5 Calming Herbs to Help You Sleep

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As winter drags on and cold/flu season kicks into high gear, sleep is essential to ward off illness – but getting to sleep with the sniffles is easier said than done. While sleep is one of the most deeply healing and revitalizing experiences known, lack of a healthful, restful sleep, or insomnia, is a common problem experienced by as many as 20% to 30% of Americans. Try a solution to sound sleep that can be found right in your kitchen cabinets. Switching to a cup of herbal tea and eating the right foods can naturally soothe and help you catch some much needed sleep.

Dr. Christopher Hobbs has created his go-to list of 5 calming Herbs to help you sleep. He is an herbalist and Director of Herbal Science at Rainbow Light with over 35 years of experience in herbal medicine, Dr. Hobbs’ go-to list is sure to help everyone sleep soundly this winter while providing essential nutrients – whether you constantly struggle from insomnia or just need a little nudge at bedtime.

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1. Chamomile is a time-honored sedative herb which can be safely used by children and adults alike. Chamomile tea is commonly used in Europe, South America, and Mexico for insomnia and restlessness combined with irritability, particularly in children. Chamomile oil can also be put in bath water (5-6 drops) to soothe overwrought nerves, diluted to 2% to make an excellent massage oil, or used as an inhalant.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 30 drops 3 x daily.

2. Lavender is a gentle strengthening tonic for the nervous system. A few drops of lavender oil added to a bath before bedtime are recommended for persons with sleep disorders. Additionally, the oil may be used as a compress, massage oil, or simply inhaled to alleviate insomnia.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Essential oil–oil may be inhaled, massaged into the skin (use 10 drops essential oil per ounce of vegetable oil), or added to baths (3-10 drops).

3. California Poppy is my favorite sedative and sleep-promoting herb which can currently be found in a variety of herbal remedies sold in the United States for promoting sleep, helping one to relax, and easing mild anxiety. Because of its mild sedative and analgesic properties, it can be given safely to children.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 30-40 drops 2-3 x daily.

Note: Since the tea is mild, a tincture is recommended when a stronger dose is desired.

4. Passion Flower is considered by herbalists to be an important herb for insomnia caused by mental worry, overwork, or nervous exhaustion. In England it is an ingredient in forty different commonly-sold sedative preparations. Passion flower is used for minor sleep problems in both children and adults, and is safe even in large doses.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 3 x daily; Tincture, 30-60 drops 3-4 x daily.

5. St. John’s Wort is a common yellow-flowered weedy herb from Europe that is quickly becoming an important part of modern herbal therapeutics. Modern scientific studies show that it can help relieve chronic insomnia and mild depression when related to certain brain chemistry imbalances. Because this herb can sensitize the skin to sunlight, if you are taking a full dose, avoid direct skin exposure to bright sunlight.

Dose: Tincture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 2-3 x daily; powdered extract, 1-2 tablets or capsules 2-3 x daily. Allow 2-3 weeks for the full therapeutic effect to develop.

Note: If you experience light sensitivity or other unpleasant symptoms, reduce or discontinue the St. John’s Wort and consult a qualified herbalist for a total program.

Apple Ginger Chillers

Apple Ginger Chillers

Just in time for another hot summer, U.S. Apple Association (USApple) has mixed up Apple Ginger Chillers, a simple and refreshing mock-tail that tingles the taste buds with a delicious trio of apple cider, ginger beer and vanilla bean syrup ingredients. Apples truly are the superfruit for everyone. The health benefits of apples and apple products were first recorded as early as medieval times and “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” still holds true. Research has verified this statement and recent studies have linked apples/apple products to helping with everything from weight loss to different types of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even asthma. Some of the most recent studies on apples and apple products have linked apples with improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and possibly decreasing your risk for developing it as well as improved immunity and gut health due to the pectin (soluble fiber) found in the apples peel. Even though it’s summer, don’t every forget about amazing apples!

5 Tips for a Healthier Valentines Day

Any special plans for Valentine’s Day this year?  Feel like you might have to break the resolution you’ve been working so hard on?  If this is you, Celebrity Fitness Trainer and “Better Life Expert,” Kathy Kaehler, has some tips for a healthier Valentines Day. Thank you Kathy!!

 

1. WHAT TO ORDER ON SWEETHEARTS DAY

Planning night out on the town with reservations to your favorite restaurant?   Keep your heart and waistline in mind by making heart healthy choices when ordering.  For your main course try the Surf and Turf…while it’s true that lobster and shrimp contain a fair amount of dietary cholesterol, both have virtually no unhealthy saturated fat, so they’re unlikely to affect a person’s cholesterol levels if enjoyed in moderation since most people will only be ordering this delicious combination a few times a year.  For the turf portion choose a Beef Tenderloin that is organic and grass fed for lower fat and cholesterol.

Fish is also a great choice especially when able to choose these healthier options like Wild Alaskan Salmon, Wild Atlantic Mackerel or Wild Pacific Halibut.

Toast the night with red wine as many doctors agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart. It’s possible that antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits. And finally for the end of the meal finish with a sweet like dark chocolate, the health benefits of dark chocolate are almost entirely due to the polyphenols found in cocoa. As a rule of thumb, whenever you read something good about chocolate, they’re usually referring to the cocoa. Therefore, as the cocoa content of chocolate increases, so do the positive effects on health. A regular milk chocolate will contain about 30% cocoa, while premium dark chocolates usually have more than 70% and less fat too.

2.  WATCH OUT FOR THESE WORDS

When dining out on this sweet night, or any other night for that matter, watch out for these words.  Anything au gratin, battered, creamy, crispy, crunchy, en croute, fried, rich, velvety, and sautéed (in butter) all indicate that the item is not likely heart-healthy.  In other words… STAY AWAY!  Tell your waiter you like something baked, grilled, steamed or pouched.  Far less calories and herbs and lemon can boost the flavor.

3.  A SWEET WORKOUT.

Start the day with a couple’s workout.  Motivating each other to get up and go, you’ll be learning moves together and sharing a new experience. You can be using each other as resistance and also support. Talk about a relationship builder! However, exercising 30 minutes most days of the week will improve your overall health, as well as your cardiovascular health.  Men and women who exercise regularly can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and maintain a lower body fat.  Additional benefits include improving your quality of life, helping maintain a healthy weight, reducing cholesterol levels and a couple who exercises in front of their children this demonstrates the importance of being active.  Keep the workout going from morning to night go from the dance floor, all the way to the bedroom.  You can squat seductively, spin around poles, and striptease for your man actually burns calories and strengthens that hot body of yours.  To learn more moves check out local workout studios for these types of classes.

4.  PUT AN END TO THE FAKE SWEET

While so many other holidays are celebrated with candies and sweets, Valentine’s Day immediately brings visions of fancy chocolates and conversation hearts in heart-shaped containers. Most of these candies are full of imitation coloring, preservatives, Trans fat and chemical additives. Instead of giving these traditional gifts, get your creative juices flowing and put together a healthier treat. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter and whip up a few batches favorite homemade cookies using all natural ingredients.  If you have chocolate on your mind and taste buds try these other dark chocolate options like my Valentines Bark or dark chocolate-dipped strawberries and other fruits, dark chocolate-covered almonds and other nuts or dark chocolate-covered raisins.

 5.  SPREAD THE LOVE

Nothing makes the heart feel better than doing a good deed and helping others who are in need. Instead of spending an intimate Valentine’s Day together, use the day to celebrate the gift of giving. There are many places where you and your loved ones can volunteer your time together like a homeless shelter, hospital, nursing home, churches or a soup kitchen.  You will never have a sweeter Valentine’s Day than one where you give of yourself.

For more on Kathy and to check out her blog click here
Heart photo via Pinterest

Kale Ginger Juice

Start the new year off right with this Kale Ginger Juice. I have been trying to keep my kids healthy so to keep their immune systems in tact, I am sharing this recipe for Kale Ginger Juice which is loaded with super foods to help ward off the flu and seasonal colds. Raw kale is one of the best sources of vitamin C, important for protection against immune system deficiency. Each 100 gram serving of raw kale includes about 120 mg of vitamin C, well over the recommended dietary amounts for men (90 mg) and women (75 mg). It is also filled with tons of health benefits as you can read from my post on MindBodyGreen. Ginger also has various health benefits such as boosting bone health, strengthening the immune system, preventing various types of cancer, aiding in digestion and more. This juice is a nutritional powerhouse, and yes, my kids really do drink it! 🙂  Thanks to Omega juicers for making this recipe great!

Boxing Workout DVD Giveaway: Friday Fitness

Christmas is behind us, and New Year’s is heading our way. I have already been making a few New Year’s resolutions of my own. I am excited to share a super fun GIVEAWAY today, just in time for New Years and upcoming resolutions Power Boxing Workout DVD (which just released this month). This workout features four high-intensity workouts combining strength and toning exercises. Marlen Esparza is the first female Olympic medalist in boxing and a breakout star from the 2012 Olympics and reigning seven-time USA Boxing National Champion. Whether you are a boxing fan or a newcomer, Marlen’s new workouts will help you gain strength, agility, cardio fitness and mental toughness—not to mention a fit, lean and strong physique.

Enter for a chance to win by leaving a comment what you’re fitness New Year’s Resolution is. For more chances to win, do the following and leave a comment telling me you did. The winner will be chosen randomly on Monday, January 6th at 8 A.M. Good Luck! :)

1. Like Ingredients, Inc. on Facebook

2. Follow Alison Lewis on Twitter

3. Follow Alison Lewis on Pinterest

Acacia DVDs are available from select retailers, catalog companies, Amazon.com and  AcaciaLifestyle.com

Top Tips to Lose Weight the Healthier Way

When people think about losing weight they instantly think of always feeling hungry, being exhausted from excessive exercise and having no social life due to turning down those nights out with cocktails and appetizers.

When you are trying to lose weight you should think of it more as a lifestyle change; not only will you lose the weight, you will also feel better in yourself. Crash diets are a waste of time as you will just put the weight back on and they could also be harmful to your health, by following these top tips you could lose the weight in a healthy and safe way – and keep it off! Here are some tips to lose weight:

1. It’s Not A Race – You will see the best end results if you go slow and steady. Trying to lose weight too quickly can be dangerous and can also make you feel like you are working too hard. M any people want to give up before they’ve even started.

2. Exercise – Many people think that cutting down on food will instantly help them to lose weight but that’s not true. It is a combination of regular exercise and healthy eating that gives you the best results. When carrying out your exercise however, you do need to push yourself. When you can feel the burn and are tired you should then push yourself more as that is when you will start to burn more fat.

3. Healthy Eating – To lose weight you need to be burning more calories than you are consuming. This does not mean you skip meals. You should have three main meals a day with two snacks. By swapping unhealthy foods for healthier alternatives, you could instantly make a better change to your diet.  You should also spread your calories out throughout the day to make sure you are having smaller portions over a longer period of time. This will help to speed up your metabolism.

4.  Keep Up The Good Habits – Once you have reached your target weight don’t stop, simply amend your eating and exercise habits slightly so that instead of burning extra calories, you are only burning off enough to maintain you current weight.

 

If you have been trying to lose weight for a while, be sure to check out Revival Boot Camp.

I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday Travel: Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa

Looking for a health and wellness gem in the south? Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, a 650-acre state-of-the-art private wellness spa and weight loss health program, is located in Miami.  Complete with exceptional fitness trainers, award winning chefs, nutritionists and renowned spa treatments, its medical success has been documented in over 100 medical journals and it remains one of the only non-hospital Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation centers in the country.  The center boasts tons of experts from health to nutrition and fitness to spa and wellness.  Accommodations and program highlights include:  gourmet and waist-slimming meals, customized exercise classes, healthy living workshops and a luxury spa with exquisite treatments.  People from all over the world travel to Pritikin to get their health back on track and get their bodies back in shape. Sounds great, huh?

The Pritikin Program and staff have helped visitors reverse their symptoms of heart disease and diabetes, eliminate the use of medication and prevent future heart-related problems through lifestyle and dietary changes.

Check their website for more information, please visit www.pritikin.com. Who wants to meet there?

10 Easy New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, how is that going? I have a list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions you can actually stick to.  If you have any other ideas, leave a comment below sending me more ideas! Have a super rest of your week and weekend!

1.    Unplug: Unwind by spending less time on your phone and computer, especially when you’re trying to relax, on vacation or in a social environment. You’ll have more social time, be more relaxed and more productive!

2.    Read more, browse less: Reading is a great source of relaxation and can help you sleep better at night. Pick a time each night to turn off the computer, iPad and smart phone and relax with a good book.

3.    Eat at home more often: Eating at home will help save you money and can help lead to healthier diet. Restaurants offer larger portions than most of us need and typically cook with more oil, fat and salt than you would at home.

4.    Plan meals: Try to plan meals and snacks ahead of time. If you stock your home or office with healthy foods and snacks, you will eat healthier and spend less money!

5.    Take the stairs: Most people join a new gym in January, but by March they stop going! If getting to the gym is difficult, remember to move more throughout the day. Take the stairs, ride your bike or walk wherever and whenever you can!

6.    Be more organized and focused: Write everything down. Keep one notebook with all your daily to-do’s and check them off as you go. This way, your lists are all in one place.

7.    Restock your pantry: If you’re goal is to lose weight, start small! Once a week, replace one junk food favorite with a healthier option. For example, eat an orange instead of a candy bar to satisfy your sweet tooth. Continue substituting healthy options until you eliminate all of the junk food in your diet!

8.    Step out of your comfort zone: Try something new! Mix up your workout schedule, try a new hobby or make that change you’ve been contemplating. Switching up your routine will give you confidence, mental stimulation and even help you meet new friends.

9.    Carve out “Me Time”: Schedule your workouts, a long lunch or a mid-day walk. Penciling in half an hour to an hour of “me time” on your calendar every day is a great stress reliever and important for your body. Start taking care of yourself, even if it’s 10 minutes of quiet meditation. It will be worth it!

10.    Be specific: Think about what resolutions you want to achieve this New Year. Once you have a few in mind, write them down and think through what steps you need to take to achieve them. If you take these measures and have the will, you will be very successful!

High Antioxidant Superfoods Salad

Since I have been doing a lot of nutrition seminars and speaking engagements lately on superfoods and healthy eating habits, it has been so fun to experiment with various combinations of super healthy ingredients. Last week, I thew together this with this High Antioxidant Superfoods Salad. My newest favorite ingredient is broccoli sprouts, and my kids and I are infatuated with them. They are so healthy and are said to help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and even help protect against ulcers. This salad is also filled with some of my other super food favorites including berries, pumpkin seeds and colorful greens. If you want a refresher on the health benefits of blackberries, read my post on “Top 10 Health Benefits of Blackberries.”  Feel free to add grilled chicken or shrimp along with your favorite salad dressing, or just simply use balsamic vinegar and oil.

7 Healthy Halloween Tips

Who is ready for Halloween? I did my monthly radio show this week WMJJ Magic 96.5 FM Radio on “Healthy Halloween Eating Tips”, and I mentioned this recipe for Halloween Caramel Corn. It makes a great party, snack or dessert idea just in time for Halloween. I am so excited to have had the opportunity to get Oprah Winfrey’s trainer, Bob Greene to share some of his top healthy Halloween tips. Bob Greene, founder of TheBestLife.comoffers a few helpful hints for having a happy and healthy Halloween, and starting the holiday season off on the right foot. We all need this right?  “The key to enjoying Halloween is to have a plan of action beforehand,” says Greene. Here are his top 7 healthy Halloween tips:

1. Delay candy shopping: If you have bags of candy lying around your home for weeks before the holiday, you will start to dip into them. Stores will have plenty of candy to sell, even the day before Halloween so make this the last thing you do for the holiday

2. Opt for lower calorie treats: When you do shop, consider getting hard candy, such as small lollipops, which have fewer calories than gooey chocolate and caramel treats.

3. Buy your least favorite candy. If there’s a type of sweet you can’t stand, make that your candy of choice for treat-or-treaters. That way, you won’t be tempted to taste.

4. Eat before trick-or-treating: You will need the energy to take your kids around anyway, so you may as well have a healthy meal before heading out. If you’re feeling full, you’ll be less likely to sample all the sweets.

5. Don’t neglect your workouts: It’s fine to enjoy a little candy on Halloween, but don’t forget to sneak in a workout. Try to add an extra 15 minutes to your sweat session to help offset the calorie splurge.

6. Partner with other families: Find other like-minded moms and dads in your neighborhood who want to offer healthier options and make those homes your designated trick-or-treat spots.

7. Go bobbing for apples: Apples are high in fiber, plus they contain quercetin, which has cancer-fighting properties.

About Best Life 

Best Life is a company devoted to helping you become your healthiest. Its popular online weight loss plan, TheBestLife.com, based on Bob Greene’s best-selling The Best Life Diet, is focused on helping individuals create their best life and encouraging them to enjoy it each and every day. Behind all of our advice is the belief that losing weight shouldn’t be about counting calories or deprivation, eating nutritiously shouldn’t require sacrificing taste, and living healthfully shouldn’t be a chore. Rather, living your best life involves making smart choices that fit into your lifestyle. It’s about taking pleasure in eating foods that taste good and are good for you. Ultimately, it’s a way of living that brings more joy and satisfaction to your life.