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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Epsom salts: Relaxation and detoxification

Soaking

Soaking (Photo credit: swister_p)

One of the things I’ve been doing on a regular basis this month is to bathe in epsom salts multiple times a week. You may be wondering what that has to do with benefiting my skin. Well, the answer is not much, in a direct sense anyway. What the epsom salts do for my entire body, however, is a whole other story. Epsom salt is a mineral that has been used for years to treat many different ailments, through external and internal use. It occurs naturally and is composed of magnesium sulfate. Its composition is important because although many of us are aware of rampant calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, a lot of people are also magnesium deficient as well.

“Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate, which can help improve health in numerous ways. A lack of magnesium—which helps regulate the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body—can contribute to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems and other health issues, doctors warn. Sulfate is essential for many biological processes, helping to flush toxins and helping form proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin proteins.” – Epsom Salt Council

Remember talking a few months ago about the importance of enzymes? If we can help out more than 300 of them simply by regulating our magnesium levels, so much the better! Another pondering you might have is why I am bathing in the salts rather than just taking them internally for my enzymes. Your skin is a fantastic creation that allows you to absorb nutrients through it. When you take your warm epsom salt baths, your pores open up and absorb all the nutrients in the water. Not only that, the process of the bath combined with the salts relaxes your muscles and draws out toxins. I don’t know about you, but even as I sit here typing, I feel tightness in my shoulders and neck that could use some ‘epsoming’ !

Epsom salts have also been reported as useful in so many different areas of your health, here are just a few:

1. Reducing inflammation

2. Regulation electrolyte imbalances which restores proper nerve and muscle function

3. Restores magnesium levels depleted by stress which works to produce serotonin and relax you

4. Taken internally, epsom salts can aid in digestion
(if you are thinking of trying this, make sure you consult a health care practitioner first)

How to use epsom salts in your bath:

It’s rather simple really, just add 1 – 2 cups in your bath, depending on the size of your tub. I like to add them as soon as I have the bottom layer filled. That way as the water pours in, it mixes them up nicely. Make sure that your salts are all dissolved before you get in. You don’t want to be sitting on them, the undissolved salts won’t absorb as well into your pores and might irritate your skin.
Bathe for about 12-20 minutes, or do a foot soak (using less salts) for 20 minutes. After that, you’ve likely absorbed what you can from the salts and you don’t want to reabsorb the toxins that have been released from your skin. There is some debate about the best length of time, but you can do some personal research and see what feels best to you.

Note: I have seen epsom salts with added fragrance. Just be careful that there aren’t chemicals added for that effect. If you want to have a nice smelling bath, go to a health food store and buy an essential oil that tickles your senses. It is likely much safer than what has been put in there otherwise.

So, while I’ve put epsom salts in my detox month regarding skin, it has so many different benefits. I’ve really noticed a calming effect whenever I take a bath. I can’t speak to whether it has reduced my inflammation or restored my electrolytes, but I can definitely say I feel better using them. That’s half the battle, right?

How about you, have you ever tried epsom salts? Does all this information make it a ‘must try’ for you?

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My Birthday Wish

Yesterday, it happened. I turned thirty years old. It is the start of a new decade and I hope to continue on my path to better my health. My husband took me out for some AYCE sushi, so delicious. Obviously I ate too much. Hmm…I’m going to have to work on that. After that we just spent a relaxed evening at Chapters, surrounded by so many gorgeous books and I may have spent some money. But I held back, I REALLY did!

A few things have happened in the past few days, all leading up to an observation my husband made while we waited in line at the checkout. We turned to see the face of bullying‘s latest victim, Amanda Todd, on a magazine in the stands. He pointed her out and we both talked about the story of the man who was fired after posting some negative comments on the Internet about her. As someone who was bullied myself in high school, I can only imagine and cringe at what it must be like now that bullies have access to social media sites. People hide themselves in anonymity and the worst part of them is ‘type-vomited’ out on to the page without a second thought. They aren’t opinions, they are judgements that people who are insecure hand-out without thinking about who they may hurt. Although some people do verbally or physically call out others and publicly bully them, social media allows the numbers of bullies to grow. It’s easy to make fun of people you don’t even know while you are sitting at home in front of your computer.

Our conversation extended to people doing the same things to celebrities. Apparently, there are people posting online about how fat they think the singer Adele is. Some have even gone as far as commenting on how stupid and ugly they think her child is as well. Really people? Whose business is it to tell someone else that they are fat and what kind of monstrous human being says a baby is stupid and ugly!?! Those are not constructive criticisms, they aren’t even opinions, they are judgements. Worse, they are the judgements of small minded people who would rather pick out perceived flaws in others than to take a serious look at themselves.

My birthday wish? Maybe my wish is that the people who posted negative comments about Amanda Todd, hiding in anonymity on the Internet, would have to sit down with her mother and say those comments to her face while being broadcast in their community. Look someone’s mother in the eye and tell them you’re glad their fifteen year-old child is dead and leave still feeling good about yourself. I dare you. Along with that, I might wish that we could track down one of the people who called Adele’s baby ugly and stupid. Let’s call a press conference at their home and talk to them about how ‘fantastic’ it was that someone pointed this out to us. Obviously, the people making these comments are experts of child psychology and pleasing facial aesthetics. Right?  Then let’s have some psychologists come and give that person an IQ test. Even better, let’s have Tyra Banks whip in there and tell them how they rate as far as looks go. That girl has sass that would put most cyber bullies to shame!

So, are those truly my birthday wishes? A part of me does agree with them, wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, that part of me lives dangerously close to where my own potential, cyber bully might reside. ‘Why not?’, you might ask. Here’s why. A few days ago I was appearing on Rogers Daytime Ottawa, not for the Year of the Detox, but for a fundraising event I’ve put together. One of the other segments on the show was a father and son author team. They’ve written a book called, “Empowered Youth“, published by Hay House, which may have been where I spent some of my book money last night. Hee hee. During the segment, the son, Michael Eisen, was talking about how he was bullied when he was younger. I am a firm believer that bullies are suffering themselves and that is why they bully in the first place. What he said next though, was something I had never thought of before. He said that if we all worked on our self-esteem, then bullying would not be as rampant. If we all loved ourselves, we wouldn’t feel the need to lash out at others. To judge them. To belittle them. If we were bullied, our strong sense of self love would carry us through the experience. I’m not saying that we would come out completely unscathed, but if our self esteem and self love were strong, the damage would be minor. My lower self aches to call out all the people shrouded in anonymity on the Internet, as they judge people from afar, but that does not serve to help them better themselves or to better ourselves either.

After their appearance, I had the chance to talk to the father, Jeffrey Eisen. For a long time, he and his son did not have a good relationship. He was always telling him what to do, trying to tell him how to be better. Then, as the father started his own journey towards betterment and spiritual awakening, his son took notice. Eventually they were on the path together and look what they’ve accomplished so far! Don’t work on others, work on yourself, the people who come along on the journey are the ones you want to be with anyways.

My true wish is that we could all find a way to love ourselves enough not to feel the need to judge and hurt others.

One of the suggestions Michael Eisen had was to find three things we like about ourselves and write them on a piece of paper, every day for seven days.

Well, here it goes.

1. I like my sneezes. They are cute and make other people smile.

Happy Birthday to me!

2. I like my hands. My fingers are long and for some reason, my pinky sticks out when I’m holding a drink.

3. I like the colour of my eyes. Sometimes green, sometimes blue, with little yellow flecks in them.

How about you? Will you help my make my birthday wish come true? Write down in the comment box three things you like about yourself, for the world to see.

The trials and tribulations of edible shampoo

English: Potato flour. Français : Farine de po...

English: Potato flour. Français : Farine de pomme de terre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you know, I’ve committed to only use products that are edible to cleanse my body, with the exception of good ole fashion soap. My first attempt at a shampoo was an utter failure. I tried to make a potato shampoo from a recipe in “Natural Beauty for All Seasons” by Cox. I bought this book from a book club when I was fourteen. For some reason I thought being in a book club would be cool, it just ended up being expensive. At least it was for fourteen year old Jenn. Over the years I’ve tried a few recipes from it, my fave being chocolate lip gloss. I made some for my husband’s family the first Christmas I spent with them. Apparently, the boys thought the lip gloss was delicious. Unfortunately, them licking it off resulted in chapped lips worse than when they started! But I digress…

The potato shampoo was basically made with potato flour and apple cider vinegar. It took over an hour to make and looked like lard in a jar. Not uber appetizing, but still technically edible. Needless to say, it didn’t work too well and smelled even worse. Also, it grew a healthy dose of mold within days of its making. I don’t want to have to remember to take my shampoo out of the fridge every time I hop into the shower. If my towel wasn’t hung right next to the shower curtain, I’d be wandering around my house dripping and naked on a daily basis. Not that my husband would complain, but it’s getting chilly out people! The same day I made my potato shampoo, I ventured into facial cleansers. From the same book I found a recipe for a lettuce facial cleanser. It was easy to make, apart from the fact that I couldn’t find one of the ingredients at any store in my end of Ottawa. Tincture of benzoin. I’m sure it would have made it better, although, it did work gently for the first few days. Now my laziness has fully taken over and I’m just using soap. I know there are women out there who swear by just using soap, but I am not one of them. I really find that it dries my face out and actually leaves me with more acne. So, basically I’m still looking for a facial cleansing solution for dry skin…any suggestions? My favourite recipe from the book involves lilacs. Sadly, those are out of season.

Right now, from a reader’s suggestion (thanks towardshealthylife !), I am ‘washing’ my hair with baking soda. I use the term washing loosely. It may just be my lifetime dependence on bottle shampoos talking here, but it just doesn’t feel as clean. However, if you are looking for safe to use and chemical free hair wash, this is the way to go. Comes right out of the box, ready to use. I then rinse with water and then rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar. Yet another attack on the sense of smell as it does not smell good. It is bearable, but only just. It also takes an hour or two to dissipate. If you were planning on going out on a date or to a fancy function, this is not the best way to end your hair care routine.

If I’m going to blow dry my hair, I put a little dab of Moroccan argon oil. It has a bit of a musky smell but works wonders on the hair. You may have heard of Moroccan oil before. It is being marketed heavily right now. Don’t be fooled, it is not the same thing. The “Moroccan Oil” that they have in stores right now is chalked full of yucky chemicals. They’ve done a great job of making it seem like it is a traditional, Moroccan secret come to light in North America, but it totally isn’t. All in all, a very simplistic routine for my hair.

Have you come across some great, all natural recipes you’d like to share? Something easy and gentle on the nose? I’d love to hear your favourites!

Top 5 Reasons to Dry Brush

Typical body brushes

One of the things I’ve been doing for my detox month on being ‘skin kind’ is dry brushing. This is not something I ever did before, although I’d heard plenty about it. As I do it more and learn more about it, I realize that I should have been dry brushing throughout my entire journey! Crickey! Dry brushing would have been especially helpful to my lymphatic system, one of the major bodily functions that help in detoxification.

For those of you who aren’t sure exactly what dry brushing (also known as skin brushing) is, let me describe it. Basically, you use a dense but supple brush like the ones in the picture to brush your skin when it is dry. You should always be brushing towards your heart to help your lymph flow in the right direction. I’ve attached a chart with the directions to help you out in case you need clarification. It is important to honour the directional travel of your lymph as the vessels can be sensitive. You want to work with your body, not against it.

When you first start to use the body brush, it can be a little painful if you have sensitive skin. Start with light, short strokes. Eventually you can work your way up to longer strokes, with more pressure behind them. If you are in pain, you are doing it too hard. You want to make this a habit, and doing things that don’t feel good is not the place to start if you can avoid it. In my research I’ve noted that there are some people who say they prefer circular motions when they dry brush. I’m not sure this would be as effective as long sweeping motions if you are dry brushing in order to help your lymph move back to your heart, but helpful as an exfoliation process alone.

Make sure that after you’ve used your brush a few times that you clean it. Rinse it with some warm water and soap. Even though you are just brushing your body with it, it can still get unhygienic after more than a few uses. Some might suggest to clean it after every use, but in my completely uneducated opinion, that seems like overkill. Unless of course you  have some sort of rash or skin condition. In that case, you will definitely want to clean it after each use. You don’t want it to spread.

 

So, I’ve explained how to do it and touched briefly on some of the benefits, but here are your top 5 reasons to dry brush your skin:

1. Using a dry brush helps to slough off the dead skin on your body

This has a couple benefits to you. Firstly, it helps to keep your skin looking more radiant and young. Many people actually choose dry brushing over moisturizing. It is certainly a great way to cut down on the chemicals we are rubbing all over our bodies. Secondly, by removing the dead skin barrier, your body is more able to detoxify through your skin as you sweat.

2. Dry brushing helps your lymph to move through your system

Your lymphatic system is a highly valued member of your detoxification team. If you dry brush in a manner directionally compatible with your lymphatic system, it makes its job easier. Your lymph system will be able to transport toxins out of your body more quickly. The faster the better as far as toxic escape is concerned. Remember, your lymphatic system does not have its own pump. YOU are the pump, through exercise and activities like dry brushing, you move that lymph along allowing to collect and bring the toxins to the places in your body that will filter and expel them.

3. Dry brushing can boost your immunity

Your lymph system also transports some nutrients to where they are needed in your system and helps your immune systems to locate foreign or threatening particles. By helping your lymph system deliver the nutrients needed to the areas they are needed in, your body is better fed. Also, because your lymphatic system is so integral to the detection of foreign bodies, these threats will be found and dealt with much more quickly. There is even some suggestion that stimulating your lymph may help to clear cancerous cells.

4. Dry brushing stimulates hormone producing glands

Glands that produce hormones including your thyroid, parathyroid, ovaries, testes and adrenals are all positively stimulated by dry brushing. This can help you maintain or promote metabolic balance.

5. Dry brushing may help to reduce the appearance of cellulite

Some people agree on this one, some don’t. Basically, the dry brushing stimulates the muscles and tightens them to reduce the appearance of cellulite. I have read some articles that suggest it ‘disperses’ cellulite, but none that I would be willing to trust fully. I say if it can help reduce the appearance of it at all, that is great just in itself!

I’ve been dry brushing on a semi-regular basis since I started this month of my detox. I haven’t really noticed a huge difference yet, visually. However, I really feel like things start flowing after I’ve dry brushed. The feeling is nice and tingly!

Have you ever dry brushed? What did you like or dislike about it?

Month 10: Skin Kind

Oh my…I’m so sorry I haven’t been keeping up with my blog for the past couple of weeks. Although most people think of wedding season from May through August, September is normally my busiest month and this one was no exception. I was on such a back log with contractual deadlines that they came first. But, I’m back now! Yay!

Although I haven’t been blogging about my latest detoxification efforts, I have been maintaining them. What have I been doing? Check out the rules for Month Ten.

This month’s rules:

1. With the exception of soap, everything I use to cleanse or prettify my body will be something safe enough to EAT.

Nothing says it has to taste good…

2. Take an epsom salt bath twice a week.

3. Dry brush my entire body at least three times a week.

4. No makeup unless it is 100% edible.

Although these rules may seem like some of the simpler ones I’ve had throughout this entire process, the first one is freaking hard. I’ve already had to give and wash my hair with my regular shampoo twice. If anyone has a recipe they love for shampoo that (taste buds aside) I could eat, please pass it along.

It may not come to mind when you think about your body, but your skin is the largest organ there is and your system passes a lot of toxins out through it. Along with keeping yourself looking healthy and young, you need to help your skin pass these toxins out to make you feel healthy and young. The studies on how many chemicals we put on our skin daily ranges anywhere from 126 to 515. I believe myself to be a lot lower than the average, but I can’t control the amount of chemicals circulating in the air either. With chemical exposures up and us slapping it on our bodies as well, no wonder the people with diseases and sickness are on the rise. In the coming month, we’ll take a look at some of these scary chemicals and tell you why you should be avoiding them.

More on my adventures and discoveries so far to come. Soon, I promise!

I leave you with this poster…scary. (you can see the larger one on the Daily Mail UK site)

Slathering ourselves with chemicals. Courtesy: dailymailuk