A winner will be chosen via random.org. We will announce the lucky winner on April 1st. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to an email with his/her full name, address, and phone number. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to everyone! If there is an item in the Real Food Starter Kit that the winner does not want they may forgo the kit and receive an amazon gift card for the amount of $150.
**Do we have any canadians? In Canada you have to have some kind of skill as part of the giveaway. Please make sure you answer the skill question in the rafflecopter.
This is a guest post by my friend Victoria, of the blog Yogi Mami.
Victoria, CYT, RH INHA, has been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade. She created and manages the yoga program at Chakra Pilates & Yoga in San Diego, CA since 2009. The program was voted Best Yoga Studio in Point Loma in 2012 by the Peninsula Beacon. She is a certified Reiki Master specializing in Chakra Balancing and Meditation. The classes she offers includes: Heated Vinyasa flow, Candlelight Chakra Balancing, Barre, Prenatal Yoga, Mommy & Me Yoga, and her highly popular Baby Yoga and Yoga for Birth Workshops. She also currently offers outdoor Mommy & Me workouts around San Diego. In December 2012 Victoria became the San Diego Prenatal Fitness Examiner for Examiner.com.
Her hobbies include composting, gardening, beading, cooking, homesteading, spending time with her family and friends, and writing and researching articles for her blog and world renowned natural health news sites NaturalNews.com, MindBodyGreen.com, and PowerOfPositivity.com.
Meditation is one of the best things you can do for your body. Wise Zen masters agree that you should meditate at least 15 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, in that case you should meditate for an hour! For many of us in the western world finding time to meditate can seem impossible between work and family obligations and never ending To-Do lists. This article will share with you just how important meditation is for our health and simple ways to include meditation into your daily routine.
Guided Meditation- This type of meditation uses the imagination as a way to diffuse thoughts and distractions. Using visualization you can create a peaceful place where it is easy to find relaxation. Engaging the senses helps to become fully immersed into the daydream making a more vivid experience. This deeply relaxed state allows us to draw insight and inspiration from the subconscious mind.
Breathing Meditation-This practice observes the breath as it moves in and out of the body. It is as simple as noticing how the breath moves in and out of the body effortlessly. There are times when the mind wanders away from the breath which is a normal part of meditation. When you begin to notice that the breath is not being observed simply bring the awareness back to the experience of breathing.
Mindful Meditation- This practice is similar to breathing meditation. Focus on the breath to quiet the mind and when thoughts appear in your mind don’t suppress or ignore them but use your breath as an anchor as you watch every thought come and go. Whether it be hope, fear or anxiety allow yourself to become aware of your thoughts and actions in the present moment without judgement.
Tips To Get Started
Just Do It!- Even if it is for 5 minutes. Starting with a small habit is the first step to consistently achieving it.
Meditate First Thing in the Morning- Starting your day off with a meditation session is a great way to center yourself and keep a peaceful feeling throughout the day. By including meditation into your morning routine you are able to make time for this ritual before you get carried away by the events of the day.
Aknowledge Thoughts- When starting meditation it is difficult to stop the endless chatter of the mind. Allow yourself to simply observe these thoughts without getting distracted and allow the thought to slip away. If all else fails focus on your breathe and you will notice your mind will begin to quiet.
If you are interested in learning more about simple meditation techniques this book is helpful to get you started or find some guided meditations here.
This is a guest post from Mary Vance. Mary Vance is a certified holistic nutrition consultant in San Francisco. Her philosophy is simple: eat real food! Mary specializes in women’s health and hormone balance, digestive wellness, and detoxification. She has been studying natural health and nutrition for over 20 years and reversed her own crippling anxiety using food, herbs, and lifestyle changes. Visit her and learn more about her practice and approach at www.maryvancenc.com.
10 Holistic Solutions For Anxiety
I encounter anxiety so frequently in my holistic nutrition practice, and it’s something with which I am intimately familiar, having struggled with it alongside depression since I was a teen. I experienced crippling panic attacks in my 20s that would strike without warning. Once I began studying holistic nutrition and natural medicine as a career, I learned the how to overcome anxiety naturally, and I want to share my tips with you.
A few facts about anxiety
It’s more common in women than men.
Over 19 million children and adults struggle with anxiety disorders.
Anxiety can be classified as Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, phobias, or generalized anxiety.
Everyone experiences anxiety at one point or another: it’s part of our fight or flight response that keeps us alive and attuned to potential danger. But when anxiety becomes constant and chronic, it can interfere with daily life. The root cause can be emotional or physical, usually both. Oftentimes, if anxiety starts off as an emotional state, the stress it causes may lead to imbalances in stress hormone and neurotransmitter levels. To fully resolve anxiety, it’s important to look at both the emotional triggers and physiological causes.
High cortisol levels: cortisol is your main stress hormone and is produced and secreted by your adrenal glands in response to stress. If you are chronically stressed, your adrenals churn out more and more cortisol, and elevated cortisol levels contribute to anxiety, insomnia, and weight gain. Chronic stress can be emotional in nature, dietary, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much coffee, or a result of chronic pain and inflammation. You can test your cortisol levels with a simple saliva test. I use this test frequently in my practice.
Food intolerance: sensitivities to the proteins in certain foods can trigger anxiety. Eating foods to which you’re intolerant (the most common are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, tree nuts, shellfish) contributes to inflammation in the digestive tract, where the majority of your feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin is produced. The inflammation can interfere with serotonin production, and a deficiency contributes to anxiety.
Neurotransmitter imbalance: aside from serotonin, dopamine is your other feel-good neurotransmitter. Lower levels and imbalances of these and your calming neurotransmitters, such as GABA, can cause anxiety. High levels of excitatory neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and epinephrine also contribute to anxiety.
Sugar, caffeine, alcohol: too much coffee can raise the excitatory neurotransmitters and bring on panic attacks. I recommend cutting out coffee completely to reduce anxiety. Swap it out for tea, which contains the calming amino acid L-theanine. Sugar disrupts your blood glucose levels and contributes to hypoglycemia and blood sugar swings that may cause anxiety. Alcohol can be calming initially, but it affects sleep and blood sugar levels and is a big factor in anxiety and depression.
Thyroid hormone imbalance: hyperthyroid, or too much thyroid hormone, can cause anxiety and panic attacks. Depression is associated with underfunctioning thyroid. Have your thyroid levels tested.
I always recommend saliva testing for cortisol and sex hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA). High cortisol and low sex hormone levels can easily be treated using adaptogenic herbs such as ashwaganda, rhodiola, wild yam, and schizandra. Urine testing to measure neurotransmitter levels is also recommended. 5HTP and tyrosine can be used to balance neurotransmitters, but I recommend doing the testing first to determine the right dosage.
Diet is the best place to start. Determining your food sensitivities, removing excess refined sugars, and eliminating coffee and booze can help tremendously. Avoid refined carbohydrates and chemical-filled processed foods. Adding in foods rich in B vitamins such as eggs, liver, beef and salmon help the body’s stress response. Vitamin C supports adrenal function. Make sure you get enough protein, which breaks down into the amino acids that are precursors to neurotransmitters. Good fats such as butter, coconut oil, avocado and olive oil are the raw materials your body uses to make hormones, so get sufficient fats. I also recommend fermented cod liver oil or a high quality fish oil supplement. Remember to eat in regular intervals to keep your blood sugar stable. Include probiotic foods such as raw kraut, kefir, or probiotic drinks to support healthy digestion and gut health.
Get out in the sunlight! It boosts serotonin and vitamin D.
Exercise can help burn off stress hormones and boost endorphins.
Get 8 hours of sleep for healthy cortisol levels.
Many people have found relief using the emotional freedom technique (EFT) ,which involves acupressure and tapping along with positive affirmations.
Consider doing a detox at least once yearly. Toxins cross the blood-brain barrier and contribute to neuron bundle damage in the brain, which affects neurotransmitter levels.
Essential oils may help, too. Lavender is very soothing and can be added to a calming bath with magnesium-rich epsom salts. Magnesium calms the sympathetic nervous system.
Herbal teas or tinctures with passion flower, skullcap, chamomile or valerian work well to calm acute anxiety, and you can use them in the evenings before bed for restful sleep. The neurotransmitter GABA helps too.
Acupuncture and massage therapy are also very calming.
Talking to a therapist or counselor can help you address the emotional issues and triggers behind anxiety. I found relief very quickly by balancing my hormones, fixing my diet, and using herbs and food as my medicine.
All it takes is 21 days to reboot your health! Buy Mary Vance’s e-book “Three Weeks to Vitality” and regain your health, lose weight (if that’s your goal), dump the junk from your diet, cleanse your liver, break sugar & carb cravings, gain energy, sleep better, get clear skin, and be the best version of yourself!
This is a guest post from Alexandra Hinton of the blog Caretactics. Alex has graciously offered to share her personal story of struggling with depression and anxiety, hitting rock bottom and finally turning her life around and taking charge. It is truly inspirational, and, I believe, can help many people who share experiences in common with Alex.
I struggled with severe depression on and off from ages 14 to 21. Anxiety had also been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and sometimes resulted in severe panic attacks where I struggled to breathe.
I can remember the feelings of depression hitting me during my last year of middle school. I would be fine at school, in dance class or with friends, but as soon as I got home I would just sit and cry. The worst part was that at the time I had no idea why I was so sad. Sure, I had a lot of fun and happy memories throughout those years, and I was good at making my friends laugh. Still, once I was by myself, I’d feel empty, alone and unloved.
Hitting rock bottom
Back in those days, I got into a lot of self-destructive habits. I somehow thought having anxiety and depression meant I wasn’t worthy of the same love or respect happy people had, so I got into a pattern of behavior that allowed me to become used and manipulated.
Three years ago, I was finally hit with the root cause of my depression and anxiety for all those years. I realized it stemmed from childhood abuse, which I had repressed for a long, long time. This realization made my world shatter, and I sunk so deep that I thought I’d never be happy again. I was ready to drop out of college and quit my job, because I didn’t want to be around anyone except those back home that I knew and loved. I was in a dark, dark place and had a lot of anxiety and sleepness nights once again. I was filled with anger, hatred and confusion.
How I turned it around…
In order to turn my depression around, I knew I had to keep working towards my goals and strive to make the following changes.
1. Self love
As soon as I began to respect myself, I realized that all the bad things that happened to me didn’t make me less of a person than anyone else. Respecting myself led to more respectful relationships with others.
2. Letting go
Learning to accept my past and move forward instead of repeating the things I wish I could change over and over in my mind was so difficult, but it was vital for healing. It’s also imperative to let go of small things. One small stumbling block like a disagreement with a loved one or a bad day at work used to slow down my progress. Now, I’ve learned to easily let go of the small stuff and focus instead on what’s going right.
3. Positive energy
When I dwell on one negative thing for too long, it’s easy to pile on more and more negativity and wallow in self-pity. On the other hand, when I start thinking of my blessings it’s easier to smile, feel at peace and have fun. It takes a while to totally transform your thought patterns when you’re so used to focusing on the negative, but it’s so important to do in order to get out of a funk.
Feeling depressed took a lot of energy out of me, but getting into the habit of going on long walks outside or running really helped me to boost my mood. Being out in nature, especially with friends made everything feel okay.
5. A supportive partner
I’m getting married to a wonderful man this summer. His support and ability to be a good listener helped me so much throughout my healing journey. He stayed by my side through my darkest time, knowing we could be happy again, and I’m so thankful for that.
Healing from severe depression and anxiety is an ongoing journey, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to remember that it takes time. Thank you for reading my story, and I wish you the best if you’re on your healing journey, too.
About the author:
Alex Hinton, owner of Caretactics, blogs about natural living, real food, mindfulness and wellness. Her goal is to share information that will lead you to improve the world by caring about others, the environment and yourself.
This is a guest post from my friend Tashenna Lawson, who blogs at Holistic Health Herbalist. She is one of my favorite Wellness Warriors! (You can read more about that here). I was thrilled when Tash offered to share her expertise about healing depression with herbs and her insights into the different types of depression were completely new to me! I hope you learn something too! -Kelley
Tashenna Lawson is a student at the East West School of Planetary Herbology where she studies diagnostic Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic medicine. She’s an artist, herbalist, and daydreamer on a journey to health, happiness, and clear skin! Connect with her on Facebook!
**Note, while Tash knows her stuff, nothing in this post, or any post on this blog, is intended as a replacement for medical advice. If you think you have depression, talk to your doctor. Do not start taking any herbal supplements without consulting a medical professional. They can have negative interactions with prescription drugs you may be taking. **
Depression-How to Find Healing With Herbs
Herbs are incredibly powerful allies to have when dealing with depression. It goes without saying that everyone experiences the blues from time to time. However, when depression doesn’t let up, it can be quite serious. If this is what you’re experiencing, I would really suggest seeing your physician.
In the meantime, there are a number of wonderful herbs that can help those with relatively mild depression who are ready to explore alternative healing.
First though, I want to go over a few of the many different types of depression as it will better help you decide which herbs will work best for your unique situation.
Different Types of Depression
The list below is a breakdown of the different types of depression and the herbs that are best suited for each. You might feel like all of them apply to you and it might seem hopeless to pinpoint the type of depression you are experiencing. Don’t worry!
Think about what bothers you most symptom-wise and go from there. It is normal for a few different types of depression to overlap too, and that is perfectly normal.
So, here we go!
Gastrointestinal Inflammation Based Depression
It may sound a bit crazy to consider that inflammation in the gut has a lot to do with depression, but it actually makes perfect sense. Low grade inflammation in the gut directly affects the brain. When the gut feels sick, those same symptoms could be manifesting your depression as it’s often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammation.
I would like to mention, aside from herbs, that L- Carnitine is wonderful for men to use if they have andropausal depression.
This type of depression occurs after the birth of a child and can bring a whirlwind of contradicting and very powerful emotions. Postpartum depression is related to the rapid readjustment of hormones in the mother’s body after birth and is similar to Hormonal Depression.
• Powerful mood swings • Frequent crying • Strong joy, fear and anxiety • Lack of appetite • Insomnia • Exhaustion
The best herbs to for Postpartum Depression use are lemon balm, nettles, alfalfa, and ginger. These are all safe herbs to use while breastfeeding, the other herbs I discuss in this article are not.
Coined by herbalist David Winston, this type of depression stems from specific situations that have caused a person to spiral into deep and chronic depression. This might be from a death of a loved one, unhealthy relationships, or when something terrible has happened. These individuals feel stuck in the moment of tragedy for many years afterwards and often experience flashbacks.
• Chronic situational depression • Post-traumatic stress disorder • Chronic unrelenting grief • Broken heart that lasts for long periods of time, even years • Isolation • Obsession about what happened
I would also suggest L-tyrosine and selenium to help those with Thyroid Induced Depression as well to help further nourish the body.
For more on dealing with Thyroid Induced depression, check out this article.
HPA Axis Dysfunction-Induced Depression
This type of depression is correlated most with those who have an over-reactive response to stress who also experience chronic pain. These individuals can go from zero to sixty emotionally in just a few seconds, aka flying off the handle. They may also develop nervous ticks from chronic stress whether it be from life at home or a stressful work environment.
As you can see, there are many classifications for depression and you might be experiencing symptoms from several different ones. That’s okay!
Think about which symptoms affect you most. It is also important to try and pinpoint the root cause of your depression, and perhaps try to make some healthy changes in your life.
Some root causes may include:
• Personal health • Perhaps your depression is a learned behavior • Family relationships • Career • Lifestyle • Emotional or spiritual issues • Financial stress • Isolation • Unrealistic expectations • Desperation and hopelessness
When I suffered from depression, and at times I still do, my root causes stemmed from a terrible relationship, financial stress, and a career that felt pointless.
As my depression progressively got worse, it began to really affect my gut health too. So for me, I suffer from GI based/stagnant depression.
I know this may sound complicated, but don’t worry! The herbs I’m about to discuss below will help most people whether they know what type of depression they have or not. The list I made of the different types of depression is really to just help you identify and become familiar with the unique type of depression you may be experiencing.
Now, you may be wondering, what does all of this have to do with herbs?
Well, let me explain!
There are many people who suffer from depression who say that St John’s Wort; a well known herb for depression, doesn’t work for them at all while there are others who claim that is works wonders.
How can this be? Shouldn’t it work well for everyone?
Not exactly… however, there’s actually a really simple answer for this.
The people who use St John’s Wort without success were NOT using it for the right TYPE of depression. Crazy right?
So yes, herbs have their specific uses for specific types of depression.
So are you ready? Let’s talk about the herbs so that you can get some healing!
Herbs for Depression
There are MANY herbs to choose from when recovering from any type of depression. The ones that I have chosen below are easy to find, easy to take as well as effective.
Though often not thought of as an herb for depression, it really should be! Licorice is known to have 8 different anti-depressant compounds, known as MOA inhibitors. These inhibitors are capable of potent anti-depressant activity and show significant improvement for all types of depression.
Licorice Root is also very nourishing for burned out adrenals and is best used during times of chronic fatigue and tiredness that usually results in frequent illness.
To use licorice root, simply get the tea and have 2 cups of licorice tea a day. Try this out for 1 week and see how you feel! Keep in mind that this herb is not meant for long term use, but is generally safe for use off and on.
The Sunshine Herb- St. John’s Wort
In medieval times, this flowering plant was used to ward off evil spirits by hanging it in doorways, so it’s no wonder it’s great for depression right? That aside, St. John’s Wort is the most extensively researched herb as an anti-depressant, and for good reason as it is known to show significant improvement in depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and trouble sleeping.
To use St. John’s Wort, all you really need is the tea, 1-2 cups a day for 4-6 weeks. For some individuals, doing this alone helped relieve mild depression in a pretty short period of time. If you would rather take capsules, these are the best ones.
St John’s Wort works best when there is consistent “GI Based Depression” symptoms. So if you have constant gut issues, this is the herb for you! You can also use it for Hepatic Depression.
One of the lesser known properties of rosemary is its ability to ease nervous exhaustion and uplift those with depression, moodiness, and restlessness. It will also stimulate the appetite which was quite helpful in my situation. Just the smell of rosemary made me hungry and less disgusted with food. It was even better when I used rosemary in my daily cooking or wore a drop of rosemary essential out on my wrists. It’s a very cheerful herb to have around.
Rosemary can even be made into a tea taken in 1 cup doses twice per day and works best for those with Hepatic (melancholic) Depression.
Now, you may be thinking that black cohosh is only used for menopausal symptoms; which is actually kind of silly considering how ineffective it can be for that, but let me assure you, this herb is one of the best to use for hormonal depression.
One of my all-time favorite herbs is holy basil. It’s nourishing, tastes great, and just so happens to be really wonderful for all types of stress.
Holy Basil is also indicated for those who have experienced a traumatic event in their lives who cannot get past it many years later.
Holy Basil is best used for stagnant depression.
I love taking holy basil as a tea but if you’re not a fan of the flavor, try a capsule instead.
For those of us who can’t get all of those constantly circulating, unhealthy thoughts out of our minds, passionflower would be you herbal ally of choice. While it doesn’t necessarily treat depression itself, it will certainly help quite an overactive mind, especially when used before sleep.
I have found this herb to be essential in my healing journey as a lot of relapse occurs when I think too much about the past.
I like to take passionflower as a capsule because the tea can be quite icky tasting.
So there you have it! A breakdown of the different types of depression and the best herbs to use for them!
Have you ever used an herb for depression that helped you on your path to healing and recovery?