Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Essential First Aid

After a long weekend of biking, hiking, and swimming with the kids,  I got a sneak peak of what was to come this summer.  Lots of bumps, scrapes, and bruises!  Instead of putting a damper on our activities, however, with each fall we pulled out the trusty first aid kit.  The kids have come to rely on this magical bag that can make the bleeding stop and the pain lessen.

It's easy to make your own first aid kit, and fill it more natural solutions to minor injuries. Make a small one with the essentials below to throw in your backpack, and then make a larger one for the car.  You'll be ready for anything that comes your way!

1. The Basics
    -Natural Bug Spray
    -Protein Bars
    -Emergen-C: These vitamin packets are a great way to keep your nutrients up when traveling. 
                          Add the powder to water and you have a great way to re-hydrate after a long hike

2. The Meds
    -All Purpose Salve:  Look for a salve that contains comfrey, St. John's Wort, calendula,
                or plantain.  Apply to cuts, scrapes,  & bug bites to disinfect, soothe, and
                accelerate healing.  Also great for dry, cracked skin.

    -Tea Tree Essential Oil: A great disinfectant!  Use sparingly on infected cuts to
                       speed healing.  Also great to sniff to ease nausea.

    -Homeopathic Arnica:  These little pills work wonders!  Take to ease muscle soreness,
                      heal bruises, ease arthritis pain, and ease headaches.

    -Rescue Remedy:  Made from flower essences, this is a great tonic to ease trauma and
                stress.  Also great way to relieve anxiety.  Just take a few drops under the
                tongue. These are also available as a delicious pastille.

3. The Hardware
    -Assortment of Band-Aids
    -Bandages, gauze, and surgical tape
    -Cleansing wipes

Now go have some fun!

Kristin Henningsen M.S., C.H., R.Y.T.
Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shoulder Savers

Summer is just around the corner, and with it an increase of outdoor activity. Whether it's gardening, climbing, kayaking, or just swimming at the neighborhood pool; it's likely that at some point you will feel some strain in your shoulders.  Opening up the shoulders and and keeping them flexible can save you from serious neck and shoulder injuries down the road.  Here's some simple shoulder savers that will keep you moving the whole summer long.

Shoulder Circles: Bring the fingertips to the shoulders and slowly shrug them up, then back, and down.  Focus breathing slowly in and out as you continue the circular motion for 5-10 breaths.  Then, reverse directions and continue for another 5-10 breaths.

Cat/Cow: Place the hands under the shoulders, and knees under hips.  Take a deep inhale and draw the shoulder blades together on the back as you lift the tailbone and pull the chest forward slightly.  Exhale and press deeply into the floor, rounding the back and bringing the chin toward the chest.  Continue for 5-10 breaths, integrating movement with breath.

Thread the Needle: From Cat/Cow, press deeply into your right hand and inhale as you extend the left arm out to the side and up towards the sky.  Exhale and slide the left hand underneath the right arm, dropping your left shoulder to or toward the floor.  You can also place a blanket or block under the shoulder if it doesn't reach the floor. Let the weight of your body open up your shoulder as you walk the right fingertips forward.  Stay here for 5-10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

             Eagle Arms: Come to a comfortable seat.  Ground down through 
             the tailbone and extend through the crown of the head.  With a big 
             inhalation, extend the arms wide.  On the exhale, bring your right 
             elbow on top of your left, intertwining the arms or placing the 
             hands on the shoulders.  Draw your elbows up about shoulder
             height, and with an exhale, draw them in towards your belly.  
             Inhale to center, and open the arms wide, repeating on other side.

Be sure to listen to your body and don't push yourself beyond your limit with any stretch.  And enjoy summer!

~Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT
Friday, May 22, 2015

Holistic Approaches to Fibromyalgia

Recently I was asked to speak for a local support group for people who suffer from Fibromyalgia.  I think they have the best name---Fibro Fight Club!-- and are led by a passionate lady who has lived with this condition for many years.

Very welcoming and warm, these souls have suffered for many years from pain, emotional fluctuations, and stress.  One of the hardest parts of working with someone with Fibromyalgia is that each person presents different symptoms, and these symptoms can change by the hour.  It has made many doctors throw their hands up, and can lead to a feelings of helplessness for those who suffer from it.

While individualized care is really essential for anyone suffering from Fibromyalgia, there are certain treatments that can be effective.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Herbal Allies

Joint & Muscle Pain
  • Cayenne and Menthol Oil: reduces intensity of pain signals
  • Lavender Oil: Reduces inflammation and increases emotional well-being
  • Ginger Baths: Ginger boosts the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of other herbs and mobilizes the body's own healing agents to ease the pain of fibromyalgia and arthritis.
  • Willow Bark Tea: provides the equivalent of a low aspirin dose, without the stomach upset that aspirin can cause. It can take a few weeks to build up in your system before you notice a difference.

Mind/Body Connection

  • Depression: Lemon Balm, St. John’s Wort, Milky Oats, Rhodiola 
  • Chronic Fatigue: Ginseng, Eleuthro, Ashwagandha, Bitters
  • Insomnia: Chamomile, Passionflower, Lavender, Skullcap
  • Stress Management: All of the above!
  • Use a few herbs for a variety of symptoms

Dietary Support
  • High nutrients, proper diet
  • Magnesium rich foods: Leafy greens, seeds and nuts, fish, avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, yogurt.  Oat straw and Nettle Infusions.
  • Healthy oils: Flax oil, fish oil, fatty fish such as trout, cod, halibut, mackerel and salmon, nuts, whole grains
  • High Fiber: need to trap toxins and move them out of the body. 
  • Avoid Processed Foods: dairy products, meat, and margarine
  • Reduce: Hot (spicy) and fried foods; processed sugar; very bitter and astringent foods like brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. Excessive black tea, coffee, alcohol, yogurt, chocolate, cocoa.
  • Hydrate! 8 glasses of water, fresh juices and herbal teas to flush out toxins
  • Investigate: gluten sensitivity

  • Proper exercise and stress management: Yoga, journaling, walking, fresh air, friends and family, community support

Considering your own unique constitution can also be very helpful with this condition.  Called Doshas in Ayurvedic Medicine, it can help us approach the disease from a more individualized perspective.  You can take an online quiz here to find out what your own unique constitution is.

If you or someone you love is suffering from Fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor about trying some of these techniques to find a little respite.

Be Well!

Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT
Monday, May 18, 2015
Epsom Salts for Gardening
(Jockers, 2015)

Epsom Salts are used for a variety of uses from decreasing pain and inflammation when used in bath water to improving the number and size of blooming plants. Magnesium sulfate is chemical in Epsom salt that is important in seed germination, plant growth, the production of blossoms, and eventually the fruit or vegetables harvested from the plants.  Low levels of magnesium do not allow some plants, like tomatoes, peppers, and roses to grow optimally (Nardozzi, 2015).

Low levels of magnesium can show in the yellowing of the plant’s leaves, leaf curling, slow growth, or a fruit that lacks sweetness.  To improve low levels of magnesium, Epsom salts can be added to the soil in the following ways:

  • Before planting, add 1 tablespoon to the bottom of planting hole.
  • Once planted, spray the leaves of the plant in the early morning or late evening with a 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts in 1 gallon of water.
  • Epsom salts can also be used to fertilize plants in a container, too.  Place 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts in 1 gallon of water.  Then apply enough to wet the soil in each container.  Reapply once a month (Palomo, 2015).

Angela Ask MPS
Kaplan University
Adjunct Professor in Health Sciences


Jockers, D. (2015, January 1). The Remarkable Health Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths. Retrieved May 16, 2015, from www.healthy-holistic-living.com: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/benefits-of-epsom-salt-baths.html

Nardozzi, C. (2015, January 1). Fertilize with Epsom Salts. Retrieved May 16, 2015, from www.garden.org: http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&id=68

Palomo, E. (2015, January 1). How to Use Epsom Salts in a Garden. Retrieved May 17, 2015, from Homeguides.sfgate.com: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/use-epsom-salts-garden-101254.html

Saturday, May 16, 2015
Vitamin D
(Vitamin D Deficiency, 2011)

Do you live in northern latitudes, have dark skin, or have light skin that requires sunscreen?

If so, you should have your vitamin D levels checked.  The normal level of vitamin D in the blood is 20 to 40 ng/mL.  A mild to moderate vitamin D deficiency is 10-20 ng/mL, while less than 10 ng/mL is considered severely deficient (Mayo Foundation For Medical Education And Research, 2015).  Since I am a person who lives in Iowa and has to wear sunscreen when outside to prevent a burn, my vitamin D levels were found to be in the mild to moderate range in October.  If a simple blood test was not done, the chances that my levels would have reached the severe deficient by the end of our long Midwest winter.
            Sun exposure is a reliable way to receive vitamin D.  Exposing your hands, face, arms, and legs to the sun two or three times a week will cause the skin to produce enough vitamin D.  The time for sun exposure depends on the age, skin, time of day, and location.  Most of the vitamin D, 80%-90%, is obtained through exposure to sunlight (WebMD, 2015).  Vitamin D can also be found in fatty fish, eggs, added to dairy products, cereals, and juices.  Vitamin D supplements are found in the pharmacy where your physician can determine the correct dosage if your blood levels are low.
Vitamin D can prevent rickets, osteoporosis, bone pain, and an inherited disease called osteogenesis imperfecta.  Vitamin D has also been found to improve heart conditions and blood vessel diseases, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Recent studies have also found vitamin D to help with weight loss (Magazine, 2012).
Next time you visit your physician for an annual check, it may be worth having your blood levels checked for vitamin D.

Angela Ask MPS
Full time Adjunct Professor
Kaplan Health Sciences


Magazine, A. B. (2012, May 4). Vitamin D Benefits: Weigh Less, Smile More! Retrieved May 16, 2015, from www.womenshealthmag.com: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/vitamin-d-weight-loss
Mayo Foundation For Medical Education And Research. (2015, January 1). Reference Ranges for Vitamin D. Retrieved May 16, 2015, from Mayomedicallaboratories.com: http://http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/articles/hottopics/transcripts/2009/2009-1b-vitamind/1b-14.html/articles/hottopics/transcripts/2009/2009-1b-vitamind/1b-14.html
Vitamin D Deficiency. (2011, November 23). Vitamin D Deficiency Treatment. Retrieved May 16, 2015, from www.vitaminddeficiency: http://www.vitaminddeficiency.me/
WebMD. (2015, January 1). Vitamin D. Retrieved May 16, 2015, from www.webmd.com: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-929-VITAMIN%20D.aspx?activeIngredientId=929&activeIngredientName=VITAMIN%20D

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