The Benefits of Vitamin D for Mental Health

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When you think of vitamin D, you likely think of the sun. Does thinking of the warm sun shining on your face make you happy? Well, there’s actually science to back up the significant role that vitamin D plays on our mental health. Let’s explore

What is Vitamin D?

You may have heard vitamin D referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” before. That’s because vitamin D is produced in the skin in response to sunlight. The body naturally produces vitamin D when directly exposed to sunlight, but you can also get it through foods and supplements to ensure you have enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D to Fight Depression

Research shows that vitamin D may play an integral role in regulating mood and fighting depression. One study found that depressed people who received a vitamin D supplement noticed their symptoms improve.

Research points to vitamin D’s role in regulating serotonin and calcium for its possible therapeutic impact on depression when vitamin D levels are boosted.

Vitamin D to Fight Anxiety

A separate study of people with fibromyalgia found that vitamin D deficiency was more common in people experiencing anxiety and depression. Another study of children also found that kids who were vitamin D deficient experiencing significantly higher levels of anxiety and stress than their peers.

Vitamin D and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition that causes people to lose touch with reality. This often leads to psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Researchers have discovered that people with schizophrenia are more likely to have significantly lower levels of vitamin D than normal, in addition to being more likely to live in parts of the world with less sun exposure.

A number of studies have also found that insufficient sunlight or vitamin D supplementation as an infant increases the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.

So, how can you get some more vitamin D in your life to reap the mental health benefits?

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Get outdoors!  Soak up the sun and enjoy the mood-boosting effects.  Just don’t forget the SPF!

 


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Light therapy is a daily treatment that involves a dose of intense artificial light— something more commonly associated with the treatment of seasonal affective disorder, but it has also been proven to be effective for treating other forms of non-seasonal depression such as major depression and bipolar. In fact,  studies show that light therapy has similar effectiveness to pharmaceutical treatments. You can even do light therapy from home with at-home lightboxes

 

vitamin d and mental health, vitamin d deficiency and mental health, lack of vitamin d and mental health, low vitamin d and mental healthVitamin D supplements: You can purchase Vitamin D supplements at your local grocery store or pharmacy. They come in a pill form that you can take every morning to help increase and regulate mood. Ideally your levels should be at 40-60 mg/ml year round.

 

Increase Vitamin D in your diet: Try to incorporate more vitamin D-rich foods into your everyday meals, such as fish oil, milk, egg yolks, mushrooms and vitamin-d fortified foods.

 

 

The Lockdown’s Effect on Mental Health

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Lockdowns, gyms being closed, holidays alone, and being separated from classmates, friends, and family members are just a few of the factors that have made the pandemic extremely hard on mental health. In fact, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic.

Let’s take a closer look now at the impact COVID-19 is having on mental health.

Anxiety and Depression During the Lockdown

Before the pandemic had even made it to the United States, it was wreaking havoc on the mental health of people in China. Half a dozen studies with more than 10,000 respondents showed that people experienced worse mental health problems than before the pandemic, including high symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Up to half of the respondents showed serious signs of depression, and 35 percent showed serious anxiety. Studies find that the stress and anxiety fueled by the pandemic also cause poor sleep, creating a vicious cycle. The more we lay awake worrying at night, concerned about the pandemic, the worse our mental health becomes.

Loneliness During the Lockdown

Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and travel restrictions have left people feeling more isolated than normal. 1 in 7 U.S. adults said they were often or always feeling lonely in April 2020, up more than 25 percent from 2018. However, we also saw a shift to more FaceTime calls and Zoom hangouts, and these things contributed to respondents in a separate study reporting feelings of “remarkable resilience.” So, not only did they not become lonely during the pandemic, but they gained a greater sense of community support.

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Domestic Violence During the Lockdown

Another unfortunate side effect of the pandemic and a major contributor to stress, shame, and anxiety is a spike in domestic violence worldwide. Sixty percent of people who were experiencing domestic violence pre-pandemic report the violence worsened during the pandemic. This is likely caused by increased stress, unemployment, spending more time at home, and shelters being forced to close their doors. The threat of abuse compounds the stress, anxiety, and fear that a lot of victims were already experiencing during the pandemic.

The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 are Worse for Disadvantaged Groups

Researchers worldwide set out to discover what else was making people vulnerable to mental health issues during COVID-19. They found that among the risk factors were people with poor health or chronic conditions who have a higher tendency of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Researchers also found education and income played a role. The less stable the income and education, studies showed, the more anxiety, depression, and stress experienced.

Vital Self-Care Tools

  • If you can’t physically see loved ones doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. Lean on virtual chats with tools like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime.
  • Physical activity is vital for mental health so make sure to make time for it even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. We can mental health, mental health awareness month, mental health services, mental health quotesnever underestimate the power of physical activity on our mental and emotional well-being.
  • Taking a moment each day for positive reflection will ensure that a part of each day has been dedicated to your well-being.
  • Don’t hesitate to create a support system with friends, family and others who can relate.  Seek out online support groups.
  • Talk to your health care professional who can guide you through these difficult times and give you more resources.
  • Eating a healthy well balanced diet will create a positive environment from inside out.

Effects of Lockdowns on Teen Nutrition

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Covid lockdowns have either been a hit or miss amongst teenagers. Some have taken these lockdowns as an opportunity to self-improve, while others have fallen into poor habits. Many have found themselves binge-eating and snacking frequently due to boredom, oftentimes these snacks are not the healthiest choices either. In addition, the lack of physical activity along with poor eating habits and nutrition will further result in a major increase in diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular pathologies, etc. in the upcoming generation of young adults.

Symptoms of Poor  Teen Nutrition

 

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Poor nutrition alone in teens can result in:

  • Skin problems (acne)
  • Poor bone health
  • Decrease in growth
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Mental health issues
  • Emotional health issues
  • Increased weight
  • Decreased energy

Furthermore, proper nutrition has been proven to help improve mental health and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and overall increase emotional health and energy. Being in lockdown, many teens have been experiencing a range of mental health issues, all of which can be bettered with proper nutrition. In a study conducted in 2013, it was found that teenagers who avoided eating processed foods and sugar while consuming a diet that consisted of a large number of vegetables, fruits, fish and grains had a 25-35% lower risk of developing depression than those who had poor nutritional diets.

How to improve teen nutrition and overall health

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The challenge is not only in the choices that teenagers are making, but also for parents and families to create a healthy food environment and help guide these adolescents to develop the fundamental skills of good eating habits and proper nutrition. Although poor nutrition can cause life-long damage, awareness and action can reverse/avoid many of those damages from carrying on into adulthood. Luckily, there are many ways that teens can improve their nutrition and overall health. Some ways to do so include:

  • Eating three balanced meals everyday with healthy snacks in-between.
  • Increasing the amount of fiber eaten. This is beneficial because fiber is more filling and will lessen the urge to binge eat or snack.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Limiting the consumption of red meat. Chicken and fish are great alternatives to red meat due to the fact that red meat contains more saturated fat.
  • Switching out juices and carbonated drinks for water.
  • Physical activity. It is important for teenagers to get at least 60 minuets of exercise daily. Exercise is essential because it helps with muscle gain, weight control, improve mental health, and reducing the risks of developing health conditions and heart diseases.

Snack Ideas

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To conclude, here are some examples of easy snack switches to help improve your nutrition.

  • Chips -> Kale chips
  • Chips/crackers and dip -> Vegetables and hummus
  • Cookies -> Fruit with nut butter
  • Ice cream -> Frozen Greek yogurt covered fruits
  • Chocolate -> Trail mix with dark chocolate

 

 

 

Essential Oils: Benefits and What to look for

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What is all the fuss about?

There are entire stores dedicated to scent whether it’s a candle, diffuser, skin lotion, body spray, massage oils etc, you name it, and chances are you’ll find it.  I think we can all agree that, at the very least, scents have an affect on us, good or bad.  You walk into a bakery and smell freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and you can’t wait to take that first bite.  Or your partner puts on their favourite scent and if you smell that scent somewhere you think of them.  How many times have you smelled something and said to yourself “that reminds me of….”  That is the power of aroma so let’s take a look a deeper look at it.  Aromatherapy can be defined as the use of essential oils for the purpose of holistic therapeutic healing and essential oils are derived from plants.  There are different ways to use essential oils and you can visit aromadina.com to find out more.

What you need to know

Whether you just like the scent or you’re looking at it as additional support for conditions, it’s important to know a few things before you buy essential oils.

 

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  • Remember to always consult your healthcare provider first before using essential oils.
  • Ingesting, or swallowing, essential oils is not recommended. Taken by mouth, the oils can damage the liver or kidneys. They can also lead to interactions with other drugs, and they can undergo unexpected changes while in the gut.
  • They should never be used directly on the skin but instead mixed with a carrier oil or lotion.
  • Make sure to do your research when shopping for essential oils. Watch out for the quality of the product. There are EO’s out there that are not pure.  They should be tightly sealed in dark glass bottles.  Read the label to make sure it doesn’t say “fragrance” oil.  Fragrance oils will have synthetic ingredients or extenders.  It won’t contain the essential parts of real plants.
  • The quality also depends on the plants that were used which can be affected by weather, growing conditions and whether pesticides or other chemicals were used. Processing and packaging are also factors.
  • Read the label to check that the Latin name of the plant being used is clearly stated, which part(s) of the plant was used, how it was extracted and how it was grown.

Some Common Essential Oils and their Uses:

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  • Basil essential oil is used to sharpen concentration and alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. It may relieve headaches and migraines. It should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Bergamot essential oil is said to be useful for the urinary tract and digestive tract. When combined with eucalyptus oil it may help relieve skin problems, including those caused by stress and chicken pox.
  • Black pepper essential oil is commonly used for stimulating the circulation, muscular aches and pains, and bruises. Combined with ginger essential oil, it is used to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility.
  • Chamomile essential oil can treat eczema.
  • Citronella essential oil is a relative of lemongrass and acts as an insect repellent.
  • Clove essential oil is a topical analgesic, or painkiller, that is commonly used for toothache. It is also used as an antispasmodic antiemetic, for preventing vomiting and nausea, and as a carminative, preventing gas in the gut. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil can help relieve the airways during a cold or flu. It is often combined with peppermint. Many people are allergic to eucalyptus, so care should be taken.
  • Geranium essential oil can be use for skin problems, to reduce stress, and as a mosquito repellant.
  • Jasmine essential oil has been described as an aphrodisiac. While scientific evidence is lacking, research has shown that the odor of jasmine increases beta waves, which are linked to alertness.
  • Lavender essential oil is used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns and to enhance relaxation and sleep. It is said to relieve headache and migraine symptoms.
  • Lemon essential oil is said to improve mood, and to help relieve the symptoms of stress and depression.
  • Rosemary essential oil may promote hair growth, boost memory, prevent muscle spasms, and support the circulatory and nervous systems.
  • Sandalwood essential oil is believed by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.
  • Tea tree essential oil is said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities. It is commonly used in shampoos and skin care products, to treat acne, burns, and bites. It features in mouth rinses, but it should never be swallowed, as it is toxic.
  • Thyme essential oil is said to help reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.
  • Yarrow essential oil is used to treat symptoms of cold and flu, and to help reduce joint inflammation.

Light Therapy: Benefits of Vitamin D Lamps

Optimally, everyone should get at least 15 minutes of sun for three days a week to be in good health. Unfortunately, those that do not live near the equator may not have access to that amount of sun throughout the year. And in today’s busy climate, very few have the time to get into the sun enough to meet recommendations.  Light therapy is a great way to get the Vitamin D we need.  You may wonder how the sun is linked to vitamin D so here is a simple explanation. The sun’s UV radiation helps vitamin D precursors in the body to be converted into a usable form.

Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

 

Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and can combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which includes emotional and physical changes due to change in seasons. Lack of vitamin D may also lead to several complications in the body, including rickets, a reason why you need an alternative source of Vitamin D especially when sun exposure is low. An excellent way to always ensure you get Vitamin D is by using vitamin D lamps.

Vitamin D Lamps for Light Therapy

Vitamin D lamps are sun lamps used for phototherapy. They are fluorescent lamps that produce high-intensity ultraviolet-B (blue) rays. These rays trigger vitamin D production in the body. Here are the benefits of using a Vitamin D lamp:

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  1. Provides you with vitamin D during the winter season, a season when there are less available foods containing vitamin D
  2. Gives you a refreshed morning- Even with no sunrise, you get to experience ‘sun’ for a few hours in the morning.
  3. Boosts vitamin D deficiency as researchers have found that it can significantly increase serum Vitamin D levels even more than when using other supplements.
  4. Great for those who have problems using oral supplements due to side effects such as inflammatory bowel disease and cystic fibrosis.
  5. Improves sleep in people struggling with insomnia. Helps regulate melatonin, allowing the body to control the sleep-wake cycle.
  6. Helps ward off seasonal depression by regulating the serotonin which relays signals to the brain and enhances your mood.
  7. Phototherapy is used to treat people with dementia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  8. The vitamin D lamps are adjustable and can be placed in any position. They are also portable hence easy to carry when travelling. This means that you can get your Vitamin D anywhere, anytime.
  9. Helps boost vitamin D facilitating the absorption of calcium in the body, promoting healthy bone growth and reducing the risk of related health conditions such as rickets.
  10. Helps modulate the immune system, regulate gene and cell growth, prevent frequent infections, and promote fast wound healing

Vitamin D Deficiency

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With the following signs and symptoms, you could start phototherapy with guidance from your healthcare practitioner.

• Fatigue and muscle weakness
• Bone and joint pain
• Slow wound healing
• Frequent infections

Tips when using a vitamin D lamp for light therapy

• Position the lamp 2-3 feet away from where you are to allow better concentration and dispersion of the light.
• Start with 30-40 minutes per day. If you don’t see changes, increase to an hour.
• Be consistent with your light therapy to see the above health benefits.

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Bottom line

With a Vitamin D lamp, you can still get the right amount of Vitamin D that your body needs even when there is reduced sun exposure. Get yourself a lamp and say goodbye to insomnia, seasonal depression and other related conditions. Always consult with your health practitioner, especially if you have any underlying health conditions, to know the right Vitamin D lamp to purchase.

Resources

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2008-05-10-0805090323-story.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-health-the-best-light-therapy-lamp-2020-20200813-wdbrnaby6ff2bazsu7mbhsixxm-story.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-health-8-products-that-will-combat-seasonal-affective-disorder-20190108-story.html

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-sun-lamps-best-to-improve-your-winter-mood/

 

Arthritis: Natural Remedies

 

Joints do not age the same way that people do. Joints can age due to overuse, also known as wear and tear. In the United States, 23% of all adults—over 54 million people—have arthritis. About 24 million adults are limited in their activities from arthritis, and more than 1 in 4 adults with arthritis report severe joint pain.

 What Does Arthritis Pain Feel Like?

 “Arth” means joint, and “itis’ means inflammation of. It makes perfect sense that arthritis is the inflammation of the joint. It is not a specific type of pain or disease like many might think. The joint swells and is red and hot. When this swelling occurs over a long period of time, pressure is created, which then causes pain. If it is left alone, the joints are damaged and destroyed over time.

 Can Arthritis Happen Suddenly?

Pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints are common symptoms. Depending on the type of arthritis, symptoms can develop suddenly or gradually over time. Symptoms may come and go or persist over time.

 What Are the Early Signs?

Symptoms of can include…

  1. Joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness.
  2. Inflammation in and around the joints.
  3. Restricted movement of the joints.
  4. Warm red skin over the affected joint.
  5. Weakness and muscle wasting.

The Three Most Common Types

  • Osteoarthritis the most common form.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks parts of the body—especially the joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis affects the skin and joints.

What Can You Do to Naturally Treat Arthritis?

There are numerous approaches to arthritis treatment. It can include:

  1. Chiropractic care,
  2. Diet reduction of foods known to increase inflammation in the body,
  3. Nutritional supplementation,
  4. Acupuncture,
  5. Exercise, and
  6. Weight management.

arthritis, psoriatic arthrits, Rheumatoid arthritis

Can a Chiropractor Help Prevent Damage with Arthritis?

 Chiropractic care is a great option to manage pain that comes with having arthritis. It is a safe, nonsurgical, natural alternative to pain treatments. Chiropractors are skilled in detecting and correcting misalignments and joint issues with gentle and specialized adjustments.

Chiropractors work with the joints of the spine and extremities. When inflammation is present in the body, certain chemicals are released by the body and it starts to deposit calcium in the joint, causing bone spurs and other problems that cause the joints to break down.

We will be the first to admit that arthritis cannot be cured, even by chiropractic intervention. What we can do is prevent the damage arthritis creates. If a joint is fixated and out of alignment, it is not working the way it should. The stuck or uneven surfaces will begin to grind. This grinding causes inflammation, leading to arthritis, and if left untreated, joint damage results.

arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis

The Crucial Time Frame

If we can allow for proper alignment and function, we will have stopped the process that can cause the arthritis in the first place. Studies show that when a joint is stuck for seven days or longer, it causes microtears in the disc. These tears mean the disc is breaking down and decaying, thereby causing arthritis.

We will make sure your joints are never fixated for more than those crucial seven days, preventing deterioration. We suggest arthritis patients see us regularly, and we will make your personalized recommendations for care after thoroughly assessing your case.

Top Supplements to Help Treat the Pain

  1. Curcumin (from turmeric root) Evidence suggests the turmeric root has anti-inflammatory properties. …
  2. Vitamin D. If you have arthritis pain or are at high risk for arthritis, your nutritionist may recommend a vitamin D supplement. …
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids. …
  4. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis

 In the Kitchen with Arthritis:

 Foods that are known to cause inflammation are best to be avoided, some include …

  • Processed foods. Avoid processed foods, such as baked goods and prepackaged meals and snacks.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Sugar and certain sugar alternatives.
  • Red meat and fried foods.
  • Refined carbohydrates.
  • Cheese and high-fat dairy.
  • Alcohol.

 

Fibromyalgia Pain: Combat the Cold

Fibromyalgia pain

Fibromyalgia-what is it?

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. It can have a complex collection of symptoms that can include muscle, tendon, and ligament pain; fatigue; multiple tender points; and depression. Cold weather can make these symptoms worse and it can be felt deep in the bones, tightening the joints and cause a feeling of achiness.

Why is Fibromyalgia pain worse in winter?

While winter is a season that brings balance to all living things and prepares the earth for creatures to enjoy when spring arrives, it’s not the case for everyone. For some, winter means more difficulties, aggravated pains, mood disorders, cognitive dysfunction (fibro fog), and stress. The flare-ups in symptoms are widely associated with cold, damp days and a drop in barometric pressure. So, how and why does cold weather aggravate pain for people with fibromyalgia?

 

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When a patient gets chilled, it can be extremely hard to warm back up. The cold seems to penetrate bones and cause muscles to contract; therefore, triggering chronic pain. According to medical science, a potential reason for aggravated pain and fatigue is abnormally high numbers of hypersensitive sensory nerves in the nervous system. The hypersensitized central nervous system for people dealing with fibromyalgia pain misinterprets cold as a pain signal. This misinterpretation tends to increase the pain and provoke other symptoms like fatigue, forgetfulness, decreased concentration, and sleep disturbances. Even with these claims, scientists are yet to find a viable and robust association between cold weather and pain in fibromyalgia.

Despite some researchers claiming there is no direct link between cold weather and fibromyalgia symptoms, most patients tend to experience the worst during colder months. Health professionals claim that the worsening of fibro symptoms is likely due to the fact that people tend to be less active during the winter. Lack of exercise can result in physical de-conditioning, translating to intense pain and fatigue.

According to Dr. Robert Bennett, worsening fibro symptoms can also be triggered by other pre-existing conditions. He identifies the conditions as co-morbid and co-existing conditions.

  • Co-morbid conditions: These are unconventional co-existing disorders that tend to occur often alongside other medical conditions; therefore, making the situation worse.
  • Co-existing conditions: These are medical conditions that co-occur in a patient without any significant co-morbidity relevance. Primarily, co-existing conditions weaken the immune system making other disorders seem more prevalent.

Dr. Robert suggests that patients should keep an eye on other disorders when diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia. Some co-existing and co-morbid conditions also tend to be affected by cold weather, making the situation severe.

Fibromyalgia often co-exists with other conditions, such as:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Migraine and other types of headaches
  • Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome

How can you combat the symptoms during winter?

Fibromyalgia patients need to improvise ways to stay warm and welcome anything to help keep the chronic pain and other fibro symptoms at bay. The good news is there are ways to weather the symptoms during the cold season!

 

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As scientists continue to study the disorder, people with fibromyalgia need to bundle up and avoid the winter chill. Here are some other tips to explore to get through the winter season:

  • Get quality sleep: remove any of your electronic devices from your bedroom, try to got to bed at the same time every night, don’t eat a heavy meal or drink alcohol before bed and avoid exercise right before bed.
  • Reduce stress: try yoga or meditation, don’t try to take on more than you can handle.
  • Eat healthy: certain foods can trigger symptoms so try to track those foods and cut them out of your diet. Common triggers can be sugar, gluten and dairy.  Supplementing with Vitamin D is also beneficial.
  • Light therapy: reduced daylight in winter can trigger depression which is often associated with Fibromyalgia.  Re-creating sunshine with a light box can help.

 

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  • Find support: there are many resources that can offer help.  Local support groups and online communities can be a great way to get the emotional support you need.

 

 

2020 End Of Year Celebration Ideas

say goodbye to 2020

2020, the year that most of us won’t soon forget. It was a year where everything changed and we were forced to adapt to a “new normal”. And we did!  We made adjustments, found ways to connect, work and learn. We persevered. But not without some ‘bumps’ and ‘bruises along the way.

With the holiday season now amongst us we are once again forced to adapt. However, here are some healthy ways you can still celebrate the holidays regardless of which stage this pandemic world is at.

benefits of pine tea

Drink Pine Tea

With its evergreen branches, the smell of pine can definitely ignite a wintery holiday spirit. Although traditionally used to help support the respiratory system, pine tea is known as an excellent source of vitamin C.

So, the next time you feel like watching the snow fall or your favourite holiday movie, light a candle, get cozy, and try this festive pine tea recipe

how to connect during a pandemic

Connect

The holidays are often the one time a year where everyone remembers to take some time to connect with people they haven’t seen all year. Sadly, this year many of us will be connecting with our loved ones differently then in years past.

Perhaps take this time to reflect on the ways you’ve connected with loved ones this year and set some intentions about what you want your connections to look like in the future. Consider even ‘putting paper to pen‘ and bring back the lost art of writing letters. Challenge the recipients to do the same.

According to MarthaStewart.com;

Seven Reasons to Reclaim the Lost Art of Letter Writing

Handwritten letters provide you the gift of time. You can build relationships and further connect with people. They have more value than a digital letter. Furthermore Letters are historical artifacts. 

I challenge all who read this to send out three notes to three unexpected participants. Be it family, friends or neighbors.  Also, consider some of the friendly faces around the community who work so hard to keep their businesses up running and your health and safety their top priority.  This small act of kindness could help put that extra little spark in that someone’s life who may be feeling particularly down or lonely from the added stress of the ever changing epidemic.

Bringing back the lost art of letter writing

Reflect

While you are reflecting on your connections, perhaps reflect on the year in general. Many of us were forced to slow down this year. Some of us used that time to learn some life skills like bread. Some of us took that time to just be. And some of us were really forced to face our “stuff” head on.

Maybe you liked this new slow pace. Maybe you hated it. And maybe you went back and forth between liking it and hating it. Either way, take some time to reflect and set some intentions about what you want to let go of and leave in 2020 and what you would like to bring with you into 2021.

Grieve

At the very least this year, you have lost the life you once knew. Things have changed for better or worse. Take some time to grieve what you have lost. Perhaps reach out to someone who can help you through the grieving process like a grief counselor or psychotherapist. Don’t forget to express gratitude for what you do have and even for having had something to lose in the first place.

cooking for the holidays

Prepare A Holiday Meal

This is the year anything goes. Maybe start a new tradition? Maybe try to recreate a dish your grandmother used to make? This year has led to a bit of letting go of expectations. Last year a wrote a holiday article called keeping the holidays magical. There I advised of letting go of expectations to keep the holidays magical. This year has forced many of us to let go of expectations and this might not be such a bad thing.

Let your creativity run wild and don’t forget to reflect on how a holiday without expectations compares to your usual holiday celebrations.

Contribute

Find ways to help others in your community. You may have experienced the special way that giving can actually make you happier if done with intention. In fact, there is some evidence to show the neural link between generosity and happiness (1). Maybe take some time to find some creative ways to contribute to your community, family, and friends.

If you need any help or support during this time of year, please reach out. Even if you simply want a relaxing acupuncture treatment to recharge you to face 2021, get in touch, I’d love to help.

References
  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15964

Homemade Disinfectant Put To The Test!

homemade disinfectant

In Part 1 of this article series I wrote about a powerful disinfectant called hypochlorous acid (HOCL). Something strong enough to kill viruses and bacteria on contact. Hypochlorous acid is a chemical free, safe, all-natural disinfectant which is safe for humans, plants, and animals. This part of the series will focus on how to make homemade disinfectant by producing HOCL with a few simple household items and a generator.

how to make at home sanitizer

How To Make Homemade Disinfectant Spray Using HOCL

To begin you will need 5 things:

  1. Water (preferably reverse osmosis water which is slightly acidic)
  2. Kosher Salt (you need salt that is non-iodized and fine, so it dissolves faster)
  3. Vinegar (regular vinegar will do without any additives)
  4. A mister or spray bottle
  5. A Hypochlorous Acid generator

The generator will be your greatest cost. They run anywhere from $50 to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the type of use. However, you will not need the very expensive industrial models. For regular households and office cleaning they are modestly priced between $60 – $350.

I purchased several units and found two particular machines were the best according to their claims. One was the Force of Nature device for home use. The other was a larger capacity unit (up to 1.5L) made by Ecoloxtech for both home and office use. However, there are pros and cons to consider with both of these units.

Force Of Nature Hypochlorous Acid Generator

Pros:

The Force of Nature is more economical of the two units with a clean design and easy to use. The starter package comes with a supply of pre-mixed solution containing vinegar and sodium which removes any guess work. All you have to do is:

  1. Plug the device in
  2. Pour in enough water to the fill line
  3. Open the capsule and empty its contents into the machine
  4. Press the power button

Et Voila! In 8 minutes, you have enough disinfectant to fill a spray bottle (that comes with the kit).

Cons:

There are two cons to this device.

  1. You are encouraged to only buy their “proprietary” capsules when you run out. If you live in Canada, this cost can add up considering the items are in US dollars and you have to add shipping and taxes to the final amount.
  2. It makes a relatively small amount of solution.  Therefore, it may fall short of your needs if you are a clean freak. I found that for home use my spray bottle lasts about 7-10 days. However, at my office I was using two capsules every 4 days.

DIY How To Make Your Own Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) - EcoloxTech Eco One

Ecoloxtech Hypochlorous Acid Generator

Ecoloxtech was the next unit I purchased which had a larger capacity (up to 1.5 L). It was also ordered from the US and the more expensive of the two sold for $259 (USD not including shipping, duties, and taxes).

Pros:

  • Simple lightweight design
  • Ease of use
  • Ability to produce up to 1.5 L of HOCL
  • Free and fast shipping
  • Measuring spoon included
  • Chlorine testing strips included
  • A bottle of potassium carbonate included (if instead of a disinfectant you wanted a powerful degreaser instead).

Like the Force of Nature, it is relatively simple and straightforward to use.

  1. Fill the device with the appropriate amount of tap water
  2. Add 2 grams of kosher salt (Optional: add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to lower pH)
  3. Close the lid and press the ON button to the desired setting

That’s it!

how to test DIY cleaner

How To Test Your Homemade Disinfectant

Now that you’re done making the disinfectant, how can you measure its concentration and pH?

If you’re a stickler for details and quality control, purchase some pH and chlorine test strips.

Measuring Concentration

In order to measure the concentration, use the chlorine test strips. After the initial 8 min cycle is complete, dip the test paper into the water and compare the colour to the scale. HOCL is a free chlorine molecule which is why it has very mild chlorine scent that is more fresh than irritating. It’s easy to test the concentration in measurements of 10, 50, 100, and 200 parts per million (ppm) using these simple chlorine strips.

Measuring pH

The pH is important because the amount of available HOCL depends on the acidity of the solution. According to the Ecoloxtech website: (1)

At pH 5, over 99% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl. With pH 6, over 90% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl. At pH 7, over 80% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl. And at pH 8, only 20% of the free chlorine molecules will be HOCl.

 Ideally, when checking the pH after a cycle, you want the finished product to be between pH 5-7. I use reverse osmosis (RO) water because it is “dead” water and slightly acidic. This ensures a higher amount of HOCL molecules are in your solution. You don’t necessarily have to use RO water as regular tap water will do the trick.

safest cleaning products

How Long Is The Disinfectant Active For?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. After you are satisfied with the concentration you’ll want to transfer the contents to a sealed spray bottle. My spray bottles are covered on the outside. This prevents UV light to penetrate the solution causing it to degrade. I also store it at room temperature away from direct sunlight.

Even with all these precautionary measures, hypochlorous acid concentration decreases about 1% a day. In other words, if you generated 200 ppm, it would be at around 180 ppm in a couple weeks. Therefore, I recommend using it up within a couple weeks to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Other Uses For HOCL Besides Disinfection

There are numerous uses besides disinfection of hard surfaces. For those requiring more information and research, click here for the multiple uses of HOCL.

Can HOCL Be Used As Hand Sanitizer?

Yes! Hypochlorous acid is a chemical free, safe, all-natural disinfectant which is safe for humans, plants, and animals. In fact:

HOCl acid can also be used in place of hand sanitizer with no irritating side effects. Moreover, punch HOCL delivers to pathogens is more powerful than the one delivered by alcohol.

References:
  1. https://ecoloxtech.com/e1

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for informational use only. Do your own due diligence before investing in any of the products mentioned. It is possible to generate higher concentrations of solution by running multiple cycles of electrolysis which can significantly increase the potency of the end-product.

Hypochlorous Acid, The Magic Chemical You Didn’t Know You Needed!

sodium hypochlorite for hand sanitizer

If you’re a business owner like me you’ve probably noticed your bill for sanitary products skyrocket. The obvious cause for this influx is the coronavirus and its potential infectibility on surfaces (although,  the jury is still out on this). In addition, you likely experienced frustration due to temporary shortages both online and in stores. Demand for hand sanitizers has risen exponentially. Furthermore, it looks like it’s not going to change any time soon! Therefore I want to introduce you to something called, Hypochlorous Acid.

Hypochlorous Acid is an alternative that is;

  • Safe
  • Cost-effective
  • Strong enough to kill viruses on contact
most effective hand sanitizer

Not All Sanitizers Are Created Equal

Now, it’s important to note that there are strict guidelines when it comes to hand sanitizers. For example, according to the Health Canada website, hand sanitizer must contain at least 60%-70% alcohol in order for it to be effective. (1)

But here’s the problem.

hand sanitizer for kids

High alcohol content can be fatal. For instance, if a child was to get their hands on it and ingest it. In fact, according to data from the Canadian Poison Control Centre;

“the number of reported incidents related to hand sanitizer has increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Up to 4.5-fold higher on a month-to-month basis.” (2)

In addition, alcohol based disinfectants can also be corrosive to both materials and human skin over time. I personally learned this after months of use on my clinical equipment, ugh!

So, what if there was an alternative? Something that didn’t require household toxic ingredients such bleach?

how to kill bacteria

The Power Of Hypochlorous Acid – HOCL

One day my dentist and I were speaking and he mentioned a disinfectant that I had never heard of before. It was called, Hypochlorous Acid or HOCL. What sparked my interest is how relatively easy and cheap it is to make. Yet, still strong enough for dental professionals to disinfect their equipment. In fact, HOCL is a powerful oxidant and is 100 times more efficient at killing bacteria than chlorine bleach or sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl).

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) - Devices & Products for COVID 19 Protection

The Facts About HOCL

At first, I was skeptical. However, why would my dentist lie to me I thought to myself? As usual when I hear something that is too good to be true, I decided to look into this revelation further.

First off I needed to learn about the chemistry involved. Second, it’s safety and effectiveness. Then, lastly, whether public health agencies approved its use to kill bacteria and viruses. Especially it’s effectiveness on the coronavirus.

I was surprised at the amount of data and research involving hypochlorous acid. Not to mention all the research specifically focused on coronaviruses. (4)  HOCL had actually been used in the medical field since World War 1! Even the American Environmental Protection Agency as well as Health Canada recognize that;

hypochlorous acid may be applied to: Food-contact surfaces in public eating places, dairy-processing equipment, and food-processing equipment and utensils.(5)

OK, I’m Convinced, But How Do I Make It???

Make sure you read PART 2 of this article for how to make this powerful disinfectant.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for informational use only. Do your own due diligence before investing in any of the products mentioned. It is possible to generate higher concentrations of solution by running multiple cycles of electrolysis which can significantly increase the potency of the end-product.
References:
  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/cleaning-disinfecting.html
  2. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/disinfectants/covid-19/information-manufacturers/hand-sanitizers-containers-labelling-requirements.html
  3. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/disinfectants/covid-19.html
  4. http://ecoloxtech.info/research-search-display?search=ecoloxtech
  5. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2005-title40-vol23/xml/CFR-2005-title40-vol23-sec180-940.xml