Tag Archives: Reduce Inflammation

EMU OIL: HEALTH BENEFITS

 

Source: Pet Naturals of Vermont
You probably know that many fish contain healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids. It turns out, as indigenous aboriginal people in Australia have known from time immemorial, emu oil is also helpful for a long list of inflammatory conditions. Like fish oil, it too contains a high percentage of essential fatty acids. In fact, 70% of it is made up of a combination of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids. It also contains antioxidants and important vitamins, such as vitamin E and A. (Axe, 2016)

Continue reading EMU OIL: HEALTH BENEFITS

Omega-3 versus Omega-6 Fatty Acids

 

 

omega3-vs-omega6

 

 

The story of Omega-3 versus Omega-6 fatty acids for our health stated in its simplest form (Gunnars, 2014):

  • A diet low in Omega-3s but high in Omega-6 but low in Omega-3 produces excessive inflammation.
  • A diet that includes a balanced amount of each reduces inflammation.
  • People eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) are consuming a much higher level of Omega-6s relative to Omega-3s and the excessive inflammation resulting from this imbalance causes a whole range of serious health problems – including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimers, many types of cancers, and others.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Conditions occurring together (high blood pressure, high blood sugar level, excess fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol levels) that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

 


Both Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids are poly-unsaturated types of oils the human body doesn’t have the enzymes to produce for itself so we must get them from our diets or supplements.
These types of fatty acids differ from most other fats in that they are not simply used for energy. They are biologically active, playing essential roles in processes such as blood clotting and inflammation.
Without both Omega-3s and Omega-6s in proper ratio, we are highly likely to become sick.

 

 

 

(Source:  cornerstonewellnessmd.com)
EFFECTS OF OMEGA-3 DEFICIENCY  (Source: cornerstonewellnessmd.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BENEFITS OF OMEGA-3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (Watson, 2014)

 

Omega-3 essential fatty acids support heart, brain and mental health; reduce cancer risk and help cancer patients recover; help prevent and ease arthritis; reduce the risk of eye problems; and keep the skin and scalp healthy.

 

 

(Source:  www.drsinatra.com)
Omega-3s and Heart Health. (Source: www.drsinatra.com)
OMEGA-3s FOR HEART HEALTH
  1. Help lower cholesterol levels
  2. Reduce triglycerides (unhealthy fats in the blood) by as much as 30%. High triglyceride levels are linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
  3. Decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) which can lead to sudden death
  4. Can help prevent blood clots from forming, breaking off and blocking an artery to the heart (causing a heart attack) or an artery to the brain (causing a stroke
  5. Can slightly lower blood pressure – high blood pressure is another risk factor for heart disease.
  6. Reduce inflammation all over the body, helping prevent blocked arteries.
  7. Prevent the re-narrowing (re-stenosis) of coronary arteries after angioplasty surgery.

 

 

 

 

(Source:  omega3foods.arccfn.org.au)
(Source: omega3foods.arccfn.org.au)

 

 

OMEGA-3 AND CANCER
  1. Fish oils, high in Omega-3 fatty acids, have been found to suppress the grown of certain types of cancers in animals.
  2. May reduce the risk of hormone-fueled cancers such as breast cancer
  3. May inhibit the growth of lung, prostate and colorectal cancers.
  4. May help cancer patients survive their disease
  5. Since there is a known link between excessive inflammation in the body and the development of certain cancers, Omega-3s likely reduce the risk of developing all cancers.

 

 

 

 

 

Omega-3 is a crucial nutrient for the brain and for good mental health. Countries where people eat more fish have fewer cases of depression. (Source:  www.wileysfinest.com)
Omega-3 fatty acid is a crucial nutrient for the brain and for good mental health. Countries where people eat more fish report fewer cases of depression. (Source: www.wileysfinest.com)

 

 

OMEGA-3 AND MENTAL HEALTH
  1. Omega-3 fatty acids promote blood flow in the brain and are essential for brain health.
  2. People getting insufficient Omega-3s in their diet are at increased risk of developing dementia, depression, ADD, dyslexia and schizophrenia.
  3. Omega-3s keep the synapses (tiny gaps across which nerve impulses must pass) in the brain working properly. Nerve impulses need to get through the membrane surrounding the neurons in the brain – and the cell membranes are made mostly of fats, including Omega-3s.
  4. Omega-3 fatty acids improve learning and memory.
  5. They improve mood in people who are depressed.
  6. They fight age-related cognitive decline due to dementia.
  7. Infants require DHA so their brains develop properly, especially during the first two years of life.
  8. A study found that babies born to mother with higher DHA blood levels scored higher on tests of attention and learning than those whose mothers had lower DHA levels.
  9. Another study found that children of mothers who had taken fish oil supplements during pregnancy had higher IQs than the children of mothers who took a placebo.

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower for Arthritis: A cup of cauliflower contains 0.2 grams of Omega-3s - 8% of the recommended daily value.  (Source: www.arthritis-health.com)
Roasted Cauliflower for Arthritis: A cup of cauliflower contains 0.2 grams of Omega-3s – 8% of the recommended daily value. (Source:  www.arthritis-health.com)

 

OMEGA-3 AND ARTHRITIS
  1. Arthritis is the result of the immune system’s autoimmune (abnormal) response to the body’s own joints – as if they were infectious agents, foreign invaders needing to be destroyed. The resulting inflammation produces swollen, stiff, painful joints.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body.
  3. The body also converts Omega-3s to even more potent anti-inflammatory compounds such as resolvins (a family of bioactive products).
  4. Arthritic patients taking Omega-3s have been able to reduce – or even stop – using corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

 

 

 

Foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids (including salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts)  have been known to give skin an almost instant glow.
Foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids (including salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts) have been known to give skin an almost instant glow.
OMEGA-3 AND THE SKIN
  1. Omega-3 fatty acids, especially eisosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential for healthy skin and hair. EPA helps regulate oil production, keeping the skin hydrated.
  2. Omega-3s protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation  from the sun. UV exposure produces harmful substances called free radicals, which damage cells and can lead to premature aging and cancer. Omega-3s act as an antioxidant protecting the body from these free radicals.
  3. Omega-3s also help repair skin damage by preventing the release of enzymes that destroy collagen.
  4. Research suggests that Omega-3’s help prevent certain types of skin cancer.
  5. The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3s help relieve  autoimmune responses expressed through the skin – such as rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.
  6. Insufficient Omega-3 levels can cause the scalp to get dry and flaky (dandruff) and the hair to lose its luster.
  7. Omega-3s can also be given to pets to improve their skin and coat health.

 

 

 

“Omega-3 fatty acids are most important, as they bring balance to our hormones, reduce inflammation, regulate our blood sugar, prevent blood clotting, keep our cholesterol and triglycerides in balance, relax our blood vessels, and and make our cells healthy and resilient.”
– The Natural Hormone Makeover by Phuli Cohan

 

 

(Source: www.allaboutvision.com)
(Source: www.allaboutvision.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 TYPES OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS FOUND IN NATURE
The principal Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid ( DHA), primarily found in certain fish. α-Linolenic acid (ALA), another Omega-3 fatty acid, is found in plants such as nuts and seeds.
Wikipedia’s entry for Omega-3 fatty acid lists these as the most common Omega-3 fatty acids found in nature (Wikipedia, 8/28/2014):

Hexadecatrienoic acid (HTA)
α-Linolenic acid (ALA)
Stearidonic acid (SDA)
Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE)
Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Heneicosapentaenoic acid (HPA)
Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), Clupanodonic acid
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Tetracosapentaenoic acid
Tetracosahexaenoic acid (Nisinic acid)

 

 

images

 

 

 

FOODS NATURALLY HIGH IN OMEGA-3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

 

 

Food Sources of Omega-3's
Food Sources of Omega-3’s

 

 

Foods high in Omega-3s are naturally delicious to the palate.
Foods Rich in Omega-3s:
SEAFOOD:
  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Tuna(fresh)

 

FRESH PRODUCE CONTAINING ALA OMEGA-3s:

Vegetables, especially green leafy ones, are rich in ALA, a form of Omega-3 fatty acids. Although ALA isn’t as powerful as the other Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, these vegetables also have fiber and other nutrients, as well as Omega-3s.

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

 

OILS CONTAINING ALA OMEGA-3s:
  • Canola oil
  • Cod liver oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Mustard oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Walnut oil
Here are some charts to help you make good choices.

 

(Source: www.cancercoachchris.com)
(Source: www.cancercoachchris.com)

 

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SOURCES OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS:  ALA , EPA and DHA are most common Omega-3 fatty acids, generally found in sea food.   (Source:  chemistry.tutorvista.com)
SOURCES OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS:
ALA , EPA and DHA are most common Omega-3 fatty acids, generally found in sea food. (Source: chemistry.tutorvista.com)

 

 ***********

 

9 FOODS RICH IN OMEGA-3s  Foods that are rich in Omega-3 fats, fiber and antioxidants top the list of foods to include in your diet.  (Source:  mollymorgan-nutritionexpert.blogspot)
9 FOODS RICH IN OMEGA-3s
Foods that are rich in Omega-3 fats, fiber and antioxidants top the list of foods to include in your diet. (Source: mollymorgan-nutritionexpert.blogspot)

 

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A list of seafood containing Omega-3's: Seafood sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. (Source:  www.1vigor.com)
Seafood sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. (Source: www.1vigor.com)

 

 

You can check out the Omega-3 foods you commonly eat on SELFNutritionData’s comprehensive list of the FOODS HIGHEST IN TOTAL OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS.  (Millen, 2014-a)

 

 

SOURCES OF OMEGA-3s FOR VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS
Vegetarians and vegans can obtain adequate levels of Omega-3s without eating fish or fish oil-based supplements.
The table below summarizes some of the basic relationships between Omega-3s and types of diet:
Diet Type ALA Food Sources EPA and DHA Food Sources
Vegan many plants sea plants; possibly land plant foods when fermented with the help of certain fungi
Generally vegetarian but including fish many plants and most fish eggs, cheese, milk, and yogurt, especially when obtained from grass-fed animals but in varying amounts depending on additional factors; possibly land plant foods when fermented with the help of certain fungi
Generally vegetarian but including eggs, cheese, milk and yogurt (without fish, sea plants, or meat) many plants; eggs, cheese, milk, and yogurt most fish; sea plants; possibly land plant foods when fermented with the help of certain fungi
Plant-eating and meat-eating (but without fish or sea plants) many plants; many meats many meats, especially when obtained from grass-fed animals, but in varying amounts, depending on additional factors; possibly land plant foods when fermented with the help of certain fungi
Source:  The George Mateljan Foundation

 

 

 

Vegetarian-Sources-of-Omega-3s

 

 

 

 

The evening primrose flower (O. biennis) produces an oil containing a high content of γ-linolenic acid, a type of Omega−6 fatty acid.
The evening primrose flower (O. biennis) produces an oil containing a high content of γ-linolenic acid, a type of Omega−6 fatty acid.

 

 

OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS

 

Elevated Omega-6 intakes are associated with an increase in ALL inflammatory diseases – which is to say virtually all diseases. The list includes – but isn’t limited to (Kresser, 2014?):

 

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • All Autoimmune Diseases
For more information on the role of inflammation in the development of disease, see INFLAMMATION.  For a list of  80 autoimmune and autoimmune related diseases, see AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS.

 

Four major food oils (palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower) provide more than 100 million metric tons annually, yielding over 32 million metric tons of Omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) and 4 million metric tons of Omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
Dietary sources of Omega-6 fatty acids include:
 (Wikipedia, 7/19/2014)

 

 

 

 

33 66

 

OMEGA-6 TO OMEGA-3 RATIO

A distorted ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is a hallmark of the Western diet – and one of its most damaging characteristics.  The Standard American Diet (bearing the apt acronym ‘SAD’) has us consuming huge amounts of Omega-6s and way too few Omega-3s.

 

 

Americans eat too little Omega 3 and way too much Omega 6 (Source: www.meandmydiabetes.com)

The Standard American Diet (SAD)  –  too little Omega-3 and way too much Omega-6
(Source: www.meandmydiabetes.com)

 

 

Our Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio tends to be 25 times higher than it should be. Small wonder we are ill with ailments from allergies to heart disease to cancers. (Kresser, 2014?)
Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory. Omega-3s are neutral. Diets containing a lot of Omega-6 and little Omega-3 increase inflammation. Diets containing a lot of Omega-3 and little Omega-6 reduce inflammation.
The human body requires both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to perform many essential functions.
Omega-6 is found mostly in plant oils such as corn, soybean, and sunflower oils as well as in nuts and seeds. The American Heart Association recommends we consume about 5-10% of our food calories from Omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3s come primarily from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel as well as from walnuts and flax seeds. The American Heart Association recommends that people without coronary heart disease have at least two servings of fatty fish per week. They recommend that people with known coronary heart disease eat more, about 1 gram of EPA and DHA daily, preferably from fatty fish. (Jaret, 2014)

 

This chart shows how Omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation in the body and how Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 contains linoleic acid (LA) while Omega-3s contain alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) yielding EPA and DHA.
HOW OMEGA-3 BECOMES ANTI-INFLAMMATORY IN THE BODY & OMEGA-6 BECOMES INFLAMMATORY (Source: www.psycheducation.org)
FATTY ACID PATHWAYS IN THE BODY: How OMEGA-6 fatty acids become inflammatory in the body & OMEGA-3s become anti-inflammatory
(Source: www.psycheducation.org)
Linoleic acid (LA), the shortest-chained Omega-6, is an essential fatty acid. Arachidonic acid is a physiologically significant Omega 6, the precursor for prostaglandins (mediator cells with a variety of regulatory functions in the body), endocannabinoids (a group of neuro-modulatory lipids),
and other  physiologically active molecules.
Excess Omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils interfere with the health benefits of Omega-3 fats, in part because they compete for the same rate-limiting enzymes. A high proportion of Omega-6 to Omega-3 shifts the physiological state in the tissues to become pro-thrombotic,  pro-inflammatory and pro-constrictive – and hence push bodily tissues toward the development of many diseases. (Wikipedia, 7/19/14)
A chart showing the Omega-6 versus Omega-3 contents of various food oils – you can see that fish oils are the healthiest (anti-inflammatory) for us while safflower and sunflower oils are the unhealthiest (inflammatory):
To correct this ratio you can supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids or eat lots wild fish, while avoiding the polyunsaturated fatty acids that have high levels of Omega-6s. (Source: anabolicmen.com)
To correct a poor intake ratio, you can supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids or eat lots wild fish, while avoiding the polyunsaturated fatty acids that have high levels of Omega-6s.
(Source: anabolicmen.com)

 

 

The graphic below provides an inkling of how our diet is making us sick: Industrially produced eggs deliver 20 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3 while the ratio for range-fed eggs is much more balanced. Industrially produced beef delivers 21 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3 while the ratio for grass-fed beef is considerably better.

 

 

omega63ratios

 

Add to that the vast amounts of potato chips, French fries, micro-wave popcorn, margarine, most salad dressings, frying oils, and processed foods we consume and it’s not at all surprising that chronic, degenerative diseases pervade our culture.
You can check out the Omega-6 foods you commonly eat on SELFNutritionData’s comprehensive list of the FOODS HIGHEST IN TOTAL OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS.  (Millen, 2014-b)

 

 

 

(Source: www.juvenon.com)
(Source: www.juvenon.com)

 

 

 

Joseph Hibbeln, MD, a researcher studying Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake at the National Institute of Health (NIH) observed about the rising intake of Omega-6:

The increases in world linolaic acid (LA) consumption over the past century may be considered a very large uncontrolled experiment that may have contributed to increased societal burdens of aggression, depression and cardiovascular mortality.

(Kresser, 2014?)

 

 

 

 

OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENTS

 

 

images-3

 

Omega-3 supplements must be taken in a form that delivers the fatty acids in a bio-available form or your body won’t be able to get the benefits.
These are some high quality Omega-3 supplements recommended by my health care providers to augment my Omega-3 intake from foods:

 

  • Carlson’s Super Omega-3 Fish Oil Concentrate 1,000mg soft gels
            The dose for me is 1 soft gel 2x/day.

 

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  • NutraSea 2X Concentrated 1250 mg EPA + DHA
           The dose for me is 1 soft gel 3x/day.

 

ASC-00548-1

 

            This company also makes a vegan version. It’s a liquid, not a soft gel.  I don’t know the dosage.

 

 

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  • Integrative Therapeutics’  Eskimo-3 Fish Oil gel caps
The dose for me is 2 gel caps 2x/day.

integrative-therapeutics-tyler-eskimo-3-105-softgels

 

 

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In addition to omega-6 fatty acids, most polyunsaturated oils are highly prone to oxidation and rancidity, which turns these so-called ‘heart healthy’ oils to toxic liquids. (Source: eatdrinkpaleo.com.au)
In addition to Omega-6 fatty acids, most polyunsaturated oils are highly prone to oxidation and rancidity, which turns these so-called ‘heart healthy’ oils to toxic liquids. (Source: eatdrinkpaleo.com.au)

 

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REFERENCES

Cohan, P.  (2008). The Natural hormone Makeover: 10 Steps to Rejuvenate Your Health and Rediscover Your Inner Glow.  See: http://www.amazon.com/The-Natural-Hormone-Makeover-Rejuvenate/dp/0471744840

Gunnars, K. (2014). How to Optimize Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio. Authority Nutrition: An Evidence-Based Approach. See:  http://authoritynutrition.com/optimize-omega-6-omega-3-ratio/

Jaret, P. (2014). Understanding the Omega Fatty Acids. WebMD.  See: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/omega-fatty-acids

Kresser, C. (2014?). How too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 is making us sick. See:  http://chriskresser.com/how-too-much-omega-6-and-not-enough-omega-3-is-making-us-sick

Millen, K. (2014-a). Foods Highest in Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids. SELFNutritionData.  See:  http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000140000000000000000.html

Millen, K. (2014-b). Foods Highest in Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids. SELFNutritionData. See:  http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000141000000000000000-1w.html

Watson, S. (2014). Benefits of Omega-3. How Stuff Works. See: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/benefits-of-omega-31.htm

Wikipedia. (8/28/2014). Omega-3 fatty acid. See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-3_fatty_acid#List_of_omega-3_fatty_acids

Wikipedia. (7/19/2014). Omega-6 fatty acid. See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-6_fatty_acid

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

Visualizing Comfort

 

Visual Comfort -front cover

 

 

In case you haven’t come across it yet, here’s something you might find helpful in your personal and professional lives:
An excellent little book by Kristin Prevallet called VISUALIZE COMFORT: PAIN MANAGEMENT AND THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND.
This new book – paperback novel size and only 100 pages (she’s a poet!) – is the best thing I’ve ever read on how to give ourselves comfort from our physical and emotional pain. Very easy to read too. About $10 – it will be worth much more than that to you.
Guided visualizations to accompany the book can also be accessed online.
From the back cover of the book:

 

Visual Comfort -back cover

 

 

A young woman I’ve been working with for several years is in considerable, chronic emotional and physical pain which interferes with every aspect of her life. Although I’ve been talking to her about ways to dissociate from her pain, nothing was really getting through and she continued almost taking pride in how disabled she is. I read her a short section from Kristin’s book and she got it immediately.

 

 

Kristin Prevallet
Kristin Prevallet

 

 

Kristin Prevallet is an accomplished poet, teacher, and lovely human being. She also does hypnotherapy and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) in her New York City office in Chelsea. I’ve had two very useful private hypnotherapy sessions with her and she came to my Allergies workshop in December.

 

 

You can order the book directly from Kristin ($9.99 via PayPal – includes S&H):

http://mindbodystudies.com/?section=16

 

It’s available from Amazon ($11.69  and eligible for Prime):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0692022376/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0616006837&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1CA4QMMBDXFHG6WYFM0C

The third choice is to get it as a Kindle eBook from Amazon ($4.98):

http://www.amazon.com/Visualize-Comfort-Management-Unconscious-Creative-ebook/dp/B00JJ5APFC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1403976843&sr=1-1&keywords=prevallet+visualize+comfort

If you’d prefer to have the book on CD, send $5.99 for S&H to:

Wide Reality Books

135 West 29th Street – Suite 604

New York, NY 10001

 

Whichever form you get it, you’ll be glad.

 

 

 

shutterstock_130041449

 

 

 

Resources

Prevallet, K. (2014). Visualize Comfort: Pain Management and the Unconscious Mind (Book 3, v.1).  Wide Reality Books: NYC.

Prevallet, K. (2013). You, Resourceful: Tap Your Inner Resources to Restore Your Mind and Body (Book 1, v.2).  Wide Reality Books: NYC.

Prevallet, K. (2013). Trance Poetics: Your Writing Mind (Book 2, v.1). Wide Reality Books: NYC.

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Laughter – Watch the Birdie

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We know becoming engaged by something funny brings us completely into our bodies … and that feels really good. Laughing works quickly, provides lasting positive effects, is free and appropriate for all ages, and has no negative side effects.

 

PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Triggers the release of endorphins that lift mood and relieve pain
  • Protects from the damaging effects of stress by reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) levels
  • Increases the response of tumor and disease fighting antibodies and cells in our bodies
  • Strengthens the diaphragm, abdominal, facial, respiratory and back muscles
  • Normalizes blood pressure
  • Increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
  • Has a positive effect on blood glucose level
  • Boosts energy
  • Relaxes the whole body
  • Quiets the mind
  • Increases alertness
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces aggression
  • Improves coping and social skills
  • Is grounding
  • Burns calories
  • Is fun

References:  (Griffin, 2008) and (Winderlich, 2014)

Laughter is good medicine indeed.

 

imgres-1

So, in case you’re up for a bit of easy, free healing,  here are three charming short videos of some magical birds doing their thing.

 

sulphur-crested-cockatoo

DUBSTEPPING MR PATRICK
Mr Patrick, a lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo, is totally engaged in dancing to a dubstep song in this first video. I can see him fitting right in at an East Village club.
Here’s the video:
Mr Patrick, Dubstepping Parrot

 

 

 

photo

BIRD TO YOUR MOTHER
Disco, a highly verbal parakeet, is enjoying himself playing with phrases he’s learned and inventing others – apparently just for fun. Here’s the video:
Disco the parakeet
If you love this video, check out the many others of ‘Disco the Parakeet’ on YouTube.

 

 

 

images

MOON WALKING BIRDS
And last but not least, here’s a red-capped manakin of the Amazon engaged in his fantastic mating dance. The video:
Moon Walking Birds

 

 

Feeling more centered now?

 

imgres

 

 

See Laughter, Meditation & Breathing to read more about why laughter is so good for us.

 

images-1

 

 

REFERENCES

Griffin, R.M. (2008). Give Your Body a Boost — With Laughter. WebMD. See http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter

Winderlich, M. (2014). 10 Reasons Why Laughing Is Good For You. Discovery.com – Neuroscience. See http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-reasons-why-laughing-good-for-you.htm

 


© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

Healing Through Meditation

In the Mind-Body Connection spirit of this site and blog,  invited guest contributor Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D. offers a post  on Healing Through Meditation.

Research has identified a mechanism by which mindful meditation affects the body at the molecular level, altering activity of genes that control inflammation (a precursor of disease), increases our ability to deal with stress, lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, relieves chronic lower back pain and aids in cancer therapy. The RIPK2 and COX2 genes, which increase inflammation, were found to be less active in people practicing meditation than in test-subjects. The researchers noted that these genes are being studied as targets for many inflammation-reducing medications. Meditation has also been shown to produce changes in the brain’s structure. People who have meditated for many years have more gray matter than non-meditators.
– Joan

Healing Through Meditation

Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D.

Meditation is an ancient practice that has become very mainstream over the past few decades. Celebrities extoll its virtues, doctors recommend it for patients, therapists urge clients to try it, and libraries, community centers and health clubs offer classes in meditation along with yoga, tai chi, and aerobics. Chances are you know someone who practices meditation. Perhaps you yourself already meditate. If so, you already know the benefits. If not, perhaps reading this will inspire you to try meditation or return to it if you left it.

 

Meditation’s History and Variations
There are many forms of meditation: Loving Kindness (metta), Insight (vipassana,) Calm Abiding (shamatha), Concentration (dhyana), Mindfulness (sati), Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), chanting, Zen parables (koans), Transcendental Meditation (TM), and quite a few others. Meditation comes to us from India where it was practiced in the earliest Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

 

 
Yogic meditation was studied about 2,500 years ago by a rich, Indian prince by the name of Gautama Siddhartha who left his life of affluence to seek enlightenment. After wandering through parts of India, China, Nepal and Tibet and studying with teachers he hoped could enlighten him, he followed an ascetic path of self-denial and neglect of the physical self. He came to believe in time that asceticism was a mistaken self-imposed suffering.
 Gautama eventually found the state of enlightenment he sought by sitting still and quiet for many months in what we now call a meditative state, seated beneath a tree which became known as the Bodhi tree or tree of awakening. As one who achieved enlightenment, he became known as The Buddha. Having realized the enlightenment he had sought, The Buddha searched out past teachers and fellow ascetics to share what he had learned and urge them to live accordingly if they would. Many joined him and continued to share the message after his death. Many millions have followed his teachings, and millions around the world follow them today.
 
Any of the various forms of meditation, Hindu, Buddhist and that of other religious disciplines as well as the more secular Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction method, can promote calmness and serenity and assist the body in quietly doing that which each of its parts was intended to perform. When we slow our breathing and take note of it, we let go of much of the turmoil that tends to inhabit our busy minds. The thoughts will continue to drift into our awareness, but when we meditate we learn to notice but not engage them.

 

Integrating Body, Mind and Spirit
One of the greatest benefits of meditation is the interconnection of body and mind. We breathe slowly and mindfully, we sit upright with good posture (or we walk mindfully), and we attend to our thoughts without letting them gallop away with our awareness of ourselves and where we are. In our technological age, it is easy to forget our physical bodies for extended periods of time, especially when engrossed at the computer. Numbness in our legs or stiffness in our back may remind us of this. At times like these, as well as when we are stressed with anger, anxiety or fear, we may forget to breathe deeply, and our shallow breathing can aggravate any distress we already feel. Meditation can bring us back to ourselves, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

 

Meditation as Physical Self-Care
Many health challenges are either relieved or exacerbated by our lifestyle choices such as level of physical activity, diet, emotional stability, self-esteem and beliefs. A holistic approach considers these while addressing the symptoms of any condition. Prescription medications and other medical interventions can be effective in treating physical illness and are widely accepted as such, but if we persist in lifestyle choices that undermine our health, such as substance abuse, tobacco use, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, inadequate sleep, too much TV and not enough intellectual stimulation, and so forth, the benefits may be limited.
The practice of meditation can promote physical, emotional and mental well-being, a fact supported by research (references follow). Many studies have been conducted in recent decades correlating meditation with health benefits, including reductions in hypertension, chronic pain symptoms, cancer, anxiety disorders, depression and various conditions related to stress, with increases in sense of well-being, relaxation, attentiveness, self-efficacy and self-control.

How We Meditate
When we decide to meditate, we set up a place where we will do it. This can be a cushion, or several, on the floor. It is important that we are properly supported and sitting up as straight as possible and comfortable enough not to be too distracted by discomfort. If sitting on the floor, the full or half lotus positions are considered ideal, but simply sitting cross-legged or seated on a straight-backed chair with feet flat on the floor will do fine. We try to avoid slouching, slumping or curling ourselves up during meditation. If necessary, we can use special cushions, benches or stools to facilitate the upright posture of sitting, kneeling or one of the crosswise positions. Buddhist monks, perhaps the world’s best experts on meditation, stress the importance of posture, sitting up straight, as if the vertebrae of the spine were a stack of coins.

 

 

Anyone who has begun to sit still and upright for more than a few minutes in meditation will notice muscles responding to the effort while sitting, and later when arising from the seated position. It is wise to get to one’s feet slowly with attention to pins and needles in the legs or feet and carefully reestablish one’s upright balance, particularly if we are not accustomed to the position, have blood pressure issues or are not very physically fit.
We decide how long we will sit and use a timer of some kind so that we don’t feel the need to keep peeking at the clock. We still may yearn to sneak a peek at the time, and most of us will do so at times, but the timer assures us we won’t miss any important appointments or plans by doing it for too long. As we sit, eyes closed or softly focused on a pleasant sight, we concentrate on our breath, and can think or say a mantra such as In on the inbreath and Out on the outbreath, or So and Hum, as examples.

 

Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh is an esteemed teacher of meditation whose book, Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice, is an excellent resource to help anyone get started with a meditation practice. He recommends, in addition to sitting meditation, the practice of walking meditation. In this practice we mindfully and carefully walk as we think or say aloud a pair of simple but powerful phrases, called gathas, such as: “I have arrived; I am home,” or “Breathing in I know I am alive; breathing out I am calm.”

 

Harnessing Technology to Support a Meditation Practice
If we wish to learn to meditate, we can explore an abundance of resources online, from instructional articles and videos, guided meditations, and meditation apps for smartphone and tablet, to chanting and instrumental music designed to accompany meditation. Most of us have our phones handy all the time, so downloading a meditation timer, and perhaps a radio app to play nature sounds, bells, chants, music and so forth, means we can meditate virtually anywhere. Guided meditations are also easily accessible. Some app suggestions: Insight Timer, i-Q Timer, Calm Radio, Om Bowls, Lotus Bud, and Dharma Seed, to name only a few.

 

Metta Meditation and Compassionate Listening
When we become calmer, brighter and more whole, those with whom we interact can sense it, whether or not they know of the positive changes we are making by doing so. A fight or argument requires at least two parties engaging in the process. The practice of Metta or loving kindness meditation is a Buddhist practice derived from the Pali Metta Sutta (called the maitri sutra in Sanskrit), and presents the dharma, or teachings, from the Buddha, and it is widely studied, recited and recommended. The Metta Sutta comprises two paragraphs to inform our actions, our thoughts and our emotions so that we harm no one, not ourselves nor others in any form. There are many variations on the Metta practice, but this will give you an idea of the Metta format in an abbreviated and simplified way:

 

May all beings be free.