Monday, November 24, 2014

Help for a winter (or anytime) cold

Help for the Holidaze. Before I moved back to Colorado, I was in Denver visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday. During my trip I was “exposed” to a family member who had a bad cold. Many of you may be similarly exposed to illnesses during the holiday season—or anytime. The last thing any of us wants is to get sick, especially during the holidays. Following are some remedies to help keep your immune system strong and hopefully help you stay well during the winter in general and the holidays specifically.

Cold-Eeze is a homeopathic cold remedy that’s been around for many years. It comes in different flavored lozenges and is “clinically proven to reduce the duration of the common cold.” How? Zinc. If you don’t have enough zinc in your system, the germs will win the war. Start taking the lozenges every 2-3 hours at the onset of feeling sick. That means when you first start feeling imbalanced. The longer you wait, the less effective anything will be in helping your body get back to a balanced state.

When I started taking Cold-Eeze during this particular Thanksgiving, it make me feel a bit nauseous, so be sure to have food in your stomach before sucking on the lozenges. Also, Cold-Eeze makes anything you eat or drink right afterwards taste pretty bad. But if this cold remedy really does help to keep you from getting sick or help to cut your sick-time in half, then it’s worth it. (I didn’t, by the way, get sick on this trip.) FYI: taking zinc supplements is not the way to go. Swallowing pills will put zinc in your stomach, but will do relatively nothing to get it where it is needed—your sinuses and throat area.

My favorite go-to remedy is FutureBiotics garlic, echinacea, and goldenseal supplement. If I have been around someone who is sick or if I feel any inklings of getting sick myself, I’ll take a bunch of this supplement—for at least 24 hours—and I usually won’t get sick. I used to purchase this at a local health food store, but lately I’ve only found it online. Futurebiotics is certainly not the only brand you could take; there are many echinacea-type supplements to choose from. However, this is the one I have found helpful for me.

Vitamin C is well-documented to help fight the common cold. Emergen-C is my favorite way to get this all important vitamin. And now Emergen-C is widely available (even in regular grocery stores). Empty a packet in a glass of water and you’ve just gotten 1000 mg of vitamin C in a delicious tasting drink.

No matter what you end up taking, the most important thing to do is start taking something before you are actually full-blown sick. And if you are around someone who is or thinks they are getting sick, start loading up on immune system helpers. Otherwise the sick train may be going too fast for you to stop the process. Treat symptoms early and frequently and stay well for the holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lavender: A Medicine Cabinet Must!

Touted as the most versatile of all the essential oils, I believe lavender is a must-have for everyone. Here’s why. As with all essential oils, lavender is antiseptic and antibacterial, it has a natural calming effect, and lavender is a contact healer—especially good for burns as well as the itch and inflammation of bug bites. It is a great aid for people who experience any skin irritations and more specifically, blemishes

For years I recommended essential oil of geranium as “the” extract to use on blemishes. And for years I have heard clients complain about the aroma of geranium: it’s not the most pleasant. A geranium plant is lovely to look at; the essential oil isn’t so pleasant to smell after applying to your face. Because of this, I now recommend essential oil of lavender as the spot treatment for blemishes.

Lavender is pleasing to most noses and has so many uses in the household, I truly want everyone to have it in their medicine cabinets. Here are some of lavender’s many attributes.
  • If you are having trouble sleeping, put a few drops of essential oil of lavender on your pillow (or on a handkerchief), and let the relaxing melody of this essence soothe you to sleep. It makes a nice addition to your travel bag since traveling often means a poor night’s sleep.
  • Lavender is soothing to burns. For instance, if you have burned yourself on a hot stove or an iron, lavender will quickly take out the burning sensation. My number one recommendation for sunburns is aloe vera gel, but for any other kind of burn lavender works wonders. (See Sunburn Relief Cocktail.)
  • Lavender is also a great bug bite de-itcher (is that a word!?). Simply put a drop of this essential oil on any bite that stings or itches and relief is on the way, almost instantly. 
  • Lavender can be a bug repellent. My experience is that the amount I have to apply in order to truly keep the bugs away is just too much of an aromatic adventure. You may love smelling like a walking lavender plant, it’s just not for me. 
  • Using an essential oil diffuser is a wonderful way to get beautiful aromatics of any oil(s) infused into your home environment. Diffusers are easy to use; some are electric (plug-in), some are simple ceramic pieces where a candle goes below and the essential oil on top. The heat from the candle gently diffuses the oil’s essence into the air.
  • Before I put clean sheets on my bed, I put several drops of lavender on the mattress, up toward where my head will be. Putting it lower is fine, but my feet can’t smell the lavender, my nose can! I also put a few drops on my pillows before putting the cases on. That first night climbing into my bed with clean, lavender-y sheets, is heaven. After a few days, the essence fades away, but you can always reapply!
  • Put 5-10 drops of lavender in your bath. Lie back and soak in the soothing tones of this calming essential oil while relaxing in your tub. If you have tired, sore muscles, add some Epsom salts as well.
I read somewhere that if you have nausea or motion sickness, to put a drop of lavender on the tip of your tongue to help alleviate the symptoms. I can tell you this emphatically—if you put lavender or most any essential oil in your mouth, tip of the tongue or wherever, you will find your symptoms are gone because you have 100% attention on the horrible taste in your mouth! Not only do essential oils taste nasty, their essence is long-lasting. This bad taste will be with you for hours. Don’t put lavender in your mouth!

There are many more uses for lavender oil. Above are my favorites, you may find others you love too. If you do a search and see sites that say “50 Uses for Lavender” and others like it, do be careful. Putting lavender in your mouth is out. Using it on minor scrapes and cuts can be beneficial. Using lavender for major injuries or open skin can in some cases cause more irritation than any antibacterial benefits you’d receive. Use caution, but use lavender essential oiloften! I truly believe it is a medicine cabinet must!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Essential fatty acids—yum

Human beings can make nonessential fatty acids. This means we don’t have to get these particular nutrients from our food. There are, however, a group of essential fatty acids (EFAs) that, as their name implies, are essential for our health and vitality although they are not produced by our bodies. Therefore, we must get EFAs from outside sources, either in our food or through supplementation. If you are not getting enough EFAs, deterioration, inflammation, and improper functioning of certain systems of the body can begin to occur. Day after day, year after year, this will lead to your body’s downfall. Just like a car that has run out of oil, your body will eventually break down. Essential fatty acids are necessary in order to maintain not just physical health, but also mental and emotional wellness.

Two of the classifications for essential fatty acids are omega-3 and omega-6. Within these categories are both short- and long-chain acids. It is important to remember that you want to concentrate your efforts on getting the long-chain omega-3 essential fatty acids more than any other. Short-chain EFAs have to be converted in the body into long-chain; therefore, depending on whom you ask or what book you read, taking anything but long-chain omega-3 is a waste of time. However, there are many sources that recommend flax oil, for instance, as a good way to get omega-3s even though it is the short-chain variety. Long or short, another important point is to get twice as much omega-3 as omega-6, or a ratio of 2:1.

I’m a huge Barry Sears fan.
The best source for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an important component of the brain and also a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, is found in fish oil (from food or supplements). Dr. Barry Sears, in his book The Omega RX Zone, likens trying to maintain proper brain function without enough DHA to trying to build a sturdy brick house without enough bricks—it just can’t be done. So if you take anything away from this article, I hope you will research DHA and figure out how much you are currently getting in your diet. Not enough? Consider supplementation with fish oil capsules.

Cod liver oil is an excellent source for omega-3 fatty acids. I take a lemon flavored cod liver oil from Norway that contains the omega-3s DHA 500mg; EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) 460mg; and ALA (alphalinolenic acid) 45mg. It also has vitamins A, D, and E. Taking cod liver oil, to me, is the easiest way to supplement these all-important nutrients into your daily diet. The recommended dosage is one or two teaspoons daily. (I highly recommend taking a lemon flavored brand. Cod liver oil on its own tastes very fishy.)

Because you need to get twice as much omega-3 than omega-6, you want to limit the amount of foods you eat that contain omega-6 fatty acids—especially the “bad” kind. These foods include red meat, dairy products that are high in fat like butter, fatty cheeses and ice cream, along with margarine, and partially hydrogenated oils found in many snack foods. Corn, safflower, soy, or other hydrogenated oils are also high in omega-6 and should be limited or avoided when possible.

Sometimes I take flax oil; it is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Even though they are short-chain omega-3s, I still think it is beneficial to take this supplement. Flax oil is unique because it contain both omega-3 and -6, but in the correct 2:1 ratio. The flax oil I take is high in lignans. These are fiber-like substances that are also powerful antioxidants. Lignans help balance the metabolism of estrogen, so for women this can help with PMS; it may even help with hot flashes and other conditions associated with perimenopause.

For those of you who take evening primrose oil, although it is a source of omega-6 fatty acids, it is one of the “good” omega-6s, unlike the undesirable omega-6s from hydrogenated oils and fatty foods. Among its many other attributes, evening primrose oil is high in gamma linoleic acid (GLA), another fatty acid that is hard to come by in the average diet. GLA is vitally important for healthy cells (including skin) and cell function. Borage oil and grape seed oil are two more good sources for this essential nutrient. It is doubtful you are getting enough in your diet, so supplementation may be required.

Essential fatty acids is one of those subjects where the more you learn, the more complex the subject seems to become. I am just skimming the surface in hopes of giving you the most important points when it comes to EFAs, but I highly recommend reading up on this subject.

There can be no doubt that for most of us living in America (surely for anyone reading this) there is no lack in the quantity of food available. It is the quality of food that might be lacking. Genetically you may be blessed, but if your cells are not healthy, you are not going to be healthy. Good health is not an accident, so expand your awareness of the quality of your diet and if you need to, supplement—for your health.

EFAs at-a-glance:
  • You want to get a 2:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Whenever possible, you want to get long-chain omega-3s vs. short-chain omega-3s.
  • You want to avoid “bad” omega-6 fatty acids, like those found in snack foods and hydrogenated oils. Start reading labels!
  • DHA is super-important to the brain. Unless you are eating coldwater fish every day, taking high-grade (pharmaceutical grade) fish oil is a good way to get enough DHA.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Makeup De-Cluttering Quick Tip

Does this look like your makeup/skin care drawer?

Simplify your cosmetics drawer. Get rid of all those half-filled jars and bottles of potions you never use anymore. I know it’s hard to throw those precious products away—they were expensive! Use any remaining moisturizers on your body instead of tossing them. Just think how wonderful it will be to open your drawer or cabinet and have less clutter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Trends & Fads

There will eventually be many posts written here about the products and procedures that are available for “fighting” the aging process under the category trends & fads. Some of them may indeed bring you the desired results, while others may give you a negligible payoff and possibly put a large dent in your pocketbook. I am not a proponent of dramatically changing the appearance you were blessed with. However, there are many ways that you can do this if you are so inclined. I recommend reading as much as you can about any new miracle treatment before you decide to indulge in it. Since there are new products and procedures coming out almost daily, I have tried to include those that are the most popular today.

I am a steadfast believer in taking care of the skin. It is my profession, and it’s what I teach my clients to do. Over the years, I have seen trends come and go; fad products become popular, then fade into the void. Throughout the marketing of new products and the public’s quest for even better procedures, I have plodded along—unbending. The skin is a delicate organ, resilient as it is. Because we are looking to have beautiful skin for a lifetime, steady, proven care seems the best way to achieve this. If you look back five years to what the most popular skin care trends were, few, if any, of those procedures and products are still the rage today.

There will always be a new miracle treatment to halt the aging process as well as new diets where you can lose inches in days. I want to provide an environment and an opportunity for you to let that aspect of the world pass on by. You don’t have to give in to the latest trend and give up a lot of money in the process. Even if you choose to try the latest and greatest in anti-aging miracles, hold true to your skin care maintenance program (The Basics and The Extras). Taking care of your skin on a daily basis will bring you the most consistent and long-term results. I would investigate and proceed with caution if you decide to try any of the many skin care procedures available. Trends and fads come and go, but your skin must last a lifetime. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pregnancy & stretch marks

I have a feeling you’re hoping I’ll tell you how to get rid of stretch marks or avoid them altogether. But I’m sorry to say I can’t do that. Some people are predisposed genetically to the formation of stretch marks, while others may escape their plight. Like so many other things, when it comes to the body, it boils down to genetics.

Stretch marks are actually scars. As the skin of the belly is stretched during pregnancy (or weight gain in general), so too are the collagen fibers. Collagen is the supporting structure of the skin (of the dermis or inner layer). As the skin stretches to its capacity, new layers of collagen fibers are laid down to add strength to this ever-expanding tissue. This stretching action, along with the addition of new collagen, results in striae, or common stretch marks.

There are several creams on the market that claim to prevent stretch marks. They must be “miracle creams” because if you are prone to stretch marks, it will take nothing short of a miracle for your body not to produce them. Using creams and ointments on the areas that are most likely to develop stretch marks will help to keep the skin soft and supple, but it is doubtful these products will deter them from coming. If you are not genetically predisposed, you may not get stretch marks. It’s kind of the luck of the draw, and it is predominately genetic. (What isn’t?)

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to areas you’re concerned about. Just don’t start paying a lot of money in hopes of preventing the unpreventable. But do massage your skin—all over—with creams that soothe and moisturize. Your skin will respond favorably to the care you give it. In fact, skin that is stretching tends to itch. Using moisturizers on these areas can help alleviate this side effect.

Massage is an excellent way to stimulate circulation, and our skin can always use this extra boost. Maybe taking care of your expanding skin on a regular basis—before the stretch marks have begun—will actually help to minimize their appearance. It certainly can’t hurt, and who knows, maybe it will really improve your chances of keeping stretch marks away.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Yonka toners: Which one should I use?

Lotion PS
Even though I have oily skin, should I use the pink toner [Yonka’s Lotion PS] since I have redness from capillary damage?

In a word: No! The pink toner is wonderful—for true-dry skin—skin that does not emit enough oil on its own. If you have normal, normal to oily, or oily skin and especially if you have problems with breakout, you want to use the white toner, Lotion PNG.

Lotion PNG
Even though you have some capillary damage, using the pink toner will only increase the oily feel of your skin. The main difference between the two toners is glycerin. Glycerin is a great moisturizing, hydrating ingredient and is contained in the Lotion PS and not in the Lotion PNG. The glycerin in Lotion PS would be way too much for an oily skin; too much of a good thing.

Regardless of the redness in your skin, which can be addressed by using other Yonka products, if you have an oilier skin type stick to Lotion PNG. It has a higher concentration of essential oils (thyme, lavender, rosemary, geranium, and cypress), which helps to regulate oil and congestion—obviously beneficial for an oilier skin type.

Both of these products are wonderful. If you are not currently using one, I highly recommend incorporating one of these aromatic spritz toners into your daily Basics routine. Click here for more information about Yonka toners.

Emulsion Pure
Yonka has a third product that can be used as a toner. Emulsion Pure does not spray. It has the highest concentration of essential oils, which makes it most effective for problem skin as well as inflammation from acne and infections. If you click on the post Problem Skin Helpers: Yonka + more, it explains how to use Pure as a compress, something that works wonders for spot” treatments.

Pure can be use over the entire face as a toner or even mixed into your creams and applied that way. It really is best for problem skin and acne. The higher the concentration of essential oils, the better the effect on inflammation and infections (essential oils have strong antibacterial properties). In a more diluted form, like in Lotion PS (the lowest concentration of essential oils of the three products), essential oils are more soothing for sensitivities yet still have the beneficial properties of stimulating circulation, helping with cellular respiration.

Here’s another client question to further explain:

I was wondering about the difference between the pink toner [Yonka’s Lotion PS] (which I have been using) and the Emulsion Pure?  

The pink toner has the lowest concentration of essential oils of the three toners: Pure = highest concentration, best for problem skin and blemishes. Lotion PNG (white) = medium concentration for normal to oily skin. Lotion PS (the pink one) = lowest concentration, best for oil-dry skin. The pink toner has glycerin in it, the other two do not. Glycerin is a humectant, helping to hydrate skin. If you have an oilier skin type, you would not want to use the dry skin toner. It will cause more oil and possible breakout. The pink toner, however, is essential for a true-dry (oil-dry) skin. 

Because of the essential oil content of these wonderful Yonka toners, they are an integral part of your Basics 1-2-3 Program.