Essentail Fatty Acids: For the Active Lifestyle

Fatty acids, essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, Linoleic acid (LA), Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) and prostaglandins. If these “buzz” words leave your head swimming you’re not alone. After the Food & Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization released a joint report addressing the role of dietary fats and oils in nutrition, much attention has been given the role these play in our health. The study recommended that at least 3% of our daily calorie intake should be in the form of these “essential fatty acids” (EFA), 5% for children and pregnant/lactating mothers.

What are essential fatty acids and what makes them so essential? EFA’s play important roles in our body‘s overall health. They are part of every cell and establish and control the cellular metabolism.

EFA’s are essential in four primary body functions:

  1. provide energy
  2. maintain body temperature
  3. insulate our nerves
  4. cushion and protect body tissues

Two key polyunsaturated fatty acids (EFA’s) are Linoleic acid and Gamma-Linolenic acid. LA is not produced by the body but must be obtained through the dietary intake. LA acts as an energy source and is what the body converts to GLA which in turn forms other substances such as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are found in every body cell. They are critical to the body’s overall health maintenance, but need to be replenished constantly as once they serve their purpose, they are destroyed.

The purposes of Prostaglandins include lowering blood pressure, reducing risks of blood clotting, stimulating the immune system, and regulating brain function. Animal studies at the University of Pennsylvania have also shown them to prevent arthritis. This is also being studied in humans trials in Europe with similar results. The source of EFA’s in these studies has been Evening Primrose Oil.

It was once believed that our diet would provide enough EFA’s but due to processing methods, the LA’s structure is changed ( then called trans fatty acids). These fatty acids actually block the normal conversion process. Our western lifestyle–too much saturated fat and cholesterol, processed vegetable oils, and alcohol–also inhibits the normal conversion processes. These blockages become even more dramatic with age, low thyroid function, slower metabolism, infections, disease, and dietary considerations such as zinc deficiency.

Ear Candling: Cleaning a Lifetime of Debris

Though centuries old, the ancient technique of ear candling or ear coning has seen increasing interest in the past decade in the holistic community. Thought to have originated with the Egyptians, it was used for spiritual cleansing as well as physical cleaning.It was believed to open and clear the spirit centers and refresh the auras.

Original style coning by the Egyptians utilized hollow reeds. Today, coning/candling uses a hollow candle, much like a large straw. Although they differ, most candles are made of 100% unbleached cotton (muslin) fabric coated with purified paraffins and/or bees’ wax. There are also some specialty candles which contain herbs and essential oils.

Those that utilize candling believe it applies simple laws of science. The flame of the candle (when the candle is properly seated in the ear) creates a draw or vacuum which pulls the wax, fungus, candida, yeast, and other particles of debris out of the ear and up into the bottom of the candle. The vacuum is caused by the warmed air from the flame and the colder existing air moving through the hollow chamber of the candle.

ear candlingmovement and compression between the ear canal and the candle chamber generate air flow with increasing velocity, thus producing the “sucking” vacuum. As the particles are drawn from the ear and into the bottom of the candle, the air flow becomes disrupted. This is why it is important to remove the candle and “tap out” the contents.

Why candle?
The purpose of candling is to remove wax buildup, especially the heavy impacted wax that normal cleaning cannot remove. Candling is a more comfortable and less expensive alternative to the traditional cleaning method of forcing water into the ear canal.

Candling is also believed to remove candida, yeasts, fungus, and remnants of past infections. The Ear, Nose and Throat Journal of U of U Medical lab reported that the types of bacteria we currently fight in our ears include Streptococcus pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Anaerobic bacteria, and Influenza A and B.

Candling can be done on persons of any age.  Inner ear infection is one of the top reasons for hospital admittance in children. Holistically, candling has been used as a last effort for treating chronic ear infections and to avoid ear tubal placement. As well as focusing on the ear, candling is believed to work on the sinus and lymph system, removing impurities there as well.

Other benefits claimed by those using candling are:

  • an improved sense of balance
  • keener sense of smell
  • an over-all improved feeling of well-being

A lifetime of residues build up in the ear canal! Because of all the intricate crevices in the ear, unbelievable amounts of debris can accumulate. This buildup creates a breeding ground for problems and can also interfere with correct hearing. Impacted wax can build up against ear ducts and can also block reception of incoming sound waves. This lifetime accumulation may explain some of the hearing problems we develop as we age. It is reported that 20% of adults between 65-74 have hearing problems.

It is important to discuss candling with your health practitioner and always use common sense. Candling is not a replacement for proper health care, but can be an effective home remedy. Candling should not be done on a person who has a perforated eardrum or similar problems.

How is ear candling done?

Candling is quite simple and is done with a partner. Generally, three candles are used in each ear. This varies from person to person as does the frequency of candling. Read and follow the specific instructions which come with your candles.

The basic procedure is to have the person whose ears are being candled to lay on his/her side or to place their head sideways on a table. Be sure they are comfortable, as candling can take 15-20 minutes per candle, depending on the type of candle. The “candlee” should place the small tapered end of the candle snugly into the ear. (The candle may be inserted through a paper plate covered with aluminum foil to protect the face and hair.) The candle must fit snugly to allow proper air draw. As the bottom fills, gently tap it out in a bowl and carefully cut back the burned wick. The “suction” sounds much like the gentle hum one hears when a seashell is placed against the ear.

After candling, it is recommended to gently rinse the ears and place a couple of drops of oil of garlic into the ear. The normal wax will be replaced within 24 hours. For the first 24 hours after candling, it is best to protect the ears from wind, cold, and excessive amounts of water. Within 24 hours the normal production of wax will again protect the ear.

CAUTION: Ear candles are a home remedy and should not take the place of medical treatment. They make no medical claims. They are not a medical device or take the place of any medical device.

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder: Walk Away the Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), formerly called Seasonal Depression, affects between 10 million and 25 million Americans according to Dr. Norman Rosenthal, National Institute of Mental Health.

The likelihood that one will suffer from SAD increases:

  • the further one goes North
  • women are four times more likely to experience SAD than men
  •  the age group 20 to 40 is most vulnerable

SAD is still undergoing a great deal of research. The exact cause is not known nor are its treatments well defined. Researchers, such as Dr. Rosenthal, are studying the link between lack of sunlight and the affects on melatonin, seratonin and other hormones as well as the lack of sunlight and its affect on the body’s circadian rhythms.

Current treatments are exploring the effect of light therapy and antidepressants on SAD. However, all treatment plans include exercise. In some cases, exercise may help to prevent or manage SAD.

Physiologically, exercise stimulates the brain to release hormones called endorphins, normally credited for suppressing sensations of pain and producing a sense of well-being. Endorphin production usually begins about 15 to 20 minutes into an exercise session and peaks after about 45 minutes. Repetitious movements, such as walking, running and cycling, also increase levels of serotonin.

Researchers at Indiana University found a significant decrease in depression for at least 2 hours after moderate exercise. “You can reap the calming benefits of exercise without running yourself ragged,” says Jack Raglin, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology.

The most recommended form of exercise for depression and SAD is simply walking. Most beneficial to those with SAD is walking outdoors.

Flower Essences: Aiding Emotional Balancing

Addressing the emotions, stress, and mental attitudes regarding spiritual values and purpose in life, flower essences deal with core issues of wellness on the spirit side of the body-mind-spirit connection.

Flower essences work with the life force of the selected plant. Life force is best demonstrated by Kirlian photography. A photo is taken of a leaf and the energy force, a glowing light, around the entire leaf is present. A piece of the leaf is ripped away. A second photo reveals the glow around the same outline as in the first photo. The energy or life force remains intact even with the piece missing! It is from this life force that flower essences obtain their beneficial powers.

Dr. Edward Bach, developer of Bach Flower Remedies, once said, “Disease of the body itself is nothing but the result of the disharmony between soul and mind.” Smoothing out this disharmony is where flower essences may have their greatest strengths.

Anyone dealing with emotional issues can find flower essences helpful facilitators. Flower Practitioner Wendy Lloyd explains flower essences get to the core issues and help address them. In working with a counselor, the essences can encourage the “peeling back of layers” of emotional issues we have. “They are very helpful in moving through issues rapidly,” she says.

“Because they work on the vibration level, flower essences bypass some of our ‘blocks’, the conscious mind-control issues,” Wendy explained.

She has observed that essences work very well with children. Divorce and family breakup is one just one area she has seen success. “Flower essences help the children work through issues and stay more emotionally balanced,” Wendy commented. There are a lot of emotional aspects to a family breaking up and essences seem to keep the children more balanced and able to deal with things better she noted.

Seniors may find essences useful in establishing greater clarity of mind. Essences release and stop the “mind chatter” that interferes with concentration and focus. Dealing with depression, PMS and menopause are also imbalances that flower essences can address.

Flower essences are the catalysts in the balancing process. Balancing may be needed due to great emotional stresses, lesser difficulties, or simple fatigue. Since no actual plant material is used, flower essences are safe, non-toxic and non-addictive.

Trace Minerals: Maintaining a Healthy Prostate Gland

Zinc and Selenium may be key trace minerals in keeping the prostate gland healthy. Of the two, selenium is the lesser known having been discovered just a little more than 30 years ago. Included in Earl Mindell’s Vitamin Bible, selenium is classified as an anti-oxidant, which prevents or slows down the aging process and hardening of the tissues through the oxidation process.

Mindell writes, “Males appear to have a greater need for selenium. Almost half of their body’s’ supply concentrates in the testicles and portions of the seminal ducts adjacent to the prostate gland. Also, selenium is lost in the semen.” Zinc, the second element, is also believed to be key to prostate health. It exerts a normalizing effect on the prostate gland.

The major enemy of these two essential minerals is food processing. Both Mindell and Bellevue, WA nutritional counselor Sam Zeiler agree that today’s food processing techniques are destroying the mineral value and content of our foods. “Our foods are ‘cooked to death,” believes Zeiler. We over cook and over process our foods today to the point very little, if anything, of value is left. He also points out that government reports released in 1936 already stated that our soils were nutritionally lacking.

Like with women and osteoporosis, men are also experiencing prostate problems at early ages. It is not uncommon to find problems developing in the early 40’s and 50’s. “Our bodies are doing the best they can without the right materials,” comments Zeiler. Today’s stresses, not just emotional, but physical toxins that stress our bodies’ systems are important factors.

“We live in a caustic environment,” he continues, “and things get out of sync. The endocrine (glandular) system is doing the best it can, but we just keep pushing our systems.” Men, says Zeiler, are often less open to self-care and taking care of themselves. Many still have the attitude of “stay strong or grin and bear it.”

Zeiler stresses that ignoring the warning signs does not help. He gives the example of a car’s warning indicator light. If the oil light comes on, we address the problem by adding oil. We could also just cut the wire to the light. No longer would the light be a problem, but that doesn’t change the fact that the engine needs oil. The same principle holds true for one’s body. Ignoring warnings doesn’t make the problem go away.

Basic steps in prostate health include increasing the zinc and selenium intake as well as herbally including saw palmetto. Zinc and selenium can be found in broccoli, kale, and roasted pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds also contain the omega 3 fatty acids. Zeiler recommends an individual dietary program to address an individual’s specific needs, exercise, eating raw fruits/vegetables if possible, and taking responsibility for our health!