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Preventing cancer is a top health concern for everyone today. Only 5-10% of cancer patients today have any genetic predisposition (inherited risk from their family members) for developing cancer. For the remaining population, we have to consider what are the predominant factors causing cancer today.

Carcinogens are chemical substances known to cause cancer. The majority of the most concerning carcinogens are human made. They are products developed for agriculture (pesticides & herbicides), building materials, products in our cosmetic industry and more. Avoiding cancer requires a keen awareness of what carcinogens are and making conscious choices to utilize products without them. It also requires adding protective measures for the carcinogens we cannot avoid; those that are in our air and water as pollution and often in our homes.

But isn’t our government keeping us safe? In the United States, chemical safety is determined by the manufacturer of a compound evaluating effects over short periods of time, then reporting to the EPA/USDA depending on how it is classified. This does not identify long-term toxicity or lifelong accumulation. While we know that cigarettes cause cancer, smoking 1 cigarette will not and so it was said that cigarettes were safe for many, many years. However it is now widely acknowledged that cigarettes do cause cancer as a result of long-term use. Similarly, chemicals that have been allowed in our food system due to short-term safety are increasingly recognized to have detrimental long-term effects.

Even more complex, when scientists determine chemical safety it is by evaluating 1 chemical at a time. However an individual’s exposure in one bite of food can often contain a dozen or more chemical additives, all working together. One aspect of medicine that is becoming an increasing concern is the use of “polypharmacy,” or the unknown effect of using more than one drug at a time. While we might evaluate the risks and benefits of prescription drugs in this way, we need to be paying even closer attention to the combined affect of carcinogens in all areas of life.

Examining the entire list of carcinogens is completely overwhelming, so this series will highlight a few to steer clear of and great resources to check out too. Let’s start with those that may be in our refrigerators and our backyards:

  • Atrazine, Organophosphates and Telone – these chemicals are just a few of the compounds used in conventional agriculture today that are known carcinogens. Consuming foods produced with these chemical additives are individually known to cause cancer. In most conventional farms and food products, multiple chemicals are used simultaneously. What are we to do?
    • Consume organic foods, especially from small farms that are not adjacent to conventional agriculture regions is your best bet to keep these cancer causing substances out of your body.
    • Request restaurants you enjoy to opt for organic foods, as it’s not just what we buy at the grocery store that matters.
    • Ensure children are given organic food for their packed lunches. Many of these compounds bio-accumulate, which mean they grow in the body exponentially and cannot be removed. Presently public school nutrition does not provide food free of carcinogens.
    • Learn about natural pest control and organic fertilizers to grow your own healthy food.
  • Glyphosate the active ingredient in RoundUp – this controversial compound and product have been proclaimed as safe by the manufacturer Monsanto since the 1970’s. However, increasing evidence from researchers around the world acknowledge the broad health impacts and carcinogenicity of not only glyphosate but the combined effects of the ingredients in the common weed killer products.
    • Learn to appreciate a natural appearing environment for your region. Permaculture and xeriscaping employ practices that mimic the health of the ecosystem to create beautiful landscapes.
    • Utilize old-fashioned techniques – pull the undesirable weeds out!
    • Explore natural products for weed killing; salt, vinegar and certain essential oils have proven effective at destroying undesirable plant species.

No matter your race, gender, class or intellectual expertise we are all at significant risk for developing cancer living in the US today. For most individuals, by the time a cancer is large enough to be identified, it has already been growing steadily for 10-20 years. There is no better time to focus on prevention, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

For individualized recommendations on reducing your cancer risk and enhancing the preventative measures in your life, visit Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary where we offer resources, education and individualized medical care to support your long term health.

 

References:

Anand, Preethad et al. Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes., Pharm Res. 2008 Sep; 25(9): 2097–2116.
BreastCancer.org, “Your Step By Step Guide to Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer” handbook.
Cressey, Daniel.  Widely Used Herbicide Linked to Cancer  The World Health Organization’s research arm declares glyphosate a probable carcinogen. What’s the evidence? Nature magazine on March 25, 2015.
Dalamas, Christos and Ilias G. Eleftherohorinos. Pesticide Exposure, Safety Issues, and Risk Assessment Indicators. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 May; 8(5): 1402–1419.
National Institute of Health, Department of Health & Human Services: Environmental Health & Toxicology Database; https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/index.php
Samsel, Anthony, and Stephanie Seneff. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013 Dec; 6(4): 159–184.
Seidler, Ramon PhD., the former Team Leader of the EPA’s Genetically Engineered Organism biosafety program. Interview; http://gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/17456-the-time-for-glyphosate-based-herbicides-is-over

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The old phrase, “you’ve got to nip it in the bud,” is so true when it comes to addressing acute cold and flu symptoms. In exploring what works when it comes to immune stimulation and fighting seasonal illness, I look to traditions around the world that have been keeping people healthy for generations.

 

Contrast hydrotherapy – common to Finnish culture, Japanese and native American tradition, the alternating hot and cold water stimulation to the body does wonders to boost the system.  This can vary from enjoying a regular warm shower and briefly alternating the temperature to as cool as can be comfortably tolerated, then back to heat as warm as is comfortable and back to cool again. A typical duration is 1 minute hot, 5-10 seconds cold repeated 3 times.

Intensifying the experience with hot tubs or sauna use alternating with intermittent cool/cold temperature is common as well and has profound measurable effects. In a Finnish study of contracting hydrotherapy from a sauna to a shower the white blood cell activity after use was especially enhanced.   Athletes making use of the sauna with contrasting cold shower had a more dramatic result, although it is effective in non-athletes as well. (1)

SW Sauna

Medicinal mushrooms – As researcher and mycology expert Paul Stamets describes, mushrooms can save the world. The complexity of the mycelium web has numerous interactions with our own immune system when we consume the wide varieties that nature provides. Modern research mimicks what Chinese Medicine has known for years. Various mushroom strains are well known to boost the protective energy of the body,

“We share in common the same types of pathogens, humans and mushrooms…We speak the same biological language… Agaricus mushrooms are my favorite. They are very active immune stimulators. They are known to destroy the pox virus, flu virus and our common cold rhinovirus,” Stamets shares. (2)

 

Many Americans suffering from cold and flu symptoms will be prescribed antibiotics drugs this year. These are important, life saving drugs that have gone through many incarnations as time and the marketplace has changed. While every prescribing practitioner knows the danger of over-prescribing, many feel they have to give something to a patient in distress. Even if it’s a viral infection, an antibiotic can still provide some symptomatic and placebo relief. However, when it’s not truly an out of control bacterial infection the cost of using antibiotics may be greater than the benefit for long term health.

There is a concerning association between the number of antibiotic prescriptions used in one’s lifetime and developing cancer. People who have used 10 or more courses of antibiotics in their lifetime have a significant increase in rates of cancer. This does not mean that antibiotics cause cancer, but that we are identifying a correlated trend. (3)

 

Berberine containing herbs – this chemical compound found in nature exists in a wide variety of plants that have been traditionally used to defeat illnesses. Goldenseal, oregon grape root, turmeric, chinese skullcap and more all contain this powerful compound. It is known to kill bacteria, yeast, parasites and more. In doing so, it also enhances intestinal elimination and provides rich nutrients to the body.

From a traditional medicine perspective, enhancing the body’s natural defense mechanisms by stimulating the immune system provides not only a relief from aggravating symptoms but more importantly supports improvements in long term health.

Stillwater Clinic & Apothecaryprovides acute care services to Lyons and the surrounding communities! I practiced in Oregon as a primary care doctor for 5 years and now diagnose and treat patients in my office here in Lyons as a Registered Naturopathic Doctor. I offer natural medicine alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment as well as collaborate with area physicians to meet the full healthcare needs of individuals.

References:

  1. Wanda Pilch,1,4Ilona Pokora,2Zbigniew Szyguła,1,4 Tomasz Pałka,1,4 Paweł Pilch,3 Tomasz Cisoń,1,4 Lesław Malik,3and Szczepan Wiecha J Hum Kinet. Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. 2013 Dec 18; 39: 127–135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3916915/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Paul_Stamets

3.Dobson, Roger. The risk of developing prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer rises with use of antibiotics, a large observational study has found (International Journal of Cancer 2008 Aug 14, doi: 10.1002/ijc.23622) http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1381.

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With the circulating virus’ this time of year the snot, sniffles, fever and chills are everywhere! The physical stress of the temperature changes, time indoors, more sugars and less exercise all contribute to the increasing colds and flus this time of year.

While it is incredibly annoying to have a cold, for many people it provides an opportunity for the body to restore. Extra sleep, days off, increased elimination can all provide the body a net benefit when it’s all said and done. Getting a low to moderate fever benefits the body greatly. Despite feeling crummy, the fever is the body’s best defense against not only organisms we don’t want but also genetic errors and toxins that all contribute to the “normal symptoms of aging” and chronic diseases.

The most common treatments that American’s utilize for colds and flus may be short-changing the body’s experience and leaving us worse off than before. Most of our over the counter cold and flu remedies contain variations of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief and fever reduction. Brand names Tylenol, Advil and more contain acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen all work via similar mechanisms in the body. While they often provide much desired pain relief, an undesireable effect that this class of drugs has on the body is diminishing the immune systems response.

Using NSAIDs during the course of a cold or flu is more likely to cause a longer duration of illness, worsening symptoms over time and the necessity for stronger medications to get through the illness. What’s worse yet, the inhibition of the immune system with these drugs prevents the immune systems most important feature from happening; memory. When the body goes through an illness, the immune system captures the experience in it’s long-term memory so that the next time we see that organism, or one similar to it we are ready to go and can address it immediately. Ideally, we experience enough illnesses in our younger years that when we reach our senior years and have lessened capacity to fight infection, our memory is so vast that we’re naturally prepared for any infection that comes our way (1).

Fortunately, natural medicine provides an incredibly diverse spectrum of healing tools that not only help relieve pain and discomfort but also strengthen the immune system along the way.

At the first sign of illness:

  • Support the immune system with a visit to the sauna. Before an illness has a chance to get settled in, boost your immunity with the fever-simulation of the sauna. Contrasting hot and cold temperature provokes lymphatic circulation and should feel great!
  • Oscillococcinum- homeopathic flu remedy that helps address the symptoms of flu regardless of which organism provokes it. (2)
  • Echinacea, Elderberry, Propolis Throat Spray – these anti-viral and immune stimulating herbs are ideal to use directly into the throat where most viral exposures get started. All 3 of these herbs function via different mechanisms to stop virus’s adhering to the tissues, interrupt virus replication and more.
  • Osha Root – chew on pieces of this powerful high mountain herb to kill virus in the upper respiratory tract. (3)
  • Rest – the worst thing we can do for ourselves at the onset of a cold or flu is to push ourselves to keep going. Stress hormones inhibit the immune systems functioning and allow infections to get a head start.
  • Avoid sugar, dairy, gluten and individual food allergies. Any food that provokes an inflammatory or mucous stimulating response will interfere in the ability of the body to fight an illness naturally and increase the pain response.Free stock photo of person, love, woman, relaxation

Relying on natural medicine for health provides countless options in healthcare. Together in conjunction with appropriate use of pharmaceutical therapies we can make the best of both modern medicine and ancient traditions. For individualized support with NSAID alternatives to pain whether for acute or chronic disease schedule an appointment today.

  1. Simona Bancos,1Matthew P. Bernard,1David J. Topham,2 and Richard P. Phipps1,* “Ibuprofen and other widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit antibody production in human cells,” Cell Immunol. 2009; 258(1): 18–28. Published online 2009 Apr 5. doi:  10.1016/j.cellimm.2009.03.007
2.RosemariePappaGertSchubackbElmarBeckbGeorgBurkardcJürgenBengeldSiergfriedLehrla “OscillococcinumR in patients with influenza-like syndromes: A placebo-controlled double-blind evaluation,” British Homoeopathic journal Volume 87, Issue 2, April 1998, Pages 69-76.
3. Glenn D.Appelt “Pharmacological aspects of selected herbs employed in Hispanic folk medicine in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, USA: I. Ligusticum porteri (osha) and Matricaria chamomilla (manzanilla),” Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 13, Issue 1, March 1985, Pages 51-55.

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Building a Strong Immune System

Free stock photo of food, healthy, vegetables, flowers

This season our community has been hit especially hard with the flu and other mysterious acute illnesses. While it is typical that wintertime is known as “flu season,” it is not typical to have changes in our climate to such an extent that winter feels more like a perpetual fall/spring combination here in Colorado.

Global warming poses a myriad of challenges to everyone on this planet and virus’s and other pathogens are affected as well. Here in Lyons we have seen an increasing trend of otherwise healthy people becoming severely ill with acute viral infections. It is important to evaluate all the contributors to our changing climate and shift the factors that we are responsible for, both for our outer ecosystem as well as our internal system.

Factors that diminish the immune systems response are often the easiest to address. What we put into our bodies on a daily basis will have a profound effect on how strong our bodies are to respond to an illness. Here are some of the most important things to be aware of:

  • Sugar – cane sugar in all it’s crystalline, taste bud activating forms has a negative impact on the immune system. White blood cell activity (our protective force in the body) comes to a screeching halt for 5-6 hours after a single dose. That means if sugar is an ingredient in many foods that a person consumes throughout the day, any virus they are exposed to will have a powerful head start on attacking the body.   If you routinely eat foods like bread, crackers, cereals, processed meats, chips and other snack items you are likely eating sugar all through the day. Then if you are like most American’s who reach for sweet treats to boost your mood, energy or as rewards your immune system suffers even further.
  • Pesticides and herbicides – when we consume foods that are produced with added chemicals, these substances commonly activate the immune system because they are not the standard food molecules that our bodies are designed to work with. This immune activation serves as a distraction from the more important role of bacteria and virus prevention. Whenever our bodies are inundated with substances that it doesn’t recognize, the energy required to handle these is going to be a deterrent from optimal health.
  • Polluted water – todays waterways are especially affected by toxic chemicals. Many of the wells in our area contain high levels or radioactive compounds and the city water often has measurable amounts of contaminants from individual and industrial use. Environmental toxins will also create an obstacle to the immune systems availability for it’s more important role of protecting our bodies against infection.

In support of your optimal health, you can boost your immune system not by taking more substances into the body, but simply by creating a more clean lifestyle and avoiding substances that impair it. Reducing and eliminating processed sugars in one’s diet is a great place to start. Committing to organic food consumption benefits not only the individual but also the landscape and reduces factors that affect climate change in many ways. Filtering water and ensuring your water source is doing an adequate job of providing clean water is incredibly important. Keep in mind, we only can find the substances we look for so examining the routine testing of food and waterways to be thorough in their evaluation is important.

For the treatment of acute illness symptoms, natural medicine offers a wide array of tools to support your health. Come visit us at Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary at 418 High Street for your optimal health support.

 

 

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The Impact of Technology on our Children

Image result for kids and technology

Not that long ago you would never have seen an infant or child playing on a phone for any longer than a moment or two pretending to talk to someone. Today in just about every restaurant there is, children are being fed the frequencies and images from smart phone and tablet screens. Whether waiting in line, having an appointment, trying to enjoy a quiet meal as adults or keeping a group of children quiet technology is used everyday by parents and teachers.

While our media industry is encouraging more and more technology use all the time, we have yet to understand how this impacts growth and development in our young people especially. Children depend upon face to face interaction and body language to learn the subtleties of communication. Alternate forms of communication can interfere with this development process and interupt the ability to learn normal social responses. For some individuals, these challenges can significantly contribute to anxiety.

Some of the known effects of screen time on brain health include:

  • Blue light spectrum emitted from screens (phones & tablets especially) alters neurotransmitter production, especially melatonin, serotonin and dopamine. (1)
  • Cell phone use contributes significantly to the incidence of migraines and vertigo. (2)
  • Researchers in Sweden found the highest risk of brain tumors among people who started using cell phones during adolescence (2).
  • Young children who use cellphones and whose mothers used cell phones during pregnancy were 80% more likely to have behavioral problems (3)
  • There is a direct correlation between the frequency of screen use and reports of anxiety in young adults (4).
  • Excessive screen-time appears to impair brain structure and function. Much of the damage occurs in the brain’s frontal lobe, which undergoes massive changes from puberty until the mid-twenties. Frontal lobe development, in turn, largely determines success in every area of life—from sense of well-being to academic or career success to relationship skills. (5)

 

One of the greatest challenges of our human experience is the delayed effect of stimuli on our systems. For example, a child who has been using a cell phone as a toy for as long as they can remember may have a positive association with it and parents may recognize that the child seems happy when allowed to use it. However, what we don’t see is the effect on the brain that is happening slowly, over time. Our society and especially technology advancements are occurring at a much greater speed than our biological adaptation to them. Therefore, we have to think larger than the momentary experience to truly observe the outcome of our immediate actions.

Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Any child under age 2 should have absolutely no exposure to screens of any kind according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (television, computer, phone, tablet, etc…)
  • Have several consecutive days with zero screen time for all ages of brain development routinely. (6)
  • Spend as much or more time physically active each day than the amount of time spent on screens. (7)
  • Children approximately age 3-11 should spend no more than 2 hours daily on screens and ages 12-18 no more than 4 hours daily from the observations on brain development and neurotransmitter balance.
  • Turn off your wireless router for family time routinely.

Enjoy what media has to offer, but do so carefully. Utilize books whenever possible for research and enlist discussion with individuals who have experience rather than teaching the reflexive google search that is all too common these days.

We are truly living in a time of massive experimentation on ourselves, our children and our Earth. We must take great care in the choices we make espeically regarding our children to provide them their best chance at health and vitality for their lifetimes.

There are numerous tools to help support balance in our health today, and to help buffer the negative effects of the things we are exposed to. For support with cultivating health in yourself and your loved ones, please visit Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary in Lyons at 418 High Street or online at www.stillwaterhealingarts.com.

 

References:
  1. George C.Brainard*Bruce A.Richardson**Thomas S.KingRussel J.Reiter. The influence of different light spectra on the suppression of pineal melatonin content in the syrian hamster. Brain Research. Volume 294, Issue 2, 5 March 1984, Pages 333-339
  2. EWG’S GUIDE TO SAFER CELL PHONE USE: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY https://www.ewg.org/research/cellphoneradiation/executivesummary#.Wh4-yLQ-fYI, AUGUST 27, 2013
  3. Divan HA1Kheifets LObel COlsen J. Prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phone use and behavioral problems in children. Epidemiology. 2008 Jul;19(4):523-9. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e318175dd47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18467962
  4. Sara Thomée,1Annika Härenstam,2and Mats Hagberg1 Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study BMC Public Health. 2011; 11: 66.
  5. Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain: Neuroimaging research shows excessive screen time damages the brain. Mental Wealth. Posted Feb 27, 2014
  6. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/in-our-digital-world-are-young-people-losing-the-ability-to-read-emotions
  7.  AsaduzzamanKhanPhDaNicola W.BurtonPhDb. Is physical inactivity associated with depressive symptoms among adolescents with high screen time? Evidence from a developing country. Mental Health and Physical Activity. Volume 12, March 2017, Pages 94-99

 

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Parenting is hard work. Kids needs are 24/7 and then there’s coordinating the life of a family that can sometimes seem like an impossible puzzle. Without the support of a village modern families face significant challenges to create a peaceful, harmonious start in life for their children.

Our mainstream healthcare systems acknowledge 2 ways to help pediatric mental health. Psychotherapy and medication. Pyschotherapy sessions can involve numerous ways to gain self-awareness and cultivate the self we wish to become. The greatest success is typically seen with a 12 week commitment as a minimum. Working with a therapist is an amazing way to express ourselves in a safe and contained manner. It supports people of all ages to build confidence, develop insight and overcome challenges.

Medication in our western medicine definition includes only pharmaceuticals. SSRI’s, anxiolytics and sedative drugs all have potential for serious complications and side effects. In addition, they interrupt the normal development of the brain that can result in lifelong changes, especially to young people. They can be extremely useful in severe cases but they come with a substantial cost to long-term health.

There is an incredible wealth of knowledge that can be found in traditional systems of healing as well as modern research of natural medicine tools. As a Naturopathic doctor, my training is first and foremost to utilize the simplest substances to promote positive, natural development of the body. From there, we observe the changes to the system and then work to either promote or suppress the imbalances.

Acupuncture is a powerful tool to shift the nervous system from our anxious, fight or flight mode into our calm and relaxed rest and digest mode. Our overall health depends significantly upon the amount of time we spend in the “rest and digest” or parasympathetic state of being. Acupuncture also enhances function of different organs of the body, prescribed in each session based upon the overall balance and imbalance of the individual. While needles are often used, pediatric tools can vary in their impact from tuning forks, simple acupressure, shonishin Japanese acupressure tools and more.

Bodywork tools include a variety of forms of touch that allow the individual to experience comfort and relaxation as well as improved physiology. Comfortable and consentual physical contact with another human being in and of itself shifts our brain activity to be more receptive and promotes a peaceful state of being. Children need touch even more than adults to develop a healthy nervous system.

Herbal medicine and nutritional therapies are intended to be utilized on an every day basis as a way to improve our challenges on a physical, mental and emotional level. There are countless herbs classified as “nervine” herbs which are known to reduce nervous tension in the body. Knowing which foods work well for us and in what combinations is an invaluable part of every day life. Using plants as medicine is fundamental to every traditional culture on our planet. Every species of animal varies their consumption of plant matter to help naturally support their overall health. As human beings, we can benefit greatly from customized herbal and dietary formulas that we use routinely.

Adorable cute boy with hat in a lavender field stock photo

When addressing anxiety and depression symptoms, there is a significant benefit to utilizing thorough neurotransmitter testing prior to treatment with any herbs, supplements and especially drugs. Neurotransmitters are the brains chemical messengers that establish the state of the brains ability to respond to stimuli in a “normal” or typical manner. For example, when we participate in a group activity that is oriented around a cause we care about, serotonin naturally enhances and provides us with a lingering sense of well-being and happiness. But this is just one of the many neurotransmitters orchestrating the mind and mood balance. Knowing which way the balance is tipped when we are not well is the key to knowing how to regain the balance we need.

It is a very unfortunate situation when a person is prescribed a drug that works against the problem they are already having, and then creates a new problem by establishing another imbalance from the drugs side effects. For children, these changes can be permanent. Instead, when we test first, assess the bodies obstacles and support the system naturally we can ensure health will increase with time. Pharmaceuticals may still be helpful, especially when done in a specific individualized manner in conjunction with the tools to help improve the body’s development.

Please visit your local resource at Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary for herbs, vitamins and individual practitioner services to support the healthy balance in your life and your family today. This holiday season, come experience acupuncture/acupressure in our Japanese foot spa for a relaxing experience for all ages.

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Part 2: Managing Stress

We all know the feeling, unable to sit still, can’t find the right words, inadvertently scanning for the exit and trying to find the escape. Maybe not even from something we realize but nonetheless the eminent feeling of threat that prevents one from being calm and enjoying a carefree life. In a child or young adult, this un-easiness can be hard to describe. Especially when it may be more normal, everyday experience.

There are countless contributors to anxiety, some very reasonable and some completely obscure. For someone who is living in a threatening relationship getting professional and often legal help is necessary.   If you feel you are in an unsafe situation, there are resources to help you out. One example is the National Domestic Violence Network and can be reached anytime at 1-800-799-7233.

Often, we are not in immediate danger yet there are life circumstances that contribute to our stress levels that allow them to exist at higher levels than we can adequatly deal with. In order for the body to have overall health, it is necessary for stress levels to reduce frequently in order to allow the parasympathetic, or rest and digest aspect of our nervous system to take over. When we live in constant high stress states, our bodies growth and regenerative capacity becomes compromised. We can exist that way for awhile, but it soon catches up and health begins to deteriorate.

Other common contributors to anxiety include stressors that we don’t even seem to notice, yet aggravate our nervous system. For example, constant low level noise is for some people extremely stress producing. Receiving information that we cannot immediately do something about is a significant contributor to modern stress. Hearing the news and not having an action to help mitigate the negativity around it creates an internal stress burden that can be hard to overcome.

Substances we consume, inhale or otherwise absorb can also contribute significantly to stress and a feeling of internal discomfort. This is especially important to identify prior to considering the use of any mind-altering drug to address anxiety issues. If there are internal stressors causing a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety and rather than removing it we alter the brains chemistry to feel good despite it’s irritation, there is no doubt that that irritant will continue to create problems internally and likely contribute to more serious health issues over time.

Given all these contributors to stress, how do we then create a life that doesn’t provoke anxiety? First and foremost for a child, having a safe, quiet and comfortable home to return to is the most important. Having loving relationships to support the trials and tribulations of day to day life help enormously.   Here are other useful tools to consider:

  • Try to avoid excess noise during non-active times
  • Avoid sharing news of the world with children unless there is an immediate action they can take to address it
  • Reduce toxins that can contribute to a stress response in the body
    • Use only natural personal care products; soap, deodorant, laundering
    • Avoid foods with chemical ingredients, especially colors, preservatives and non-food based additives
    • Filter drinking water when in an urban area, and with well water have it tested routinely to ensure it is clean
    • Avoid chemical exposure, especially solvents, combining household chemicals and applications of herbicides, pesticides, paints, stains, etc…
    • Seek out organic produced foods and products for the home
    • Rely on natural medicine to strengthen the body and limit the use of pharmaceutical baesd medicine
  • Ensure a peaceful environment around mealtimes and bed times especially
  • Provide an environment of clear expectation and routine as much as possible
  • Experiment with an anti-inflammatory diet; sugar free, gluten free, dairy free whole foods is an excellent place to start

In a world where natural disasters are an every season reality and horrific news comes across our minds daily, we all need stress management tools to be routine. Children especially need to be taught how to not just endure these times but grow strong enough to change them.

For kids, outdoor imaginative play is one of the most curative things they can do. Given a field of grass, some rocks and logs and most children will restore their native state of bliss. Allowing plenty of unstructured time in their daily routine cannot be compromised. Complaints of boredom are generally a good sign that they’re transitioning from being in the sympathetic (aka fight or flight) mode of being where they follow instructions contstantly to parasympathetic (rest & digest) where they learn to rely on internal motivation and cues to identify what they want.

Teaching children to recognize anxiety or other feelings of stress is an important first step to making change. From there, specific tools such as breathwork and yoga in the moment can make a lifetime of difference. Other times simply taking a hot bath at the end of a stressful day will help the body down regulate stress hormones enough to have the next day be a fresh start.

For help navigating the stressors that are inevitable in life as well as for specific guidance with making changes toward non-toxic living please visit Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary today. If you’re interested in individual testing to determine if there is something in your environment that is aggravating you or a loved one, or in treating anxiety or depression with integrative medicine please schedule an appointment with Dr. Hart today. And for those of you who’ve read this entire article, please come in to Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary for a free relaxation session in our Japanese Foot Spa!

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