sleep aids but don’t believe everything you read or hear! Research has been on the skimpy side, but there have been a few studies that show some benefit for some particular conditions, such as anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, congestion, skin problems, and headaches.

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Slowing Down

Most of us live hectic lives, trying to cram into a day all the things we feel we have to do and a lot of what we want to do. It is a formula for stressful living that starts in school where we are expected to achieve, and continues when we go to work where we are urged to do more, more, more! In trying to do more, stress becomes an everyday presence in our lives, leading to health issues and relationship problems.

But what would happen if we just slowed things down? What if we didn’t check off everything on the to-do list? What if we were able to just focus on what really matters and let go of the rest? It’s not about slacking off, it’s really about being realistic about what your can do, and at the same time taking care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s about spending your time in a way that is most meaningful to you and those you love.

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12 Ways to Beat Stress

Most of us live stressful lives. We have too many commitments and too little time. We say “sure I can do that” when we should say “no, I don’t want to take on anything else right now.” Sometimes we don’t even know how stressed we are until we realize we are cranky and short-tempered or feel the tension somewhere in our bodies. We can’t avoid stress completely, but here are some things that can help reduce it:

1. Focus on your breathing. Slow things down by breathing in through your nose to the count of 4, then out through your mouth to the count of 4. You can also breath in and out through your nose if that is more comfortable. Take normal breaths and just focus on the breath going in and out.

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Boosting Your Immune System?

Wander around online and anywhere else that products are advertised and you will find hundreds of claims about boosting the immune system to ward off colds, flu and other illnesses. There are lists of vitamin supplements and specific foods that are said to do that very thing. But, it’s complicated…

If you look further you’ll find researchers who say that these claims are exaggerated. According to Charles Bangham, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, the immune system is a very complex system of different types of cells that interact to fight off bacteria and viruses. In other words, it would take more than just eating a certain food or taking a particular vitamin or mineral to affect your immune system in any meaningful way. I’ve been researching this subject and had actually hoped to find studies that show the immune system could be strengthened through diet. Sadly, I have not found good evidence that this is the case.

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