Friday, January 27, 2017

Pump It Up

Well, if you haven't noticed, it's Winter...sort of, anyway.  Winter can be a great time of reflection, slowing down, and rebuilding before the higher energy Spring & Summer come back around.  It can also be a time of stagnation and sluggishness.  Many people are deeply impacted by the lack of sunlight and having to constantly brace against colder temperatures.  The struggle is very real!

One thing we have to be very mindful of is keeping ourselves moving somehow.  For me, after the holidays come and go, I can get a little depressed and literally just want to sit around, doing stuff on my computer.  That's bad for many reasons, but mostly because it means I am more sedentary and I am getting more EMFs and artificial light on my eyes from too much screen-time (more to come about all of this soon).

I have been helping people through a lot of "stagnant" conditions lately...numbness and tingling in extremities, constipation, and ovarian cysts, to name a few.  Something that most of the conditions I am seeing right now have in common is LACK OF CIRCULATION!  The cold, the sitting around, it's a vicious cycle for things to get backed up, just like traffic at rush hour.  And that sets the perfect stage for problems to develop.

Today I urge you to learn more about your lymphatic system!  Some of you might be saying, "Huh...what?!"  Hopefully by now we have learned a lot about our bodies and the various organs and systems, but poor little lymphatics usually get left out.  We know that our blood has a pump (our hearts) but our lymphatic fluid relies solely on us to pump it around.  This is VERY important, because our lymphatics are our "garbage disposals."  If we leave them to their own devices they back-up and start to stink everything up.  As always, your gut is a major player in all of this as well...can you say "IMMUNE SYSTEM?!"  This is a big reason why so many more people get sick this time of year.

I want to share one of the absolute best, most helpful articles I have found on the topic, "The Secret to Staying Healthy: Get The Lymphatic System Moving!"  It explains the basics of the lymphatic system and beyond, AND it gives you many ideas to get your lymph moving.  If you are going to alert people to a concern, then providing solutions is an absolute must in my eyes!  Some of my favorite things to do are dry brushing (here is the brush I use), rebounding, yoga/deep breathing, saunas/hot baths, and massage, which are all discussed in the article.  I would like to specifically add one of my loves...dancing!

The good news is that it doesn't have to be strenuous.  Since a big "pumper" of our lymph is our big toes you can take a gentle walk, go up and down some stairs, do some toe-raises, or even sit and manually massage/bend/pump your big toes.  You can even manage some of these moves while standing in line at the store, under your desk at work, or even while sick in bed.  Do what you can!  As someone who has managed a chronic health challenge I know that exercise is not always possible.  I completely understand the fine line between moving your body and overexertion.  Saving energy for healing is very important, too!

If you are interested in learning even more, you can also check out this great mindbodygreen article, "9 Ways To Reset Lymph Flow And Decrease Bloating."

So put on some good music, and get moving...and keep yourself warm (heat packs are my best friend...especially on the abdomen and neck/shoulders)!  Your lymphatic system is counting on you!!!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cooking Up A Storm

Hi everyone!  Happy New Year!  I fully intended to keep posting between Christmas and New Years...and beyond...but family-time and "life" was my priority instead, and this took a backseat.  I'm good with that!  Still, I have missed posting and the awesome comments, interactions, and feedback from all of you wonderful people.

I have some great news to share.  As I have been trying to figure out how I am going to channel my passion and help more people I applied to become a certified "Functional Medicine Coach," and I was accepted into the program.  I start February 1st, and will be back in "school" for a year.  I have some other good stuff in the works around becoming certified in Mind-Body Medicine as well.  I am beyond excited and look forward to sharing the journey with you.

I knew I had to get back to blogging when within the same week I had two totally unrelated people in my life (one a high school friend, and the other a newer friend) ask me the same question..."What kind of cookware do you use?"

In my attempt to keep blogging "doable" for me, especially now that I will have homework, I will do my best to keep these posts shorter, pointing you to the resources that will help you learn more.  To find out more about the toxins lurking in your cookware, this article by Dr. Axe (one of my fave docs) is a great starting place.  You might be surprised, or even overwhelmed, by the information, but once you know better you can do better.  From this point, forward is all that matters.

As far as what I have in my kitchen, though it may not be the most perfect thing out there, I use ceramic coated cook/bakeware.  I can't say for sure what the healthiest brand is.  I think this is a space that could really use a lot more attention, but for now we will just choose as best we can.  The most important thing is knowing what to stay away from (teflon, etc.)  I was happy to see Dr. Mercola adding his efforts, but I can't say for sure what his products are like, because I have never used them.  Lots of other countries are putting safer products out there, but they are harder to get for the time being.

For baking/cookie sheets I have the "Orgreenic" Ceramic Jelly Roll Pans, but there is some debate over if the material/product actually lives up to its name (this happens a lot, so don't just believe in a product that has "Organic" in its name) - and they are no longer available, so hmmmmm?  I am still looking for a good replacement.  A good idea is to use parchment paper or a silicone sheet over the surface for extra protection.  My favorite parchment, and additional kitchen products (like the sandwich/snack bags we use), comes from "If You Care."  For pots and pans I have the "WearEver Pure Living" ceramic sets.  I purchased them from Amazon.

Other brands I would consider:
- xtrema

*Don't forget to pick up some great silicone cooking spoons, etc. to use in your ceramic pots & pans! You definitely don't want to use metal or anything harsh, and also in an effort to preserve your cookware stack them with a cloth in-between (I like to use old dishcloths/towels).

Of course glass is usually a safe way to go (check lead levels), and some people love cast iron.  Some articles claim that stainless steel is a good option, but a lot of times it has ingredients in it like nickel, which many are sensitive to.  If you have heavy metal toxicity/burden, then you want to avoid such products.  You can find this out through Functional Medicine/Naturopathic testing.  Way before I ever had such testing I knew I couldn't tolerate nickel, or lots of metals, because my skin would blister, ooze, and turn green from jewelry made from those materials.  That's a big reason I use bamboo cutlery much of the time, because every time you eat you could be exposing yourself to something that doesn't agree with your system, and that is an added burden your body does't need.  Listen to your body's messages!

I hope this article points you in some helpful directions to green up your kitchen and keep yourself and your loved ones as healthy as possible!







Friday, December 23, 2016

Last Minute Gifts You Are Never "Too Late" For

Hopefully all of your holiday shopping is done and you are nice and relaxed...in that groove of just enjoying all that is going on around you.  But...if you are finding yourself panicked about those last-minute gifts you didn't get and the fact that you are now "out of time," get your loved ones something digital.  It's NEVER "too late"...that's just a story we tell ourselves.  There are always solutions.  Here are a couple of my suggestions...

1. Access to "Food Matters TV (FMTV)," where they have amazing documentaries and other content around healthy eating and mind/body/spirit stuff...and they add new videos each week.

2. Something from "Sounds True"...loads of awesome life improvement stuff from meditation to online courses, audio, video, etc...just hit the little "shop by category" tab in the upper left, and it is all sorted out for you.

3. A mindbodygreen class...there are so many topics to choose from including yoga, meditation, fitness, nutrition, home, relationships, etc.  So many goodies to check out!

What's better than helping someone live a healthier and fuller life?!  It's truly the gift that keeps on giving (and you can get it right up to the last minute!)  Good luck out there!  I am hoping to continue with some more of my faves between Christmas and New Years...there are so many I haven't gotten to yet!  That's a good "problem" to have!  HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Helping Hands

I have always loved scents.  Give me a good song to listen to, and a sweet scent to smell, and I am happy.  There are so many cues around us that tell us it's the "Holiday Season."  One of my favorites is the various smells.

Today I bring you two hand lotions that are sure to make you (and the people around you) feel festive!  The first one will blow your mind...er...*record scratch*...oops!  I just went to look up the link for this one, and it appears the company (Soap & Paper Factory) did not make their holiday scented hand cream this year.  Such a bummer!  I really can't believe it, because they sold out quickly last year everywhere I went.  So grateful I scored an extra for myself!  However, fingers (and toes) crossed they come back next year, because I have never gotten so many compliments before...people wondering if I had just cut down a Christmas Tree ("Frosted Pine" scent)...not kidding.  In the meantime, you can check out their other lovely hand cream scents (which fit perfectly in just about any purse you might be carrying).  They are super luxurious and would make awesome stocking stuffers!  Also note that the "Roland Pine" scent appears to be the same as the "Frosted Pine" from the past (or at least similar), but for now they only have it in soap, candles, room pray, diffusers, potpourri, etc.  Good stuff!
Soap & Paper Factory - Snow Drop Collection "Frosted Pine" Hand Cream & Indigo Wild "Frankincense & Myrrh Zum Body Lotion"
I did some searching around to find a good "Pine/Fir/Spruce" replacement hand cream to suggest, but I was stumped.  I know there are some out there, but I couldn't find any that meet my safe-ingredient-list-standards!  Then I remembered a product my father received as a gift from one of his customers a few years back.  I discovered it while visiting my parents house.  I found myself sniffing around to find the source of the awesome smell I was smelling, and I finally figured out what it was...my dad's hand salve.  It is called "Hard Core Hand Care," and the scent is "New England Woods."  It has an impressive ingredient list, and it is made not too far away in New Hampshire.  This is a great find for the loved ones in your life who have jobs/hobbies that beat-up their hands...note, it comes in a tin instead of a tube.  I tried it for myself, and this is some serious hand healing!  Check it out!

One of my very favorite scents of all-time, not just during the holidays, is Frankincense.  I really love it at church when they use the incense burner on and around the altar.  There is just something about it that transports me...takes me back...and lifts me up.  I just feel more connected to my roots and to God.  It is like it grounds me and enlightens me all at the same time.  Maybe it is triggering some sort of epigenetic response of my ancestors...whatever it is, I love it!  This time of year when I smell Frankincense and Myrrh I imagine the journey of the Wisemen and the feeling in the air that Holy Night.  All of those warm feelings and images are evoked when I use my "Frankincense & Myrrh Zum Body Lotion" by Indigo Wild.  Personally I only reserve it for use as a hand lotion, which I keep by the door for when I am running out into the cold.  It is silky smooth and packed full of hydrating and soothing ingredients.  And each time I catch a whiff of it I smile and feel content.  The power of aromatherapy!

Maybe you have a practitioner, mail-person, teacher, friend, or someone in your life you want to give a little holiday "Thank You" to...or maybe you deserve to treat yourself for almost making it to the finish-line of the most wonderful (and stressful) time of the year!  For whatever reason...these are the perfect little treasures to pick-up and have on hand this season.


Monday, December 19, 2016

I've Got A Cookie For That

My first education in food allergies came not long after my son was born in 2008.  He was a lethargic eater with digestive issues.  His pediatrician sent us to a G.I. doc who said, "reflux," prescribed "Zantac," and told me there was nothing else I could do...other than raising the head of his bassinet.  My mommy-intuition told me there was more to it, so I started my research.  I found that dairy/soy allergies are fairly common in infants (at least those presenting with digestive issues), so I cut dairy and soy out of my diet (because I was exclusively breastfeeding).  Once the proteins had a chance to work their way out of my system my son did so much better and finally started to gain some weight!  Lessons learned...food is a powerful solution, and always trust your gut!

I sort of panicked thinking about not having desserts, since most contain dairy or soy in some form (this was back before my health crashed and I gave up all sugar).  My searching brought me to Erin McKenna and her beautiful Gluten-Free and Vegan "Babycakes Bakery."  Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to make it to NYC to enjoy her treats, but as luck would have it she had a cookbook!  I ordered it right away and started baking.  I think I literally made everything in her first book...as evidenced by the beat-up and stained pages.  Our favorites were her chocolate chip cookies and banana bread.  I was so impressed with her story, and her desire to create a safe place for kids and adults alike to come and enjoy sweet treats...but even more impressed that they actually tasted delicious!  (I was skeptical since this was my first experience in the "allergy-friendly baking world," and baking was sort of my thing.)

Erin McKenna's second cookbook which includes the sugar cookie recipe
I continued to follow Erin's every move...she opened a couple more bakery locations, and I kept my fingers crossed for the addition of a Boston shop...still waiting...  Thankfully she put out another cookbook for all of us ravenous fans!  Once again I made my way through the gorgeous pages (it really is a work of food art), enjoying each recipe.  However, it was always sort of hanging over my head that the holidays would never be the same again.  I had so many classic, beloved, family-tradition recipes.  It was hard to let go, but when Christmas rolled around it was the perfect time to try out Erin's "Sugar Cookie" recipe.  It is AMAZING!  Seriously.  And it includes modifications to help you get your cookies just the way you like them (I happen to prefer a "cakier" cookie, which means a little more flour and less sugar.)  I have now tried 3 other "allergen-free" sugar cookie recipes, and the Babycakes one comes out heads and tails above all the rest.  It is delicious (as professed by my son and husband...but also by those who don't have food avoidances), and equally important to me is the fact that the dough is very easy to make and handle.  It rolls out well and works with tricky cutouts BEAUTIFULLY!  And one of the best parts, which is a HUGE added bonus, is that it doesn't have eggs in it, so you don't have to worry about your little ones handling the dough...or even eating it!  It is pure perfection!

Erin McKenna's Sugar Cookie Recipe (for the modifications pick up her book!)
Our finished products 2016 - including our vintage cookie-cutters, passed down from my mother
I would urge you to follow Erin McKenna & Babycakes no matter what your diet situation or preferences, because it is just better for you all around, and I PROMISE you will thoroughly enjoy her goodies.  We FINALLY got to try them straight from the bakery while at Disney World...opening a location there was total genius on her part.  I am SO HAPPY for all of the little kiddos with food allergies who can fully enjoy their Disney experience...treats and all!  I ordered one of her adorable and YUMMY birthday cakes to celebrate my son's birthday, and we ALL loved it!  I even had a little piece...vanilla cake, chocolate frosting, with maple frosting in the middle...unbelievable!

My son's delicious birthday cake from Babycakes Orlando, which delivers to Disney World Resorts/Restaurants
I hope this post will help EVERYONE find a way to celebrate and feel included in the festivities this holiday season!  ENJOY!!!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

What About Your Treat?

So many people ask me how I "treat" myself.  For about 3-4 years I didn't have a single dessert, and I still haven't touched anything with white/refined sugar for almost six years...(most of that time not so much as a piece of fruit or starchy vegetable either)!  People are blown-away, shocked really, when they find out.  "How do you do it?!" they ask, marveling at my willpower.  I tell them that they are giving me way too much credit...it's less about willpower and more about fear.  Fear is a very powerful thing.  Fear kept me locked into very black and white thinking about food...there were foods that hurt and foods that healed (feeding the Lyme, Candida, & "bad" bacteria, or starving it), and I didn't want to take any chances in setting myself back.  Dropping the gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, etc. seemed to be a major factor in my getting better and then managing my symptoms as I went forward on my healing journey.  That was good enough for me!

In the last year or two I have experimented a little bit more with breaking out of my core diet staples...not a lot, but I have found ways to "indulge" on my own terms.  It is key to flip your thinking upside-down, and instead of wasting energy focusing on what you "can't" have/do get creative with what you "can" have/do.  You would be surprised what you can come up with!  It is also an amazing turning point when you stop feeling like you are missing out and realize that you love yourself enough to provide your body with only the very best fuel.  It is extremely empowering!

The other important thing to realize is that emotions are tied to eating...BIG TIME...and not just for those with true eating disorders.  I associated treats with good times.  Growing up we weren't allowed to have junk food or many sweets (if we did have them they were homemade).  These foods were reserved for special occasions, so my brain associated those foods with happy memories.  Then when I was old enough to make my own food choices I overindulged in sweets, to the point that I was addicted (we now know sugar is more addictive than cocaine).  If I couldn't get my hands on something sugary I would literally go to the pantry and stick a spoon in the bag of sugar and eat it straight.  As an adult I would reward myself with food after college exams, or a hard day of work...comfort myself with food when I had to do something stressful or if I was upset about something...and of course celebrate anything and everything I could come up with (cupcakes were my #1 obsession).  It's not a sin by any means, but it is something really worth exploring more through journaling, therapy, or just mindful awareness and curiosity.  That is how we can loosen the old tethers and make positive habit changes for ourselves.

Now on to the good part!  MY go-to treats!  First, I have ALWAYS LOVED chocolate.  Unfortunately many varieties are low-quality and loaded with refined sugar and other toxic ingredients.  Healthy cocoa/cacao crops (organic, non-GMO, etc.) that are processed in a pure/clean way can actually be very good for you!  On the other hand, heavily sprayed or modified versions, processed with chemicals and stored in a way that accumulates molds can actually be detrimental to your health.

That's where "Not Your Sugar Mamas" comes to the rescue!  One day while investigating the extensive chocolate section at my local health food store I did what I always do...scan for unfamiliar labels and immediately flip over any new finds to study their ingredient list.  Usually there is SOMETHING that makes me have to put them back in their cute little display box.  This time I was pleasantly surprised..."Organic raw cacao powder, organic raw cacao butter, organic grade B maple syrup, organic Madagascar vanilla bean."  (Hello...maple syrup?!  The healing properties of that liquid gold alone merits its own blog post!)  I did a little happy dance right then and there before I grabbed a couple bars and checked out.  I couldn't wait to get home to savor my newly found treasure in peace.  It did NOT disappoint!  I broke off a square and let it melt in my mouth...then the next one I bit off and chewed.  There is just something so rich and satisfying about this chocolate!  The fact that it is high quality is obvious, but there is something else that is so special about it that I can't quite put into words.

My "Not Your Sugar Mamas - Pure & Simple" minis are not only cute but portable, too! 
When I went to the "Not Your Sugar Mamas" website it became clear.  Their ingredients, their story, their philosophy...they had me at "everything is energy."  These are my peeps, my tribe, speaking my language!  The founders, Bennett & Ky, are a couple of super cool yoga chicks who really get it...spreading "health, happiness, and love" in their own special way.  Now THAT is how to really rock life!  And they are doing it all from Martha's Vineyard, so they are also local (for me).  It doesn't get better than that!  I look forward to supporting this company foreva-eva...and hopefully getting to their  yummy "Organic Cafe" in the very near future!  Who wants to come along?  Start by trying their products ASAP (my son also LOVES their cookies!), and you will be hooked like me!

Not sure how many times I will feature "tea" in my "Favorite Things" blog series, but you can bet it will probably be quite a bit since tea is one of my very favorite things in life (and the health benefits are longer than any Christmas list).  You can also imagine that my discovery of chocolate tea was one of the best things that has ever happened to my tastebuds!  Seriously, though, this one will really put you in the holiday spirit.  "The Republic of Tea" totally nailed it when they created their "Peppermint Bark" flavor.  It is organic and caffeine-free, which are musts for me.  The flavor is so refreshing, soothing, and slightly sweet to satisfying your cravings.  It is a great after-meal treat.  It is just so smooth and comforting, all while rushing in the joy of the holiday season.  I love to curl up with a mug full and my favorite Christmas special, or sip it while doing my holiday baking.  It is only available for a limited time (seasonally), so try it now while you can...and if you love it, stock up so you can enjoy it all year long!

This mug tells the truth, and this tea really delivers!
I hope this blog will help even those who are the most sensitive or feel very restricted find a little more bliss for their senses.  Believe me, I get it.  There really are solutions and joy bombs out there for everyone...it's just a matter of finding yours.  Directions: savor mindfully!


Friday, December 16, 2016

A Shot of Calm...Ashwa-what?!

**First, I have to say I am not a doctor, nor am I giving medical advice.  Always consult with your healthcare providers as necessary.**

Okay...now with that out of the way I can share a favorite little secret of mine with you.  I hope none of you are feeling too stressed out by the pressure of the holiday season as you read this, but the reality is that many unfortunately are.  I want to offer a reminder that the decorating, presents, and baking aren't what it's all about.  We all get caught up in it, but it is time to cut ourselves some slack.  I would encourage you to take a step back and really reflect on why you do all those things and how the holiday can look and feel differently than the ideal you hold yourself to and still be extremely special and meaningful...and probably even more so!

I write this post as a lifelong anxiety-surfer.  There are many other categories that can encompass...fear, worry, nervousness, etc.  Anxiety wears many hats, and it can ebb and flow.  Once I became flattened with a chronic illness anxiety became a constant and giant companion.  It is such a chicken and egg thing.  I remember the anxiety roaring its head soon before I became bedridden, almost as a warning flare that something big was about to hit.  It is pretty well known that bacterial imbalances/infections like Lyme can cause anxiety...and of course anxiety can worsen any symptom, so the goal is always to try to stop the cycle and jump off the hamster wheel.

My intuition always told me that the mind and body are connected in very meaningful and inseparable ways, and now thankfully we have scientific proof to back it up.  So, when I became debilitated by a chronic illness six years ago I took the opportunity to do anything and everything to get better, and that included therapy and other mind-body practices.  I basically decided to become a guinea pig, my own science experiment.  I threw myself into meditation, guided imagery, hypnosis, brain retraining (DNRS, EFT, EMDR), yoga...really you name it.  I became a wellness warrior!  I was all-in!

What I noticed after years of doing these things is that they DO work!  Score!  However, no matter how "good" I was at them there were still times when anxiety and fear would hit me like a ton of bricks, and I couldn't always tie it to some specific mental or emotional stress in my life.  What I realized is that through the millions of things going on in the environment around us (seasonal allergies, the food we eat, etc.) chemistry changes - some people even note they never had anxiety until after a stomach bug, a virus, or food poisoning.  Our guts are our second brains!  If something gets thrown off, so do our neurotransmitters...which impact mood, sleep, hormones, and emotions.  Most of the time we have no idea what is causing it, and we can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure it out, but many times we won't.  So then what?  What do we do with this overwhelming, "out of nowhere" anxiety?

After years of being in a dance with anxiety, and then living with the constant fear of actually becoming handicapped or losing my life from my illness, I wore my worry out.  I now realize that I was full-throttle all the time from the stress/burden the actual infection was placing on my body (and the sensitivities/reactions it caused to so many things), as well as the swirling thoughts about my symptoms and worry that I might never get better...or even get worse.  I did my best to just muscle or white-knuckle my way through stress and anxiety for so long.  A few loved ones kept insisting I try anxiety medication to give myself a break, and in the very beginning I did, but it ended up not working for me and creating undesirable side-effects as drugs commonly do.  Deep inside I knew there was a better way, but I have to admit that I toughed it out for too long.  Why is it so important to get a handle on stress and anxiety?  Because its impact on the body and mind are very real.  Being in fight-or-flight shuts down the body's ability to heal (or parasympathetic/"rest and digest mode"- which is crucial for immune function and healing from chronic illness...or even a common cold), and it speeds up breakdown of the body and the aging process...all you have to do is look at "before" and "after" pictures of past presidents to see proof of that!

I had spent my entire life as a pretty thin person, probably mostly due to genetics and digestive issues (I actually couldn't stop losing weight at my sickest point, which was terrifying), but about a year-and-a-half ago I started to gain weight, and it was very strange...almost overnight I became a pear-shape...and it didn't just look like plain old weight gain...it was gushy, like bumpy fluid.  I was baffled.  I was still eating my stellar healthy diet (without exception), and I was doing gentle exercise that I could tolerate, like dance and yoga.  Then I noticed if I exercised more it got worse.  Huh?  This was all new to me and drove me absolutely crazy as I had to buy bigger clothes or live in yoga pants.  I couldn't figure out what was happening.

Then I decided to experiment with "Ashwagandha."  When I was actively treating my Lyme with an herbalist Ashwagandha was part of my adrenal tincture, and more recently my functional medicine doctor mentioned it.  It is an adaptogen, so it will bring you up if you are down and calm you if you are elevated in some way...balance, that's what I instinctively knew I needed.  First I started with 1/8 of a teaspoon (powder) in my morning tea, and then gradually worked my way up to 1/4 tsp. (I respond well to very small doses of everything...a dab will do me - and many things don't agree with me at all, so I am very careful.)

My two trusty sources of Ashwagandha powder - Mountain Rose Herbs & Banyan Botanicals
The first thing I noticed is that I didn't get stressed out about things I would normally get freaked out by.  There was more of a "can handle" feeling.  As time passed I realized that nagging anxiety wasn't there, replaced by a sense of calm.  After a few weeks (3-4) I noticed drainage of that weight.  It isn't a fast thing, but slowly it is leaving without changing anything else about my life or habits.  Ashwagandha is known for supporting the adrenals/kidneys which have a major influence on fluid balance in the body, and adrenal function is tied to cortisol - the stress hormone!  When you have unrelenting stress in your life (the kind a chronic illness, divorce, intense job, loss of a loved one, a sick or special needs child, etc...even just sleep depravation/insomnia cause), then your adrenals take a major hit.

Rather than me getting into all of the science behind it, I will point you to others who I rely on and trust...and who can explain it much better than I can:
- Dr. Josh Axe: "Get Your Cortisol Levels Under Control & Turn Down the Stress"
- Dr. Sara Gottfried: "7 Ways to Rock Cortisol (& Manage Your Stress)"
- Dr. Aviva Romm: "Adaptogens: Herbs for Beating Stress, Fighting Fatigue & Banishing Cravings"
- Banyan Botanicals: "Ashwagandha: Five Awesome Studies You Should Know About"

I am just bringing you the information, so then you can decide what to do with it.  I am not saying you should take any of these things.  I can't speak to the science behind it, the safety, how it will work for you...I am just sharing my story and how it helped me.  That's all I can do.  We are all different...one person's cure can be another person's poison.  However, I would argue that trying this route is much safer than taking a pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medication with its long ingredient list.  Investigate, explore, research, and try things out for yourself...in a slow and metered manner, and with medical/experienced practitioner supervision as you need to.  And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS make sure you are using products of the highest quality.  For Ashwagandha I only use Banyan Botanicals and Mountain Rose Herbs (both are organic).  Again, I use the powder form, because it only has one ingredient and it is easy to start with literally a pinch if you want, but you can find liquid tinctures as well.

Anxiety and depression have reached epidemic proportions...especially here in the United States.  The reason why is multifactorial.  Just know that you are not alone, it is nothing to be ashamed of, and there is no reason to just struggle thought life with it in the driver's seat.  The holidays can be a particularly stressful time, but if you find yourself regularly under the constant weight of stress, or with anxiety that hits you and you can't seem to budge it, an adaptogen may give you the relief you need and deserve to settle and refocus.  It can give you the breathing-space to proceed with taking steps that improve your overall mental/emotional health and overall wellbeing, like healing your digestion (a major source of depression & anxiety is a "busted gut")...or it can take the edge off enough so you can really get in there and meditate more deeply and regularly without the constant "mind gremlins" chasing after you.  We all deserve to feel our absolute best, and mainstream medicine isn't always the most helpful in working with us to get there.  That's why it is important for us to be lifelong learners and problem-solvers for ourselves, all while getting proper advice and guidance along the way from practitioners who think holistically.  I hope this post will point you in a direction that will help you improve the quality of your life so you can be fully present for the holidays and make every day one you can enjoy and celebrate!