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Easy Aromatherapy – pillowmist

Easy scent for sleeping spaces

A friend of mine wanted to scent her sheets with lavender oil. That makes a lot of sense. Lavender promotes relaxation, so it is a great scent for bedtime. Plus, it is all natural, and your not sleeping in chemicals or synthetic fragrance.

She tried putting it in the rinse, but it would take a lot of oil to leave a noticeable scent on that amount of water and fabric.

Another possibility would be to put a drop or two on a cotton ball and put it in the dryer…but then you risk oil spots on the sheets, and the heat would volatilize (evaporate) the scent very quickly, especially for a delicate top note scent like lavender.

My favorite solution is the old fashioned “pillow spray”. In a 2 oz fingertip pump spray bottle put 1 oz of filtered water (not chlorinated tap water) and 1 oz of vodka (as a dispersant and preservative)  and 10 -20 drops of your favorite essential oils. You can use one oil, or a blend of two or three oils. Obviously if you are going to use the spray on your pillow, you want to stick to relaxing or meditative scents like lavender, sandalwood, or ylang ylang. Bergamot is a good all-around stress buster, and can help a sleep blend if worry is part of keeping you awake. For pillows and your sleep area, avoid very activating or invigorating scents like citrus and strong floral scents like geranium and rose. While they do really nice things for your mood, they may distract from sleep.

If you don’t want to use vodka, just use 2 oz of water, but be sure to shake the bottle very, very well before using and frequently between spritzes.

What is Qi Gong (Chi Kung)?

Learn a little of the real story behind “Qi Gong”.

I don’t know quite why it is. Maybe it is simply caution about the unknown, like trying a new vegetable when you were a kid.

Sometimes people act a little nervous or uncomfortable when I mention Qi Gong (sometimes spelled Chi Kung). I’m guessing it might be because of that odd group that was in the news several years ago. I don’t know anything about falun gong, but I do know Qi Gong, and it is nothing to be afraid of – it’s better than trying brussel sprouts for the first time, that’s for sure.

Qi Gong is basically just “energy work”.

Think about junior high science class. Energy can mean electricity, magnetism, or it can be anything that produces an effect. Like the bowling ball on the shelf that produces the kinetic energy that produces the effect of denting your floor if the ball falls down. Qi is energy.

Gong is work, and tied to the idea of carrying energy. Kinetic energy in a hammer does the work of pounding a nail that produces the effect of building a house.

In this case the “energy” we are talking about is life energy. In China it is called Qi, in Japan it is “Ki” (like Reiki). Old Greek and European physicians like Galen, Hippocrates, and Paracelcus called it “vital force”. Whatever the name, it all means the same thing…that special something that makes us alive.

“Gong” in this case is simply working with the life force vital energy to bring mind and body into balance to help us have better mental outlook, fitness and health.

Qi Gong relies on visualization (focused imagination) and gentle movements to help move and balance life energy, to improve our health, and support mental well-being. To use Qi Gong effectively, you need a teacher. Think about the building a house example. Anyone can learn to pound a nail with a hammer. It isn’t really all that hard, but just pounding nails all willy-nilly doesn’t accomplish much unless you know what you are doing. You need the special know-how of a good contractor to build it right. The same is true with Qi Gong. You need to learn to do it right for it to really work at its best and cause no harm.

I don’t offer Qi Gong (yet) but to learn more about it I recommend viewing www.dctaichi.com in the Washington DC area. In the Pittsburgh PA area please visit www.teamsnow.co. for more information.

On August 18, 2012 Internationally known marital artist Master Nick Gracenin will be offering a Qi Gong workshop at 10 am at 1240 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon PA (the Unitarian Universalist Church at Sunnyhill). The cost is $40. A Bagua* workshop will follow at 11 am. Take both workshops for a discount…$70 total. Please contact Dr. David Clippinger to register at 412-480-9177.

*Bagua is a type of internal style Chinese martial arts…think “airbending” if you watch the cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender” 

Black Pepper – Helper at the Table

Black Pepper – Helper at the Table

Black pepper is probably the most ubiquitous spice in the world, certainly in the United States. When was the last time you saw a salt shaker without its peppery twin?

You wouldn’t expect pepper to be a healthful thing, but big surprise…it is from a plant, unprocessed, and has benefits. It hasn’t been a hot topic for scientific research (pun only partially intended) but there are many traditional medicinal uses for pepper

Piperine is an akyloid in black pepper (the berry of a kind of evergreen plant) has been compared to the capsaicin in hot peppers (like jalepenos, chilis etc.). Both have anti-inflammatory properties and have been useful in arthritis for some people. It is completely counter-intuitive to my mind, but the anti-inflammatory properties are supposed to help stomach ulcers too…though I can’t imagine chowing down on pepper with an upset stomach.

In aromatherapy, black pepper oil is used to promote awake-ness and mental alertness. Ingesting it is supposed to help mental focus as well. Sounds like as good as excuse as any to throw some pepper on your morning eggs.

Taste-wise, this particular spice has a strong comfort-association for me. My Grandmother (a major influence and a heckuva good cook) was a whiz at using just the right amount of black pepper to give food flavor without blowing your head off. The best thing she made with black pepper was her hamburger gravy. I’m not talking about some fru-fru health food here. I’m talking about gut-filling, make a kid happy, old-fashioned, over-biscuits, I’m-hungry-as-a-newborn-vampire Southern gravy.

Although I wouldn’t recommend a steady diet of hamburger gravy, with or without black pepper, this spice deserves its place at the table.

Sources:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38311826/ns/health-cancer/t/disease-fighting-superfoods/#.UCUhb6FmTfU
http://www.livestrong.com/black-pepper/

 

Spice Up Your Healthy Eating

Spice up your healthy diet – cinnamon

There is two basic differences between the stuff on your spice shelf and the stuff on an herbalist’s supply shelf: amount and preparation.

To get a “therapeutic effect”, in other words, for an herb or spice to help fix something that’s wrong, it takes a good bit more of the stuff than you would use in cooking. The helpful stuff needs to be used in big quantities…like in capsules or pills, or concentrated through “decoction” which is more like a sauce reduction than a tea.

In general, beverage-strength teas or the pinch and sprinkle amounts used in cooking doesn’t help or hurt either one from a healing perspective. Of course those of us on friggen’ blood thinners and with (sigh) medical issues have to be a little careful even with those small amounts sometimes…BUT overall, herbs and spices can do a couple of important things. I don’t have the science to prove it, but those little smidges used regularly over time can give you a little nudge toward health, or at the very least give a little boost to the health and antioxidant effect of an otherwise healthy diet. Of course my favorite effect of using herbs and spices in cooking is that it tastes good!

Take for example, one of my breakfast favorites, cinnamon.

There are several varieties of cinnamon, all with a history of herbal medicine use. The cassia variety that is so readily available has benefits too. A good cinnamon tea can help a gassy tummy, soothe a cold, ease menstrual pain, and at higher amounts, can help with diabetes (some studies hint at a preventative effect, while there is some thought that it improves the body’s use of insulin in type 2 diabetes).

Coumadin / Warfarin folks…cinnamon has naturally occuring coumarin in it, so it can have a blood thinning effect and an additive effect to the medication. So don’t use high doses of cinnamon without supervision…to make sure it doesn’t drive the inr too high. I take the nudge approach. I put a little sprinkle in my morning oatmeal or coffee, and follow INR measurement as my doctor orders. So far so good. I do mean GOOD. As in YUM. Especially in cold weather. Cinnamon is considered a “warming” spice in herbalism.

So for a little tasty, warming oompf that might help you digest and might help sugar metabolism, cinnamon might be a good choice. For a big oompf, consult your herbalist. And read the disclaimer on the “about” page of the blog while you are at it, ok?

Source: http://altmedicine.about.com/od/cinnamon/a/cinnamon.htm