Saturday, October 16, 2004

Photo Credits

All photos on this site are courtesy of STOCK.XCHNG

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

When Medication Just Doesn't Work

Disclaimer:This article comes from my experience only. This is not a recommendation for treatment. I am not against medication for mood disorders when necessary. Before making any decisions for treatment of your problems, please consult an experienced health professional.

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, or Manic Depression. I began the merry-go-round of finding the right medication at age 16, and quickly became frustrated with the severe side effects of what I took.

Then, I went to a Natural Doctor (ND), and learned that my disease included physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual symptoms. Unlike the other doctors, she didn't tell me I was abnormal. So began my quest for treatment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 2 million Americans suffer from Bipolar disorder. It usually begins in early adolescence, with the first manic episode occurring at about the age of 21.

The causes of this disorder are uncertain, and there is no known cure. Symptoms are contradictory, and depend on the "cycle" (manic or depressive) that one is in.

Traditionally, treatment has been a combination of drugs and therapy, though the drugs must be closely monitored. More extreme cases may also involve shock therapy (ECT). Many bipolars take a combination of mood stabilizers, such as Lithium or Depakote, and antidepressants, like Paxil or Prozac. Dosages are constantly monitored and frequently adjusted, and medications may be changed several times because they lose effectiveness.

In my experience, taking two drugs which should effectively cancel each other out is ridiculous. Antidepressants triggered my mania, and mood stabilizers led to extreme weight gain and depression.

After my last bout with medications, I decided I was through. A psychotherapist I saw confirmed by beliefs by telling me that the doctors I had seen had tried every possible combination of drugs possible, all to no avail. I had joined a 12-step program to help with my alcohol and drug addictions, and threw myself into "working a good program." This experience brought relief, and it has been over two years since I have taken any mood-altering substance, legal or otherwise.

Here are some of the things which have helped me maintain without using medication:

1. Watch your diet. The biggest changes I had to make were regarding caffeine and sugar. These ingredients were a key component in triggering my mania.

2. Know your cycles. Pay attention to your body and mind at all times. If you are off-kilter for two weeks or more, you may be going through a manic or depressive phase. Stress and seasons can also be triggers.

3. Get plenty of sleep, but not too much. When manic, people sleep little but have loads of energy. Depression might cause you to sleep all the time.

4. Exercise. This will help ward off depression, and burn off excess energy when manic. Be careful not to overdo it.

5. Grow your spiritual side. Meditation and prayer have worked wonders for many people. Church isn't necessary, but try exploring many different cultures and philosophies to find a set of beliefs that works for you. There are also 12-step groups available for people with affective (mood) disorders.

6. Create a routine and stick to it. Even if you don't feel like getting out of bed, do it anyway. This will keep you from giving in to whatever impulses that may pop up, from binge shopping to marathon sleeping.

7. Get support. This disease is much bigger than you are. Seek out others who understand what you are going through. You need to have the support of others around you, for without this you will fail. It doesn't mean you are weak. It also doesn't hurt to have a therapist you trust.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Creating the Ideal Environment with Color

Take a look around. Does your living room feel dull and dreary? Does your bedroom make you feel energetic instead of relaxed? What colors do you see?

If a certain area of your home seems to give off bad vibes, take a look at the decor and walls. The predominant color scheme can have a lot to do with what you are feeling.

When looking for a way to change the feel of a room, giving it a fresh paint job can create a whole new attitude without breaking the bank. Check out the color list below, and try adding a new color to see how the ambiance changes:

Blue: Calming, relaxed
Purple: Regal
Orange: Cheerful, energizing
Red: High energy, power
Gold: Stimulating

This is by no means a complete list. Also, some of the colors may evoke a different feeling in you than in others. Experiment. Have fun. Happy painting!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Clearing Clutter to Lift Spirits

Have you been down in the dumps lately? Take a look around your home and/or car. Do they reflect your sentiment?

Clutter can block energies and leave you feeling drained. If you are looking for a pick-me-up, clearing away the wreckage of your living room can be one of the best ways to improve your mood.

Feng Shui, which is also known as the ancient Chinese art of placement, claims that people who hold on to clutter are living with insecurities and doubts. A room packed full of stuff prevents ch'i, or life energy, from flowing freely. Furthermore, the placement of the clutter determines which area of your life is affected.

Ready to clear away the clutter in your life? The following attack plan will help you to get started:
  1. Make a list of organization tools you will need. Look around at what you have and determine what kind of storage solutions you may need. Create a shopping list, and then go to stores like IKEA or The Container Store and pick up shelving, storage boxes, and any other items to stash what you're keeping. If storing many things in a large box, buy smaller boxes that will fit inside. The list doesn't have to be definite, but it will save you time if you have some tools to work with when you start.
  2. Start in one room (or corner) and work your way around. Do you have nightmares about that junk drawer in your bedroom? Well, now's the time to face your fears! Start with the drawer, continuing out from there, completing one area at a time. Don't jump back and forth from room to room.
  3. Leave no stone unturned or closet unopened. Do not move on to another room until you have thoroughly cleaned the first, including closets and adjoining bathrooms.
  4. Sort as you go. Have trash bags at hand to throw away items that are not salvagable. For things in good condition that you no longer have use for, consider having a garage sale or giving them to charity. Separate these in another pile. For the things you want to keep, install your new shelving or pack them away in the storage bins you bought before you started. This will also allow you to see if you need to make another run to the store for more goodies.
  5. Labeling is key. Be sure to label all your storage boxes, especially the ones that are not clear. You don't want to pack seasonal stuff away, only to not be able to find it when needed. You might also considering labeling shelves in closets, that way things always have a home.
Now that you've got a roadmap to success, why not get started? You'll be feeling better in no time!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A Quick Tip...

If you suffer from dandruff, try putting a little baking soda in your hair while it is slightly damp.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Healing A Broken Heart with Homeopathy

When things do wrong do you blame yourself? Do people say you are high-strung? Are you having emotional problems due to loss of a relationship? If you answered yes to the above questions, homeopathy can help.

Homeopathy involves the use of extremely diluted herbal concoctions to cure symptoms. Many people who practice this type of medicine believe in treating all symptoms: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It is a form of alternative medicine practiced by NDs (Natural Doctors) worldwide, and is also available without a prescription online on through a natural food store.

When dealing with emotional problems, usually due to a loss, many people turn to Ignatia. It works best with artistic people who also can answer yes to all of the above questions. Ignatia is used mostly on women, and helps a variety of symptoms, even contradictory ones, associated with grief. It has many other uses, including tobacco withdrawal, fever, cramps and headaches.

Ignatia is made from the seeds of the plant, which contain strychnine. It affects the nervous system. Because of the toxicity of this substance, ignatia usually can only be found as a homeopathic remedy, which is nontoxic. Follow the instructions that come with the remedy for maximum results.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Alleviating Worry

Do you constantly worry about things, even if you've done all you can to help the situation? If you find you mind constantly wandering to problems that you cannot control, try this to help you let go of worry:

The "I Can't Worry About It So Someone Else Can" Can

  1. Find an old coffee can with the plastic lid still intact.
  2. Cut a slit in the lid big enough to fit a sticky note in.
  3. Create a new label for it, saying something like "No Worries!" or "Someone else's problems," whatever you think is appropriate.
  4. Place it somewhere out of sight but convenient for you to access, alongside a pad of sticky notes and a pen.
  5. Anytime you find yourself thinking about a problem, write it down on the sticky note, fold it up, and place it in the can. You may have to do this several times with the same problem if it is particularly troublesome.
  6. After a period of time, the process of letting something go will become automatic. Hold on to the can, though, in case you find yourself having trouble with certain issues.
  7. When the can is full, release the problems to the air by burning them in a firesafe container. DON'T READ THEM!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Build an All-Natural First Aid Kit

Everyone suggests keeping a first-aid kit in your home to protect yourself and your family if the need arises. While there are many ready-to-use first-aid kits on the market, why not try building your own?

The following information will help you build your own natural first-aid kit:

The Essentials

Bandages: Both regular adhesive types and butterfly for deeper cuts, and also gauze
Scissors: Make sure you have a sharp pair
Tweezers: A sharp pair of medium-sized tweezers used only for your kit
Mirror: A small handheld will do

The Remedies:

Tea Tree Oil: One of the most versatile things you can include. Is known for it's antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal qualities. Use for infections, minor burns including sunburn, and sore throats. It is also great for congestion.

Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe is the main ingredient in many sunburn remedies. Also use it for skin problems and insect bites.

Arnica Cream or Ointment: Helps inflammation of the skin. Use for bruises and muscle pain.

Rescue Remedy: An all-purpose flower remedy.

Other Things to Include:

Charcoal: Nothing works better (or tastes worse!) to draw toxins out of the system. Used often in hospitals for alcohol poisoning.

Homeopathic First Aid Kit: Contains several homeopathic remedies and can be found online. Be sure to look for one with Nux Vomica, Belladonna and Chamomilla.

Iodine: Antiseptic for deep cuts.

Hydrogen Peroxide: Everyone loves the fizzing sound!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Natural Solutions for Better Sleep

Having trouble getting some rest? Even though research has shown that
talk therapy is better than sleeping pills for insomnia, doctors are still quick to prescribe drugs such as Ambien, which can become addictive.

The recent trend to find more natural solutions for common ailments has prompted even more people to search for their own solutions. Here are a few tips to help you get a good night sleep, naturally:
  • Try aromatherapy to drift off into a scrumptious-smelling dreamland. Pillow sprays are available at drugstores and some cosmetic boutiques. We recommend the Healing Garden's Zzztheraphy Serene Dreams Pillow & Room Spray, $6.99 at
  • Cut out caffeine and sugar later in the day. Caffeine and sugar can stay in your system long after you feel its effects (up to 7 hours for caffeine). Try replacing your late night sodas with Chamomile Lemon Surrender to Sleep Herb Tea, $8.50 for 36 bags by The Republic of Tea.
  • Take some Melatonin. Melatonin, a hormone originally used for jet lag, is said to help regulate the body's circadian rhythms, or natural biological clock. Though not regulated by the FDA, many people claim better sleep after taking it regularly. We suggest Melatonin 3 by GNC, $6.99 for 120 caplets.

    Health/Mind/Body Books at Amazon

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Using Sensory Cues for Successful Meditation

In recent years, meditation has become a popular way to help alleviate stress and promote spiritual growth. It is so popular, in fact, that magazines such as Ladies Home Journal and Oprah have sections on their websites devoted to it.

When learning to meditate, boost your chances for success by adding sensory cues. These cues can be anything that signals your mind to settle into meditation mode. The following list is not all-inclusive; be inventive and find cues that work for you. Try as many as you like, in any combination you wish. Some may be too distracting, others may work perfectly.

  • Ambiance is important. A dimly-lit area works well for meditation. You may want to use candles in lieu of lights. If it is too dark, you may be inclined to fall asleep. A brightly-lit room may interfere with your ability to concentrate.
  • Keep your space free of clutter.If you are using an area of a room, such as your bedroom, make sure it is clean and inviting. Clutter distracts the mind from focusing, and can block energies from moving freely.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Do not wear anything constrictive that will interfere with your ability to breathe deeply. The ideal outfit would be loose-fitting, preferably cotton. You may want to set aside a special outfit. The ritual of "getting dressed" for meditation can serve as another cue to prepare yourself to begin.
  • Find a comfortable position. Some sit in the lotus position on the floor. If you find this uncomfortable, you may want to use a yoga mat or other cushion. I use a 55-inch stability ball.
  • Eliminate distractions. If you live in an apartment building or noisy area, you may want to try putting on some relaxing or natural music. If you are a beginner, you may also want to try using a guided meditation on CD. These are very easy to follow, and give you a more structured way to use your meditation time. Others just enjoy the silence.
  • Ring a bell. In Buddhist meditation halls, they ring a bell to signal the beginning of meditation and to bring your mind back to focus during meditation. This can be extremely useful if you have a focal point you can't seem to lock onto.
  • Pick a scent that won't give you a headache. Traditionally, people have burned incense during meditation. However, you can also try a scented candle or oil burner. Incense can be extremely potent and is not always recommended, especially in a very small space or an area with poor air circulation.
  • Research properties of essential oils and choose properly. Some people that certain scents are associated with concepts such as peace, love, luck and spirituality. Sandalwood is always popular. You can dab a little oil on your pulse points or add a few drops to water and burn in an oil burner.
  • Do not eat before meditation. Most meditation practicioner suggest meditating on an empty stomach. But if you are starving, eat lightly before meditating.
  • Or, try an Eating Meditation. If you want to eat, you can practice mindfulness meditation while eating. Search the web for more information (the Oprah link above is a good place to start).