Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How To 'Spring Clean' Your Body

Most of us say it every spring, "It's time to do my spring cleaning!" We get so busy packing up the winter clothes, rearranging furniture, dusting the tops of china cabinets and such, (that we've seemed to neglect for months) that we forget to spring clean ourselves! Yup, that's right, our bodies deserve just as much attention, if not more. After all, if you aren't well, then you won't be doing much spring cleaning to begin with!  Okay, random question - Do you have dandelions in your yard? My parents do, and growing up I stepped on them and used to blow them as a kid without knowing what they were actually capable of. The DANDELION herb {Taraxacum officianale (latin name)} is a magnificent one and I can attest to its benefits myself.  This miraculous flower (that seems to pop up everywhere) possesses so many great qualities that it is tough to know where to start.

All parts of the dandelion flower - the roots, stem and leaves, are useful in achieving and maintaining balanced health. It contains rich nutrients and medicinal compounds that most herbalists consider to be priceless. Let's face it, most of us aren't health gurus, and when we want answers, it's usually because we've already started feeling some sort of discomfort in the body. Something isn't right and we can't put our finger on it, but we want it fixed! At the same time, when we do search for answers, there is so much information out there that it can quickly become overwhelming. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I try to think about the root of the problem. Sometimes (quite often) I don't know the root of the problem, but I know that flushing out the toxins is a GREAT place to start because so many problems arise due to toxins in our blood. To discuss the types of toxins and the way many of us accumulate them is overwhelming in itself and would be best served in another post.

So, why in the world should you be consuming the Dandelion herb?
  • The leaves are rich in calcium, iron, copper, silicon, magnesium, and sodium,
    and are extremely rich in potassium. They are high in vitamins A, B1, B2,
    and C. Eat the young leaves raw in salads, steam slightly, or make into a tea.
    Use them before flowering, as they become very bitter. Dig, wash, roast, and
    grind the root for excellent coffee.

  • Dandelion has a diuretic and tonic action, and stimulates the kidney, liver, stomach, and spleen to eliminate toxins. Using dandelion in the spring will tone up your whole body, cleansing it of the waste matter that has built up during the winter months.
I can attest to the powerful benefits of Dandelion myself. About 3 months ago I found out that I was gluten-intolerant (also another post - lol). This meant that I had been consuming food made with the gluten protein and had no idea that it was harming my body. In fact, the only way I found out was by eliminating ALL things made with gluten from my diet. My holistic health coach recommended this and it was the best thing she could have done. Before I was "labeled" gluten-intolerant, I knew my body was malfunctioning because I would begin to itch and have skin rashes on different parts of my body. The fact that these rashes weren't localized to one area showed me that it was serious. Not knowing what to do (before I went gluten-free), I turned to Dandelion - what a savior in my trying times! I drank it as a tea. I also purchased Dandelion Root extract, of which you only need a few drops in a little water, 2-3 times a day. This became a daily routine, and after one week, my skin was clear again and I didn't feel itchy either. As thankful as I am that Dandelion helped me, it was still clear to me that I needed to find out the root cause of the problem so that my skin issues didn't continue. (You should never ignore the root cause of a problem. If you aren't sure what's wrong, then you should see your physician immediately.) Although I've noted Dandelion as a spring cleaning tonic, I recommend it no matter what time of year. You will definitely notice the difference it makes!

You can reap the benefits of Dandelion in a few ways - you can add the fresh Dandelion leaves to your salad or sandwiches, or you can drink it as a tea or coffee. Coffee??? Yes, you read it right - when the roots of the Dandelion herb are simmered over the stove, the end result is a tasty beverage that tastes A LOT like coffee. In fact, it's one of the most popular instant coffee substitutes for those trying to lay off the caffeine. I don't imagine that you'll be pulling up the roots of a Dandelion flower any time soon, so lucky you (and me too) - you can find several brands of Dandelion "coffee" already packaged. Now I'm not one who loves lots of things pre-packaged, but this is an exception, and one product I think you should give a try. It tastes great, and can be prepared the same way you prepare your coffee, although I think you'll find that you don't need as many fixin's to make it taste great! The brand I've tried and really like is Dandy Blend. It's caffeine-free and gluten-free. (

So, after today's hefty lesson (exhale), are you thinking of Spring Cleaning your Body? Remember, you are what you eat, and if you eat like crap, you'll probably feel like it! You can usually find Dandy Blend or the Danelion herb at your local natural foods store. If not, a reputable resource for online herb shopping is

~Till Next Time...

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Scoop on Skin Allergies

You would not believe the number of people that come to me telling me that their child has eczema. I CRINGE every time I see somebody using those steroid ointments on their kids' skin. I don't say that out of arrogance, because up until a couple of years ago, I was in the same boat. I believed whatever the doctor told me when it came to my skin. negating my own accomplishments as a skilled, licensed esthetician. It's funny, when someone wears a badge and a labcoat, we're all ears, but when a friend or family member tells you about a discovery they made through their own research, we blow them off! Although I say "we", I really don't include myself in that category. I have always been eager to learn things for myself, instead of taking everyone else's (doctors included) word. Not to say that I am a skeptic of conventional medicine, I just feel it should be used as a last resort, not the first.

Let's get back to the steroid ointments for a minute. Wow, this post could potentially become a novel if you knew all I know and continuously learn about this stuff - but I won't do that to you today! Now steroids, why exactly are they prescribed for eczematous skin conditions? Well, they "work" that's for sure, at calming inflammation to provide almost immediate relief, whether you're rubbing in an ointment or creme, or taking them orally. If you've ever been in this situation, what happens normally after you use the steroid??? The dang problem comes right back! Take a look at some of the harmful side effects of steroids (and I'm trying to keep it simple here):
  • Lightened patches of skin (hypopigmentation)
  • They may mask an already existing fungal infection (which means you're taking the wrong meds - hello?)
  • Diminished response to the drug after repeated use
  • Glaucoma and cataracts when used around eyes
  • Growth suppression
  • Adrenal suppression (these glands control our hormonal balance!)
  • Discoloration and thinning of the skin
  • Acne or rosacea
  • Allergies toward the steroid may be developed
Now, of course, in an emergency situation, no one is saying don't use it. I'm just saying that a little bit of something eventually leads to a whole lot of it after consistent daily use, even if you're eczema is episodic and you think you can control it.

Now, this is the paragraph I've been waiting for (drum roll, please...). Have you always been told that eczema is hereditary? I was, in fact, I was told a lot of different things from different doctors, leaving me to believe nothing and everything at the same time. I guess I should have prefaced this paragraph with the fact that I have had eczema since I was 18, although it's slowly on its way out - what do I mean? Well, that will be another post :). Most may wonder why I was 18 when I got it. Heck, so did I. I never had it as a child or any other skin problems for that matter. What is eczema? Otherwise known as atopic dermatitis, it is characterized by inflammation of the skin that itches and is usally red, bumpy, and irritated. Some eczema weeps and oozes while other types may crust or flake. Our skin makes up 70% of our bodies, folks - it's the largest organ! Has it ever occurred to you that whatever is happening on the inside of you manifests through your skin? That's why you hear people say, "You are what you eat," or "Stay away from those fried foods." If something negative is happening on the inside, it is probably going to try to escape by the easiest means possible, through your skin. Other processes of elimination include the kidneys and liver, but how well are you treating your body for those organs to be functioning optimally and eliminate waste properly?

Many things can cause eczema. Those things vary from person to person. CHEMICAL sensitivities are becoming more and more prevalent today. They are used in everthing from skin and hair care to the flame-retardants on your flatscreen, laptop, carpet, well you get the drift. Chemical exposure, in my opinion, is to blame for causing so many undetectable or uncurable diseaseas or disorders. IF your eczema is a daily problem, no matter what you eat or do, then think about where you live. Does your skin clear up if you go away for the weekend? If so, this is a clue that you could be allergic to something at home. Paint, latex or not, contains chemicals that may be toxic to our health. New carpet is usually sprayed with a myriad of chemicals before it is installed in your home. Shampooing will not remove these chemicals. Do you live near some sort of chemical plant? IF your eczema travels with you, I would seriously consider that you may be eating something your body does not agree with.

In terms of food, dairy and wheat are two culprits (but not the only ones) that go unnoticed because we consume so darn much of them as a society! Food allergies and gluten intolerances (gluten is a protein in wheat, rye and barley) are both examples of things that can trigger eczema. If you REALLY want to get help with your skin condition, eliminate certain foods from your diet for a while (this "while" could be 2 weeks, 30 days or longer), but you have to be honest and consistent about it. Yes it will be hard in the beginning, maybe even a little overwhelming, but very well worth it in the end. Imagine a life without itchy skin, scarring and discomfort that makes you want to stay at home. Spring and summer are around the corner, and it's no fun when you feel subconscious about your skin! Keep a log of the food you eat and write down how it made you feel. Did you get a reaction? After your established food elimination time limit,  try introducing that food (dairy, wheat, etc.) back into your diet and see what happens. Any reactions? If so, this food is more than likely part of the problem and you should stay away from it. No reactions? Slowly add it back into your diet and begin eliminating another type of food. One thing to keep in mind - try eating out as less as possible. It's terribly difficult to know what's in something when you don't cook it yourself. I know this is all a lot to take in, but once you wrap your mind around it, you will feel more in control than ever.

So (long exhale), what lessons can be learned today? Today, I want you to think about the "whole" you - your body, your skin, your hair, everything. Are you putting up with discomfort in any way that you just can't put your finger on? Often times we just "learn to live with it" because it's easier; but, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to just live with it. Take control of YOU. If you don't, no one else will and I'd bet what's in my pocket on that one!

Till Next Time...

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Welcome to the Blog!

I fumbled around with what to talk about in my very first post. I thought, "What will people want to hear?" Well, as I continue to post on this blog, if you haven't left having learned something new, then I've missed the mark. My goal is to share with you knowledge, tips, and other helpful bits of information to help you look fabulous, feel better, and take control of the "whole" you. I'm all about skin as you all know, and I'd like to take you on a journey that will show you just how our skin is connected to the way the rest of our body works!

I'd love to hear your personal concerns and questions and will try to answer them as promptly as possible. You never know how many others your question might help!