Aromatherapy Essentials

aromatherapy productsAromatherapy using essential oils is a natural way to relieve the common stress and sleep-related ailments that most of us experience.

To get you started, I’ve prepared a list of “must haves” for a healthy, beautifully aromatic experience:

1. Start with the basics.

• A clean cotton cloth (preferably white 100% combed cotton) that can be used for hot and cold compresses.

• Carrier oil (organic jojoba or coconut oil). Some essential oils should not be applied all on their own. Instead, they need to first be mixed into other oils, then applied.

• Aloe vera gel to quickly soothe sun drenched skin. Many essential oils have a variety of healing properties.

A few notes on coconut oil: it is a natural UV protector and potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals which build up under the skin from sun exposure. Daily usage of coconut oil on the face and body drastically reduces sun exposure while slowing down the effects of aging. It also acts as a natural barrier to protect against elements such as smoke, smog and environmental pollutants in the air.

2. “Essential” essential oils.

• The first is lavender oil, which can be used on its own. This fact, along with its range of uses, makes it a “must have” essential oil. Lavender has exceptional antimicrobial properties and can be used to combat allergies, burns, headaches, insect bites, muscle aches and sunburn. Lavender is my favorite for healing and the scent is floral and subtle.

• Second is tea tree. It has antifungal and antiseptic properties, which makes it great for conditions like burns, athlete’s foot, cuts and scrapes, and itching insect bites. Tea tree, like lavender, doesn’t
require carrier oil.

• Third on the list is geranium. It also has antiseptic and antifungal properties, making it a good choice for cuts, sores, and fungal infections. Geranium oil also lessens the appearance of cellulite; this being swimsuit season, geranium is a must have. Always use geranium in carrier oil.

3. And finally, bug repellant. Keeping insects at bay is an age old summertime battle. Two essential oils excellent for use as insect repellants are lemongrass and peppermint. Simply mix a few drops of either of these oils with a carrier, and apply to exposed skin.

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Asthma & Weight Gain: How To Stop The Cycle

woman exercising( — Most people know about the usual weight gain suspects — eating too much unhealthy food or spending too much time on the couch, for instance. But people with asthma need to watch out for an additional factor — their medication. Weight gain is an unfortunate side effect of oral steroids, taken in pill or inhaler form to treat asthma.

There is a proven link between weight gain and oral steroids, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. The reason? “Steroids simply increase your appetite,” says Dr. Gerbstadt, adding that steroids raise blood glucose levels and cause other metabolic changes that not only put the patient at risk of gaining weight, but perhaps even developing diabetes.

Asthma Medication Side Effects

Weight gain is a less common medication side effect when steroids are taken through asthma inhalers as opposed to oral medications because the doses administered through asthma inhalers are far lower and go straight to the lungs, explains Gerbstadt.

In contrast, other asthma medications such as beta-agonist bronchodilators, which relieve the symptoms of asthma by relaxing the muscle of the bronchial tubes, are not associated with weight gain, but they have their own medication side effects. “Beta-agonists can cause jitteriness, dilate pupils, and increase heart rate,” says Gerbstadt.

There is also an unhealthy cycle connected to asthma and weight. People with asthma may be reluctant to exercise for fear of triggering their asthma symptoms. Lack of exercise can contribute to weight gain. And being overweight can, in turn, make exercise more difficult because excess weight can compress your lungs and make breathing during exercise more difficult. Weight loss, therefore, can help improve your asthma and help improve your workouts.

Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain

• Eat less. To prevent weight gain, people with asthma should first and foremost eat less, says Gerbstadt. Cutting back is important, she says, but understands that it’s easier said than done. “Most people are not used to going hungry.”

• Eat lots of veggies. Crunchy, water-filled vegetables such as celery or carrots are an excellent choice.

• Include whole grains in your diet. “People worry about carbs, but if all you ate were brown rice and whole grain bread, you could eat a lot without worry about weight gain,” says Gerbstadt.

• Find good flavorings. If you need to use dips or other flavorings to jazz up veggies, try salsa or low-fat marinara sauce. Other good options include hummus and yogurt.

• Drink plenty of water. “A lot of people mistake thirst for hunger,” says Gerbstadt. “Drink room temperature water, which is more filling than ice water.” Other good options for hydration are herbal or green tea or warm broth, which can help make you feel full, says Gerbstadt.

• Cut down on fat. Air-popped popcorn or baked potatoes with yogurt instead of chips are great snack choices, says Gerbstadt. Use herbs and spices to flavor food instead of cream or butter.

• Relearn portion sizes. Find out what foods and in what amounts you should be eating and stick to those recommendations.

• Don’t forget to move. “Walk. Do jumping jacks when you’re watching TV and commercials are on — it all adds up,” says Gerbstadt.

Asthma and Weight Gain: Prevention Starts Early

Gerbstadt’s advice is followed within her own family — her son, now 6 years old, has . “His asthma started off when he had a cold, and then would go away,” Gerbstadt explains. To better manage his asthma, he eats a healthy diet, a habit that was fostered at a young age. “He likes to eat grilled fish with veggies,” says Gerbstadt.

The youngster follows a three-pronged approach to staying healthy with asthma — he participates in sports, follows a nutritious diet, and manages his asthma, and weight gain has not been an issue for him, she says.

No matter what your age, choosing foods wisely and getting regular exercise are important lifestyle habits for preventing weight gain and living well with asthma.