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The 12 Best Foods To Eat When You Are On Your Period (Reduce Pain)

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Aside from child bearing, the biggest thing that separates men from women is, of course, menstruation.

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And if you’re a woman, well… it really sucks. There’s no other way to put it. Between the cramping, the mood swings, and the bloating (not to mention the mess), women are forced to endure discomforts that would probably make most grown men cry — Every. Single. Month.

Of course, no one woman is the same.

Some can start menstruating as early as 11 years old and some might hit menopause as late as 60 years old. Some have longer cycles than the 28-day average, while others have much shorter. Despite these differences, we all share in the misery of our monthly companion to some degree or another. Certainly, most women can relate to the horrific emotional roller coaster that comes before, during, or after our periods. And an estimated 85 percent of women experience at least one symptom of PMS per month, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Bloating
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Weight Gain
  • Swelling in face, ankles, feet, and hands
  • Aching in the back
  • Cold sores (sometimes recurring)
  • Heaviness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Gaseousness
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Food cravings
  • Acne
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle spasms

What most woman don’t know is that experiencing terrible PMS doesn’t just signal that your hormones are temporarily out of whack; it can also reveal energy stagnation (or Qi stagnation) in the body.

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I know what you’re thinking: “I’m a woman! Duh! It’s supposed to hurt.” Well actually, no, it’s not. If you are fighting bad cramps every month, your body is telling you that something is going on that NEEDS your attention.

(Check out this awesome article by Organic Olivia that explains Qi stagnation in depth and how it is related to your liver.)

So aside from addressing the emotional component of terrible cramps, there are also physical ways we can ease the pain when PMS does strike.

I put together a list of food below with examples of how to help alleviate the stress your body experiences during this time. Not everything on this list will work for you, but a process of trial and error with each can certainly help you to be more self aware of what you consume and how your body reacts to it.

Water

Nature’s gift to wo(man)! It comes as no surprise that water is essential to easing us through the most natural time in our life. It may sound counterintuitive, but drinking more water will actually help to release water retention and alleviate bloating. As health and fitness consultant Tari Rose explains, “Your body is retaining water because it’s afraid of not getting enough. So, if you give it what it needs (more water) it will release the water it’s holding onto.” Also, our bodies are losing copious amounts of liquids (or so it feels), so replenishing ourselves with pure water is our best bet; not to mention, water promotes regular and smooth bowel movements, which helps reduce stagnation in the abdominal area – a common concern before and during menstruation.

Vegetables

Women lose about 30-80ml of blood and 15-25ml of iron during each menstruation, so it’s important we replenish the iron we are losing with iron rich foods. But as with most things in life, it’s important not to overdo it, because too much of these foods can cause bloating.

Parsley contains apiol, a compound that has been shown to be highly effective at stimulating the menstrual process and relieving menstrual cramps.

Spinach contains an ample amount of nutrients like Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and Magnesium, which have been shown to fight menstrual cramps.

An iron supplement could also help here, but you may have to try a few before finding one that doesn’t cause constipation.

Foods: parsley, spinach, kale, celery, collards, dried prunes, dried peaches, pumpkin seeds, raisins, brussels sprouts, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, artichokes, legumes, and more.

Calcium

Women need at least 1,200 mg of calcium every day, according to certified holistic health counselor and nutritionist Latham Thomas. In one study, women who took 1,200 mg per day for 3 months experienced a 48% reduction in their PMS symptoms. Compare that to a 30% reduction for those taking a placebo (hello, power of consciousness!), and increasing your calcium intake starts to seem like a worthwhile endeavour. Further studies were conducted to prove the benefits of calcium in combatting PMS, especially during the luteal phase of your cycle. 

Kale is one of the best plant-based sources of calcium and has the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) rating, which measures a food’s ability to scavenge free radicals — unstable molecules that can damage your body at the cellular level.

Broccoli is 91 percent water by weight, this helps eliminate bloating (fibre helps with this too) while getting rid of puffiness, gas, and fatigue. Broccoli has calcium, vitamins A, C, B6, and E, potassium, and magnesium — nutrients that help alleviate PMS symptoms.

Foods: kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, edamame, bok choy, figs, almonds, and more.

Fruit

Sugar cravings are especially common during this time so it’s important we go for the right kinds of sugar and avoid the overly-processed sweets we often turn to. “Fruits, vegetables and whole foods are your friends always, but especially during menstruation. The fruit from sugar may help alleviate sugar cravings,” explains health and fitness consultant Tari Rose. The great thing about fruit, particularly at this time, is its high fibre content, which can help improve regularity.

Bananas can also help regulate your bowels, which is important for women who experience diarrhea during their period. Bananas are also known to help with cramps, thanks to nutrients like vitamin B6, but potassium is the real star here, as it reduces water retention and thus bloating as well.

Pineapple also helps to combat cramping because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that is thought to help relax muscles. However, most of the bromelain in pineapple is located in the stem, which is not as tasty as the flesh (but edible nevertheless).

Foodscherries, blueberries, rasberries, apricots, oranges, plums, pears, cucumbers, and more.

Nuts & Seeds

The little guys are energy-dense little fuel sources, packed with concentrated protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients unique to the specific varieties.

Walnuts are rich in the healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are known to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Additionally, walnuts are loaded with magnesium and with vitamin B6 — one cup of chopped walnuts provides 31% of the recommended daily intake of B6.

Sesame seeds are full of nutrients that have been shown to reduce cramps affiliated with menstruation. They are a great source of vitamin B6, zinc, calcium, and magnesium, and contain certain healthful fatty acids that may help relax muscles.

Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E, as well as the key anti-cramping minerals zinc and magnesium. These seeds also contain pyridoxine (vitamin B6), which helps relieve pain through its role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine. In addition, pyridoxine has been shown to promote the absorption of zinc and magnesium.

Fenugreek seeds are little seeds with a pungent-sweet flavour that are also a popular remedy for menstrual pain.

Foods: almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, flaxseeds (ground), peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and more.

Tea

Cold and raw foods can be difficult for our bodies to digest, and warmth at this time serves our bodies tremendously. Herbal teas are the best to go for because caffeine can worsen cramps and PMS significantly.

Chamomile tea contains properties that relieve muscle spasms, and it helps reduce the tension that leads to anxiety and irritability. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory, reducing prostaglandin production and relieving menstrual cramps.

Peppermint is a natural muscle relaxer and appetite suppressant.

Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that ease menstrual cramp symptoms.

Basil contains caffeic acid which has an analgesic or pain-killing effect.

Thyme also contains high caffeic acid properties which prevent menstrual cramps.

Ginger can help with nausea and bloating, and is an age-old remedy for menstrual cramps in China.

Green tea promotes lowers estrogen levels and this can help the endocrine system to function more efficiently. 

Sage has active properties that regulate sweating and blood clotting. It’s great in baths, too, and rubbing sage oil on your abdomen can help with cramps as well.

Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is a nutrient rich powerhouse which contains a concentrated source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), with a mere cup of crude wheat germ providing a whopping 75% of the recommended daily intake for this important vitamin! Wheat germ is also an excellent source of other B vitamins, as well as zinc, and contains high amounts of vitamin E and magnesium.

Oats

Oats contain magnesium, which improves nervous system functioning, and this is particularly important during times of mental or physical stress. Magnesium can also help you sleep, can increase your energy, lower anxiety, assist in regularity, and prevent aches and moodiness. Oats are also one of the best sources of dietary zinc, fantastic for women who suffer from painful periods, and they provide adequate carbs to replenish lost glycogen in the body. This promotes energy and prevents moodiness. Oats are also full of easily digestible fiber, which will assist in eliminating excess estrogen in the body to help even out your mood even further.

Dark Chocolate

It’s important that you consume either raw organic cacao powder or organic plain cocoa so your body can readily digest the proper nutrients — nutrients which milk chocolate cannot provide. Dairy is highly inflammatory and promotes unhealthy hormone levels, and chocolates with dairy often contain excess sugar as well. The processing this kind of chocolate goes through also kills most, if not all, of the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Raw organic cacao powder is lower in fat, higher in antioxidants and fibre, an excellent source of iron, and combats cravings. Having a small piece of dark chocolate with 60 percent or higher cacao bean content every day on your period can help manage sugar cravings.

Cacao is a natural mood elevator because it boosts serotonin in the brain and contains magnesium, a mineral which helps regulate mood (see below). It’s important to choose organic, non-GMO, and raw varieties to avoid contaminants that can develop during cacao’s fermentation process. Cacao powder is an affordable superfood and a terrific source of beauty-promoting and mood-lifting nutrients including magnesium, sulfur, potassium, iron, Vitamin C, zinc, copper, and even some B vitamins.

Magnesium

As mentioned with oats, magnesium is a vital mineral to add to our daily diet to help with a variety of normal health functions. Magnesium deficiency can lead to headaches, insomnia, irregularity, moodiness, fatigue, general sadness or a lack of motivation, and even cramps or joint pain. Consuming magnesium rich foods or supplements can help lower anxiety, promote regularity, prevent aches and moodiness, and increase energy levels.

Foods: beans, tofu, leafy greens, bananas, nuts and seeds, whole grains, cacao.

Blood Nourishing Food

It’s important that women replenish their blood and iron during menstruation.  Normally women lose about 30-80ml of blood and 15-25ml of iron each cycle. When the blood is strong, it can promote radiant skin, normal menstruation, and vital energy. And when blood is deficient, women may experience dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, scanty or delayed periods, anemia, or even premature aging.

Foods: organic red meat, liver, egg yolks, spinach, collards, dried prunes, raisins, oysters, clams, scallops, turkey, chicken giblets, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, artichokes, carrots, peanuts, dates.

Vitamins + Supplements

Vitamin E can help eliminate some PMS symptoms; you’ll find it in avocado, hemp seeds, and egg yolk.

Vitamin B6 can help relieve bloating and boost your mood; find it in potatoes, bananas, and oatmeal.

Vitamin C and zinc support the health of a woman’s eggs and reproductive system. Find vitamin C in grapefruits and lemons and zinc in pumpkin seeds and squashes.

Bioflavonoids are vitamins which help regulate hormone levels, leading to a more regular period. Ever notice the color of the membrane between slices of an orange or the stem of bell peppers? These are made up of bioflavonoids. Basically, they show up in foods that contain vitamin C, and they can decrease the amount of blood lost during your period as well as protect your capillaries.

Sabina can be referred to as a miracle cure, as it alleviates some of the toughest menstrual symptoms you can face, even for people with endometriosis, who are no stranger to the dark blood clots which seem to increase cramping and leave you feeling debilitated. This homeopathic remedy can even help with the most severe pain that spreads to the thighs.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help significantly with menstrual pain which was shown in a 1996 study published in Obstetricians and Gynecology. Women who received a daily dose of 6 grams of fish oil, providing 1,080 milligrams (mg) of EPA, and 720 mg of DHA, had experienced significantly less menstrual pain while taking the fish oil supplements.

These aren’t magical cures and it’s unlikely your body will respond immediately, but if you maintain this daily intake before and during your period, you have a good chance of lessening both pain and discomfort. Natural remedies take time, but they are worth the investment. In 2000, a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found a low-fat, vegetarian diet that emphasized the consumption of plant-based foods, significantly reduced pain and PMS for many women. The symptom effects could be due to the dietary influences on estrogen activity.

As mentioned earlier, a painful period can be caused by a number of emotional issues or physical distresses (liver) in the body, so it’s important to be proactive with your research, digging deep to look at your body as a whole. Our bodies have a unique intelligence and its various signs and responses are its way of telling us when something requires our attention. It’s quite fascinating!

If you have any yummy recipes that incorporate some of these foods, please share them below!

Sources

http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/816186/best-foods-to-eat-while-on-your-period-1

http://www.cycleharmony.com/healthy-living/nutrition-and-recipes/what-to-eat-before-during-and-after-your-period

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/foods-that-make-pms-more-bearable/

http://www.lovelivehealth.com/the-8-best-vitamins-to-take-during-your-period/

http://www.naturalremedies.org/pms/

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If Your DNA Information Is Being Sold, Shouldn’t You Make The Profit?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Companies like 23andMe, Ancestry.com and others are collecting your DNA data and can sell the data to third party companies. Timicoin is a blockchain based ecosystem that allows you to monetize your health data.

  • Reflect On:

    Shouldn't you have the option to sell your own data? Is your DNA data safe with some of these companies? The blockchain is helping to create further security and consumer-based monetization of personal data.

Amidst the rise in popularity of companies who take samples of our DNA in order to provide us with information about our ancestry and health risks, there are growing concerns that are not immediately apparent to the average consumer. While most are just happy to be getting exotic information about where they came from and what they should be watching out for health-wise, all for little more than a few hundred dollars, not many consumers are seeing this as a threat to their privacy, and more specifically, as a threat to their control over the most essential information about their unique personal identity–their DNA sequences.

“The key thing about your genetic data … it is uniquely yours. It identifies you, so if you are going to entrust it to a company, you should try to understand what the consequences are,” said Jennifer King, director of consumer privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, whose research on the issue and interviews with individuals shows a lack of consumer knowledge.

Company Disclaimers

Of course, companies who deal in such services will do all they can to convince consumers that their data is safe and secure. But as this CNBC article notes,

Companies in this space, including 23andMeVeritas Genetics and Ancestry, have a good reason to protect your DNA — their business future depends on maintaining the trust of consumers. But there are thorny issues related to genetic privacy that still today don’t have easy answers or iron-clad legislative protections. And regulators aren’t convinced they are doing right by consumers. A recent Fast Company report indicates that 23andMe and Ancestry are being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over their policies for handling personal info and genetic data and how they share that info with third parties.

All of these companies say they have clear policies that they will not share your DNA with any third-party unless you explicitly consent to it:

23andMe provides consumers the choice of opting into research conducted on behalf of academic, nonprofit and industry organizations. They also offer an option to consent separately to specific disease studies in which their DNA is used in conjunction with for-profit drug companies, such as the Parkinson’s disease research conducted with Genentech and the lupus and IBD research conducted with Pfizer.

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Abuse Of Private Data

Hearing about research conducted on behalf of ‘academic, nonprofit and industry organizations’ reminds me of the article I wrote on Cambridge Analytica’s fraudulent effort to characterize themselves as an academic organization while mining people’s private Facebook information to target them with ads for the 2016 U. S. Presidential Election. Facebook knowingly sold the information to Cambridge Analytica demonstrating that, when it comes to big companies and corporations, the only thing we know for sure is that money and profit will eventually trump respect for the privacy of people’s information.

If there is money to be made by selling our personal information, corporations will do whatever they can to skirt around privacy agreements. They may even flat-out change their policy and inform us in a pages-long letter that they know no one reads and will simply click the ‘accept’ button. In the current environment, it is wise to be extremely cautious when deciding to consent to having one company share our information, especially our genetic information, with third parties.

Think about it. As technology evolves, surely there will be ways our DNA codes could be used in the future that we would not agree with. But once we have given our consent to the use of this most private information, we can no longer guarantee what happens with it. Wouldn’t it be great if WE had control over our genetic information, encrypted and only accessible by us, to use and share in a manner of OUR choosing?

If we so choose, we may even be able to profit from it. Did you know that health information is a commodity that is already collected and sold via third-party companies? Selling health data around the world is already a multi-billion dollar industry, much like how your data collected from Facebook is. But how do we get back control of our DNA information, which could be our most valuable resource about who we are?

Think outside the box. Think blockchain. Think Timicoin.

Timicoin

Timicoin is a platform bringing together a crypto token and the blockchain and is pioneering the tokenization of health information, including your DNA sequencing and other genetic information, through a decentralized blockchain ecosystem. They promise to allow users to monetize their own data, have access to their health information whenever they need it and verify that it is accurate.

The Timicoin platform is built on their own custom blockchain and it’s already fully functioning. This means that in a short time, you will be able to begin using Timicoin’s blockchain to monetize your health data. For more information, please refer to this earlier CE article. You can also read Timicoin’s White Paper here.

Shift In Business Paradigm

Analysts believe that Healthcare information on the blockchain will grow aggressively in the coming years given the global need for ease of sharing healthcare information. Secure storage of our DNA information is only one part of Timicoin’s larger endeavor to make your healthcare information available globally and instantaneously as needed, but only with your personal consent.

It represents a new business paradigm, whereby information is centralized in terms of permitted access but decentralized in terms of who has the power over the information. No longer will masses of valuable personal information be owned and controlled by large corporations, but rather will be owned and controlled by each individual, not only giving the individual the ability to monetize their personal information themselves, but also securing the validity of that information through personal verification and safeguarding against fraud. Supporting blockchain technologies is supporting individual empowerment in our society, a move that undoubtedly scares the power structure at top levels of our current corporatocracy.

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Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.

With the ancient science of Numerology you can find out accurate and revealing information just from your name and birth date.

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Awareness

The Damaging Effects Of 5G Wireless On Your Health

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Wireless radiation is a huge health problem that continues to be ignored and another opportunity for us to gaze into the past of similar occurrences and learn from our mistakes. Take tobacco for example, at one time in history you were considered a fool and ‘crazy’ for speaking up against the big tobacco companies and letting people know that cigarettes compromise our health. Today, science has spoken, and it has spoken for a long time, despite what the corporations put out into the public and the “science” they used to approve these things in the first place.

There doesn’t seem to be much more of a difference between communication companies that sell and manufacture wireless products and services, which, according to hundreds of scientists and countless amounts of publications, are urging authorities to pay closer attention to what wireless radiation is doing to human health.

This is one of the multiple examples where corporate control rules and dictates government policy, policies that favour big corporations at the behest of planet Earth and the rest of the human population. But it’s more so apparent in North America.

European Restrictions

In Europe, multiple countries have restrictions on WiFi and have pointed out some disturbing things. France passed a law in 2015 banning WiFi from all nursery schools, the law states that WiFi must be turned off in all elementary schools when it’s not in use. W wired connection if possible, is preferred. Advertisements directing cell phone use towards young children are banned.

An example from Namibia states quite clearly that current so-called “safety” standards don’t protect citizens from long-term health effects, and that the guidelines governing their use do not guarantee adequate protection against the effects of long-term exposure.

Other countries include Belgium, Spain, Israel, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India, Finland, Cyprus and more.

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Why are they saying no to WiFi? See for yourself:

You can access hundreds of these scientific papers and read more here, just click on the science section and under each heading, there are links directly to the research. If you click on the drop-down tab, a list of scientific references as documentation appears. 


Related CE Article with more information:

Why Multiple Countries Have Banned Wifi & Cell Phones Around Schools, Young Children & Fetuses


Yes, we are making progress, and awareness is being created and steps are being taken, but the corporate take over of North America and almost the entire planet is simply brushing our health under the table, because, unfortunately, they have the power to do so.

At the same time, we are the ones using this technology. It’s becoming so useful, and so easy to just rely on the corporation like we do with everything else. How ironic is it that we raise money and advocate for cancer, yet support the very things that are contributing to it, on grande scales?

Millions of children and adults in schools around the world spend significant amounts of time around wireless devices and Wi-Fi. Many schools are introducing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and installing industrial wireless routers for tablets. However, wireless devices expose students and staff to microwave radiation that can impede learning and overall health. Studies have shown that microwave radiation can damage reproductive systems, impact the immune system, alter brain functioning, and may increase cancer risk. Tablets have up to 5 antennae that are constantly emitting short intense bursts of radiation even when not connected to the Internet. Wireless devices in classrooms thus result in multiple sources of wireless radiation exposure. – Environmental Health Trust

The 5G Health Concerns

So, what about 5G? Science already indicates that the current wireless technologies of 2G, 3G and 4G – in use today with our cell phones, computers, and wearable tech. – creates radio frequency exposure which poses a serious health risk to humans, animals and the environment. 5G is the term used to describe the next-generation of mobile networks beyond the 4G LTE mobile networks used today. 5G is intended to be the technology that allows the “Internet of Things” (IOT) to exist and connects all internet connected devices together.

Scientists have been studying the health effects of 5G and wireless radiation and are deeply concerned with their findings and are calling for a stop to the rollout of 5G,  as well as a halt to the proposed increase in radio frequency radiation exposure to the public.

Thanks to all of the efforts by various researchers, scientists and more, the world is waking up to this information and it’s actually starting to become talked about within the mainstream. It always seems like such a long process from the point where something is known, to actually mass consensus and action steps being created.

A CBS news report recently emphasized:

The wireless industry is in a race to roll out 5G service. The network is supposed to be up to 100 times faster than current data speeds, but it requires cellphone tower equipment to be closer to users than before. Wireless companies in the U.S. say they’ll have to install about 300,000 new antennas – roughly equal to the total number of cell towers built over the past three decades. That’s causing outrage and alarm in some neighbourhoods, as antennas go up around homes.

5G requires the installation of new equipment across the U.S. Every wireless company is working to build its own 5G network. This is worse than cell phone use, and yet, according to government health authorities, “a limited number of studies have shown some evidence of statistical association of cell phone use and brain tumour risks… but most studies have found no association.”

Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof before taking action to prevent well-known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.
Dr. Martin Blank, Ph.D., from the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University, has joined a group of scientists from around the world who are making an international appeal to the United Nations regarding the dangers associated with the use of electromagnetic emitting devices like cell phones and Wi-Fi. He and hundreds of other scientists around the world are currently petitioning the UN, and have been for quite some time, regarding the dangers associated with these devices.

“Putting it bluntly they are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely” (source)

Melissa Arnoldi, who leads AT&T’s efforts, said “if it’s not already in your neighbourhood, it’s coming.” This is quite concerning, she told CBS news that “5G uses high-frequency waves that support faster speeds but don’t travel as far as current wireless frequencies. So instead of relying on large cellphone towers spread far apart, they need “small cell” sites that are much closer together.”

Sometimes I wonder, how is this even allowed to happen? Who are the people which control what type of information with regards to our health gets emphasized, and what doesn’t?

This new 5G equipment is currently being installed in a neighbourhood near you.

I’ll leave you with this TED talk by a Silicon-valley engineer turned technology health advocate, Jeromy Johnson.


Related CE Article:

FCC Intimidates Press & Evades Questioning About Wireless & Cancer at 5G Rollout 


 Solutions Exist

You can use a wired connection, which is very fast and in most cases faster than a wireless connection. Minimize your cell phone use, and perhaps look into some devices that may be used to block the biological effects this stuff is, does, and can have on us.

FactSheets:What Parents Need to Know About Wireless Radiation,

American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendation Protect The Ones You Love Card  English,Spanish

BabySafe Project: “Reduce Your Wireless Exposure”English BrochureSpanish Brochure

New Jersey Education Association Minimize health risks from electronic devices”Article,PDF of Recommendations

Get Your FREE In Depth Numerology Reading

Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.

With the ancient science of Numerology you can find out accurate and revealing information just from your name and birth date.

Get your free numerology reading and learn more about how you can use numerology in your life to find out more about your path and journey. Get Your free reading.

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Awareness

This Super Simple Breathing Technique Can Help Alleviate Anxiety & Depression

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Small study finds breathing technique can help treat major depressive disorder and anxiety.

  • Reflect On:

    The answers to our challenges are much simpler than we thought, we have everything we need inside of us. Great alternative to prescription anti-depressant medication, or other substances.

The breath is one of the most underrated and under-utilized methods of healing. Breathing comes naturally to us, we do it without thinking, which is why it is not something we generally think of as a way to connect deeply with ourselves, calm our anxieties or even reach higher levels of consciousness. Something as simple as breathing can help those who suffer from severe mental conditions and those who have survived global disasters.

There are many forms of breathwork, there is the well-known Holotropic Breathing, made popular by the Iceman himself, Wim Hof. There is another technique known as transformational breathwork and the featured practice of breathing that will be featured in this article, resonant breathing or Coherent Breathing, which is a trademarked term.

This specific style of breathwork came from years of studying the ancient breathing practices of indigenous people all over the world including those from African, Hawaiian, and Native American traditions.

Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, Patricia Gerbarg, studies the technique with her husband, Richard Brown, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We wanted to identify a short program that could be given quickly to people, that they would have immediate relief within five or ten minutes, and that over time would produce long-term changes,” Gerbarg told Vice.

The Study

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine in 2017 led by researchers from Boston University asked 30 people with major depression to practice the breathing technique regularly as well as Iyengar yoga. After 3 months, results from a standard depression inventory test showed how the depressive symptoms had significantly declined.

Even though the study size was very small, it is comforting to know that something as simple as breath alone could help to alleviate symptoms of severe depression. No pills needed. This technique is especially powerful because it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. The process involved taking regular breaths in and out of the nose, at a pace of 5 breaths per minute, each breath in and out taking around 6 seconds. When starting out, it is recommended that this be practiced with the eyes closed, but once you get it under control you can easily do it with your eyes open, meaning while you’re driving, while in a meeting, anytime during the day that you may find yourself feeling anxious, stressed or down. Gerbarg says, “It’s totally private. Nobody knows you’re doing it.”

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The breath should be calm and gentle because the goal is to balance the sympathetic — fight or flight with the parasympathetic — rest and digest areas of the nervous system. Interestingly, when the couple first began looking into the power of the breath, the first thought was that this must send extra oxygen to the brain that we may have otherwise been lacking. However, they knew that there must be more to this to explain the profound effects they had been seeing in those who practiced the breathing technique. Not to mention, some types of breathwork actually decreases the amount of oxygen going to the brain.

Why Does This Work?

Gerbarg and Brown believe that the reason this technique works is thanks to the vagal nerves, those connecting the brain to the body and what tell the organs when to beat, digest, breathe and all other functions, have been found in recent years to send even more messages in the opposite direction from the body to the brain. “These ascending messages strongly influence stress response, emotion and neurohormonal regulatory networks,” stated in a book written by the couple, Yoga Therapy: Theory and Practice.

According to Gerbarg, “Respiration is the only autonomic function we can voluntarily control,” it’s easy to see how changing the breathing pattern can shift the messages received by the brain.

The calm and even breaths send messages of safety, according to Gerbarg, this can reduce anxious or depressive thoughts and makes way for more loving and connected emotions to be felt. Adverse reactions are generally rare, but those with asthma or other breathing conditions should only try this practice under the guidance of a trained professional.

We really do have everything we need inside of us. Our human bodies are magnificent, and if something as simple as breathing can help alleviate symptoms of depression, then we should certainly be studying this more. If you are skeptical about this information and feel it’s too good to be true, give it a shot next time you find yourself feeling down or anxious and see if it helps!

Much Love

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