Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I am constantly searching for ways to improve and enhance my physical health. Maybe it is because I am starting to see the effects of aging on my body, or maybe it is because I am just more in tune with my body now than when I was younger. Recently I had an experience that taught me that the changes I make don't always have to be outward based, like eating whole grains or getting more exercise, to make a huge impact on my overall health and well being.

About a month ago, my son almost died. It was a huge emotional upset for our entire family, and after the initial shock wore off, my heart was filled with overwhelming gratitude. I felt so thankful for life -- that his life had been spared and that so many highly skilled medical personnel had worked so hard to save him. I was thankful for my family -- without their love and support I would not have been able to be as strong as I was. I felt gratitude for my friends, who even if they did not know what to say to me or how to help, were there by my side, holding me up with their love and praying for us.

I realize now that gratitude helped me to make it through that very difficult time, and it is still helping me now. If all I had focused on was the pain of the situation, or if I had allowed myself to dwell on what could have been the outcome, I would have probably not have made it through. Having gratitude in my heart helped me to heal, and to move past the painful events that occurred. There is a real power in gratitude. The alternative, in my opinion, is despair.

A few weeks after the event, I returned to the hospital to thank some of the people, doctors and nurses, who helped us so much. It was one of the hardest and yet most rewarding things I have ever done. It was hard to go back to that place that held so many bad memories for me, but I felt compelled to show my gratitude to those who had been compassionate and caring and who went beyond their job descriptions to serve. One nurse I spoke to said she had been ready to quit her job, it had been such a horrible day. But then we came and she felt like she had done something worthwhile.

Being grateful is reward enough all on it's own. But the health benefits are also a great side effect of gratitude as well. Recent studies show that the benefits of gratitude may include: less stress, more joy, enhanced vitality, improved sleep, and faster recovery from illness. People who keep a gratitude journal have been shown to be happier, sleep a half hour more per night and exercise 33 percent more each week than those who don't. (Count your Blessings, by Valerie Reiss, Natural Health Magazine Nov 2010)

I remember a story I heard once about some women in a concentration camp who prayed daily and gave thanks for everything, even the lice infecting their scalps. They found out later that those lice had protected them from being raped by the camp guards. If we are able to see the positive things in our lives, even while enduring the painful things, our lives will ultimately be better, richer and healthier.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Essential Oils

I have been wanting to learn about using essential oils for awhile now, but didn't quite know where to start. Then a friend of mine invited me to an essential oils party, and I jumped at the chance. I was surprised to find that not very many people know about essential oils and how to use them. I was also surprised that a lot of people just don't care to know about this natural way of helping our bodies heal themselves.

Essential oils are oils distilled from plants, and they have been used for thousands of years as medicine. Ancient Egyptians and Chinese healers used them to treat various illnesses and in the embalming process.

Some of the benefits of essential oils are:
* They can help regenerate, oxygenate and build up immune responses in the body
* They help transport nutrients to starving cells
* They are powerful antioxidants, helping the body fight free radicals
* They destroy bacteria and viruses while restoring balance to the body
* They detoxify the cells and blood in the body
* They help promote emotional, physical, and spiritual healing

One essential oil you may have heard about is lavender. Many people use lavender oil to promote sleep, and you have probably seen lotions with lavender in them that are marketed as a sleep or relaxation aid. But did you know that lavender can also help alleviate anxiety, arthritis, asthma, depression, headaches, insect bites, burns, eczema, throat infections, and many more ailments?

Maybe you have heard of people eating peppermint candy after a meal to settle their stomach, or drinking peppermint tea to combat heartburn or indigestion. Peppermint essential oils can be used for those ailments, as well as for colic, gas, headaches, diarrhea, fever, hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, motion sickness, shock, varicose veins, and vomitting. It may also help relieve anger, depression, fatigue, toothaches and irritable bowel syndrome.

Essential oils can be taken internally, such as diluted in a glass of water, used topically by rubbing directly on the area of concern, or aromatically, such as inhaling or diffusing in a humidifier. If you want to learn more about using essential oils, a good website to visit is mydoterra.com. I have personally benefited from using essential oils to treat headaches, stomach aches and muscle pain, and I have only been using them for a few weeks.

It is my belief that the body knows how to heal itself. If you have a cut on your hand, even if you do not treat it in any way, it will heal itself. But if you clean it, disinfect it, and cover it with a bandage, it will heal itself even faster. The same is true with the rest of our bodies. They are capable of healing themselves, but sometimes we can help the process along. I have found that using essential oils is one way of helping the body to heal itself.