Women's Integrative Health

Creating Optimal Health. . .One Step at a Time

Countdown to Christmas: Seven Days to Christmas!

Christmas Countdown:  7 Days to Christmas

Today’s Christmas Countdown Store:  Santa Claus

(The following story was adapted from “The Nicholas Book: A Legend of Santa Claus,” by William Chad Newsom. Used by permission.)

Here follows a brief account of the life of Nicholas, bishop of Myra. Nicholas was born in Patara in Lycia in the year of our Lord two hundred and seventy; that is, just over nine hundred years ago.

I will not long dwell on the many noble deeds of Nicholas, for they are well known, and many of the stories of his life are already recorded in the writings of Bishop Reginald of Eichstaedt (the longer version of his work is said by some to have been lost, but I have myself seen copies at Rome and Heidelberg; other copies exist as well).

Suffice it to say that throughout the length and breadth of Christendom no man possessed a better name for mercy, sacrifice, and generosity, than Nicholas of Myra. Well-deserved was his good name. Indeed, the name of Nicholas became a byword of benevolence throughout the households of Christendom. Nicholas was, of all men, the giver of gifts.

So the years passed, until Nicholas, now an old man, wracked with pain and sickness, lay upon his deathbed. And he submitted himself to God, and made ready for his departure. And so Nicholas closed his eyes, at the very moment, as it seemed to him, of death.

And it was then the time of Advent, the sixth of December. But while Nicholas yet lived, he was visited by an angel, Cassiel. And he said to Nicholas, “Behold, the Lord hath sent me to you, for it seems good to the King of Heaven to set for you another task, ere you enter wholly into the Heavenly Sabbath rest.”

And as Nicholas listened, the angel told him that God desired to keep him, so that he should not see death, but, like Enoch, and Elijah, be caught away to Heaven for a time. And then it would be the Lord’s pleasure to send him back again, to continue his work, yet in secret, as he had ever sought.

Thus the task set before him was to do as he had done all his life, preaching the Gospel, by words and deeds, and in especial, by acts of mercy and generosity. Cassiel told Nicholas that it was the will of God that he should be a giver of grace-gifts to those in need, and most especially to the undeserving, that the grace of God might be the more magnified.

And the angel told him that he was to rest throughout the year, and to labor only during the blessed seasons of Advent and Christmas; for gifts of gold and food and clothing, being material in nature, are surer signs of the holy materiality which robed the Son of God in His Incarnation. Thus would Nicholas, by gifts and deeds, preach the Gospel of Bethlehem through ages and generations.

And Nicholas said, taking the words of our Lord’s mother as his own, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” And Cassiel then gave to him a gift—a ring of gold set with a red stone. This ring was some of the very last of the gold given to the Christ child by the Magi, and it had been entrusted to Cassiel, one of the very angels who had brought word of the birth of Christ to the Shepherds, and who had attended the Holy Family throughout their lives.

After his season of rest, Nicholas was brought back to this world, and was clothed in scarlet. And he objected to this, protesting that he desired no finery of garment that might draw attention to one called to work in secret. Yet Cassiel overruled him, saying that such were the robes of his office – the scarlet of blood, in honor of the shed blood of our Lord, in whose name alone Nicholas was to labor; and that in any case he could make of his scarlet robes whatsoever sort of clothing he might wish.

And so it was that Nicholas, in this his latter life, took the guise of a humble craftsman. Through all the earth he wandered, doing the work of God with great joy, gifted with the life of the long-livers, the Elven folk, of whom he is the father and chief.

And some say that Nicholas at last made his home in the wild, wintry lands of the far North, where no explorer has ever gone, and some say otherwise. I myself know the truth of this matter, but have sworn never to speak of it.

And thus today he is justly famous throughout all Christendom, and many look to him for guidance on the seas, or the roads, or for the help and comfort of their children. Nicholas is the saviour, under God, of my own life, and of my family. He has tutored me, an unlearned man, and raised me up to the priesthood, and taught me the theology and art of joy. 

And in my conscience I cannot fail to honor him and thank him through all my generations. So to this end have I set down these words: that though he be the secret benefactor of a million, million poor men, yet neither I, who have been graced with the knowledge of his goodness, nor my children, to whom I inscribe this book, should fail in gratitude to God, or to his servant Nicholas, giver of grace-gifts.

 

                        Friar William, The Township of Leyland, St. Stephen’s Day, 1171

 

***

 

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town! Everyone looks forward to the visit of “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” each Christmas Eve. 

We all remember the excitement, the sheer happiness as Christmas Day drew near, and we pondered, not only the presents, but the magic of those mysterious, dark hours of Christmas Eve. 

“Santa Claus” is of course a slightly shortened version of “Saint Nicholas,” and you can hear the similarity in the two names if you listen closely. 

Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop in the fourth century after Christ. He became famous for his generosity and, in particular, for gifts given secretly. Over time, the legends of this great man grew. 

And sometimes, the legends tell us the most important things about a man. 

If we are wise, we will heed the lessons of St. Nicholas as he takes the stage each December.

From him, and from his legends, we can learn the lesson of JOY—unshakeable joy that transcends the perils and pains of life. 

We can also learn the lesson of GENEROSITY—of the truth that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

And we can learn the lesson of MAGIC—that there is mystery at the heart of the world, and that our cynical age needs to remember that God is at work with His supernatural power, not only at Christmas, but all year round. 

As you get your Christmas gifts wrapped and ready this year, here’s a fun and fragrant Essential Oil tip that Santa himself would like. 

Let your friends and family experience your warm holiday wishes with an aromatic touch by adding Essential Oils to your Christmas gifts! 

How? Just add 1–3 drops of an Essential Oil to a cotton ball. Place the cotton ball in a sealed plastic bag and store it overnight with your Christmas wrapping paper. Be sure to not let the cotton ball touch the materials or you may end up with an oil stain or discoloration. 

Two favorite oils to add to your Christmas wrapping paper are DOUGLAS FIR and WHITE FIR. 

QUESTION – WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SANTA CLAUS STORY, BOOK, SONG, OR MOVIE?

Countdown to Christmas: Eight Days to Christmas!

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: 8 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS

TODAY’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STORY: MISTLETOE

Jack Stebbins smiled. His plan was in place, and all was ready.

It was the evening of the annual Christmas party for the servants of the Witherspoon manor house. Jack had worked as a stable boy since he was twelve, but, having demonstrated his unusual intelligence, wide reading, and organizational skills, had won the position of Master Witherspoon’s secretary less than a year ago.

It was the evening of December 22, 1752, in snowy Virginia, and Jack was striding confidently toward Marian Whitmore, one of the kitchen maids. Jack and Marian had been courting for months, and Jack had only that day spoken with her father about his plans for the future happiness of Mr. Whitmore’s only daughter.

“Marian!” He caught her hand and she smiled in greeting. “Jack, my dear!”

He whirled her around and onto the open floor of the great room as the musicians had just struck up a thoroughly danceable version of “Good King Wenceslas.”

During the dance, and while refreshing themselves with Christmas punch afterwards, Jack set his plan in motion by simply talking. Jack had always had an interest in folklore and mythology, which was what had given him the idea.

“Master Witherspoon’s house is quite liberally decorated with mistletoe,” Jack said, pointing to a conveniently placed sprig over the doorway to the library, which was at the moment empty. “This little plant has a long and noble history. It was prized by the Greeks and Romans for its healing properties. And in Norse mythology, the cunning trickster Loki made an arrow from mistletoe, and used it to slay Balder the Beautiful, whose only weakness was mistletoe.”

“That’s dreadful,” said Marian, with a frown.

Jack smiled. He’d anticipated that reaction and was prepared. “But in one version of the story, Balder was resurrected, and his mother, Frigg, declared that from that time forth, mistletoe would be a symbol of love. And she vowed to give a kiss to all who pass beneath it.”

“I like that better,” Marian said approvingly.

“There are other mistletoe traditions,” Jack continued, forcing the nervousness out of his voice as he led her into the library—or rather, just under the mistletoe hung from above the doorway to the library.

“For instance?” Jack was a fact-ory of knowledge and she enjoyed hearing him talk of his discoveries.

“Well…just to take an example at random…a man who catches a lady beneath the mistletoe has a right to…well, to a kiss.”

Marian smiled—and blushed, just a little. “Is that so?” she said in mock challenge.

“Oh, it’s quite true,” he replied in true earnestness, “and moreover, it is considered very bad luck for the lady to refuse.”

And so she didn’t refuse. No one wanted to invite bad luck, after all.

Jack then plucked a berry from the mistletoe.

“Why did you do that, Jack?”

“With each kiss, a berry is plucked. When the last berry is gone, the kisses must stop.”

Soon, the white berries were all gone, and the two faces had gone just a touch red.

“Too bad,” said Marian. “All out of berries. What now?”

Jack took a deep breath. “Well,” he began. “There is one other mistletoe tradition I have yet to mention. According to this tradition, if two kiss beneath the mistletoe, then…they shall be wed.”

Marian gave a little gasp. “Oh, Jack…”

Minutes later, the Question of the Day having been asked—and answered in the affirmative—Marian spoke again.

“You know, Jack, we had no mistletoe berries to justify that last dozen or so kisses.”

“That is true,” said Jack. “Must I repent of my actions?”

“No, I think not,” the bride-to-be said as they both chuckled. “But I do have one question. That last tradition, the one about how couples kissing under the mistletoe shall be wed.”

“Yes?”

“Is that one true…or did you just make it up?” She smiled mischievously at her future husband.

“Well,” said Jack, “It certainly worked this time. And after all, traditions have to start somewhere!”

***

The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began with the English serving class sometime in the 1700s. We don’t know the names or the exact circumstances, but it might well have been something just like the story of our fictional Jack and Marian.

By the early 1800s, the tradition was well established. In 1819, Washington Irving, in his short story, “Christmas Eve,” wrote:

“The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”

The popular Christmas song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is only one of many holiday-themed songs (not to mention stories, movies, and TV specials) that feature the mistletoe tradition, as the evergreen plant continues to be used as a popular Christmas decoration and cultural Christmas symbol.

Moreover, its connection to romantic love makes mistletoe a symbol of marriage and family and children, and thus of new life and the hope of love extended through generations.

What better time to remember such hope than at Christmas, the celebration of the birth of a Baby?

And thus mistletoe is a reminder to us, not only of the love we feel for our spouses, but also of the hope that our love will carry on into the ages to come.

***

As Christmas nears, get yourself ready for the mistletoe with this Essential Oil recipe that will give you smooth, kissable lips:

MISTLETOE MAGIC LIP SCRUB RECIPE (Unisex)

  • 4 tsp. Brown Sugar
  • 3 tsp. raw Coconut Oil
  • 3 tsp. raw organic Honey
  • 4 drops Essential Oil(s)

Here are some good Essential Oil choices: Wild Orange, Peppermint, Spearmint, Lime.

Don’t let the busy-ness of the holiday season keep you from making time for a little love and romance!

QUESTION – WHICH OILS WOULD YOU CHOOSE FOR YOUR LIP SCRUB RECIPE?

Countdown to Christmas: Nine Days to Christmas!

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS

TODAY’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STORY: CHRISTMAS WREATHS

Berinhard frowned and stroked his bearded chin. His wife, Brigitta, walked in. She had just got the baby to sleep, and, seeing the look, she wondered what was on her husband’s mind.

“What is it, my love?” she asked.

Berinhard was staring at the evergreen tree he had just brought into the house to serve as their Christmas tree in the year of our Lord 1559, in the German town of Rothenburg, a lovely village set on a plateau above the Tauber River.

“Well, the shape of this tree is not so good as it seemed when I cut it down,” Berinhard replied. “It’s too wide, and it doesn’t fit so well in this small room. And the branches are sticking out everywhere!”

“Yes, I see,” Brigitta replied.

“Not only that,” Berinhard said, “but I just remembered something Father Audrick said recently.”

“What’s that?”

“He said, ‘trim your Christmas tree to a triangular shape. In this way, you will have a symbol of the Holy Trinity in your home.’”

“That’s a wonderful idea,” said Brigitta. “Oh, Berinhard, we should be like Saint Boniface, too, shouldn’t we? Did not he teach our ancestors about the Holy Trinity by means of the three points of an evergreen tree?”

“So the histories say,” replied her husband, “and Father Audrick, too. Very good, then. We shall trim our Christmas tree, and give it a new and holy shape.”

“But Berinhard,” said Brigitta, “What shall we do with the cut limbs? We must not be wasteful, but find a good use for everything.”

“My wise Brigitta,” said Berinhard, smiling. “You are right, of course. But what can we do with cut branches of a tree?”

It is perhaps not surprising that it took them so little time to think of an idea, nor that they both thought of it at the same moment, turning their eyes on each other with a light of inspiration. And so they got busily to work, weaving their Christmas tree’s excess greenery into the world’s first Christmas wreath.

Though the tradition of Christmas wreaths appears to have originated among the Germans (who also are credited with the idea of the Christmas tree), we do not know the precise date, nor place, nor the names of the first folk who came up with the notion of using the extra Christmas tree greenery to form a wreath.

So the story above is a fictionalized account of how it might have happened.

What we do know is that Christmas wreaths are tremendously popular today; and have been for a long time.

The perfectly circular shape symbolizes the perfection of the nature of God, and the never-ending aspect of the form speaks beautifully of eternity, and thus of eternal life.

Formed from the evergreen tree, one of the few living things that can survive the harshness of winter, Christmas wreaths were admired as symbols of strength, of endurance, and of hope.

This Christmas, hang up an evergreen wreath, and think of the great Boniface, patron saint of Germany.

Looking for a way to enhance your Christmas decorating this year? Try this Tip: buy or make a Christmas wreath, as you prefer. If yours is not already spruced up with color and festivity, decorate it with leaves, vines, flowers, ribbons, Christmas ornaments, or whatever you like. Wrap your wreath in floral wire to keep your flowers and vines securely in place. Then, add five ounces of water to a glass spray bottle, along with 15 to 20 drops of Essential Oils (see below), and spritz the mixture over the whole wreath.

Try this combination:

  • 10 drops DOUGLAS FIR Essential Oil
  • 5 drops CYPRESS Essential Oil, and
  • 5 drops CEDARWOOD Essential Oil

This will give you a wreath with a beautiful, holiday scent that will help keep your home in the holiday spirit.

QUESTION – WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO HANG A CHRISTMAS WREATH?

Countdown to Christmas: 10 Days to Christmas!

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: 10 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS

TODAY’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STORY: THE WISE MEN

Melchior smiled. He had made his decision. Of all the rich gifts in the world, he had chosen the one he himself would take on their long journey.

A journey to meet a king.

Caspar had chosen gold—to pay tribute to the King of Kings.

Balthazar had chosen Myrrh—to honor the Man who must someday die for Mankind.

But Melchior had pondered long over his choice, ever since he and his brother Magi had agreed that they would make this journey together.

They had studied the sacred texts all their lives, as had their fathers before them, for hundreds of years—ever since the wise counselor and prophet Daniel had taught their ancestors in Babylon of the God of Israel.

They knew the time was right. And the appearance of the Star confirmed their knowledge.

Now it was time to seek the Child, and to offer, unworthy as they might be, gifts to honor Him.

Caspar’s choice of Gold honored the child who would be King of the world.

Balthazar’s choice of Myrrh honored the child who would die to save the world.

And Melchior’s choice of gifts? His would honor the child who was, in very truth, the God who made the world.

His gift would be Frankincense, the smoke of which would ascend to Heaven as worship to God Himself.

Nothing less would do.

Because of its part in the history of the Christ child, Frankincense continues to be important each year as the Christmas story is retold; and to modern-day Christmas celebrations.

There is even a Christmas ornament you can buy that includes all three of the Wise Men’s gifts—Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh—in a tiny, antique-style glass bottle that you can hang on your Christmas tree.

The Essential Oil derived from Frankincense has been called “the king of oils.” It is prized and precious, and a favorite Essential Oil during the Christmas season.

And it is a beautiful and fragrant reminder of the hope of this Christmas season, for it tells us, year after year, that the prayers and praise we offer up during Christmas are offered to the very God who made the world—and whose grace and power can and will heal the world.

Frankincense has a wide array of practical uses, and can be applied topically, aromatically, and even internally.

You’ve probably used Frankincense in your diffuser, or to help with skin issues.

But here’s a Tip: Frankincense pairs well with chocolate, so add one to two drops of Frankincense Essential Oil to your favorite chocolate cookie recipe to give it a wonderful flavor, perfect for the holidays.

You can also make a delicious Frankincense chocolate glaze using this quick and easy recipe:

FESTIVE FRANKINCENSE CHOCOLATE GLAZE RECIPE

  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 6 tbsp. butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 to 2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and set the timer for two minutes. Stop the microwave every 20 seconds and stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula. When the chocolate is almost completely melted (still a few solid pieces), take it out, even if it hasn’t been the full two minutes. Add the butter and one drop of Frankincense Essential Oil and stir. Taste, then add one more drop of Frankincense if desired. Once the butter is stirred in and melted, you will have a smooth chocolate glaze. Use immediately on donuts, cookies, eclairs, or cakes.

QUESTION –WHAT GIFT WOULD YOU HAVE CHOSEN IF YOU WERE ONE OF THE MAGI?

Christmas Countdown: 12 Days to Christmas!

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: 12 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

TODAY’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STORY: THE CHRISTMAS TREE

One evening, near Christmas, the great church reformer, Martin Luther was walking home through a small wood.

Glancing to the sky, he saw the light of many stars shining through the branches of a fir tree.

The beautiful starlight filled his heart with peace. The glory of the starlight in the trees shone in his eyes, and he could think of nothing else.

He rushed home for a hatchet, came back, and cut down the little fir tree.

He took it home and set candles among the branches. Then he lit the candles, to remind him and his family of the stars among the branches of the trees.

And that, according to the legend, was the first Christmas tree!

Germans brought Christmas trees to America, though they were a bit slow to catch on.

But after an 1846 edition of The Illustrated London News published a sketched illustration of Queen Victoria and her family standing around a Christmas tree, the idea gained new popularity, not only in England, but in America as well.

The kinds of decorations used (homemade ornaments, fruits and cookies, popcorn, stars, angels, and, later, electric lights) changed over time.

Eventually, Christmas trees began to appear in homes across the nation, and even in town squares.

The tradition of lighting the National Christmas Tree at the White House began in 1923 with President Calvin Coolidge.

Christmas trees are reminders of the lampstand in the tabernacle (Ex. 25:31–39), which was made in the form of a symbolic almond tree, and the flowers of which were lamps,

Thus, it was a lighted tree, like a Christmas tree.

As the lamps symbolically watched over the tribes of Israel, so our own Christmas trees can remind us that the Light of the World is faithfully watching over His people today.

So, let your Christmas tree be a reminder of great joy and peace this year. Remember the hope of Christmas and hold tight to it when all seems dark.

Did you know you can create the lovely scent of a fresh-cut Christmas tree by blending together a few Essential Oils? Try this diffuser recipe today:

CHRISTMAS TREE DIFFUSER BLEND RECIPE
  • 2 drops DOUGLAS FIR Essential Oil
  • 1 drop CEDARWOOD Essential Oil
  • 1 drop JUNIPER BERRY Essential Oil
QUESTION – WHAT KINDS OF DECORATIONS DO YOU LIKE TO USE WITH YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE?

Countdown to Christmas: 13 Days Until Christmas

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: 13 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS

TODAY’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STORY: THE CANDY CANE

 Choirmaster Schäfer had a problem.

Christmas Eve, in the Year of Our Lord 1670, was coming up, and with it the annual Living Nativity service at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.

That wasn’t the problem, of course. The problem was that his young choir members, though good singers, were decidedly NOT good when it came to keeping still and quiet during the service. 

Last year, he had been most embarrassed by the whispering and giggling of the choir children.

While the congregation wasn’t given to gossip and undue criticism, there had been a few frowning glances fraught with meaning—not unkindly glances, but certainly in profound earnest!—after the service.

But Choirmaster Schäfer had a plan. He went to his friend, Hans Becker, who was a candymaker.

“I want you to make me a large batch of sugar sticks, Hans,” said Choirmaster Schäfer. “I will give them to the children to keep them quiet during the service.”

Hans cocked an eyebrow at him. “Candy sticks? Do you think that will meet with the approval of the church, for such a sacred occasion?”

“I thought of that,” said the choirmaster. “And I want you to make one little change to these candy sticks. A little change to show everyone that my plan is perfectly in keeping with the purpose of our Christmas Eve service. Make these candy sticks in the shape of a shepherd’s crook!”

That’s the legend of the origin of the popular Christmas CANDY CANE. Is it true? Well, no one knows for sure.

What we do know is that the Candy Cane is the most popular non-chocolate candy during the month of December. Close to two BILLION are made each year in America alone!

And, as you might imagine, 90% of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The biggest single week for Candy Cane sales is the second week of December—likely because that is thought to be the most common week for decorating Christmas trees.

Originally, all Candy Canes were white and sugar-flavored; the red stripes and peppermint flavor came later.

Over time, additional meanings became associated with the delicious Candy Cane, in keeping with the Christian origins of the Day: The “J” shape stands for “Jesus,” the white color for His purity, and the red stripes for the blood He would one day shed for the sins of the world.

So this year, let the famous little Candy Cane remind you of the hope of Christmas that came with the birth of a baby in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

HOLIDAY TIP: Did you know you can create a delicious Candy Cane scent in your home using nothing but a few common Essential Oils? Here’s a great recipe to try today to get your house in the holiday spirit.

CANDY CANE COMFORT DIFFUSER BLEND RECIPE

  • 3 drops PEPPERMINT Essential Oil
  • 2 drops CINAMMON BARK Essential Oil
  • 1 drop WILD ORANGE Essential Oil

For variations on this blend, use SPEARMINT or WINTERGREEN Essential Oils instead of Peppermint. You can also experiment with the number of drops until you get just the scent you like best.

Add your blend to your favorite diffuser (pre-filled with water as usual); or use it to add a holiday scent to pinecones; or even to create scented Christmas gift wrap (we’ll show you during a later Christmas Countdown post how to do that).

QUESTION – WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CANDY OR TREAT?

Tips to Calm and Prevent PMS Symptoms

PMS really does not feel good.  Moods and reactions can be off.  Being more anxious or depressed, sleep cycles disrupted and having painful cramps are some of the symptoms we can experience.

So, here are some ways to bring back your joy premenstrually and in the peri-menopause stage, or when you are suffering from anxiety and depressive symptoms in general.

First, what exactly is happening in your body?

From the time of ovulation until menses, our ovaries secrete progesterone.  The intention is to prepare the uterus and body for pregnancy.  Our bodies are designed to respond to progesterone.  This actually helps us to stick closer to our partner, to feel more connected and intimate and closer to home by caring for our home and loved ones.

When our bodies are not secreting enough progesterone because it’s blocked or being used up faster and there is more estrogen circulating (including xeno-estrogens and endocrine disruptors from out toxic environment) we become more estrogen dominant.

Being Estrogen Dominant Can Lead To:

  • Severe PMS
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irregular or heavy menstrual cycles
  • Breakthrough bleeding
  • Ovarian cyst
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased libido
  • Acne
  • The monster within us to emerging!

6 Tips to Balance Your Hormones in PMS and Peri-Menopause

  1. Get a good night’s sleep (7 – 9 hours)
    • Create a relaxing nighttime ritual
    • Take an Epsom salt bath
    • Turn electronics off at 9 p.m.
    • Practice meditation, deep belly breathing and stretching before bed
    • Take supplements to support sleep such as melatonin or magnesium
    • Use Serenity Capsules or oil at bedtime.  Use on bottom of feet and/or diffuse – more information here – they can be purchased together or separately
  2. Eat alkalizing and detoxifying foods
    • Detoxing excess estrogen is essential to a healthy hormone balance.
    • Enjoy cruciferous vegetables daily.  Increase your intake of broccoli cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and dark greens like kale, collards and chard.
    • Add the Women’s Health Kit to your daily routine.  This combination of products helps to reduce estrogen, helps our bones as well as using the oil on our abdomen helps to relieve symptoms of PMS.  You can find out more about these products here.
    • Use this guide for adding alkaline foods to your diet.  Try adding something new every few days.  Strive to add the foods under the “Highly Alkaline” foods.
  3. Indulge with dark chocolate
    • Indulge and soothe the senses during this time.  Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants.
  4. Nourish yourself
    • Eat healthy fats and proteins at each meal and in the evening add complex carbs like sweet potatoes.  Avoid snacks and dairy.  Add probiotic-rich and fermented foods.
  5. Schedule in playtime
    • Add in daily activities you love with people you love.  This will help increase the hormone oxytocin and will help you connect with those around you.  Restoring hormones of connections can help balance these feelings of isolation and loneliness and will increase serotonin and dopamine, which will keep you happier and calm.
  6. Herbal supplements
    • Chasteberry
    • Dandelion
    • Dong Quai
    • Red Raspberry
digestive enzymes

Digestive Enzymes and Hormones

So, how can digestive enzymes help with hormone balance?  Food and digestion is at the center of our overall health and hormonal balance.  We all have heard “you are what you eat”.  This new term holds more truth:  “You are what you can digest and absorb.”  If our digestive function is compromised, we cannot fully benefit from the nutrients in our diet, no matter how high the quality of our foods.

Since we have many feasting opportunities ahead of us at this time of the year, I would like to help you digest food more efficiently.  It will help you feel and look better during times of feasts and beyond; and good digestion prevents putting on those extra pounds!

So what about hormone balance and gut health?  Good gut health is crucial to re-balancing your hormones regardless of the imbalance.  Poor digestive health is especially impactful on women because of their physical and hormonal
makeup.  All of our hormones are processed through our gut.  When our food is not properly digested, all of our systems are compromised.

Who needs digestive enzymes?

This is where digestive enzymes come into play in our digestive health.  Who needs digestive enzymes?  Anyone who displays any of these:

  • Occasional bloating and gas, particularly after eating
  • Feeling full after eating only a small quantity of food
  • Infrequent mild indigestion/heartburn
  • Bowel irregularities such as occasional diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Undigested food in stools
  • Allergies
  • Estrogen dominance
  • History of gallbladder problems
  • Lost gallbladder due to surgery

What to expect from Digestive Enzymes

Women who add digestive enzymes to their regimen often feel:

  • Lighter and energized after a meal
  • Improvement in digestion
  • Less food intolerances
  • Better bowel movement (less constipation or loose stool)
  • Less allergies ( this is because the liver gets a break from undigested food)
  • Improved energy and overall well-being (nutrients get properly absorbed)
  • Improved thyroid function (especially with Hashimoto’s)

You have probably heard that your gut is your second brain.  If your digestive system is on track you are set up for our whole body system to be on track.  The opposite is also true.

TerraZyme, my go-to Digestive Enzyme Complex, is a proprietary blend of active whole-food enzymes and supporting mineral co-factors that are often deficient in cooked, processed and preservative-laden foods.  TerraZyme’s powerful combination of digestive enzymes support the body’s constant production of enzymes critical for healthy biochemical functions throughout the body including healthy digestion of food nutrients and cellular metabolism of nutrients to energy.  TerraZyme includes a variety of whole-food enzymes that help with digestion of proteins, fats complex carbohydrates, sugars and fiber.

Here is a list of benefits
  • Supports healthy digestion and metabolism of enzyme-deficient, processed foods.  Speeds conversion of food nutrients to cellular energy
  • Promotes gastrointestinal comfort and food tolerance
  • Supports healthy production of metabolic enzymes
  • Provides important mineral co-factors for systemic enzymatic activity
Enzymes do more than we think

Enzymes are not only necessary for digesting food nutrients and converting nutrients to energy in cells, they also function as catalysts in almost all cellular functions and chemical reactions throughout the body.  They are also necessary for breathing, thinking, immune function, hormone regulation, detoxification, and thousands of other biochemical functions.

The body’s constant need to produce digestive enzymes can result in chronic deficiencies in metabolic enzymes that re critical for optimal health and cell function.  One example of an important metabolic enzyme is superoxide dismutase (SOD) which protects cells from free-radical molecules.  Metabolic enzymes are also

Using a Multivitamin While Preparing for Conception and Maintaining Hormone Balance

Multivitamin for Conception and Hormone Balance?

When you are trying to get pregnant or trying to maintain hormone balance in general, we are hearing from many different sources that is it a good idea to begin using a prenatal multivitamin before you get pregnant.  The same is being said for maintaining hormone balance outside of conception.  There are now studies backing this advice.  Multivitamins serve as a type of “back up” plan to our diets.  While eating a healthy diet is of utmost importance it is always good to include a whole food prenatal for pregnancy and a whole food multivitamin in who general.

“A study from Harvard Medical school involving 18,000 has shown that taking a multivitamin, particularly, folic acid, can improve chances of pregnancy.”

That study followed nurses who have hoped to get pregnant for an eight year period.  Women who took their multivitamin six times a week were 40% less likely to fail to ovulate than women who took none.

The Importance of Nutrients for Fertility, Pregnancy and Hormone Balance

Nutrition plays a big role in having healthy fertility and experiencing a healthy pregnancy.  Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to ovulation issues hormonal imbalances poor egg health, low sperm count and so much more.  We are literally what we eat.  Every cell in our bodies that makes up our organs, creates hormones and enzymes that make us function is created by the food we eat and the nutrients we take in.  If this is being compromised due to poor diet or poor digestion, the side effects could affect fertility and hormone balance.

Did you know that there are specific nutrients like folic acid that are needed by the young fetus before you can even detect pregnancy, and a deficiency in this nutrient could cause serious birth defects?  Another example is iron – iron deficiency and low levels of iron in the blood has bee linked to lack of ovulation.

So, nutrition does play a big role in our health, fertility and hormone balance.  Taking a whole food multivitamin daily can help to fill the gaps where diets may be falling short.

Do You Need a Multivitamin?

Multivitamin Checklist
Ask yourself these questions

Important Nutrients for Fertility and Hormone Balance

Vitamin D:  Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones which in turn affects ovulation and hormonal balance.  Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women.  It was discovered that  mere 7% had normal Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin E:  Vitamin E has been shown in studies to improve sperm health and motility in men.  Studies have shown a diet deficient in Vitamin E to be the cause of infertility in rats.  The meaning of the name for vitamin E ‘Tocopherol’ literally means to bear young.  Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant to help sperm and egg DNA integrity.

Natural Remedies for PCOS

Today many women are turning to natural remedies for getting their PCOS symptoms under control.  And, the good news is – these remedies are working!

One of the remedies that is working is essential oils.  When using essential oils, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way because of how potent they are.

Today we will explore the best essential oils for PCOS; how to use them and a  potent DIY Essential  Oil Blend to support you on your healing journey.

What is PCOS?

PCOS (Polycystci Ovary Syndrome) is a set of symptoms that come about because of increased androgens (male hormones) in women.  PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women between the ages of 18 and 44.

One or both the ovaries can be affected by PCOS which is characterized by a collection of cysts on the ovary, which causes it to bulge and produce more androgens than normal.

PCOS is also one of the leading causes of infertility.  It is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Some risk factors of PCOS include

  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Family history of someone with the condition

Symptoms of PCOS

Some women experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Heavy periods
  • Excess hair
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain or trouble losing weight
  • Insulin resistance
  • Low sex drive
  • Thinning hair on the scalp
  • Pelvic pain
  • Difficulty getting pregnan
  • Patches of thick, darker velvety skin

To see if your symptoms indicate PCOS, use our questionnaire here.

How do Essential Oils Help with PCOS

Essential oils are highly concentrated substances.  They are made up of many chemical constituents – terpenes, ketones, acetates and more.  These constituents are what makes each essential oil special and different from each other.  They give an essential oil its numerous therapeutic properties.  Some of these properties include hormone-balancing, cytophylactic, anti-inflammatory, tonic, stimulant, antibacterial, analgesic and more.

What makes essential oils special is there therapeutic properties. Here are the following benefits of essential oils for PCOS:

  • Help balance hormones
  • Reduce inflammation in the body
  • Reduce thinning hair on the scalp
  • Fight acne
  • Increase fertility
  • Act as natural aphrodisiacs
  • Regulate menstrual periods
  •  Help in weight management
  • Reduce pelvic pain
  • Increase energy and boost mood

Here are my top 10  Essential Oils for PCOS:

Clary Sage Essential Oil
  • What it does:  Balances hormones; assists in hair growth; acts as a utrine tonic; boosts estrogen levels; works in synergy with geranium essential oil for ovarian support.
geranium essential oil
  • What it does: Supports women’s health; regulates hormones; promotes healthy functioning of reproductive system; fights hormonal acne.
Lavender essential oil
  • What it does:  Quells anxiety; reduces stress; regulates scanty periods; balances the endocrine system; blends well with geranium and clary essential oils for ovarian support.
Sandalwood essential oil
  • What it does:  Balances out testosterone levels which bring symptoms like male pattern baldness; excess body hair and acne.
Cypress Essential oil
  • What it does:  Promotes proper  blood circulation; supports fertility
cinnamon essential oil
  • What it does:  Supports weight loss; regulates insulin levels
frankincense essential oil
  • What it does:  Helps in getting rid of ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids; balances the endocrine system; strong anti-inflammatory.
Rose otto essential oil
  • What it does:  Natural aphrodisiac; beautifies skin and fights acne; strong anti-inflammatory; supports fertility; normalizes irregular periods.
german chamomile essential oil
  • What it does:  Supports women’s health; strong anti-inflammatory; soothing and calming properties for the mind and whole body.
myrrh essential oil
  • What it does:  Normalizes scanty periods; helps clear a congested uterus.

How to Use Essential Oils for PCOS

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