Hannah the Vegan … ish

Holistic Wellness + Mindful Living + PMA

Reads On Hormones

There are many books out there pertaining to hormones and the endocrine system. I’ve read a lot of them. And I’ll save you the time, though I encourage everyone to explore. These two books have provided the most significant shifts in my journey and if you don’t have a lot of time to sift through all the hormone books, do yourself a favor and make these the next two reads. They are also INCREDIBLE for any woman, not just those navigating the intuitive journey of balancing their hormones.

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WOMAN CODE  There are MANY books on hormones. And quite a lot of “popular” doctors out there that have gone to “Harvard” or other notable schools, but no one – and I mean no one – comes closer to bio-hacking hormones like Alisa Vitti.

Women get a regular period after years of paying experts to help them, older pregnancies with slim odds, and most importantly a lot of endocrine soothing and balancing through this book. More importantly, this isn’t happening through crazy supplementing or extreme diets. It’s happening through educating women about blood sugar stability, the four cycles each woman experiences within a month, and how to nourish each through food. This incredibly easy read educates us on how our brain is functioning, sexually what is going on with us, and how much physical strength we have during each of those four cycles. This is a prerequisite for any woman, not just those suffering with dreadful hormone issues.

ENERGY MEDICINE FOR WOMEN  this book, aside from Woman Code, has been one of the more informative hormone books I’ve ever read. The energy work you can do on yourself, for free with your own two hands, will certainly provide loads of support and solutions. Furthermore, you’ll learn about other great remedies and feel incredibly supported during the chaos of hormones.

He Shou Wu

He Shou Wu root notably popular for turning gray hair back to its original color is one of the leading longevity Chinese herbs for its liver and kidney tonifying properties.  Also as a tonic for the endocrine glands, it improves health, stamina, and resistance to disease.  Cholesterol reducing due to its lecithin, studies show that it improves the cardiovascular system, enhances immune function, increases antioxidant activity, and reduces the accumulation of lipid peroxidation—making this a powerful herb to help prevent fatal diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, and stroke.

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For the vanity driven, this herb is magic for faster, softer hair growth, thicker texture and preventing gray hair.  It’s also a Chinese remedy for premature aging, boosting hormonal balance to help with night sweats, boosting the libido in men and women, to increase energy, and to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

So what do I do with it?  Add 1 tablespoon into your hot tea, smoothies, and I even add it to my nut butters, as it’s the ultimate longevity powerhouse.

WARM BEAUTY TONIC

1 c tea of choice | steeped for five minutes

1 tbsp Sun Potion Cacao

1 tsp of Sun Potion’s He Shou Wu (and any other herb(s) of choice)

stevia, honey, or sweetener of choice to taste

Dash of cinnamon

PROCESS | add all ingredients to your blender.  Blend for 30 seconds.  Garnish with cinnamon and you have yourself the most divine, beautifying, and warming tonic.

Elevating Your Mood With Food

So much of what we experience on an emotional, cognitive, and mental level is a result of what we are putting into our bodies. Yet, we often look elsewhere when it comes to bolstering + elevating our emotional states: we up our self-care regime, meditate more frequently, or consult a healer. All of these practices are beautiful, beneficial, and healing, but I think an important piece of mental health that so many people overlook is the diet. What we eat is intimately connected to how we feel, and much of what we perceive to be emotional imbalances actually originate and develop because of what we may (or may not) be feeding ourselves.

Below, I explore my six favorite dietary + lifestyle practices that to create the physiological shifts necessary for an experience of less stress and improved mood.

::: Incorporate more high-quality fat into your diet  My numero uno recommendation for mood support. When I hear a friend dipping below the line emotionally – fat. When I personally feel anxiety start to creep in – fat. It’s a deeply nourishing brain food, as the brain itself is largely comprised of fat. The immense rise in mood disorders and imbalances that we see and experience today is believed by nutritional researchers to be a result of the widespread low-fat craze (and of course, the corresponding rise in our consumption of sugar). That is, perhaps our collective state of declining mental health is not because we are all going crazy, but instead, simply because we are starving for more fat. Increasing our intake of high-quality fats (plant-based and otherwise) will correspond with an immediate increase of energy and elevation of mood, as well as long-term reduction, prevention, and perhaps even elimination of mood imbalances.

::: Stabilize blood sugar levels through regular low-glycemic and protein-including meals  The blood sugar ups and downs that result from skipping meals, eating irregularly, and/or consuming a high-sugar diet are a major (though commonly overlooked) contributor to emotional imbalances. Sharp rises in blood sugar will leave you feeling energized (albeit easily distracted, ungrounded, and generally tweaked out), followed by spans of moodiness, fatigue, and anxiety after the inevitable blood sugar crash. Our moods are intimately connected to the state of our blood sugar, which is, of course, a result of how we feed the body. Eating three daily meals (and I mean like full, substantial meals) comprised of low-glycemic whole foods, protein, and fat, in addition to small snacks in between, will ensure that you keep blood sugar levels and mood elevated and balanced.

::: Support the gut-brain connection with ferments and probiotic-rich foods  Roughly 90% of the bodies’ serotonin is housed within the gut, making the state of our digestive health a massive (and I mean massive) indication of how we will feel mentally and emotionally. Supporting our gut health is a beautiful and powerful way to make a dramatic, lasting change in our mood and mental health. How we do this through diet is by eliminating refined sugars and processed foods (duh) and incorporating more fermented, probiotic-rich foods.

::: Supplement with adaptogenic tonic herbs  Adaptogens quite literally assist the body in adapting to stress, creating a positive shift in the way we respond to internal and external stressors on a chemical and physiological level. They make powerful, nourishing additions to the diet, especially for those of us experiencing emotional highs and lows, anxiety, mood imbalances, and high levels of stress. My top picks for mood support include mucuna pruriens, Rhodiola, maca, and ashwagandha – though each of us is a bit different, so feel free to experiment with what makes you feel most vibrant and aligned. Aloe vera is also an adaptogen I take daily for emotional support that definitely proves much easier (and less expensive) to source than tonic herbs.

::: Eliminate trigger foods  It’s important to note that food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies present themselves as an array of symptoms, many of which are not physical. Mood and cognitive imbalances may be a reaction to a food that triggers an inflammatory response within your body. If you suspect this may be the case, the best course of action is to work through an elimination diet with a nutritionist, naturopath, or holistic doctor to pinpoint what food(s) are creating the adverse reaction. Common culprits include corn, eggs, the gluten protein, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, seafood, processed foods high in preservatives and additives, and animal products treated with antibiotics.

::: Increase vitamin D production via natural sunlight  Less of a dietary tip and more of a lifestyle practice, getting enough vitamin D is absolutely crucial for thriving mental + emotional health and I felt I just couldn’t exclude it from this list. Unlike any other vitamin or mineral, our bodies have the ability to produce D, though only in the presence of sunlight. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and synthetic sources and supplements are neither recognized nor bioavailable for use by the body, making it of utmost importance that we just get outside and soak it up. Every tissue within the body contains vitamin D receptors – including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system – making it necessary at virtually every level for the body and mind to function optimally. There’s a direct and well-established link between depression (among other emotional and cognitive issues) and vitamin D deficiency, making a bit of sunshine a true + powerful antidote to an imbalance in these realms.

Navigating Through Your Cravings

Navigating through our cravings can sometimes be tricky, but when we are able to tune in and get clear on where the cravings are coming from, we become empowered to make choices that support our health & wellbeing.

Cravings always carry important messages for us. There is often something lacking in our life that needs attention and nurturing. In our culture, we are working too much, doing too much, and not taking the time to rest. We push really hard to feel a sense of achievement and success, and the overwhelming we experience leaves us feeling constricted. We crave foods with expansive properties, like sugar, chocolate, coffee and alcohol (hello happy hour!), to give us a feeling of openness and expansion.

The more in the moment we are, the more we can fully enjoy the experience of our meal and the beauty of creating it. Connecting with our food to make it a gratifying sensory experience gives us a deeper sense of connection to the world around us. Tasting all of the flavors, textures, and nutrients in our meal offers a deep sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and pleasure. We just need to slow down enough to fully savor the experience.

There are a few key factors that trigger cravings ::::

A huge factor that almost always triggers strong cravings is dehydration. If you are not hydrated properly, you will automatically crave food, even when you’re not hungry. Next time you are ravenous between meals, ask yourself, “Am I hungry or thirsty right now?”

Another huge component is sleep. When we don’t get enough rest, our bodies produce more of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which generally makes us crave food all day long if we haven’t had proper rest. You will also notice that when your sleep isn’t the best you end up craving more carbohydrates and sweets to soothe the body & uplift you in some way.

There are several different types of cravings, but here are a few of the most common ones ::::

There are nutrient cravings – This is when our body literally craves what it’s lacking physiologically. This is our innate body wisdom seeking support for healing and balance. This often times is why women crave chocolate around their menstrual cycle – raw chocolate is very high in magnesium, which a woman’s body needs more of during her menses to support her cycle.

There are emotional cravings – When we are trigged in some way that really hurts us, we experience an alienation from ourselves. We reach to food to soothe ourselves the way a baby would with mother’s milk. We are all emotional eaters in some way, but it’s important that we pay attention to what’s happening beneath the surface. Check in with yourself- is it really emotional or is it that I skipped breakfast or have been choosing foods that under nourishing me? This is your body craving nutrition. Get clear with yourself.

Lastly, there are cravings for balance – The body is a balance-seeking instrument. If you consume lots of expansive substances (like sugar and coffee), you’ll crave contractive substance (like salty foods & cheese). This is the body’s natural attempt to create internal equilibrium.

If you are stressed or working too much this will also cause you to feel contracted. This triggers cravings for expansive “foods” like sugar, alcohol, and coffee which give us a temporary feeling of openness. We also tend to reach for chocolate and sweets when we are lacking sweetness in our lives. The key here is to eat more neutral foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds to help keep you centered instead of constantly moving from one extreme to the other.

 Here are some healthy ways to move through your cravings ::::

Ask yourself- Am I hungry or thirsty right now? 

Go for a walk or do something physical to engage your body.  

Journal to get in touch with your feelings.

Call a friend or loved one if you’re craving sweets, love or connection.

Meditate, get a massage, take some deep breaths or listen to soothing music to help alleviate stress and get closer to yourself.

Use essential oils topically, aromatically or internally (food grade) to center, uplift and reground yourself. Here are a few of my favorites: white angelicasandalwood & frankincense.

Make a sugar free tonic or warm water with lemon.

Eat more neutral foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. To ground, regain balance, and keep us from moving from one extreme to the other. (expansive/contractive)

Reach out for the support of a therapist or healer to help work through emotional patterns and triggers.

Let’s tune into our senses & ourselves and look deeper to understand where our cravings are coming from & why. This is extremely important in transforming our bodies, healing, and creating harmony with our relationship to food and our relationship to life.

Creating a Sleep Routine

Every aspect of our mental, emotional, and physical health is affected by the quality of sleep we get each night.  Proper sleep is essential to deep healing, vitality, and life force. Modern times demand us to be clear, motivated, and well rested to complete a multitude of tasks each day. This requires almost constant energy output, and most of us find slowing down to be quite challenging.

Creating an environment and routine that supports deep relaxation and fully restorative sleep is a key component of feeling & looking our best. It’s also imperative for increasing our immunity, decreasing overall inflammation, and supporting our long-term health.

Use the following tips to support deep sleep

::: Create a supportive sleep environment  Remove all electronics from the bedroom. If you need an alarm, use one that is battery operated, but if you can’t leave your smartphone, make sure to put it on do not disturb mode.  Keep room temp between 60-67 degrees as it helps to regulate body temperature throughout the night. Use a fan or white noise to block out sounds and simulate the womb; this offers a deep sense of safety and comfort to the unconscious mind. I love to use Spotify playlists of ASMR rain sounds.  Clean the air and soften the lighting with a Himalayan salt lamp. Keeping the room as dark as possible enhances melatonin production. If need be, use a sleep mask to block out the light.

::: Set a sleep schedule  We get the most beneficial hormonal secretions and recovery by sleeping during the hours of 10pm to 2am. If you’re sleeping from 1am to 9am and getting eight hours of sleep, you are still missing that prime time when beneficial hormonal secretions like melatonin and HGH (human growth hormone) are at their peak. Clocking a solid 8 hours (from 9-6, 10-6 or 11-7) always feels best for me, but see what works best for you! Shoot for the same time every night, so your body gets into a routine. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and energized before your alarm clock goes off.

::: Limit your caffeine intake  Caffeine is highly stimulating to the nervous system and overconsumption increases cortisol and adrenaline production. Do your best to consume any caffeine in the morning, before noon is best and never later than 2pm! This will give your body ample time to metabolize and fully detox the caffeine from your system.

::: Move your body  Regular exercise lengthens and deepens sleep. Our ancestors spent most of the day moving and slept when the sun went down. Movement is necessary for connecting our body to the natural rhythm of nature and aligning with our internal circadian rhythm. Be sure to workout 2 hours before bed as movement generally spikes adrenalin and cortisol.

::: Incorporate magnesium-rich foods  Magnesium is the anti-stress mineral. It helps to balance blood sugar, optimizes circulation & blood pressure, relaxes tense muscles, reduces pain, and calms the nervous system. By incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diets, such as dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and brazil nuts, you instantly reduce internal stress and improve your quality of sleep.

::: Avoid screens before bed  Artificial blue light emitting from your electronic screen triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disorients your body’s natural preparation for sleep. Programs like Iris are fantastic ways to protect yourself from too much screen time. To get your body into a deep state of relaxation, shut down all electronics 60 mins – 2 hours before you hit the hay. Allow your mind and body to shift from work mode to sleep mode. This will improve your sleep quality almost immediately. If you have trouble doing this, try turning off your notifications. This is a simple way to detach yourself from your tech device.

::: Relax with a bedtime ritual  Slow down with a bedtime routine that promotes deep relaxation. Take a hot bath with lavender essential oil & magnesium bath salts. Sip on a warm cup of chamomile tea. Take a pump or two of CBD. Incorporate some slow stretches to relax your muscles. Listen to calming music, meditate or use hypnotherapy to release your mind from its stressed cycles of endless thought. Practice deep breathing to soothe the nervous system and prepare your body for a deep slumber.

::: Give thanks  Part of the reason people have anxiety and trouble sleeping is a fixation on the things they haven’t done or what they don’t have. Take a few rounds of deep breaths to center yourself and reflect on the day. Think of all that you have to be grateful for in your life right now & write or recite 5 things. Drawing your awareness to a sense of gratitude before bed sets the tone for a peaceful rest.

::: Use calming scents  Aromatherapy oils like chamomilejuniperlavender, marjoramrose, and sandalwood all have sedative effects when inhaled. Rub a little bit on the insides of your wrists, on your temples or on the bottoms of your feet and allow the scents to carry you off to sleep.

Enhancing Digestion

Digestion is quite possibly one of the most important factors of health. About 70% of our immune system lies in the digestive tract, and, as a result, maintaining digestive health is the key to keeping you healthy all year long. Healthy digestion also means a healthy metabolism, weight regulation, and proper assimilation of nutrients.

This time of year, our digestion is generally overburdened in some way. This happens from too much food, too many sweets, and lots of overindulging. It’s all fun & festivities until you start feeling run down and you feel illness coming on.

Here are a few key elements to keep your digestion flowing & your body glowing. Create sustainable patterns now, to support the way you look & feel all year long.

::: Drink plenty of water (but not with meals). At least 30 minutes before or after is best. This ensures that your digestive fluids can do their job. Aim for half your body weight in ounces per day for proper hydration. If you choose to drink alcohol, stick to organic wine or champagne, and make sure to increase your water intake that day.

::: Load up on probiotic-rich foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, organic miso, tempeh, and coconut yogurt & kefir. This will establish a healthy environment for your gut-flora, directly affecting your immune system.

::: Add lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water or meals to increase digestive stomach acids. Begin your day with warm water & half a lemon to elevate stomach acid and stimulate gastric juices. Digestive bitters work in a similar way, take ¼ tsp before meals.

::: Try to eat fruit on an empty stomach not with or directly after a meal as it ferments in the stomach & can disrupt the digestive process.

::: Have a cup of Chamomile tea at night, it soothes and relaxes the bowel wall and aids constipation. Peppermint tea & Fennel tea help to relieve gas.

::: Soak your grains, nuts and seeds for optimal digestion.  Soaking them removes the nutritional inhibitors & phytic acid that the body struggles to break down.

::: Stay present at mealtime, eat slowly & mindfully, and try to avoid unconscious eating. Eat slowly in a relaxed environment & chew your food . Remember that digestion begins in the mouth! Taking deep breaths before, during, and after meals & putting your fork down every few bites helps to keep you present.

::: Supplement, when necessary, with digestive enzymes to replenish your natural reserves. This is helpful when consuming a heavy holiday meal or animal products. This enhances stomach enzymes and relieves gas, bloating & discomfort. If your system is feeling overburdened, try a 1-day cleanse to give your digestive system a break.

::: Cut back on gluten-containing foods. The gut has a hard time breaking down the protein found in gluten. This can cause gas, inflammation, bloating & constipation. There are so many tasty alternatives out there like quinoa, brown rice, or amaranth!

::: Aim to eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. Stay in alignment with the natural rhythm of your body. Late evening is for resting & digesting.

Natural Cramp Remedies

Oh, cramps. They are one of the more common side effects of menstruation. For some, cramps are just a little bit annoying. But for many women, cramps can be so severe, so debilitating, that they interfere with life’s everyday activities and can get in the way of relationships, work, and school.

My personal experience with cramps has been varied: when I was a teenager, I rarely experienced them but when I did the pain was intense. I was still able to go to school, but I experienced discomfort and mild diarrhea (TMI).  In my early teens to early 20’s, the cramps slowly diminished. I think this was because when I was 19, I was transitioning to a more plant-based diet.

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The first thing I noticed after switching from meat-eater to plant-based was my otherwise heinous PMS cramping had dwindled. I still experience subtle pain from time to time, and my bowel movements are still plentiful, but I’m no longer cowering in a fetal position for seven days straight.

And that water-retention baby I’d be carrying before, throughout, and post-period? It shrunk! Usually, I’d blow up like a balloon on my period, all thanks to the water weight as well as the salty-sweet cravings I give in to. Because I’m eating predominantly natural sugars, leafy greens, and less animal product, the swelling has gone down.

And today, 99.9% of the time;  I have lighter periods, less PMS symptoms including, mood swings, cramps, and even bloating.

I lost my cycle twice in my life: once from in high school and then again in my 20’s due to imbalanced living (stress, exercise, diet, etc.). Working hard to get my stress, and lifestyle in check, I’ve had a steady period since January 2017.

Though I feel thankful each time, I get my period (given that it was nonexistent for so many years) the cramps are not always something to be so grateful for.

Given that I’m all about those natural remedies, I’ve developed a system of tricks that help me remedy my cramps and put them all together in a single blog post. First, some background on cramps.

WHY DO WE EVEN GET CRAMPS?

During your menstrual cycle, the uterus contracts to help expel the lining. Alisa Vitti shared with me that elevated levels of Prostaglandin E2 cause menstrual cramps. Prostaglandins are a group of fatty acid compounds with varying hormone-like effects. The most notable impact of these is period cramps.

HOW DO WE AVOID CRAMPS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Personally, I find that when I’m really on top of my lifestyle: managing my stress, exercising according to my cycle, eating a balanced, blood sugar stabilizing diet (healthy fats, quality proteins, tons of leafy greens and the right complex carbohydrates), staying away from processed foods/coffee/alcohol/gluten (and including all animal products), my cramps aren’t so bad. I learned a majority of this way of living through reading Womancode and through self-experimentation.

Throughout the month, there are things I’ve noticed about my cycle. The strength of the cramps kind of depends on how I treated myself that month. If I am:

  • managing stress (self-care, journaling, nature, meditation, technology breaks, exercise)
  • exercising according to my cycle
  • eating a blood sugar stabilizing diet filled with tons of leafy greens, complex carbohydrates, quality proteins, rich in omega fats like avocado, nuts + seeds
  • abstaining from alcohol, excessive caffeine (all coffee), and sugar, gluten/animal products

then my cramps will be significantly less than if I hadn’t. Now, this is just a personal observation and may not be true for all. I also know that when I travel, eat outside my normal diet, being excessively stressed, then I also experience other painful period symptoms like greater mood swings, acne, breast tenderness, etc. Keeping track of your lifestyle and then paying attention to your PMS/menstruation symptoms are a great way to get better in touch with your body so you can actually see the results for yourself.

TOP NATURAL CRAMP REMEDIES

DIET

In western medicine, many practitioners overlook this simple yet very effective way of combating most ailments: the food we eat. My favorite way of reducing cramps is by focusing on my diet and make sure I’m including plenty of the right healing foods during my cycle. Why? Because I have to eat anyway, so why not include foods that can possibly help lessen my cramps too? Win-win situation in my book. I learned a lot about which foods are good for menstruation from reading Womencode, as well as from my acupuncturist (Dr. Kara from Aculand) who studied Ayurveda. On top of including foods high in essential fatty acids, I try to eat more soups, stews, and warming foods during this time. Lots of roasted vegetables, pureed soups, curries, and more.

Because cramps are caused by elevated levels of PGE2 as mentioned above, Alisa Vitti recommends eating the right fats throughout the month and during your cycle to get more PGE 1 and PGE 3. You can help elevate PGE 1+3 by adding more essential fatty acids into your diet during menstruation. Full list below!

FOODS HIGH IN ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS:

  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • flax seeds
  • chia seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • beans – soy, lentil, mung beans, tempeh etc
  • dark leafy greens
  • cabbages
  • winter squash

OTHER FOODS AND HERBS TO INCLUDE DURING MENSTRUATION:

  • seaweed (wakame, dulse. Eden Foods sells high-quality seaweeds)
  • kelp (found in most refrigerated areas of health food stores near vegan items)
  • mushrooms (all types)
  • seafood
  • He shou wu (Sunpotion makes a great one)
  • Reishi mushroom (I have a fabulous Reishi mushroom latte ALMOST every day, but it very perfect for before-bedtime. It also helps reduce my night sweats that come along with periods)

it’s especially important to eat these foods around the year, but try including them during your next period to see if they help with your cramps.

FOODS TO AVOID DURING MENSTRUATION:

Womencode recommends staying away from the following foods which will increase inflammation in your body, contribute to the manufacture of more PGE2 and cause you to have more pain during your bleed.

  • dairy
  • excessive caffeine
  • saturated fats
  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • too many raw, bulky vegetables

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We already know excessive cups of coffee and pounding beers on the daily aren’t ideal for a healthy lifestyle, but doing these things around your cycle can cause additional stress and fatigue on your body during this delicate time of the month. Eating sugar around this time of the month, though sometimes tempting, can actually worsen your symptoms, so I do not recommend turning to sweets during this time. No-sugar-added dark chocolate is a wonderful way to satisfy your sweet tooth. I love Eating Evolved Midnight flavor. Try to stick to only 1 cup of caffeine a day, and if so, make it a matcha latte (my favorite).

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are one of the first things I turn to during menstruation. From putting in baths to applying to the body, they can become a considerable part of menstrual wellness. I take them with me wherever I go during my cycle.

Clary Sage has been studied and known to help women lessen the pain of contractions, so it has the same healing effect on our bodies during their cycles. A few drops along with a carrier oil like coconut oil massaged onto the pelvis can help reduce some of the pain. Mountain Rose Herbs carries safe Clary Sage.

Saje Wellness’ Moon Cycle roller is a straightforward application oil blend that uplifts and calms the body and brain. It has lavender, geranium, and rosewood oils and already has a carrier oil inside so you can just roll-on and go. I usually add this to my pelvis and gently massage in circular motions or wherever else I feel cramps. I also love adding this oil to my bath along with some epsom salt to help disperse the oils.

You can also apply both of these oils on your lower back and inner thighs.

HEAT

Applying heat directly to the cramps is always super helpful for me. I picked up a $10 heating pad at my local pharmacy not too long ago, but before that, I was just putting white rice into an old sock and microwaving it. You can also use a water bottle and fill it with warm water. I love taking long baths during my period. Contrary to popular belief, baths are 100% safe to take during menstruation. Do whatever feels best to you.

HYDRATION

It sounds cliche, but water heals all, especially during our periods. Drinking water during your menstruation cycle helps replenish some of the liquids you are losing through your uterine lining. Dehydration worsens menstruation symptoms. Drinking plenty of water can also help reduce headaches, bloat, fatigue and other symptoms of menstruation. It’s a simple, quick, and effective way to find immediate relief.

YOGA

Though I don’t recommend heading to a vinyasa class during the first few days of menstruation, there are some yoga poses one can do to help relieve cramps. Child’s pose, happy baby, and camel pose have all been said to help ease some of the pelvic discomforts. Youtube has a bunch of wonderful, free resources for cramp reducing yoga postures.

REST

Lastly, the biggest yet oftentimes most difficult thing is to take it easy. In a fast-paced world, it can be hard to give ourselves permission to cancel plans, push back deadlines or. And sometimes, that’s not possible. But if you know you get cramps, it can be helpful to plan your schedule ahead of time.
Finish deadlines the week before your menstruation cycle. Take a few days off from the gym or your training program. Try not to plan any social activities the first few days of your period. If there is ONE time of the month to take it easy, it’s this time. Schedule in some reading time, bath time, journal time, nap time or Netflix time. Give yourself the gift of slowing down. Our bodies are going through a very intense process during menstruation, and honoring that is a form of beautiful simple self-care.

Do you get cramps? If so, how do you handle them?

Some Of My Favorite Shrooms + Their Benefits

Mushrooms are not just for the forest floor, or those looking for a psychedelic experience.

Certain mushrooms have been used throughout history for their medicinal benefits. Now research is catching up with folk medicine.

Join me for a stroll through the magical mushroom kingdom.

These unique fungi have been shown to have some fantastic things for your energy, brain, hormones, and immune system.

CHAGA

Chaga has been used in traditional medicine in eastern Europe in a variety of health problems such as stomach diseases and tumors. Research is now validating antiquity as chaga shows many health benefits.

Inflammation is linked to just about every chronic and autoimmune health problem. One study found chaga was able to reduce the pro-inflammatory nitric oxide and cyclooxygenase.

Chaga is jam-packed with antioxidant power, having the ability to scavenge harmful free radicals. Think berries on steroids!

Chaga also has been shown to be able to fight off viruses. In one study, the water-based extract of chaga exhibited antiviral activity against common viral infections such as the flu. This superfood medicine was also shown to have immune balancing effects as well.

If that wasn’t enough, research has also shown chaga to be a cancer killer. Certain cancers of the liver, and lung and brain were all decreased with chaga.

LIONS MANE

Do you struggle with brain problems such as brain fog or memory loss? Lion’s mane mushrooms are increasingly studied for their neuroprotective benefits. Nerve Growth Factors (NGF) found in this mushroom can regenerate and protect brain tissue.

About a dozen studies have been published on the neurodegenerative properties of lion’s mane so far. One small-scale study gave lion’s mane to patients four 250 mg tablets containing 96 percent mushroom powder three times a day for 16 weeks. Those who took the lion’s mane powder showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group.

Lion’s mane also has been shown to be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. Post-menopausal women who consumed lion’s mane baked into cookies showed less anxiety and depression and also had better concentration in just four weeks.

TURKEY TAIL

Turkey tail, named for its colorful stripes, is probably the most promising mushroom as far as research is concerned. Many of the studies centered around the medicinal benefits of mushrooms have been small-scale studies. Turkey tail is, at this point, the most well-researched mushroom in larger scale studies.

Turkey Tail has two powerful polysaccharides called PSP and PSK (or Kreskin) which is at the center of a $5.4 million collaboration between Bastyr University, the University of Washington and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Researchers found that taking Turkey Tail daily improves immune function when dosed daily to women with stage I to III breast cancer. PSP has been shown to significantly enhance immune status in up to 97 percent of cancer patients.

Unlike most pharmaceutical drugs, Turkey tail also showed no negative side effects in the study.

Turkey tail is also used for anyone struggling with gut overgrowths, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and candida overgrowth.

CORDYCEPS

Cordyceps is the anti-ager of the mushroom kingdom.

One study out of China found that cordyceps extract was able to dramatically increase powerhouse antioxidants superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. This special fungus also decreased pro-inflammatory monoamine oxidase and lipid peroxidation activity which causes us to age.

A double-blind placebo-controlled trial also found that cordyceps acted like an adaptogen, or hormone balancer, helping people struggling with fatigue increase their levels of energy and endurance.

REISHI

A staggering 50 percent of America is either pre-diabetic or diabetic, and that number will most likely grow if we continue to progress the way we have been. Studies have shown that the polysaccharides and triterpenes in reishi extracts decreased excessive fat storage seen in people struggling with weight gain and lower blood sugars in diabetics.

Reishi is able to down-regulate alpha-glucosidase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down starches into sugars. This magic mushroom was also shown to help with kidney problems and wound healing in diabetics.

 

I BUY MY SHROOMS FROM THE BRAND FOUR SIGMATIC

What are some of your favorites?

Four Amazing Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms

You probably know all about the benefits of adding goji berries and kale to your diet, but do you know about the potent healing properties of the reishi mushroom? If not, it’s time to get acquainted, because the reishi mushroom just might be the most dynamic superfood yet.

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While the reishi mushroom, or “Lingzhi” in Chinese, is still relatively unknown in Western cultures, this fascinating fungus has been revered in Asian societies for thousands of years and is one of the oldest symbols of well-being and longevity. These “mushrooms of immortality” are found growing on plum trees in the wild and were initially reserved for use only by royals.

There are many varieties of reishi, the most common of which has a soft, cork-like texture and an ear-shaped cap that ranges in color from red-orange to black. The reishi mushroom has a slightly bitter, woody taste, which is why it is traditionally prepared in a tea or as an extract. It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that researchers began to rigorously study the medicinal properties of the reishi mushroom, which is known to the scientific community as Ganoderma lucidum.

Due to its growing status as a veritable panacea, the reishi mushroom is now cultivated commercially throughout the world and is available in a variety of formats from teas and tinctures to capsules and can even be found in superfood protein powder blends.

Here are four incredible, scientifically studied health benefits of the reishi mushroom:

Lifespan-extending properties

In 2009, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry published a study conducted in Taiwan that displayed the lifespan-extending properties of the polysaccharides found in the reishi mushroom. These unique molecules promote longevity by boosting immune system function and preventing abnormal blood vessel formations that could lead to life-threatening cancerous growths.

Anti-cancer properties

The reishi mushroom has not only been shown to avoid the development of cancers, but research has indicated that the reishi mushroom may also eliminate existing cancer cells in the body. In 2010, Pharmacological Reports published a study that highlighted the role of ganoderic acid, a triterpenoid found in the reishi mushroom, in the inhibition of the development and metastasis of tumors.

In 2011, another study expanded on these findings, suggesting that bioactive compounds within the reishi mushroom may actually seek out and eradicate existing cancerous cells within the body.

Liver regeneration

As recently as 2013, a study in Food and Chemical Toxicology used the reishi mushroom to reverse chemical-driven liver damage in mice. The same triterpenes that displayed anti-cancer properties in other studies appear to aid the release of free radicals and promote liver cell regeneration.

Neuroprotective properties

In 2012, Neuropharmacology released a study that determined that the reishi mushroom can have high therapeutic effects on neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. In this study, it was shown that reishi extract supports the production of nerve growth factor, a protein that is vital for healthy neurological function.

How To Make A Healthy Sleep Routine

One of the most often overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle is sufficient sleep.

Sleeping is not only necessary, but it can be incredibly healing for us. It’s a time where our muscles recover, our bodies relax, our brains get a break, and we can drift off into dreamworld.

Everyone wants to be able to wake up with a jolt of energy before the sun comes up. It’s no reason that people wish for this power, waking up fatigued and groggy with no desire to get out of bed isn’t the most empowering way to start your day.

I believe that everyone is different. Some people are early birds, and some are naturally night owls. You can try to fight this any way you want, but some people just aren’t meant to be up early, and that’s okay!

However, I do have some tips and tricks listed below that may help you get a better night’s sleep so that you can start your day with boundless energy and endless possibilities!

ABOUT BEING AN EARLY BIRD

I am naturally an early bird and always have been. I don’t think I’ve slept past 9:00AM my entire life. I am such an early bird that no matter what time I go to bed (be it 9:00PM or 3:00AM) my body will always automatically wake me up around 6:00AM. This is the exact reason why I am so diligent about getting into bed at a decent hour because if I don’t, I won’t get enough rest and recovery that my body needs to keep me functioning at my highest (that was a mouth full).

The key to waking up early is giving your body the dreamiest + deepest sleep possible with the least amount of interruptions. It’s not about getting MORE hours of sleep, but about making those solid hours very deep and meaningful.

TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SLEEP ROUTINE

ADAPT A NIGHTLY ROUTINE

I can’t stress how important this is. There are so many ways to unwind during the day, but many of us just go directly from working on a project or scrolling through Instagram straight to bed. This is OK sometimes, but doing this repeatedly isn’t sending a signal to your brain that it’s time to go to bed. Instead, this sends stress signals to your brain, and you’ll be going to bed with too much stimulation and racing thoughts. There are many ways to develop a nightly bedtime routine, but mine is as follows:

  • turning off cell phone 1-2 hours before bed
  • taking a shower/bath
  • dry brushing, self-oil massage
  • sip a cup of tea
  • 10 minutes meditation using the Calm app
  • turn on my white noise machine (or iPhone app if I am traveling)
  • jumping straight into bed!

This routine works for me because I can do it from anywhere (home, hotel, etc.) and makes me feel peaceful, grounded, and calm before heading into dreamland.

GET ON A CONSISTENT SLEEPING SCHEDULE.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time is so important. Your body is a clock and works like one. Setting your circadian rhythm is extremely important, and sticking to that and honoring it. Everybody is different, but I like to head to bed around 10pm, fall asleep by 10:30, and wake up refreshed without an alarm around 5:30 or 6:00AM.

GET OFF ELECTRONICS 1-2 HOURS BEFORE BED, AND SLEEP WITH THEM IN ANOTHER ROOM.

This is so important, especially in this day in age. Think about it this way, the information you absorb goes directly into our conscious and subconscious. How many times have you fallen asleep to the blaring sound of the television, only to wake up at 3:00AM to turn it off? Even though you are sleeping, your brain and senses are still alert, so all the information you absorb (especially the few hours right before sleep!) will directly affect your sleeping behavior. Give your eyes a rest and make a promise to yourself to read in bed instead of mindlessly scrolling the internet!

Even more importantly, start sleeping with your cell phone in another room. This will remove temptations to check your phone if you wake up in the middle of the night. It’s also a great habit of making your bedroom a sacred space which I talk about more below.

CUT OFF CAFFEINE AFTER 12 NOON.

SO important! Caffeine is a stimulant, so a cup or so in the morning is a totally fair game, but a 2nd or 3rd in the afternoon can disrupt your sleeping pattern.  If you struggle with an afternoon slump, rather than grabbing a cup of coffee, try fixing yourself a tall glass of H2O, going for a walk around the block, or eating a nutrient dense snack like fat balls. If you are a coffee drinker and are so fatigued around 3pm that you can’t stay awake and NEED the 4th cup of coffee to make it through to dinner time, you may want to look at what you are eating throughout the day.

GET THE TV OUT OF YOUR ROOM AND MAKE YOUR BED A SACRED SPACE.

One of my favorite healthiest home tips is not owning a television at all. I know this isn’t what everyone wants, but at least removing it from your bedroom makes it a sacred sleeping space only. Make a promise to yourself that you will not lay on your bed during the day or in “real people clothes”. Keep electronics out of the bed as much as you can and only step into bed when you are ready to wind down. If you are used to watching TV in bed, try reading a book. They are a great way to fall asleep.

SKIP THE LATE NIGHT WORKOUT SESSIONS.

Studies have shown that high intensity workouts and sweat sessions too close to bedtime could potentially disrupt your sleep. Getting your heart rate up so close to bedtime gets your adrenaline pumping and sends signals to your brain to keep going.

A PM restorative candlelit yoga class or light pilates session is totally fine, but skip the 8PM spin class.  Of course, every person is different, and this may be the only time you can squeeze in a workout. However, if your schedule allows, start waking up earlier to squeeze in an AM workout, You’ll be surprised to find that you have more energy throughout the day.

GET BLACKOUT SHADES FOR YOUR BEDROOM

Remove EVERY single source of light from your bedroom. Digital clocks, streetlights, cell phone lights, even night lights. They are sources of light and send signals to your brain to stay awake. If you must, buy an eye mask to remove all sources of light. This has helped me reach deeper levels of sleep than you can imagine.

TURNING OFF THE CEILING FAN

I used to wake up with a headache each morning until one of my followers asked me if I slept with my ceiling fan on. I told him “yes,” since I did. He said to me that ceiling fans can cause morning migraines. A/C is totally okay, but if you have a ceiling fan, try turning it off at night to wake up headache-free.

SOME THINGS THAT HELP ME SLEEP:

Tea in bed. I love sipping on hot herbal drink right before bed as I read. Below is my favorite brand!

Sipping on Reishi mushroom tea a few hours before my bedtime. Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength. They have used it to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind, and spirit so that the adept could attain both a long and healthy life.

 

What are some of your favorite healthy sleeping techniques?