Thursday, 29 January 2009

Sprouting for Health

Sprouting for health
Photo by moriza.
“Sprouts are considered as wonder foods. They rank as the freshest and most nutritious of all vegetables available to the human diet.” – quote from www.sproutnet.com

Recently, I bought a sprouter from my local wholefood store and have been enjoying producing fresh, organic sprouts to use in salads, sandwiches, and other meals.

The most well known sprout is the mung bean sprout which is commonly found in Chinese stir-frys.

Nutrients vary from sprout to sprout but most contain some or all of the following: vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, Calcium, Carbohydrates, Chlorophyll, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Amino Acids, Protein. They also contain fibre and water.

Sprouts are easily digested and actually improve the efficiency of digestion.

Sprouts can be grown easily in four to six days and require no effort and very little cost. All edible grains, seeds and legumes can be sprouted.

Excellent information on sprouting can be found on the sproutpeople website.

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Monday, 26 January 2009

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome
The piriformis muscle runs from the back of the femur (thigh bone) to the sacrum (base of the spine). It lies deep below the gluteal muscles of the buttocks. It assists in abducting and laterally rotating the thigh.

Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve, causing pain in the buttocks and referring pain along the course of the sciatic nerve which runs down the back of the leg right down to the foot.

The sciatic nerve usually passes underneath the piriformis muscle, but in approximately 15% of the population, it travels through the muscle. This anatomical variation, as well as overuse, injuries, and tension, can result in piriformis syndrome causing inflammation of the muscle which in turn irritates the sciatic nerve.

To help relieve the pain associated with piriformis syndrome, stretching of the piriformis muscles should be performed several times a day. This can be combined with physical therapy such as Deep Tissue Massage to help reduce inflammation, release any trigger points in the muscle, and speed up healing. Using hot and cold compresses on the area can also help to reduce pain.

To stretch the piriformis muscle, lie on your back and cross the involved leg over the other. With both knees bent, place both hands together under the knee of the other leg (the lower leg), and gently pull the bottom leg toward your chest and hold both thighs closely until a stretch is felt in the buttock area. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides.

The stretch outlined above and the picture were sourced from spine-health.com.

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Thursday, 22 January 2009

Frankincense – The New Antidepressant

Frankincense helps anxiety and depression
Photo by wernerbrau.
“Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too.” This quote is taken from an article published on the ScienceDaily website.

I happened across this article when researching the Frankincense essential oil for the previous post.

The study mentioned in the article has shown that Frankincense can help to alleviate anxiety and depression.

They found that Incensole acetate, an incense ingredient, significantly affected areas in the brain known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by existing anxiety and depression drugs.

The research relates to the incense form rather than the essential oil of Frankincense but the findings are interesting none the same. The Frankincense essential oil also has antidepressant properties. More information on the essential oil can be found in the Essential Oil in Focus: Frankincense post.

It is good to see that research is being carried out in to the therapeutic properties of essential oils and other alternative remedies – it’s just a shame that some of it is still being carried out on animals.

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2008, May 20). Burning Incense Is Psychoactive: New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520110415.htm

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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Essential Oil in Focus: Frankincense

I have let the Essential Oil of the Week posts lapse recently so from now on they will be called Essential Oil in Focus and I will post new ones as and when I have written them.

In the limelight this week is a relaxing base note essential oil as I have only covered top and middle notes so far.

Botanical name: Boswellia Carteri

Aroma type: Resinous

Note: Base

Frankincense, also known as Olibanum, has been widely used in religious ceremonies and rituals for thousands of years in many areas of the world including India, Egypt, China and by the Catholic church here in the West. It was also burnt as an incense to 'drive out evil spirits'.

It was a very costly substance in the Ancient World which made it favourable as an item of offering. It was one of the gifts given to the baby Jesus.

The properties of Frankincense essential oil include anti-catarrhal, carminative, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue (promotes or increases menstruation), antidepressant, antiseptic, astringent, cicatrisant (promotes the healing of a wound), immuno-stimulant, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and uterine.

It is also a very effective expectorant and I often find when I use this oil, it makes me cough a little even if I haven’t got a cold or cough. To help with respiratory problems and colds, place 4 drops of the oil in to a bowl of boiling water - lean over the bowl, covering your head with a towel and inhale the steam for five to ten minutes.

Frankincense can help with a wide range of medical conditions including stress, tiredness, cuts, emotional problems, coughs, ulcers, wounds, headaches, asthma, anxiety, depression, bronchitis, colds, laryngitis, PMS, cystitis, panic attacks, flu, heavy periods, menstrual problems, catarrh, insomnia, irritability, hyperventilation, postnatal depression, fibrositis, haemorrhoids, poor muscle tone, dilated capillaries, and abscesses. It is also thought to boost confidence.

It is also very good for rheumatism, arthritis, and general aches and pains. In the olden days, people suffering from rheumatism were advised to suspend their painful joints in the smoke of frankincense. They would also sit on a chair with holes in over the burning incense bathing their entire body in the smoke.

In Ancient Egypt, Frankincense was used in rejuvenating face masks, cosmetics and perfumes. Today, it is still being used by Aromatherapists to help treat skin conditions such as blemishes, acne, stretch marks, psoriasis, scar tissue, and wrinkles. It is suitable for all skin types, especially dry and mature skin.

Frankincense soothes and calms the mind, slowing down and deepening breathing which makes it excellent for use in meditation. It is also one of the reasons I like using it in my Reiki sessions. I place a drop on the palms of my hands and the aroma can be enjoyed by the client when I am working around their head area at the beginning of the treatment. I think it also comforts the client and helps them to reach a state of relaxation quicker.

It blends particularly well with citrus oils, and many other oils such as basil, cypress, lavender, and geranium.

Frankincense is non-toxic and non-irritant and can be used safely by most people.

While writing this post, I thought wouldn’t it be great if the aroma of frankincense could be accompanied with the post somehow and slowly diffuse into the air around the computer as you read this – a kind of scratch ‘n’ sniff post! Frankincense has such a lovely fragrance so it’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular incenses available.

A very spiritual and calming oil - it is a true favourite of mine.

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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Over the years – Holistic Therapies

Bristol Holistic Therapies
Over the years, I have tried many different alternative therapies and healing techniques some of which include:
Aromatherapy Massage
Indian Head Massage
• Chinese Herbal Medicine
• Supplements
• Hot Stone Massage
Swedish/Holistic Massage
Hopi Ear Candling
• Sports/Deep Tissue Massage
• Physiotherapy
• McTimoney Chiropractic
• Osteopathy
• Cranio-Sacral Osteopathy
Thai Foot Massage
• Hypnotherapy
• Theta Healing
• Dry needling
• Thai Body Massage
Holistic Facial
• VEGA allergy/intolerance testing
Meditation, guided visualisation and shamanic journeying
• Counselling
• Mindfulness
• Hypno-CBT
• Chakra balance with crystal pendulums and visualisation
• Tai-chi
• Yoga
• Shotokan Karate
• Iron pentacle workout
• Cutting ties
• Vegetarianism
• Bio-flow magnet-therapy bracelets
• Spiritual Healing
• Creative writing
• Journalling

Some of these therapies and techniques I had tried before training to be a Holistic Therapist, many of them I received while training, and some I have tried out to help with various ailments I have suffered with including back pain, stress relief, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances, depression, sciatica, colds and general relaxation.

I have found meditation, guided visualisation and reiki to be the most effective for improving my mood, stress levels, outlook on life and positivity. I really enjoy doing these and really feel the benefit afterwards – I think it is important to integrate these techniques in to daily life to help maintain wellbeing and keep on top of the stresses of everyday life. A simple and short technique that I like to use is outlined in the Relieving Muscle Tension post.

Out of the holistic therapies that I am qualified in, I prefer giving Reflexology and Aromatherapy Massage to clients above the others as I find these really relaxing and meditative to give and the client benefits greatly from them too. They also seem to be the most popular with my clients.

Of all the different massages I have received, I have to say that the Thai massages I had in Koh Phangan were definitely the best followed by aromatherapy massage.

Every person is unique. No two people are ever created exactly the same. Just because a treatment works well for one person, doesn’t mean it will work well for everyone. Even if two people had identical illnesses, they may still respond differently to the same treatment and one may start to improve while the other one doesn’t. This is why I feel it is important to try a wide range of therapies to see which one suits you the best for your particular ailments and needs at that time.

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Sunday, 18 January 2009

Holistic Therapy Taster Sessions

Taster sessions are a great way to find out more about the different Holistic Therapies that are available. It also gives you the opportunity to try a treatment that you may perhaps not have considered trying before.

If you are unsure about which treatment is for you, or don't want to commit to a full treatment then try a taster session first. Balance Holistics offers taster sessions on the first Tuesday of the month at The Healing Rooms on Gloucester Road, Bristol for only £5 for 15 minutes.

Although it is only a 15-minute treatment, you will still feel relaxed and refreshed after and it gives you the opportunity to see what is involved in the treatment and how it can benefit your health and wellbeing.

The dates for 2009 are as follows:
Tuesday 3 February
Tuesday 3 March
Tuesday 7 April
Tuesday 5 May
Tuesday 2 June
Tuesday 7 July
Tuesday 4 August
Tuesday 1 September
Tuesday 6 October
Tuesday 3 November
Tuesday 1 December

Why not take this opportunity to try out a Balance Holistic treatment – such as a relaxing Aromatherapy Massage, a Reiki session, some Reflexology, or an Indian Head Massage? (a maximum of one taster session for each treatment per person)

Booking for taster sessions is essential. To book, please contact me on 07851 307 062, or email. Further details can be found on the Balance Holistics website.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Thai Foot Massage Review

I recently holidayed on Koh Pha ngan in Thailand and was lucky enough to experience several Thai Massages. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed the Thai Body Massage my favourite has to be the Foot Massage.

Thai Foot Massage is a massage of the lower legs and feet along with the use of a small wooden stick to stimulate the reflex points on the feet which correspond to the internal organs of the body. Various stretches are also incorporated into the massage.

Thai massage is performed on the floor on a thin yet comfortable mat and there is no need to undress. I was asked to change into a pair of Thai trousers so that I was more comfortable.

Tiger Balm was rubbed into my lower legs and then one was wrapped up in muslin while the other leg was being massaged. I really liked this part – it felt very comforting and it did a very good job at warming the muscles up. She massaged my legs – upper and lower and then moved on to the feet.

She rolled the smooth wooden stick up and down my feet and used the end to press on the various reflex points on the feet similar to those used in Reflexology. I found the stick very effective at clearing blockages in the reflex points - I could feel energy start to circulate around my feet and then up in to the rest of my body. Thai Massage helps to open up the energy lines in the body known as Sen lines, similar to Meridian lines in Chinese Medicine.

After the foot massage, the therapist moved on to massage my head, neck and shoulders and then finished on my back. I never expected this part! After all, I only thought I was getting a foot massage. The massage of the feet and the upper body complemented each other perfectly making me feel that my whole body had received a treatment.

After the massage, I was provided with a pot of Green Tea and some sesame biscuits to help ground me. I felt so relaxed during and after the treatments – my feet felt great, my back felt great, and I felt energised.

Most of the Thai Massages I received while in Koh Pha ngan were from Chakra Traditional Massage.

I enjoyed the Thai Foot Massage so much that I have decided to train in the therapy myself. I will be training with TEACH Therapy in March 2009 and hope to be offering the treatment to clients shortly after. Watch this space…

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Run Down of 2008

As 2008 ends and we head in to the new year I thought it would be a fitting time to give a run down of what’s been happening for Balance Holistics during 2008.

In March, I finished my Reiki training. I started on my Reiki path in June 2006 when I reached level 1 (Shoden) with a Reiki Master in Nottingham. After moving to Bristol, I continued my training with Ruth Hartley of ReikiJoy reaching level 2 (Okuden) in February 2007, and then my Master/Teacher level (Shinpiden) early last year. More information about Reiki can be found on the Balance Holistics website.

April saw the launch of Balance Holistics’ new website. Thank you to everyone for their contributions, comments and feedback.

In June, I attended Silverhill School Ladies Pamper and Shopping Evening in Winterbourne where I provided 15-minute taster sessions in Hot Stone Massage and Aromatherapy Massage. It was a very busy and enjoyable evening. I also attended several Pamper Parties around Bristol which were arranged through The Pamper Company. At the end of June, I left my part-time job to focus all my energy and efforts on Balance Holistics.

Balance Holistics blog was launched in July.

In September, I attended a two-day Advanced Massage Techniques course in Newport. I will be attending the follow-up day to this course in June 2009. At the end of September, I travelled to Donnington Park for the annual FHT Holistic Conference. I attended several talks and workshops on various aspects of holistic therapies including The Balance Procedure, How to avoid burnout, and Using music and meditation with Indian Head Massage.

October was a quite month for Balance Holistics as I was away on holiday in Thailand for three weeks.

In early December, I received 7th Kyu in Shotokan Karate. I started training with Bristol Shotokan Karate back in January and have been progressing through the belts. Karate helps to keep me balanced and gives me focus. It complements my healing practice perfectly.

I’d like to say a big thank you to all of my clients for their business in the past year and wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.

2009 is a year of professional development for me. I have booked on to various training courses to further my skills in existing therapies I practice including Advanced Massage Techniques and Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Childbirth. I will also be training in two completely new therapies – Thai Foot Massage and Holistic Facials.