A Lighter, Brighter, More Energetic You

chivesSpring is finally here!  One of the signs for me was a large tuft of chives that poked its head out of the ground a few weeks ago and that I’ve been picking from ever since.

This is a natural time of the year to cleanse.  In fact, our bodies instinctively want to do this after a long, cold winter of eating heavy foods and reduced movement.  And like magic, nature provides some of the best foods around this time of year for us, like dandelion, which is a potent cleanser.

The other day I was telling a client of mine that I was gearing up to do a detox and she asked why I detox?  Well, as much as I’d like to think my diet is ‘perfect’, it’s not.  I had never taken part in a cleanse of any sort until a few years ago, and I liked the results so much that I decided that they would become part of my spring and fall.

You’re probably aware that your body is designed to continuously detox through your breath, your skin via your sweat, and your digestive system; however, today, we’re continuously bombarded by chemicals like:

  • chlorine and fluoride in our water,
  • fumes from car exhaust and power plants that often contain heavy metals,
  • xenoestrogens from plastics, cans, cash register receipts and our personal care products,
  • pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones from our food

And much, much more and we don’t even know the full impact that exposure to one or more of these can have on us over time.   There is, however, a growing body of evidence that many of these so-called persistent organic pollutants, or POPs are playing a role in the chronic diseases on the rise today, such as obesity, early onset diabetes, cancer, etc.

And if you’re interested in exactly what’s showing up in people’s bodies, the CDC puts out a report on human exposure to environmental chemicals and the EPA’s site allows you to search by state or zip code to see which chemicals have been released into the environment and by whom.

What’s becoming increasingly apparent is that some of us are better at eliminating toxicity from the body than others.  And, if you diet is particularly burdensome on your body, it becomes much more difficult to keep up with the detox process.   Even with a healthy diet, we sometimes just need a nudge.  I remember a couple of years ago, I had a pesky rash on my left elbow for weeks that would not go away.   About seven days into my detox though, it had disappeared without a trace.  That surprised even me and my results have always been positive.

So, to give my body a rest and to clear some space to allow it to get rid of any gunk that may have built up over the long winter, and to transition into a lighter eating pattern for the spring and summer, I do a cleanse.

How might you know that a detox/cleanse is a good idea for you?  Your body will leave clues.  There’s a long list of signs that I will often go over with my clients and here are some of the most common that can be alleviated:

  • digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation
  • itchy or ringing ears
  • mood swings
  • fatigue or sluggishness
  • itchy or watery eyes or dark circles
  • headaches or insomnia
  • stuffy nose or chest congestion
  • poor memory or concentration
  • chronic coughing or canker sores
  • skin breakouts
  • joint aches or stiffness
  • water retention
  • weight gain or loss or trouble losing or gaining weight
  • bingeing or cravings

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I have several clients gearing up for detoxes and I’m about to begin my 14-day program.   This program includes a medical food and a supplement that both provide additional liver support so that when toxicity is released, the liver has enough resources to safely neutralize and ship it out for elimination.   The last thing you want is for your body to dislodge the toxins hiding out in your fat cells, only to circulate them around and do damage in your body, and then store them somewhere else.  I also offer a 21-day ‘food only’ detox designed to be gentler than the 14-day program.

If you’re ready to feel lighter, brighter, and more energetic, check it out my programs here.  You can also read about what some of my clients have to say about their detox experiences.  And if you order a program by April 15th, you’ll get a reduced rate of $100 off!.  So if you’ve been thinking about it, now’s the time.  You can order the program now and begin when you’re ready. Simply contact me here and we’ll get you set up!

Hiding Out Because of a Cold Sore?

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

I wanted to bring up a topic that I don’t talk about much, if ever, although one that I’ve had to live with for most of my life:  cold sores.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve been prone to an outbreak and if you suffer from them or know someone who does, then you know what I’m talking about.  They’re unsightly, they’re painful, they can leave scars, and they feel like they can put my life on hold.

Ironically, the thought of addressing this topic now came as Valentine’s Day approached – how romantic!  Call me a rebel, lol.  But rather than talk about the benefits of dark chocolate or love, or how to keep your heart healthy, something attracted me to the lips.  Maybe it’s because the holiday signifies love and intimacy–and kissing and I wouldn’t want something like this ruin (or prevent) a good kiss : )

If you’re someone who gets cold sores, then you probably know very well that they’re caused by Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1).   Amazingly, 95-98% of people harbor the virus and many may never know it if they don’t have an outbreak.   While dormant, it resides in our neurons and when activated, it targets the skin and mucous membranes, often on or near the lips.  If you do get one, it’s important to keep your hands away from your eyes to avoid ocular infections, including keratoconjunctivitis that can be serious.   And HSV is contagious, so it’s important to keep your personal hygiene items like hand and face towels, your toothbrush etc., separate to avoid contaminating others.

Over the last 10-15 years, I’ve been pretty successful at reducing both the frequency and severity of cold sores through some trial and error with anecdotal and scientific evidence (you can read about here), and personal observation about when I’m most susceptible.  My own personal treatment plan for HSV-1 has been relatively holistic.  There are actually drugs available to prevent outbreaks; of course they don’t come without side effects.  I have tried some of the topical treatments though that I’ll mention below.

In general, here are the triggers that I’ve found for myself.  Many overlap with those commonly reported and they may vary from what you’ve found:

Overexposure to the sun – this can lead to dry, parched lips and in general, anytime my lips have gotten overly dry, I’ve been susceptible.  In fact, if my lips get dry inexplicably and even lip balms don’t seem work, then I know something’s up and I take extra precautions.

Stress – not surprising, since stress can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult to ward off a viral attack.

Acidic foods  – for me specifically, these include things like citrus (oranges, grapefruit, and tomatoes, especially cooked), vinegars and drinks like Kombucha.

Arginine (arg)-rich foods like nuts and nut butters, seeds, coconut, even chocolate (sadly) – of course, foods that I love!

Poor diet in general  – too much sugar and refined carbohydrates that are going to weaken the immune system and of course promote hormone imbalances and stress.  And combining this with my monthly cycle increased the odds.

So, what can you do to reduce the likelihood of getting a cold sore or quicken healing?   Many measures are obvious and some not so:

Keep your lips protected in the sun – Wear a lip balm, preferably with sunscreen when you’re outdoors.  There are many brands out there, but I like Burt’s Bees because it’s petroleum- and chemical-free and easy to find.   As a general rule, avoid letting your lips get dried out or chapped.  If it happens, check in on your hydration and your diet, both of which can have an impact.

Reduce stress – Exercise, proper diet, enough sleep, mindfulness techniques like meditation and breathing can all help here.

Avoid trigger foods – Maintain a healthy diet free from sugars and refined carbohydrates and try cutting back on citrus or concentrated foods like nuts and seeds, etc.

Take l-lysine (lys) – An essential amino acid found in high levels in animal products, l-lysine is believed to antagonize l-arginine, which activates HSV-1.  Foods like nuts and seeds contain both arg and lys, but the levels of arg are often much higher.  Some studies have shown that l-lysine supplementation can help.  I’ve been taking about 1000 mg everyday for at least a decade and sure enough, if I go off of it for several days, I’m more likely to have an outbreak.   I’m also more able to keep foods like nuts and seeds (and chocolate) in my diet if I am consistent with taking lys.

Apply ice – Over the last couple of years, I’ve found that at the first sign of an outbreak (usually a tingling on my lip), if I apply ice for as long as possible, even if I do get a cold sore, it’s usually much less severe and heals more quickly.   It may not always be practical to do this, but if you’re at home and can take the time, it may be worth it.

Use over the counter meds - In the past, I’ve used ointments like Abreva and also a homeopathic cream that worked well to shorten the duration of an outbreak.  Zinc sulfate has also been shown to speed healing time and there are a number of additional herbal remedies listed here that I haven’t specifically tried.

Seriously, cold sores are no fun and preventing them is always better than dealing with the healing.  Is there something you’ve found that works for you?  I’d love to hear about it!

And if you’d like support with transitioning your diet and with strategies for managing stress, I have an arsenal of tools that can help.  An eating plan and lifestyle strategy that reduces the chances of getting cold sores will help you across the board with your health.  Want more information?  Contact me to see how to get started.