One would think that, as a confirmed hypochondriac, I would run from doctor to doctor trying to get a diagnosis for whatever symptoms, however mild, I happen to have. But even though I work closely with the medical community in my role as a health columnist, I seldom, if ever, visit any of them for personal reasons. The problem is that, as is well-documented, the mere sight of a white coat can increase your blood pressure. And then I could have a stroke!
Through it all, though, I have learned to listen to my gut. (Except, of course, when I have indigestion from kale overload!) And while I do take the advice of the renowned doctors I interview for this column and on my radio show, I am also my own healthcare adviser. Furthermore, I suggest that my readers research and learn everything there is to know about the disease or condition for which they are currently seeing their physicians. That’s what being Better Than Before is all about. I am all about DIY healthcare advice – the more you know the more you’re prepared.
To that end, I recently discovered a book by Julia Schopick, Honest Medicine: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases. In it, she tells of her 15-year journey through the American healthcare system, from the time when her husband, Tim, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor until his death, fifteen years later. As she puts it, “For me, this journey was a lesson in learning to listen to my gut when listening to doctors isn’t enough. It is now my mission to help others do the same.”
Here’s the back story. In 1990, Julia’s then 40-year-old husband Tim was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. He underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation – the treatments his doctors knew how to perform. But they weren’t able to keep Tim from experiencing the horrible side effects and complications resulting from the protocol. Tim just wanted to heal so that he could live a longer, happier life. Taking matters into her own hands, Julia followed her gut and tirelessly researched. Thanks to some pretty amazing treatments she discovered, her husband was soon eating better, taking nutritional supplements and, in general, living a healthier life. Almost immediately, he began to thrive.
Armed with her own success in helping her husband, Julia decided to write a book with true stories about other patients who listened to their guts and found therapies that even their doctors didn’t know about. In it, she chronicles the journey of nine patients, with autoimmune and live diseases, childhood epilepsy, and non-healing wounds, to name a few, who found inexpensive, little known therapies that proved miraculous for them.
Below Julia shares seven DIY healthcare tips to help you follow your own instincts for optimum health:
1) When a prescribed treatment isn’t working, you’ll know it. Take action and look for other options.
2). Patient-evidence-based protocols may not have gone through the rigors of Phase 3 clinical trials, but they have been used for many years by thousands of patients to great success. For instance, since the mid-1980’s Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has treated autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. And the Ketogenic Diet, around since the 1920s, is offered at prestigious institutions such as Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic to treat childhood epilepsy.
3). Once you’ve found a promising treatment, join online patient groups devoted to it. You’ll benefit from the research and experience of many people who share your particular condition.
4). Learn which websites contain useful information and which do not. Some, affiliated with presumably reputable institutions, may have financial ties to drug companies or other hidden agendas. It takes practice to learn which sites to trust.
5). Discuss the information you’ve found with your doctor. Prepare a packet of credible information—including, if possible, small studies. For example, in the case of LDN, studies have been conducted by prestigious institutions like Penn State, Stanford, and the University of California. These finding are also included in PubMed, which doctors respect.
6). If your doctor won’t listen to you, find a more open-minded doctor who will. Support groups and online patient groups can often recommend qualified physicians who will work with patients using patient-evidence-based treatments.
7). We are accustomed to being passive regarding our health—especially when faced with a serious medical condition. Don’t be discouraged — tune in to your inner voice.
At the end of the day, listening to your gut could truly save your life. Or at least make you Better than Before!
We can all fall victim to the negative sometimes or end up in funks that last weeks or months because we don’t feel satisfied with where we are in our lives. It’s a natural rhythm, but how can we pull ourselves out? What can we do to remember the positive things – no matter how small – to remind us to be grateful for the advantages and blessings we already have?
You create a Jar of Awesome.
The idea has been floating around Pinterest for a few years now, but as Intent is heading into a major make over in 2014 we wanted to share this idea with our audience. Get yourself an empty mason jar, bottle, or small box – any empty container you choose. Decorate it with paints or glitter or markers – write positive sayings on it, quotes that lift you up, paint it a ridiculously bright color – whatever you choose. We’ve included a gallery of some of the favorites we found on Pinterest that you can use for inspiration.
Once your jar is decorated to your liking, find a visible place for it and keep it near a small notepad or stack of sticky notes. Starting on January 1st, every time something positive, inspiring or awesome happens to you write it down on one of those sheets of paper. Write down the date if that helps, or not (it’s really all up to you) and put it in the jar. Make the commitment to yourself to try and stick at least one piece of paper in the jar a day. Encourage your friends to also make jars. Then on December 31st of next year throw a get together so you can read through all the great things that happened to you over the past year.
The jar also works for mid-year or quarter-year slumps. Whenever you start to feel taken over by the negative, open the jar and read through the great things that have happened to buoy yourself back up. This is a great DIY craft to do with your family or with a group of friends at your New Years party. At the end of the year it’s a really fun way to share your memories and to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished over the year (It’s way more than you think it is). The potential to make 2014 awesome is up to you, and creating this jar is just one tool to help you get there.
What would you put on your Jar of Awesome? If you’ve made one show us your pictures in the comments below!
By Linda Lauren
I define a dream as a wish that is powered by a positive intention until it becomes a reality. We make our own reality each day and that is through our thoughts and convictions.
People who know me know that I take it upon myself to gather my friends together to create personal collages of what we intend to achieve in our lives in the coming year. These collages help us to define our present so that we can create our future. They keep us focused on our goals and they dare us to fulfill our dreams. The reality is that each year, with each collage is a step closer to making your life positively unfold.
This collage does not have to be about obtaining material things, but can help foster a message of hope, love, and help you out of depression through healing. I once made a personal collage for a surgical procedure and hung it in my hospital room. Each time I looked at it I was spurred on to heal and that was my collage’s intention: healing.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the angst of the world and not realize how deeply global events can affect us in the negative. The signs are: depression, anger, jealousy, impatience, and the growing threat of intolerance. Everything from social media to social connections is threatened simply because it is easier to ride the wave of a bad vibe then it is to work at a positive one. I remind myself of how important it is for me to be positive if I want to live a long and happy life, and that my every single thought has a profound affect on my entire life. So, I reprogram my personal intentions through my collage, adding to it as the year progresses.
Though you can also do this on a computer, I have found that it’s more fun in a group to do it the following way. You will need a few essentials and suggestions to get you started:
Get a piece of cardboard or poster board, scissors, glue and a lot of different and/favorite magazines, newspapers, and photos. Make sure you have a photo of yourself, and the year. The size of the collage is up to you. If you are doing this as a project with family, friends or business partners, you might want a larger board so everyone can participate.
Cut out the images and words that best represent what you wish to manifest. Arrange them on the board, glue down when you’re satisfied with your work, and take a photo of the final results. Put the original collage in a room at home where you will always see it and use the photo as a screen saver or wallpaper on your computer, tablet and/or phone.
I have seen these collages become a source of motivation, comfort and peace. A collage with intention empowers us and helps us to go with the flow by directing the current so that we arrive at our destination! The New Year is around the corner and there’s no better time to start!
Home improvement is an important topic for many homeowners. If you’re a current homeowner, you may just want to give your house a little pick-me-up by refreshing walls, installing kitchen upgrades, or simply buying new curtains to complete a look.
On the other hand, it’s a buyer’s market, and if you’ve recently purchased a home, you’re probably looking for inspiration to make it your own. If you’re a visual person or just looking for ideas to jump-start your creativity, here are some of the best sources of home improvement inspiration:
5. Pinterest: Where Your Inspiration Board Becomes Digital
Image via Google Images
Pinterest is the very popular online inspiration board website that just keeps gaining users left and right. Create specific boards for yourself based on what items you want to save from the internet and then “pin” images from your favorite sites.
With more than 40 million users, Pinterest is sure to offer inspiration for anything imaginable. Want to explore DIY improvements? Interested in viewing specific color schemes? Need to find a picture of a bathroom with bamboo? Pinterest has a whole page of search results for that.
4. Home Depot & Lowes: Specialty Stores You Can Connect With
Image via Flickr
Speciality stores Home Depot and Lowe’s have created inspiration magazines that are available for free download via iTunes. The Home Depot’s Style Guide and Lowe’s Creative Ideas Magazine both provide gardening and other visual inspirations to design ideas and trends, making both digital publications invaluable for home improvement inspiration.
3. Zillow Digs: Combining House-Hunting & Improvement Guides
Image via Flickr
If you’ve been in the market for a home, chances are you’ve heard of Zillow. This popular website is a great tool for buyers to view valuations and other data. With the new iPad app and Web service called Zillow Digs, Zillow is now competing against Pinterest for those users looking for home improvement inspiration.
Just like Pinterest, users can “pin” their favorite images, but unique to Zillow Digs is the ability for users to view the estimated cost of the featured rooms and easily connect with local professionals in the industry. And if you’re looking for a way to protect your investment on a a particularly costly project, see this page for some good home security options.
2. Houzz.com & Merrypad.com: Inspiring Trends for Do-It-Yourselfers
Image via Flickr
Aside from online boards like Pinterest and Zillow Digs, there is an unbelievable number of websites dedicated to home decor, improvements, and DIY projects. Houzz.com features house tours, advice, how-to help, and more. Merrypad.com is a website dedicated to DIY projects and those homeowners who want to embrace the do-it-yourself lifestyle.
1. BrightNest: Your Guide to Innovating & Renovating
Image via BrightNest.com
Possibly one of the most artsy and most places on the web for home renovators and innovators is Brightnest. The site is a great resource for almost any aspect of home improvement. The site also recently launched an excellent iOS app that not only offers advice and inspiration, but it also helps you to organize your tasks.
Due to the advancements of technology, it’s become easier for homeowners to find improvement inspirations to make renovations fun and easy. By taking advantage of all the tools in front of you, you’re most likely to generate the most diverse and creative ideas.
What sources do you use for home improvement inspiration?
What’s your go-to remedy for sore muscles – Ice? Protein? Massage?
If you’ve ever experienced the plight of an achy body – whether you lift weights or spend hours gardening – then you know the necessity of having quick tricks to get some relief. What you might not know is that ginger is one of the most effective, and least tapped, remedies for sore muscles out there. How does it work?
As we exercise, microscopic tears occur in our muscles, and it is through the healing of these tears that our muscles build new protein strands and ultimately get stronger. But the harder the exercise, the bigger the tears, and the more sore our muscles feel after working out. Ginger happens to contain Gingerols, which are anti-inflammatory compounds that make the root great for sore muscles, as well as arthritis, nausea, and digestive disorders.
Here are 5 ways to use ginger in your post-workout routine:
1) Apply a ginger healing herbal wrap!
- 6 cups hot water
- 2 tbsp. Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger Powder
1. Fill bowl with hot water.
2. Add Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger Powder and stir well with your hands.
3. Soak towel in ginger-water for 10–15 minutes.
4. Remove and wring out until semi-moist.
5. Wrap towel around areas where muscles are sore to ease pain and reduce inflammation.
6. Leave on for 10 minutes.
2) Rub on some DIY topical ginger cream.
Mix ginger powder with camphor oil (or almond, argan, or vitamin E oil) and a few drops of water. Apply directly to the sore area.
3) Soak in an aromatic ginger bath.
Draw a hot bath and sprinkle at least 3 tbsp. of organic ginger powder in the water. Soak up and soothe those sore muscles!
4) Drink some refreshing ginger tea.
Stir several teaspoons of ginger powder into a mug of hot water and enjoy with lemon and honey. You can also prepare a large batch at once and store it in the refrigerator for a quick, thirst-quenching post-workout drink.
5) Incorporate ginger into your post-workout meal!
Whether you turn to yogurt, protein shakes, a big salad, or meat/fish/tofu, ginger can be added to all of your post-workout snacks. Sprinkle a spoonful of powdered ginger on your yogurt, salad, or whatever you’re craving and enjoy the subtle spice and muscle-loving properties it adds to your meal.
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Summer is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to stock up on Wakaya Perfection’s 100% organic ginger powder to use in your summer work-out routine! Visit WakayaPerfection.
You put your hair through a lot: heat, chemicals, weather. Of course, there are lots of expensive commercially available products out there that do a great job, but there are also many fantastic home remedies you can use that are much less pricey and can help you maintain gorgeous, enviable locks. Here are of the best ways to pamper your hair at home, with items your probably already have.
There all time when we all over-indulge in rich or spicy foods and suffer the uncomfortable, sometimes painful, results: indigestion. If you don’t want to go to the store or don’t like the idea of yet another over-the-counter medication, there are a number of household remedies you can try and get immediate relief.
Even though life can become crazily busy, It seems that everyone wants to slow down just a bit during the holiday season and enjoy some comforts of life that often elude us during the rest of the year. For foodies, those who love to cook and/or eat, Christmastime brings pleasures to quite literally be savored. Give some comfort and delight to a friend or loved one with one of these delicious homemade gifts.
1. Mixed Berry Jam. A beautiful and savory gift that can be enjoyed for quite a long time, jam is not difficult to make and is not expensive. All you need is one pound of strawberries, 1 pound of mixed berries, a fresh lemon and sugar. Buy some canning jars and lids and print out free labels which you can customize here.
Bodacious BBQ Sauce. Most men love to grill. Many men can be difficult to shop for. Solve your male gift-buying dilemmas by making your own savory barbeque sauce! It will be free of the preservatives found in commercial brands, and you can customize the spices to your (and his) liking. Create decorative jars for a special touch. Watch the “BBQ Pit Boys” video here to see just how it’s done!
3. New Orleans Pralines. A sweet and nutty Southern favorite, pralines are delicious and easy to make. Stack some in a tower, wrap with colorful holiday plastic wrap and tie up the top with a curly ribbon. These are perfect for teachers, office co-workers, and others you want to remember with a holiday treat.
4. Rosemary Infused Vodka. All you need for this unusual and surprising gift is vodka, rosemary and 3-5 days for the infusion to complete. Martini, anyone?
5. Spice Rubs. Good spice combinations can make ho-hum meals come alive. Consider making several spice rubs and give them as a gift for a busy friend or family member who likes to cook but is pressed for time. He or she will thank you all year!
6. Raspberry French Chocolate Macaroons. Ahhh… the combination of raspberry and chocolate is so delicious. Make some of these beautiful and festive macaroons for someone special. They look more difficult to make than they really are. You don’t even need a real pastry bag to do so… an improvised one will do.
7. Zesty Cheese Straws. Light and delicious, this gift is sure to be gobbled up by its lucky recipient. All you need is butter, cheddar, salt, flour and cayenne pepper. And a decorative jar for giving, of course!
8. Curried Lentil Soup. Beautiful colors are layered in this Mason jar for a festive gift that is sure to please, especially for someone who loves home cooking but is too busy to assemble the ingredients personally. A great winter warm up for a special person on your list.
9. Fragrant Indian Brittle. Give this tasty, exotic gift to an adventuresome foodie. Cardamom and honey embrace pistachios, cashews, and almonds in a golden brittle.
10. Spicy Hot Cocoa Mix. Who doesn’t love hot chocolate on a cold day? This spin on a classic favorite adds cayenne pepper for a kick that pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of cocoa. You might want to present your gift as pictured here, in a large mug with a pretty spoon and some candy canes.
Chances are, you have a bottle of vinegar in your cupboard right now. Perhaps you use it for coloring Easter eggs or occasionally for cooking. But this all-natural item has dozens of uses for your home. Here are the top ten most popular uses for this extremely inexpensive item.
1. Vinegar Cubes Garbage Disposal Cleaner. While there are many commercial cleaners on the market, vinegar does a great job of cleansing your garbage disposal and making it smell fresh. Simply mix one cup vinegar and water and fill an ice cube tray. Place all of the cubes into the disposal and run. Rinse with cool water after all the cubes are gone.
2. Get Rid of Gnats/Fruit Flies. Gnats can be annoying and hard to get rid of. Instead of using harsh chemicals, fill a bowl with a half quart of water, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and a couple of drops of dish soap.
3. Microwave Cleaner. Heat a ¼ cup vinegar and one cup water for three minutes. Dip a paper towel into the mixture and wipe clean. The vinegar will remove even stuck-on food splatters.
4. Unclog Shower. To clean a corroded showerhead, saturate a terry cloth towel in distilled white vinegar and wrap it around the showerhead. Let it sit overnight.
5. Kill Grass in Sidewalks and Driveways. Get rid of bothersome grass growing in cracks by pouring full strength distilled white vinegar on them.
6. Keep Your Pets Flea Free. Pour a teaspoon of white vinegar into a quart of water to keep your pet pest-free. The ratio is one teaspoon per quart for a forty pound animal.
7. Remove Bumper Stickers. Saturate the sticker with distilled vinegar and it can be removed easily after just a couple of minutes. If the sticker is on paint, be sure to test a small inconspicuous spot first.
8. Soften Paint Brushes. Even the crustiest brushes can be restored to pliable softness when soaked in hot, distilled vinegar. Wash them out with warm, soapy water before re-using.
9. Keep Car Windows Frost-free. Mix one part vinegar with three parts water and wipe the windows the night before to prevent frost from forming.
10. Freshen Up Veggies. Perk up slightly wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water and vinegar.
PHOTO (cc): Flickr / cafemama