Thursday, September 25, 2014

Health Benefits of Singing

I love to sing, always have. But did you know that singing is good for your health? 

The research on this is quite amazing! Here's a list of some of the health benefits of singing.

Singing -
*boosts the immune system
*releases endorphins ("feel good" brain chemicals) 
*improves mood and relieves stress
*gives the lungs, abdomen, diaphragm, etc. a workout (if you sing with correct form, not just from your throat)
*stimulates circulation
*improves posture and mental alertness
*can improve sleep

Wow, that's pretty impressive! 

More specifically, singing various sounds can help certain organs. I found the information on this website very interesting and definitely worth a try. It says:

*Singing the short-a sound, as in ahh, for 2-3 minutes will help banish the blues. It forces oxygen into the blood, which signals the brain to release mood-lifting endorphins.
*To boost alertness, make the long-e sound, as in emit. It stimulates the pineal gland, which controls the body's biological clock.
*Singing the short-e sound, as in echo stimulates the thyroid gland, which secretes hormones that control the speed which digestion and other bodily processes occur.
*Making the long-o sound as in ocean stimulates the pancreas, which regulates blood sugar.
*To strengthen immunity, sing the double-o sound, as in tool. This activates the spleen, which regulates the production of infection fighting white blood cells.

Other research recommends group singing for better health. 

"Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed."

"All types of singing have positive psychological effects. The act of singing releases endorphins, the brain's 'feel good' chemicals. Singing in front of a crowd...naturally builds confidence, which has broad and long-lasting effects on general well-being. But of all types of singing, it's choral singing that seems to have the most dramatic effects on people's lives."

I haven't sung in a choir since high school. But I do very much enjoy the group singing at church when I'm able to go. When I was in junior high, once a month we had what we called a "Singspiration." On a Sunday night we'd get together and just sing for about an hour. Anyone could request a song from the hynmal or praise-book. It was wonderful! Those are still some of my favorite memories. 

I think it's important to note that what we sing is key (pun intended). J Sometimes I catch myself singing a song with words that really aren't what I need to be repeating to myself. A lot of catchy tunes have untrue or negative words. So remember to sing words that are true, encouraging, and uplifting.

Whether by yourself or in a group, have fun singing and knowing it's good for you! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reasons Why You May Feel Worse

Working to improve your health often requires detective skills. There will be times when you feel worse instead of better, and you'll have to use your skills to figure out why. 

So here are some thoughts that I hope will help you when you wonder why you're feeling worse instead of better. 

First of all, if you haven't been doing anything lately to improve your health, then you can assume that if you're feeling worse, it's not a good thing. New symptoms or old symptoms returning are a warning sign for you. Your body is trying to get your attention. It's telling you it needs help! So please listen to your body and take some positive actions for your health.

Now, if you have been doing things to improve your health (lymphatic massage, detox baths, supplements, etc.), and you start to feel worse, there are several options of what might be happening. 

- an undedected chemical exposure
- an allergic reaction (more about allergies here)
- combination allergy to something you're detoxing and something you're normally ok with
- detoxing symptoms (more info here)
- your body trying to find its new "normal"

Let's look at some possible examples:

You visit a friend's house every week, but this week for some reason you feel awful by the time you leave - aching, tired, headache, etc. Why?

You've been taking a new supplement that seems to be helping, then suddenly you break out in a rash. Why? 

You eat something you've eaten before many times, but this time have a problem with it. Why? 

Ok, in the first example, since you've been fine at your friend's house before, you guess that something must be different this time. You call your friend and discover her husband sprayed for weeds right before you came. So the reason you felt worse was because of a chemical exposure. You didn't know about it, but your body felt the effects of it.

Example number two could be that you're having a delayed allergic reaction to the new supplement. Or it could be that the supplement is boosting your immune system or causing your body to detox something that needs to come out through the skin, thus the rash. This is actually a good sign.

In the third example, it's possible that something you are detoxing is reacting with the food you're normally ok with. Or it could be that as you've detoxed/healed, your nutritional needs have changed and your body doesn't want that particular food right now. 

There are other possible variations as well. It's not always easy to figure out what the problem is, but hopefully considering these options will guide you in your detective work. It's important to remember that not all symptoms are a bad thing. Sometimes they're actually a good indication that your body is indeed healing.

As far as what to do in these kinds of situations, taking tri-salts is good for allergic reactions and chemical exposures, and it won't hurt even if that's not what is happening. 

For chemical exposures, try to get away from or remove the chemical source as soon as you figure it out. Drink lots of water, take a detox bath, hold some zinc tablets in your right hand for 10 minutes, etc.

If you're fairly certain the symptoms are from detoxing, then try to endure knowing that it's part of the healing process. Again, you can drink more water, take extra Vit. C, get a detox bath, do deep breathing, get extra rest, and/or slow down with the supplements/therapies that started the detoxing. 

As you heal, your body will be changing. Pay attention to healthy cravings, such as for certain fruits or vegetables, or wanting more or less meat, raw foods or cooked foods, etc. Your body will try to communicate its needs. 

(Some examples: at times I crave tangerines, or I can't even think about eating zucinni, or an apple sounds like the best thing in the world, etc. Of course, unhealthy cravings for sugary or junk foods doesn't mean you should eat them, but does indicate a need in your body.) 

Sometimes you may feel worse because of doing too many detoxing/healing therapies at once. Your body may be overwhelmed. In that case, back off and start more slowly. Detoxing/healing doesn't always feel good. A little discomfort is expected, but you don't want to push your body to heal faster than it can handle. 

Well those are some thoughts. I hope they're helpful. If you have any questions, let me know. And I hope you have more days of feeling better and fewer days of feeling worse. =) 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Healing Power of Love

I had a rather strange dream last night. Well, most of my dreams are strange, but this one still has me thinking.

In this dream, as often happens in my dreams, I was involved in some sort of conflict. As the "bad" guys came toward me, I somehow knocked down the first man, even though he was huge and obviously strong. Then suddenly he became the one who stopped all the other bad guys. I was surprised, but grateful. 

Then he looked at me. In his eyes I saw a love deeper and stronger than I can describe. He didn't say a word, but I knew he loved me. And it wasn't the same look as someone who is simply "in love" with me. It was a strong, solid love that would protect me at all costs, even sacrifice himself for me. 

I was stunned.

The dream moved on, as dreams do. But the other bad guys hadn't given up. They tried to get me by pushing some kind of wall over on me. I was trapped in a tiny space as the wall slowly lowered on top of me. I crawled through the little tunnel space, trying to get to the end so I could get out. 

My hand was barely at the opening, and the wall was almost crushing me, when I was pulled out by strong hands. I looked up into the same loving eyes as before. Once again he spoke no words, just looked at me with deepest love. 

That was the end of the dream. There was no resolution to the original conflict, just the knowledge that I was loved, and loved more deeply than I ever expected.

I'm very grateful for all of the loving people God has blessed me to know. I certainly haven't had a lack of love in my life. 

Yet I think that love is a gift that needs to be received, not just acknowledged. Knowing that someone loves me is different than receiving their love with gratitude. 

I think part of learning to receive love is understanding the source of love. 

God is love. All love comes from Him. And His love is higher, deeper, wider, and longer than anything we can imagine (Ephesians 3:17-19)! 

God's love for us is so intense that He actually gave His own Son, Jesus, to die for our sins (John 3:16) -
*so that we would no longer be God's enemies (Colossians 1:21-22)
*so that we could be rescued from death, despair, fear, loneliness, darkness... (Hebrews 2:14-15)
*so that we could find everything we need in the vast riches of God's love (Psalm 63). 

God's love is powerful! 

As we understand God's love better, I think we'll recognize His love expressed to us through others. And as we learn to gratefully receive love from God and others, it brings continual healing - to our heart, mind, soul, and even physical body. 

When I got up this morning, I wasn't feeling well, but I pushed myself to fix some breakfast. As I sat down to eat, I remembered my dream. I saw again those eyes of love looking back at me. And I couldn't help but smile. 

There is something very powerful in believing that I am loved.

So if you haven't heard it in a while, I want to tell you right now - You are loved. 

You are valued.
You are cherished.
You are treasured.
You are delighted in.
You are fully known and fully loved by an awesome God, with a love that is far beyond anything you've ever imagined! 

Please receive His love with gratitude. Let it put a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Let it heal things you never thought could be healed. Let it strengthen you. Let it flow through you to others who need to know they are loved as well. 

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. -1 John 4:9-10, 16a

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. -Jeremiah 31:3

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Eliminating Smells

Some friends of ours just moved into a rental house and they were having trouble getting smells out of a couple of the rooms. So I told them about our various methods of eliminating smells. I thought they might be helpful to share here as well. 

There are several things that can help get smells out of buildings, depending on what the smells are. 

*plates of baking soda, about 1 cup each, set out for about 15 minutes.

*bowls of vinegar (Heinz brand isn't processed with petroleum products so that's what we use), about 1 cup, set out for about 15 minutes.

*charcoal tablets (from any health food store), anywhere from 10-25 of them depending on the size of the room and the heaviness of the smell. Spread around the floor or set on 2-3 plates. Again leave them out for about 15 minutes.

*zinc tablets (a cheap brand is usually ok), again anywhere from 8-25 or even more depending on the room size or how bad the smell is. 

*cut an onion in half and place both halves in a bowl of water, leave out for 20-30 minutes. If it's a big room or strong smell you can use 2 or 3 onions in different bowls.

Some of these things work better for specific smells. You can also alternate what you use, though sometimes it's best to leave a little time in between using the different items. 

For moldy smells vinegar is usually best. 
Note: If there's actually mold in your room/building then get out as soon as you can! Mold and mycotoxins from mold are very dangerous to health. 
But if it's just a moldy/pollen smell from something you brought inside or from having doors and windows open, then vinegar is good for absorbing that. It's helpful for other smells as well.

The cut onion is great for absorbing smells like smoke (from fires), burnt smells, some toxic smells, etc.

Zinc tablets are wonderful for absorbing almost any kind of toxin. You can set them out in a room to absorb toxins. You can put them in new appliances for 15-20 minutes to absorb the 'new' smell and chemicals. You can even hold some zinc tablets in your right hand for several minutes if you've been exposed to some toxin like pesticide, mercury, etc., and it will help draw them out of your body.

Charcoal is another good absorber of toxins, similar to zinc. You can also hold charcoal tables in your right hand to absorb different toxins you've encountered.

For the most part we've found that 15 minutes is about the optimum absorbency time (except for the onion). A few more minutes probably won't hurt, but once the item has absorbed all it can, it needs to be thrown away so it doesn't give off the smells or toxins again. Also, when picking up the zinc or charcoal tablets after leaving them in a room, use a paper towel or something, not your fingers, just to be on the safe side of not touching whatever toxins they've absorbed. 

Note: As far as I know, nothing can completely remove the smell of cigarette smoke. Some of the above things should lessen it, but the smell (and toxins) is pretty much there forever.

Here's an example of one way I use these tools: 
If we've got the windows open to air out our house and suddenly in come toxic fumes of petroleum, cadmium, and smoke, we of course close up the house. Then I'll set out a few plates with zinc tablets for 15 minutes to absorb the cadmium and other toxins. After that I'll set out a bowl or two of vinegar to absorb the bad smells. After that I might set out a couple of plates of baking soda to catch any remaining smells, and to absorb some of the vinegar smell. (My mom doesn't handle the vinegar smell well, so we almost always use baking soda after vinegar.)

It's sad but true that indoor air quality is much worse than outdoor air quality, so along with using an air purifier, I hope these tools will help improve your indoor air and eliminate unwanted smells. 

If you have questions about dealing with a specific smell, feel free to post it in the comments or email me. 

P.S. If you need to get smells out of clothes, here are a few options:

-To remove moldy smells and some fabric softeners, try soaking the clothes in 2 pints of vinegar for anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours depending on how bad the smell is. Then wash like you normally would.

-For chemicals like gasoline, formaldehyde, etc. try this recipe for soaking clothes using coca-cola and baking soda. It works really well for many things! 

-For stubborn smells, (like once we accidentally got some flax oil in our laundry and the smell was overpowering), a friend told us about a product called EM-1. It's quite amazing for many uses, removing smells is just one. Use a small amount and soak the clothes for several hours or overnight. Then wash them. 

Note: All of my clothes are cotton and they do fine with each of the above items. But I can't say how clothes made from synthetic materials (i.e. polyester, rayon, etc.) will react to these things.

If you need to repeat any of the above options, that's ok too. Sometimes it takes a few soaks to get the clothes fresh and clean again.