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All posts by All Paths Naturopathy & Midwifery

Return of the Great Release Challenge

     This week when I sat down to write, the most exciting thing I could think about was the return of the Great Release Challenge.  It may be silly, but, I have been looking forward to this all year.  Taking time to clean, reorganize  and re-prioritize while making room for positive growth.  Is there a better way to spend the last month of the calender year?
     This will be the third year, I have worked on the challenge.  Needless to say,  I again expect some activities to be more challenging than others.  Fortunately this year, I have gotten my family on board in part because 4 hands can be more effective than 2.  It is also a a catalyst for change in other aspects of our lives as well.
     In preparation, I have begun brewing some rosemary vinegar, which can be diluted in water and used as an all purpose cleaning solution.  When I make acetracts for cleaning I do not always go the extra step of sterilizing all glass wear at each step in the process.  Often I just make sure that the jar is clean, it is not necessary to have a lid, a piece of plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band also works.  Actually, when working with vinegar, I prefer this type of closure to prevent the corrosion of a metal lid.
I usually leave the vinegar to sit with the herbs for approximately 6 weeks in a cool dark space.  After it has sat you can make a stronger solution removing the original plant material and adding fresh or decant a portion of the solution into a spray bottle in a ration of 1;3 or one part vinegar to 3 parts water.  To further enhance the antimicrobial action of the cleaning solution, had 3-5 drops of a high quality essential oil to the spray bottle.  Remember to shake before using and always label spray bottles with the contents, and the date like I have done here.

     For those tasks requiring an more abrasive cleaner, my go to is baking soda.The bath tub and counters are not the only places I use baking soda, I also use it as a carpet freshener by adding approximately 1/3 c to a quart jar, to this I add 5 drops of essential oil.  Cover with the lid and shake well for a few moments add baking soda to 2 inches from the top of the jar.  Recover and shake again. To use sprinkle liberally over the carpet, I usually let it sit for 45 minutes and then vacuum thoroughly.

Here are many of my supplies ready to use and easy to take around the house to where ever they may be needed.

By taking time to clean out we can make room for new possibilities to grow and develop.

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Change as an essential part of the journey


 The morning fog has yet to burn off.  A quiet fills the space and at times it can be uncomfortable.  The time when you are left sitting with yourself, as there is no one else around.  Yet, if we are open, sometimes we can  be objective and see where we need to grow, change or simply let go.  It is fine if these thoughts make you feel uncomfortable in your body, mind or spirit.  Learning and positive change are encouraged when we struggle or need to do differently because the thought of returning to the status quot leaves us feeling even more uncomfortable.  To help ease this discomfort, the next time you feel challenged take a deep breath and take pause.  A new path is probably right there, just out of sight that when not looked at is easily missed.  Be brave and take a step down that other way.  Success and riches are not guaranteed,  but if we learn from journey we have won more deeply within our lives.

    To help support change in our life it may be helpful to have some tools in our kit, or a road map.  These items are likely to be metaphorical, and general rather than specific, but useful none the less.  One general map I use is the Stages of Change developed by Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente   The stages include pre-contemplative when  we may not even realize that we need to make a change.  Contemplative, we know we are ready for something different, but are not currently prepared or working towards it.  Preparation, time for collecting our resources, organizing a plan and even taking a moment to consider how we will handle a relapse.  Action, time for putting rubber to the road.   Lastly maintenance or  relapse prevention, where we fall off of our course and are given an opportunity to implement new tools and continue on.
     By knowing where we are on the journey, we are better able to survey and utilize the resources we have to use.  Remember to take time to enjoy the journey!

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Preparing to settle in for the winter

     Autumn may have just started a few weeks ago, but with the changes in foliage color, a decrease in temperature and talk of holiday plans, we are reminded that winter is just around the corner.
In many homes including my own, with night time temperatures dropping down to the 30’s and 40 F, my husband has insisted that we get the heaters started.  After many months of not being used it is important to take a few moments to ensure safety and well being.  In houses that do not have central air, take a few moments and vacuum heating vents or have the duct work in your house professionally cleaned.  Do your heaters have air filters? If the answer is yes, do you know the last time they were changed?  If you do not know, it has probably been too long.  Take a few minutes to vacuum, and change air filters.  To ensure that you remember which filter your house requires, take a picture of it, or write the details down in your favorite memo program.  For those who heat with a fireplace or wood stove chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year and prior to use is a good time to ensure that they are still structurally sound and functioning optimally.
     In addition to these routine maintenance procedures, invest in a carbon monoxide detector.  This device a monitors levels of carbon monoxide, a gas which is colorless, odorless and potentially life threatening. It can be produced by the incomplete burning of  such as natural gas, kerosene, wood and others forms of fuel.  The carbon monoxide detector sounds an alert if the levels of this gas reach unsafe levels.  Carbon monoxide detectors are simple to use, you simply plug it in.  These detectors are widely available and as important  as a smoke detector.

     We have talked about improving physical health and safety during the winter, but what about other aspects of physical health as well as our spiritual health.  There have been studies showing that indoor air quality can be worse than that out of doors as a result of the chemicals we introduce into our homes through a variety of products including, but not limited to cleaning supplies, scented candles, and beauty products.  Consider switching to cleaning products made from herb infused vinegar and fragrance free beauty products and limiting the use of candles scented with both synthetic and natural essential oils.  By starting small and making adjustments to the products we make, or purchase we can decrease the levels of indoor air pollutants.  To help move stagnant air which can accumulate in our homes on the spiritual or emotional level here are a few techniques to try;  ring bells, or bang pots and pans, sweep or vacuum the floor as well as up to the ceiling, simmer water with basil.  These are just a few of the many available options.  Experiment and find what works best in your house.  
     By taking a few moments to perform routine maintenance and decreasing the burden in the home we can increase our families safety this winter season.  Enjoy the change of seasons.
     
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Home Birth Safer than Hospital For Low Risk Women? What are your options

Expecting a baby often leads to many changes and questions for a family.  One question that may or may not come up is what type of a care provider they will work with.  For many families, they believe that there only option is to deliver their baby in the hospital with an obstetrician or a family practice medical doctor.    Unfortunately, this is not completely true.  In many states including here in Oregon, families have options as to where they would like to deliver their babies, as well as the type of care provider.
 Options for where to delivery include at the  hospital with an obstetrician or certified nurse midwife, home or free standing birth center with a midwife, or a naturopathic physician licensed to offer maternity care.  More families may be asking more questions and making different choices with the recent publication of a new meta analysis published in the  Cochrane Review by Olsen and Clausen.  These researchers reviewed a number of published scientific journal articles and have found that  low risk families choosing to deliver at home are subjected to less medical interventions, and medically caused complications.
For families in Oregon considering delivering their baby at home a naturopathic physician certified in natural childbirth provides families a unique model of care which combines the best of midwifery care and traditional medical care.  These providers understand and implement the midwifery model of care in conjunction with the ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions which may develop during pregnancy.  This means that families benefit from 30-45 minute prenatal visits, with an emphasis on informed choice in regards to medical tests and treatment.  In addition naturopathic midwives pair knowledge of herbs, physical medicine, homeopathy and other modalaties with the ability to prescribe pharmaceutical medications when indicated.  In addition, when working with  naturopathic midwives, care does not need to end when your baby is 6 weeks old as with midwives or obstetricians.  Many naturopathic midwives, including myself work with families at all stages of life from before conception, through pregnancy, to caring for your new babies and with grandparents.
If you are interested in learning more about naturopathic midwifery care visit www.all-paths.com or call to schedule your free consultation today.
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The seasons they are changing

How time does fly over the summer, and what a fun filled one it has been.  Now that it is coming to a close, it is time to start making preparations for the time of being inside.  For reassessing that which we want to carry with us through the autumn and winter seasons.  I have been filled with a few new goals, which also means that I need to be sure I have adequate tools and reserves to be successful.  This need to clean out has been hitting hard, leading to some individuals in my household to feel the acute discomfort that I can best equate to the Elder Futhark rune Nauthiz.  It is a deep sense of discomfort leading to a need for making changes.  Some individuals may experience this feeling as depression, melancholy, anger or a host of other emotions.   It may be a readiness to change out one addiction for one that may be a healthier.   Haasova and colleagues recent meta analysis results published in the journal Addiction suggest that individuals working on smoking cessation had fewer cravings when they engaged in physical activity.  This may also be related to why an individual began a habit in the first place. For some individuals addiction arises as a need for escape, to be alone, or to be with nature.  Maybe it was a way to protect, to create a smoke shield so that we could remain hidden from others.  A way to dissociate and be away as a means of protection.

 For each individual, this threshold for separation from the world is different.  It is important for us to not judge where some one else is on their journey.  In addition, the end point, that feeling of  hitting bottom is as  individualized as the triggers that cause one to feel as though they need to separate from their world in order to cope with their circumstances.  We are able to see our own limitations and thresholds, but they are the only ones we can truly control.  For others, we may be able to see a glimpse of their journey, but we are unable to travel their journey for them.  At most, we can offer tools, or aids to be used along the way.  However, in the moment, only we wield our own tools.

  Fortunately, if we look carefully, we  can step back and see what tools are still working for us, and those we are willing to exchange. I know that this autumn time reminds me that I have choices to make,  what do I want to carry with me through the winter, and what needs to be cleaned out.  This year I knew I needed to add physical activity into my tool bag, and walking was not cutting it so began training for a marathon instead.  For me this helps me to clear my head and allows me a chance to connect with nature in a very tangible way.  

Enjoy the change of the seasons, happy autumn!

   

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Safe raw milk

It seems that every where one turns there is controversy brewing under the surface of all the choices we make in regards to what we put on or in our bodies, use around the house and for our pets.   Many of our decisions are based on what is safe or is only perceived to be so.  Often, it is difficult to tease out a clear cut answer to seemingly simple questions.  Unfortunately, with the increasing numbers chemicals, genetic modifications and our increased exposure rate it is only becoming more complicated with unknown interactions occurring as the factors intermingle to create an Pandora’s box of possible outcomes.  For many, concerns of food safety are high on the priority list.  Issues here can range from genetic modification, heavy metal contamination or pathogen contamination in raw dairy products.   


Benefits of raw dairy                                                                  

Reasons why individuals chose to consume raw dairy products include preservation of enzymes, support of local farmers, increased perceptions of freshness and enhanced nutrition.  It may be the sceptic in me but, I do enjoy reviewing for peer reviewed journals and when searching  to find  scholarly evidence to support these claims, I found none.  To claim that the enzymes present in raw milk are functioning in the human body is unlikely as the enzymes will be denatured in the stomach as a result of the acidic conditions.  After a protein has been denatured, it is no longer functional, if there are benefits, they occur through a different mechanism.  Supporting local farmers helps communities in many ways, but if your ranch or farm does not practice sanitary procedures it may be worth looking for others who do.  Finally, the claim that raw food is more nutritious may also be a perception rather than a legitimate claim.   

Current research

In addition to the reported benefits, there are possiblilities for illness to result from the consumption of raw dairy products.  The research article Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws — United States, 1993-2006 published by the CDC in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases reported that the incidence of illness resulting from pathogen contamination where higher in states where it was legal to sell raw milk between the years of 1993-2006.  In addition, the organisms found in raw milk were more likely to introduced prior to selling where as pathogens in pasteurized milk were more likely to be introduced by infected food handlers. 

Safety

With all of this information, is there still a way to enjoy the benefits of consuming raw dairy products while minimizing the risk of illness?  It is challenging, in that in states such as Oregon, only small herds meeting certain licensing exemptions are able to offer raw milk required.  There are no stipulations that I was able to see requiring mandatory batch sample testing or any other type of regular testing standards to ensure safety of the products.  If farmers self regulated and adopted a standard set of clinical laboratory tests to detect for pathologic bacterial contamination, not only would consumers be protected, but outbreaks can be prevented by destroying a contaminated batch prior to being dispensed publicly.

 To ensure safety, regardless of why one chooses raw over pasteurized milk, taking the time  to interview their ranchers just as they would any other service professional can be useful.  Not only is observing a happy, well cared for herd important, it is not enough to ensure that product is not contaminated with bacteria.  With this being said, it is still important to see how the ranchers interacts with and cares for the herd.  Below are other questions you can use when interviewing ranchers.

Questions for your potential farmer


What hygiene standards are implemented during milking?
How is milk stored prior to sale? And at what temperature?
Do they have a plan for notifying costumers of a contaminated batch?
Is there an in house laboratory?
If not
Do they send samples to an independent third party laboratory for testing?
What is the frequency of testing, every batch? weekly? annually?
What is being tested for?

Cornell University recommends the following tests: herd health and somatic cells, a test for bacterial contamination such as as a standard plate count, antibiotic or drug residue if a animal required treatment, sediment, and water contamination through freezing point depression 1.

Conclusions

Though the reasons individuals consume raw milk varies, not all products are created equally.  Taking the time to visit, interview and thoroughly question your potential rancher can help lessen your risk of infection, but it can never completely be eliminated. Through learning and questioning it is possible to become a more informed consumer and decrease risk while enjoying culinary delicacies.

References:
1.  Dairy Food Sciences Updates, http://foodscience.cornell.edu/cals/foodsci/extension/upload/CU-DFScience-Notes-Milk-Raw-Tests-Summary-07-08.pdf, 26 June 2012.

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Bring a little passion into your life

Passiflora incarnata
When thinking about this lovely plant, with a vine habit, I am not even sure where to start.  Simply seeing the flower helps me to feel calm and joy filled in my heart.  When taken internally, it has helped ease menstrual pains,  promoted restfulness and sooth strained nerves.
The cultivar P. incarnata is most traditionally used medicinally, while its relative P. edulis produces the market fruit passionflower.  Many species in this family however, produce edible fruits.  When making medicine, the ariel or the entire above ground part of the plant can be used to make teas, tinctures or other preparations.  This is such a beautiful plant as well as a useful medicinal, it would make a wonderful addition to any garden for both its flowers and edible fruits.

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New research on co sleeping and obesity

As if the issue of where your children should be sleeping could not already be complicated, a new research study proposes that allowing children aged 2-6 to co-sleep may help them to feel nurtured and less likely to turn to food for comfort.  The original work performed by Olsen and colleagues as part of the Sund Start Study investigated children who were at risk for becoming obese.  There work saw that children who were allowed to enter the parents bed at night were 3 times less likely to become obese even with predisposing risk factors.
 This new research is not intended make parents feel that they are putting their children at risk if bed-sharing is not part of your families practices.  Nor is it necessary for families to change their sleeping arrangements if bed-sharing will not work in  your family.  Instead, take the time to engage in other forms of positive reinforcement and non food centered comfort measures.

Olsen NJ, et al “Entering parents’ bed during night and the risk of overweight among 2-6 year old children predisposed to overweight: Results from the Sund Start Study” ECO 2012; Abstract CO:OS1.3.

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Let Us Lactuca

Lettuce

From my childhood memories, this leaf, more white than green came often from the head of the Iceberg cultivar.  This specimen, though apparently ubiquitous in school cafaterias and mass feeding establishments is but one of the many members from the genus Lactuca.  Fortunately, there are many other varieties for even the most unadventurous gastronomes.    


One of the great features of lettuce is how easy it is to cultivate, though it does thrive in cool damp environments.  Here we started mescalin mix in 1 gallon pots.

After a few weeks these seedlings were ready for their new habitat.

When you have no garden space, it is easy to create one with large pots that.
Everyone needs a close up.
If the ease in growing, variety in flavors available was not enough to encourage you to try this versatile vegetable.  They are also filled with electrolytes, and more water than calories so they fit into many healthful eating systems.


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