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Last night, I just had to have a scone.  Just HAD to.  I found this post with recipe online, halved it, used regular milk instead of cream, and raisins instead of currants.  Wow!  Sooner than I would have imagined, I had amazingly fluffy scones. YUM!

This morning, in a fit of contemplation, I thought to myself, “What is this pastry–sweet and fatty–craving?”

AHA!  It’s about that time when I get my PMS symptoms.  Either I’m really tired or feel like I’m going to catch a cold, or want to eat lots and lots of butter.  I happened to be sitting cross-legged on the floor, so I put my index finger on the Three Yin Intersection acu-point, on my lower leg.  And immediately, I took a nice deep long breath.  Like a sigh of relief.  Ahhhhhh.

It’s so easy to forget.  I do all the time.  And if I took a moment to reflect and test out some acu-points, before reaching for the scone (or croissant or cookie), I might get some longer-lasting relief.

Anyway, wanted to share that with you.  But since I like to look for a silver lining in each cloud, I am thrilled that I’ve come across such an easy and yummy scone recipe!

 

Some people who have tension in their jaw chew gum, because they think it relieves the tension.  Well, it does and doesn’t, according to oral surgeons at UT Southwester Medical Center at Dallas.

Chewing gum may be a stress reliever of choice for some, but according to Dr. Douglass Sinn, a UT Southwestern oral surgeon,

Constant gum chewing can tire your jaws. It can lead to muscle fatigue, muscle spasms and pain. It may even lead to a syndrome called T-M-J that causes pain in the head or neck and may make it difficult to open and close the jaw properly.”

Signs of TMJ syndrome include:

  • pain in the jaw, neck and head
  • a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth

The medical center suggests looking for other ways to relieve stress: “exercise, squeezing a stress ball, meditation and other relaxation techniques.”  Read this previous post on acupressure and yoga-based ways to relax the jaw.

And, of course, with most things, chewing gum for a short time once in a while is likely safe.  Pay attention, and your body will tell you if it’s an OK amount of activity.

You’ve read about how I’m a fan of the neti pot.

Well, I’ve just discovered and tested out an alternative, the Sinus Rinse.  It’s the same concept of nasal irrigation, but where a neti pot uses gravity to pour water through your nasal cavities, this bottle with a fits-all-nostril-size top adds squeeze power.  A little more oomph.

I just tried it, and it was really easy to use.

  • I was afraid it would require a lot of pressure, but it didn’t at all.  The bottle is easy to squeeze.
  • You can use it more or less standing straight up, rather than having to tilt your head, as you do with the neti, which can be more comfortable.  I found it so.
  • If I hadn’t had the experience with the neti pot, however, I think this would have been more uncomfortable. That “drowning” feeling.
  • My partner, who has large nostrils, loved how comfortably the cap fit his nose, compared to the neti pot.
  • Using the tablets with the right amount of salt and baking soda was convenient, though expensive in the long run.

My conclusion:

  • Great for people who benefit from daily nasal irrigation: those with chronic congestion or sinus issues.
  • I can see that this would be a lot easier to take on the road; to use in a public restroom or even a plane toilet.
  • I think I prefer the gentleness of the neti pot.  But I don’t have chronic congestion or sinus issues, so don’t need to use as frequently.  That said, more regular usage would probably benefit me…

Great to know about another alternative to a natural tool for everyday health.

In a recent New York Times article, a woman who was suffering from painfully dry sinuses thought “that’s gross” when recommended the use of a neti pot by her acupuncturist.

“I went out and bought a pretty little ceramic neti pot from Whole Foods,” she said. “I’ve used it every day since. Now, I can breathe again. It’s even gotten rid of the bags under my eyes.”

So, it must be official now.  Because not only are they writing it about it in the New York Times, but it was on Oprah!

Read the full article, titled Short, Stout, Has a Handle on Colds here, and my recent post here.

I wrote a while back about the sweet craving-comfort food connection (in cookie monster post) and how traveling can be a trigger.

Well, here I am, traveling for the holidays.  I’m on vacation, and tempted by the wonderful sweets here in Mexico.  Flan.  All kinds of cookies and treats from the bakeries.  Churros.  Hot chocolate.  Yum. Yum. Yum. 

Why is it that my hand didn’t go out at all the fruit stands?  Hmmm… However, I did buy whole fruit–apples, tangerines and guavas– at a market — which was a bit of a walk out from the center.  Fortunately, I was staying in an apartment with a kitchen, so I could wash and cut these to eat.  Today, I’m in a new town, and no kitchen or knife, either.

This is all to say that in addition to missing home and being drawn to sweetness, there’s a convenience factor that goes with a sweet tooth on the road. 

Reminder for future travels. 

  • Bring along a plastic knife, or pack a real knife if I know I’m going to check my luggage.
  • Load up on fruit whenever I can.  It satisfies the sweet craving, before I feel the urge for flan.
  • Bring or buy dried fruit.  (Difficult for me now since I’m wearing braces, but normally a great alternative.)
  • Awareness and intention.  I can’t use the excuse that I’m on vacation to take a vacation from taking care of myself!!!

Cold season is here!neti pot

I’m finally getting over a cold where the main symptoms are tiredness and foggy-head during the day, and congestion right when I get up.  Lots of gunk in my sinuses.

Neti pot to the rescue!

This is simply a pot that comes from the Ayurvedic medicine tradition, which facilitates nasal irrigation.  I first learned about it from my yoga teacher, who said she no longer has allergies after she used her neti pot every day for an year.  I don’t have allergies, so I use when I have a cold.

You pour warm (body-temperature) saline (salty) water from one nostril to the other, and the result is a nice cleansed feeling.  At least, that’s my experience.  OK, it does feel strange and there is the fear of the “drowning” feeling, but the first time I tried this, it was pretty easy to learn how to do it, and I felt GREAT afterward.

Look at a how-to-use video here.  I use sea salt.  And find that if the water is just a little too cold or hot, or if there’s not enough salt, it really stings.  So go ahead and adjust right away.  It SHOULD NOT sting at all.

So, try this natural and less expensive alternative to nasal congestion relief.  And also consider it as a general wellness tool; use before and after you take a airplane trip, or after you’ve been at a party where other guests have colds.

You can buy a version at Walgreen’s; I think they call it a nasal irrigation tool.  I like the prettier version (photo above), which is also not made of plastic.  You can buy online.

Earlier this week I wrote about Earth imbalance in my Cookie Monster post.

Lisa commented on that post about her own experience with Earth imbalance.  And she wrote up a longer even more delicious description of her cravings for all kinds of scrumptious delights on her blog, which you can read here!

I’ve seen signs for flu shots already. It’s that time of year again.

And according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Autumn is the time of the runny nose, since the Nose and Mucous are associated with the season.

So, a couple of common sense ideas to stave off getting a runny nose (and catching cold):

  • Wash your hands: before you eat; after you get back from work or school; after you get off the bus or train (read this post)
  • Make sure you are hydrated. Especially in areas of the country where the heating is already drying out the air. Drink regular water. (read this post)

In Chinese Medicine, the end-of-summer “season” (as well as all the “end-of” seasons) is associated with the Earth Element. It’s the time when some things come to a close, while other things begin.

At such a time of transition, the Earth Element reminds us to be grounded; think about healthy roots that help weather the uncertainties of transitions. The Earth Element is also about being centered; after all, the earth is the center of the other elements: metal, water, wood and fire.

Here are some ideas to support you in being more grounded and centered at summer’s end, and on any day.

Natural Sweetness

Do you find yourself at times craving sweets more than usual? When I feel stressed or wanting some “comfort”, I’m mightily tempted to indulge in my favorite almond croissant. The flavor associated with the Earth Element is sweetness, so that sugar craving can signal a state of being uncentered. The problem is that sugar can add fuel to the fire, by throwing you off balance even more with spikes in blood sugar and energy. Consider some natural sweetness: add honey, instead of sugar, to sweeten your tea; treat yourself to the natural and healthier sweetness of dried dates.

Acu Point: Hara

This point is a couple of fingers’ width below your bellybutton. This is your “energy center”, the place from where you have greatest balance. If you have lots of thoughts and ideas flying around in your head, you might feel light, ungrounded. If you’re dragging your feet, heavy on the ground and sluggish, your energy needs some uplifting, to be centered. Next time you feel uncentered, take a seat with your feel on the floor, or stand with your weight evenly on both feet, and rest one or both hands gently on your belly, under your navel. Take a few long deep and slow breaths. Learn more about this.

Grounding Through Routine

In Chinese Medicine, routine is associated with the Earth element and the idea of “home”. Do you have a daily routine that feels “homey” to you? A daily morning walk, afternoon yoga practice, or bedtime reading… I talked about this earlier in terms of the benefits of routine for healthy travel, but consider that every day of your life is a journey.

Name: Inner Gate (Pericardium 6)

This point can be effective for relieving nausea and anxiety. You may be familiar with it because it’s the point used by those motion sickness wrist bands, which are also helpful foP6_pointr women experiencing nausea during pregnancy.

Location: On the inner forearm, about three fingers’ width from the wrist crease.

To hold: Gently cradle your wrist on the palm of the other hand, and lightly press the point with your thumb. You can experiment with the pressure, but a light pressure is usually effective.

P6demoBe sure to relax both arms and shoulders; you can place your hands on a table or your lap to be comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds or so initially, to see how it feels for you. For some people, the feeling of relief is immediate. For others, it can take a while; try 5 minutes. Release gently if you feel any acute pain.