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Health

Massage Treatment for Arthritis – by Lailanee Person

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Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 54.4 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis and is usually found in adults over the age of 65 but can still affect people of all ages including children. Arthritis can cause a range of symptoms and impair a person’s daily tasks like walking comfortable, sitting up straight and using their hands. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a slow progressive condition which is caused by wear and tear of a joint, including the cartilage, joint lining, ligaments and the bone. This arthritis is often found in the hands, spine, hips and knees. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, and although there are some treatment options that aim to slow the progression of the disease, most treatments are focused on reducing pain and improve function. These treatment options include physical measures such as weight loss, physical exercise, and assistive devices; drug therapy including topical drugs, oral medicines, and joint injections; and surgery to repair or replace the joint.

In contrast to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is caused when the body’s immune system is not working correctly and results in pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints in the feet, hands and wrists. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million Americans, and is considered one of the more debilitating forms of arthritis when left untreated. Fortunately, modern advancements in treatment options have made it possible to stop or at least slow the worsening of joint damage, and specific treatments have been developed to target the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Although there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, an alternative way to address the symptoms that come with arthritis is through massage therapy, whether it be from a licensed massage therapist at a spa or self-massage at home.

Research has shown that massage can lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of serotonin, and lower production of the neurotransmitter substance P, often linked to pain, and improve sleep as a result. A clinical study was done in 2015 involving a 55 year old woman who suffered from RA for 14 years. Over the course of 5 weeks she received one 60 minute swedish massage on her upper limbs and at the end of 5 weeks she was finally able to perform daily tasks. Another study led by Tiffany Field, Ph.D. in 2013, examined the effects of moderate pressure versus light pressure massage therapy on 42 adults with rheumatoid arthritis in the upper limbs. The adults were randomly assigned to a moderate pressure or a light pressure massage therapy group. The affected arm and shoulder were massaged once a week for a four-week period and the participants also had to perform self-massage daily. By the end of the one-month period, results of the study demonstrated the moderate pressure massage group had less pain, increased grip strength, increased wrist flexion, increased elbow flexion and increased shoulder abduction. The study also found that participants in both groups experienced a reduction in depressed mood and anxiety.

In conclusion, Arthritis is a condition that affects almost 55 million people in the U.S. and 350 worldwide. The pain from arthritis can affect a person’s most simple daily tasks like gripping, standing, and even walking. Research shows that consistent massage and even self massage can reduce stress, reduce pain symptoms, and in some cases, improve and increase joint mobility. Massage therapy can be a wonderful compliment for someone being treated for arthritis and has proven itself to be valuable as complementary medicine.

Bethany Foster, 2013, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Massage Therapy
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279200281_Rheumatoid_Arthritis_and_Massage_Therapy__Case_Study
Desert Health, Studies on RA and Massage Therapy

Study Finds Massage Beneficial for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Ali Duarte-Garcia, MD, 2018
https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
Hannah Nichols, 2017, Medical News Today
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7621.php

Susan Berstein, Arthritis.org
https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/massage/massage-benefits.php

Epigenetics, Meditation and Massage – by Norriah Mease

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For one moment, close your eyes. Go into the dream space, allow yourself an opportunity to imagine. What does your perfect life look like?
What does vibrant health feel like to you? Invite yourself a few moments to simply bask in this radiance pouring out from within.
Now, I invite you to come back into your body, back into this room. How did that feeling differ from your state of normal?
Is this state in another world or is it part of your everyday experience? If this seems foreign and unfamiliar, and is not a part of
your daily living, admit that to yourself. You may have negative associations with this truth, however, not all hope is lost. What if I told you,
that new research has proven, there is an affordable way to get there, it starts with your desire to do so. Before you allow that wave of discouragement,
or hopelessness wash over you, thinking to yourself, “I’ll never get there” take a few moments to absorb this information.

Invite the overwhelm to turn into open space for learning. That part is simple, it is a one-word answer: Epigenetics. Let’s begin with
understanding what exactly Epigenetics is.​Epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological traits, or the external and environmental factors,
that turn our genes on and off, and in turn, define how our cells actually read those genes. It works to see the true potential of the human mind,
and the cells in our body​.

[1] In other words, within each one of our cells, we have a genetic blueprint of our complete make-up. From the color of our eyes, to the height of our bones, the sound of our voice. Our cells carry our entire DNA strand in every single one of those nuclei. Every tiny cell in our body carries the exact information of who we are. The only differing factor for these cells instructions lies in gene activation or gene silencing. ​Gene silencing refers to a mechanism by which cells shut down large sections of chromosomal DNA. It is generally used to describe the “switching off” of a gene by amechanism other than genetic modification. That is, a gene which would be expressed (turned on) under normal circumstances is switched off by machinery in the cell. Gene silencing is done by incorporating the DNA to be silenced into a form of DNA called heterochromatin that is already silent.

[2]. New research is now pointing to the ability humans carry to silence predisposed genes (such as cancer) and even reverse the effects of these
genes through self-care and meditative practices. Science is just now discovering what we have known all along and this is that we are ​truly​ in charge of our health and happiness. Unfortunately, with this understanding it is now more clear that this is not how the average american, or even the average human is living their life. The environment of cells cannot thrive in high pollution. Pollution is beyond filling our lungs with CO2 emissions and fossil fuels. It delves into all aspects of pollution, to include toxic chemicals in our water systems, processed foods, and even in our soil. In order to achieve max potential on a cellular level,we must first start with cleansing its environment. Detoxing our bodies through organic healthy eating, drinking pure water, and exercise can be your step one. The body has a natural healing capability, but it needs help in order to achieve this. Without deep restful sleep the body cannot function properly, and without a healthy lifestyle and routine, the body will not rest. It is working overtime to rid itself of toxins. The cycle will continue to feed itself until something breaks the chain.

There are several gateways to implement mindfulness into your life. Some common practices include, but are not limited to, yoga,
dance, meditation, cooking, and even singing. Among the most popular are yoga and meditation. The potential health benefits of yoga include: ​Stress reduction.​ A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being. ​Improved fitness.​ Practicing yoga may lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. ​Management of chronic conditions.​ Yoga can help reduce risk factorsfor chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

[3] Meditation benefits and types are extremely varied and vast. There are loving and kindness meditations used to align the heart and the mind taught by the heart math institute. Guided meditations which are similar to vision quests led by teachers. Kundalini yoga which uses a combination of breathwork, chanting, and postures to bring one into a meditative state. Zen meditations where the student allows their mind to become empty, returning themselves to a state of “nothingness”. Of course our favorite, meditations to provoke epigenetics, which allow the power of meditation to reverse disease, anxiety, and any “dis-ease” in the body.

A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author​ ​Richard J. Davidson​, founder of the​ ​Center for Investigating Healthy Minds​ and the William Jamesand Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where themolecular analyses were conducted. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

There are many leading scientists all fascinated by this work. If meditation truly is our key to success, how CAN we teach ourselves to get
out of this over-stressed, over-stimulated reality we are in now. We can take a look on how to connect all of these beautiful practices and
teach ourselves to enter the world of stillness and unlimited potential waiting in the quantum field. The most effortless segway into inducing the
parasympathetic state and implementing a solid self-care plan I can offer you is receiving regular massages. Massage is widely used in all cultures
to evoke feelings of deep relaxation and reduced anxiety. The anxiety-reducing and mood enhancing benefits of massage are probably related
to changes in EEG activity, decreased levels of cortisol and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which acts automatically
to calm the body and brain during​ ​stress​. Numerous studies show that moderate pressure massage is more effective than light pressure massage for reducing pain associated with different medical problems including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Moderate pressure massage also improves​ ​attention​ and enhances the body’s immune response by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Functional brain imaging studies show that changes take place in many areas of the brain involved in regulating emotions and stress response including the amygdala and the hypothalamus.

[5] Receiving regular massages can train your nervous system how to release and relax. Paired with a movement class you can relax your way into a meditation practice that ultimately leads to unlocking your true potential, living your healthiest life.

In conclusion, your potential lies in your hands alone. There are various tools such as nutrition, mindful movement, breathwork, yoga,
and regular massages that can lead you into a consistent meditation practice. Once you learn the techniques of stillness and mindfulness,
your hard work and consistency will be the key to telling your DNA which genes to silence and which ones to express. You can choose to live a full
life of radiant health and unlimited joy. This entire journey can begin with one tiny step as simple as booking your first massage, and wouldn’t that
be a fun chapter to write.

Reference Page

[1] Lipton, Bruce (2019) What is Epigenetics? Retrieved from https://www.brucelipton.com/what-epigenetics

[2] Zhang Y. (2013) Gene Silencing. In: Dubitzky W., Wolkenhauer O., Cho KH., Yokota H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Systems Biology. Springer, New York, N

[3] Mayo Clinic Staff (2018, October 04) Yoga: fight stress and find serenity. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/yoga/art-2004 4733

[4] Sakai, J. (2014, December 04). Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation. Retrieved from https://news.wisc.edu/study-reveals-gene-expression-changes-with-meditation/

[5] Lake, J. MD (2018, October 19). Massage therapy for anxiety and stress. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201810/massa ge-therapy-anxiety-and-stress

Craniosacral Therapy for Better Health – by Amber Dambacher

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Imagine for a moment a scene unfolding: an idyllic landscape of infinite beauty ranging as far as the eye can see–a broad canopy of trees interspersed with bountiful bushes and greenery, a lush jungle full of vibrant hues, fresh scents and exotic creatures, where nature thrives independently. A natural lake lies within this serenity, drawing to it all walks of life to hydrate and bask in its sun-kissed glory. Among these is a young monkey, at ease in his leisure, playfully enjoying some space from the others. All seems peaceful when suddenly a leopard appears from the perimeter, poised to attack. BOOM! A fast-paced chase ensues, the monkeys running all out full throttle toward safety, adrenaline pumping. The adolescent one, slower than the others and lagging behind, barely escapes the danger alive.

This high intensity, stress induced situation is our current reality in today’s society. With traffic jams, work/school pressure, partnership/family issues, financial expectations, environmental factors (e.g. EMF radiation), social media and constant advertisements, anxiety is rampant among Americans. Abundant overstimulation wreaks havoc on the function of our nervous system, deteriorating both physical and emotional health. When we view an ordinary event as traumatic, the body perceives it to be a real threat and responds accordingly as a defense mechanism. According to Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), stress manifests in three stages—alarm, resistance and exhaustion. The first reaction occurs as the “fight-or-flight” response kicks into gear and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to mobilize resources needed to meet the danger. Next, the parasympathetic nervous system attempts to return most physiological functions to normal levels while simultaneously remaining alert. Finally, the potential for disease is heightened when the stressor pushes the body beyond its capacity. [1] Due to the interconnected web that is the bodymind and the fact that our muscles house feelings, it is imperative to maintain emotional balance as part of an integrated system of overall health.

The key to regaining homeostasis is allowing the body’s instinctual intelligence to take control and naturally reset. This is achieved when we can reach a dynamic state of stillness and live from it. One of the most effective ways of activating the parasympathetic nervous system is through craniosacral therapy, a modality of massage that involves holding specific areas along the spine and cranium with a light touch. Occupational therapist Susan Kratz explains the craniosacral system well: “The three layers of membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges) plus the volume of cerebral spinal fluid constitute the craniosacral system. The tissues extend through the bones of the skull, face, and mouth (the cranium), and then down to the tailbone (the sacrum). Not only does this system protect the brain and spinal cord as a shock absorber, but it also serves to facilitate the electro-chemical conduction of nerve signals. As cerebral spinal fluid is produced within the brain itself, it swells the cranial cavity. The fluid is reabsorbed once reaching a certain pressure gradient and the brain narrows and contracts. This cycle creates the craniosacral rhythm…” [2] The intention of the practitioner is to connect in with this rhythm and be present. As Cara Holland describes, “Not many of us have been given time and space where we are listened to and heard. Where we are offered a connection to a witness who has no agenda, no judgment and who is grounded, present with us as we take this journey into craniosacral therapy. Holding and allowing, waiting, neutral space requires that the practitioner be grounded, centered, present, mindful, physically and energetically connected. From that place, each craniosacral practitioner simply holds the intention to allow time and space to provide the client and their body to heal, find structural, emotional balance and center, in whatever way they need to.” [3] Though it is one of the more subtle therapies existing in the bodywork field, the results in alleviating symptoms such as pain (physical and emotional), anxiety, depression, insomnia, appetite, inflammation, aggression, sensory processing, social engagement/behaviors and overall quality of life have been astounding.

The explanation to how so many benefits can be achieved from a singular modality lies in the complex matrix that is the brain: “There are three cranial meninges, or layers, that surround the brain: pia mater, arachnoid mater and dura mater. The pia mater membrane is adhered to the surface of the brain. The arachnoid membrane is adhered to the dura mater membrane. The dura mater membrane is formed of two layers: The periosteal layer is adhered to the inner surface of the skull bones, and the meningeal layer is adhered to the periosteal layer. Strands of collagen, or trabeculae, span the subarachnoid space and are attached to both the arachnoid membrane and the pia mater membrane. All three meningeal layers encase the brain. The dura mater’s meningeal layer separates from the periosteal layer in a few places to form membrane sheets that fold inward into the brain tissue. These sheets are arranged vertically between left and right hemispheres of the cerebrum and cerebellum, and horizontally between the cerebellum and the cerebrum. The arachnoid membrane follows the dural meningeal layer, and the pia mater membrane remains adhered to the brain surface.” [4]

When any part of this system becomes blocked or ground substance flow is restricted through pathways, problems begin to arise. “These substances are not only vital, nourishing and cleansing substances; they are also molecules that create extracellular communication among cells. Extracellular communication helps regulate and integrate cell processes, and in the brain extracellular communication also helps modulate neural signaling.” [4]

A double-blind study performed in Spain clearly shows evidence of significantly improved levels of pain and anxiety in those with fibromyalgia directly following craniosacral therapy treatment, which we can assume would also be true of healthy individuals. This group also showed positive influence on factors such as physical function, general health, vitality and social function. What’s more, these participants maintained that improvement one year post-study. [5] In another study done by Upledger Institute International, both practitioners and parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder were asked to evaluate the clients after having received between 1-5 sessions of craniosacral therapy. Twenty characteristic behavioral or functional features of ASD were rated to measure the experiences gained with CST. Huge behavioral advancements were reported by almost all clients in categories including general behavior, cognitive function, communication, sensory reaction, social skills and emotional stability. [6] Due to the intricate network of cranial anatomy, all body systems stand to benefit from CST. Since there are no contraindications for this modality, it is safe to employ for everyone. When we find our home in a restorative and rejuvenating parasympathetic state of being, we are able to maintain the alignment and balance needed to both heal and obtain optimal vitality so we may truly thrive.


References

1. Lucille, H. (2016, August 31.) General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) Stages. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.integrativepro.com/Resources/Integrative-Blog/2016/General-Adaptation-Syndrome-Stages
2. Kratz, S. (2009.) Craniosacral Therapy: Helping Improve Brain Function. Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/Brain.pdf
3. Holland, C. (2019, January.) Craniosacral Therapy: Finding Your Way to Neutral.
4. Wanveer, T. (2014, September.) How Craniosacral Therapy May Contribute to Brain Health. Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/Article_-_How_Cranio_Sacral_Therapy_May_Contribute_to_Brain_Health.pdf
5. Matarán-Peñarrocha, G; Castro-Sánchez, A; García, G; Moreno-Lorenzo, C; Carreño, T; Zafra, M. (2011, June 15.) Influence of Craniosacral Therapy on Anxiety, Depression and Quality of Life in Patients with Fibromyalgia. Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135864/
6. Kratz, S; Kerr, J; Porter, L. (2016, June 1.) The use of CranioSacral therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Benefits from the viewpoints of parents, clients, and therapists. Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/final-publication-cst-for-asd-feb-2017.pdf

The Natural Healing Properties of Thalassotherapy for Veterans – by Alicia Leos

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In 2011, I was spending my days on a hill in Khowst, Afghanistan. Thanks to the training, I was always ready, “To deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat,” (The Soldier’s Creed of the United States Army). Whether I was inside or outside the Concertina wire that covered the tops of our HESCO barriers, I accepted that our two platoons of the 870th Military Police Company were surrounded with people who wanted to kill us. I experienced how the war changed the way I viewed the world, the judgment I gave myself, and how it changed the service members who haven’t touched their boots on bloodied soil. All veterans served, spent owned time with a Drill, (Term for cadre of boot camp instructors), and are taught in any military basic training a rule with no name which brands warrior hearts to be in it for each other till the end, and it goes like this; ‘Nobody, gets left behind.’

Today, a lot of our discharged armed forces members suffer through a deficit of assurance when it used to be there in abundance of benefits while they were in the service. A lack of purpose can crash over as waves of regret and resentment to the ones who wander the halls of the V.A. In a different time, they had a special type of confidence the moment they swore an oath to become an active member of a force that assigned them a duty to protect and defend the people of the United States of America. This duty is a job that was bestowed on them by the right of the ink above a dotted line that follows behind a legacy of those who sacrificed with blood, tears, and nightmares. Instead of finding glory for the fight of freedom, they discovered flags impaled in the backs of the dead before them. Once upon a time, the friends and families out there who once prostrated before the squared away heroes they thought they knew didn’t question a thought such as, ‘Yeah, they would kill, or even die for me.’ It’s not long after the dust settles that those veterans are fighting to unlatch the demons that followed them home from work. These vets suffer a serious disconnection from people who were once familiar in their pre-military lives and have some others questioning if they are safe to be around at all. These circumstances are a few of many reasons why the wounded brave can easily give up all hope that one day they will know what it’s like to feel a connection to their world, that will lead to a meaningful life once again. My brothers and sisters at arms, our veterans, (Status: discharged, active, combat, and non-Combat,) signed their freedoms away. It is long overdue that they have more opportunities to feel the spirit of freedom present once more. That opportunity is within Thalassotherapy.

Thalassotherapy literally translates to, Sea Therapy because ‘Thalasso’ is Greek for the sea. In 1867, Dr. La Bonnardiere gave the ocean healing a name. He also observed that seawater is a therapeutic conduit that can prevent all sorts of ailments because it revitalizes and cleanses the system. Although he “coined” the term, he did not invent it. The esoteric Ancient Egyptians and Greek philosophers (Euripides, Hippocrates, Plato, and Herodotus) recognized the oceans held special properties that improved physical and mental health as early as 484 BC. They recorded the effects of the revitalizing results that came with those who were submerging themselves in seawater. One more example of how our veterans are guaranteed to receive some therapy within the ocean’s waters comes from an article published by Massage Magazine, “Not only do both of these fluids contain all trace elements and minerals, the quantities of minerals are nearly identical. Seawater is so close to our bodies’ internal environment that if white blood cells are removed from the body and placed in a sterile seawater solution, they are able to maintain normal cell function for up to five weeks; this is the only solvent that will accommodate continued cellular activity…” (Angela Eriksen-Stanley, the author). The benefits our wounded warriors can get from this vital source of minerals and trace elements are within every type of Thalassotherapy application. The Thalassotherapy benefits found within being submerged in its waters include Being with nature, improved range of motion, sleep, cognitive attention skills, mood, well-being, motivation, reduced mental, and physiological fatigue, and a heightened quality of life.

This sea therapy is the answer to a lot of the veterans who are suffering from PTSD, pain in their bodies, insomnia, depression, and fatigue. There are many forms of Hydro Therapy or water therapy. Thalassotherapy is the most beneficial to veterans who struggle with stress-related symptoms today. The ways Some of these fighters decide that they do want to take a step toward getting better, but don’t know where to start. For example, The Wave Academy helps guide veterans toward this holistic approach with the support of organizations and Veteran rehabilitation centers like VVSD (Veteran’s Village of San Diego). The Wave Academy utilizes the practice using a form of aquatic massage called, Watsu, and their goal is to enrich the lives of veterans who suffer from their wartime injuries. These are real testimonies written by veterans who took part in The Wave Academy’s program is proof that Thalassotherapy works. “I have been experiencing very real flashbacks recently and am on the verge of crying at any moment. Today was the first time I have felt safe all week and that overwhelms me with gratitude.” (Waves Academy, Post-911 Veteran, MTS and PTS, Session 7)
“ I was anxious upon arrival with racing thoughts. Had bad night terrors/sweats. In the water…it all melted away. Marcia is an angel healer. Thank you.”
(Waves Academy, Vietnam Vet, Session 9)

“After the 1st session: The experience is hard to explain…very comfortable, maternal, relaxing, unencumbering, free. One of the nicest experiences I have had in many years.” (Waves Academy, Post-911 Veteran, survived a suicide bomber, Session 1) Thankfully, there are organizations out there that are poised to help them adjust to life after the military. Another example of sea therapy experienced, but a sad one is of Navy rescue swimmer James Bizzle. He was suffering through his PTS and addiction and became homeless. Once he graduated a rehabilitation program for homeless veterans, he found his bearings. The first thing he did after that was to get a group of fellow vets to go snorkel with him because “It feels natural to go back to the water. It’s like I get to know myself all over again. It starts with the shock of the cold that says, ‘Wake up!’” (James Bizzle, The Snorks, Facebook Messaging Group). If there is something out there that can quell the symptoms of trauma experienced by a combat veteran, and it’s in the ocean. Motivation and a newfound sense of wonder can greet candidates that you would think did not fit the qualification of liking the ocean at all. This testimony comes from an original member of The Snorks group that expanded and made a Meet-Up in San Diego. “Shane Yost was terrified of the water. His ankle bears a tattoo of a line with the words Do not fill above this line. He wasn’t comfortably exceeding that depth, and he lived by those words. But on a day out from the Aspire Center, a veteran residential rehabilitation treatment program based in San Diego, he put aside that fear when a girl meekly asked if someone could join her boogie boarding. ‘One of my weaknesses is when someone asks me to do something,’ says Yost. So he crept into the ocean — and stayed there. Thirty minutes passed, and the post-traumatic stress disorder survivor realized he’d started having fun. Next came an invite from a friend to go snorkeling. One taste of swimming with seals and sea lions and Yost was hooked, devoting every weekend to his newfound hobby.”

Thalassotherapy doesn’t alter the inner workings of the brain that makes a person who they are. Instead, this holistic approach will be an experience that will quiet the mind and give the key back to the wounded soul. Two years after James stopped our regular Sunday 9 am Snorkel Session off La Jolla Cove, he lost sight of other commitments and became homeless again. I saw him at Operation Stand down San Diego this year. I asked if he snorkels anymore, and he said, “Man it’s been a while since I’ve gone out there. I miss it a lot.” The smile was proof to me that ocean therapy works. With just the memories of his time in the ocean water, he still can experience the happiness he felt, and flashback to the sense of relief it brought him.

To conclude, water has a healing power altogether and it comes in many different forms of therapies. Thalassotherapy, Balneotherapy, and the Chinese practice of taking in water. “Thalassotherapy faded away in the Western world when philosophers embraced Aristotelian logic, which was then nurtured by Galileo (1568–1642) and Descartes (1596–1650)… The decline may thus well be due to the adoption by the great minds of the time of stricter scientific viewpoints, and rational reasoning by the Renaissance researchers and thinkers.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535692/)Thalassotherapy is a method of healing while using properties of the sea life (i.e. seaweed), ocean water, and climate to help give our veterans restoration of health, and energy which is creating within them an environment where they can feel at peace.

The Effects of Complimentary Alternative Medicine for the Poor – by Lindsey R. Hyde

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By definition, ‘accessible’ means being reached or is within reach, as well as the capability of being used, seen, understood, or appreciated. A few common examples of this applied in society include ramps for individuals that navigate the world in a wheelchair, iPhone’s VoiceOver screen reader for people that have a vision impairment or color blindness, and vibrating street crossing buttons to alert those with both hearing and vision loss. Accessibility creates an environment where being an able-bodied individual is not the only standard from which the universe operates. It is all-inclusive, modifying what is already available and always expanding to give everybody the best chance at a successful life not determined by their disability or circumstances. Massage and bodywork, alternative medicine, body movement therapies such as yoga or Tai Chi, and self-care practices and education should be accessible by everyone. In the case of those who are homeless, living in poverty, or are low income, there are many barriers that can stand in the way of them receiving this care, cost, and knowledge being at the top of the list. This paper will discuss the physical and mental effects of being homeless or living in poverty, the positive effects of complementary alternative medicine in this population and why it is vital they receive it regularly, as well as what actions are currently being taken to address the issues of accessibility of this care and why it should matter to you.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2017 thirty-nine million people (12.3%) in the United States were living in poverty and almost four-hundred thousand of those people were San Diego residents (11.9%.) Poverty is measured by the U.S. Census Bureau using set income thresholds that vary based on the composition and size of a family. If that family’s income totals less than their threshold value, they are considered as living in poverty. In 2017, the computed poverty threshold for one person living in the United States was 12,488 dollars. With the average population per household being 2.54 that same year, two adults and one child, the poverty threshold was 19,515 dollars. In stark comparison, the median household income of the U.S. in 2017 was 61,372 dollars. Poverty is not just struggling to pay bills or missing a meal, chronic poverty puts physical, emotional, and mental stress and pressures on millions of families each year. The effects of poverty are generational and cyclical, and they extensively impact individuals of all ages, races, and ethnicities nationwide. The basic necessities of survival such as food, shelter, and clean drinking water become such a struggle to secure that things like healthcare, education, and entertainment are seen as frivolous luxuries. Children born into and developing in poverty have higher rates of delinquency, depression and anxiety disorders, lower academic scores, and higher prevalence of cognitive, attention, and behavioral problems. Poverty in adulthood is host to the development of numerous mental health disorders, physiological and psychological stress, and higher rates of suicide. Where there is poverty, there is a lack of education, crime, joblessness, and poor physical and mental health.

In a study published in 2015 done in partnership between San Francisco State University’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and Texas Tech University Health Science Centers, a direct correlation was found between level of education/income level and knowledge or lack of knowledge of 4 common complementary health practices. A correlation was also discovered between the level of education and ‘lack of need’ being a reason for not utilizing those complementary health approaches. During this research, a survey was used to poll people who have never used acupuncture, chiropractic work, supplements, and herbs, or yoga and their reasoning why. Those who did not graduate from high school were 29-58% more likely to have selected ‘lack of knowledge’ as a reason for non-use across all categories polled. Individuals with higher income levels polled less likely to select ‘lack of knowledge’ as a reason of non-use, for example, this bracket was 37% less likely to choose ‘lack of knowledge’ as a reason for not using chiropractic care. On the basis of education, voters with a higher level of completed education were significantly more likely to choose ‘lack of need’ as a response to non-use of complementary health. Those who attended college were 22% more likely to select ‘lack of need’ in response to non-use of chiropractor and acupuncture care. In conclusion, this data coincides perfectly with the sentiments mentioned above. Living in poverty drastically diminishes the opportunity for affording educational opportunities and utilizing healthcare services. It can be inferred from above that having a higher income equals better healthcare, less labor-intensive work, and potentially fewer injuries, thus creating less need for complementary health approaches.

A study published in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health Statistics further prove the disparities between income level, access, and use of complementary health approaches. Families with incomes over one-hundred thousand dollars had four times more out-of-pocket expenses ($6.2 billion) paid for visits to complementary health practitioners per year than those families making less than twenty-five thousand dollars (1.3 billion.) Natural products and supplement sales paid for out-of-pocket per year were twice as much for families with incomes between fifty and ninety-nine thousand dollars ($4.1 billion) than for those making less than twenty-five thousand dollars ($1.9 billion.) Furthermore, individuals in two of the highest income brackets spent significantly more than half of all the out-of-pocket expenditures for complementary health approaches ($21.1 billion/70.2%.) Those families were also willing to spend almost one-hundred and sixty dollars more on average per occasion while receiving complementary healthcare services or purchasing health products. These studies draw two main conclusions, higher-income individuals, overall, are either spending the most amount of money on alternative healthcare or have the knowledge and means to use it but do not feel the need to. While those with lower incomes and/or living in poverty contribute significantly less money to the purchases of alternative healthcare, the population even more vulnerable and most often forgotten in the world of complementary health services is homeless.

According to The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, over half a million people nationwide experience homelessness on any given night. Half of all homeless individuals reside in the top five states with the highest rates of homeless populations. California has the most total people experiencing homelessness at almost one-hundred and thirty thousand homeless individuals any given day, followed by New York, Florida, Texas, and Washington. 2019’s WeAllCount, point-in-time-count, San Diego results show at the very minimum, just over eight-thousand San Diegans live on the streets or shelters on any given night, making it fourth highest on the list of major cities with the most occurrence of homelessness. Thirty-six percent, of the homeless population in San Diego, report being physically disabled, twelve percent are under the age of twenty-four, ten percent are veterans, and three percent are families with at least one child. The effects of homelessness are much more extensive and physically dangerous than those effects of individuals living in poverty. The homeless experience more serious health conditions such as skin diseases due to decreased hygiene habits and access to clean running water, cold or heat injuries by constant exposure to the elements, nutritional deficiencies due to poor diet and/or starvation, drug dependency, alcoholism, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and much higher rates of mortality, among many others. Psychological effects of homelessness include loss of self-esteem and self-worth, loss of ability and will to care for oneself, increased danger of abuse and violence, increased risk of taking part in or witnessing criminal activity and being incarcerated or otherwise being institutionalized, and development of behavioral problems including substance abuse.

The homeless population and those living in poverty are subjectively in the most need of massage and bodywork, alternative medicine, body movement therapies, and self-care instruction and education, but are least likely to have access to it, let alone be able to engage in it. These types of therapies have the potential to be highly effective for reducing stress and anxiety, increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage, lowering blood pressure, and soothing neuromuscular pain and discomfort. Such treatments are less expensive long term due to the focus being preventative, this can lead to fewer injuries and illnesses, fewer doctors’ visits and less reliance on prescription medication. High prices and the fight of getting insurance companies to cover complementary health prevents access to these alternatives for many low-income Americans and most of the homeless population.

A 2008 issue of Healing Hands, a publication of the Healthcare for the Homeless (HCH) Clinicians’ Network, explored the use of complementary and alternative therapies in homeless healthcare. HCH Manchester in New Hampshire developed an eight-week long training program working to educate and teach the homeless population ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ (MBSR.) The program consists of two to three hour-long sessions once a week focusing on mindfulness meditation and yoga practices, with a full-day retreat scheduled in week six. Also on staff are a psychologist, social worker, and substance abuse counselor that are available at any time to better assist the participants. To track results, they use a quality of life survey before and after completion of the program to document perceived improvements. Outcomes include reduced pain and increased ability to cope with chronic pain, increased abilities in dealing with stressors and being able to relax, increased sense of well-being and enthusiasm for life, and improved self-esteem, clarity, and awareness. In addition to this program, HCH Manchester also offers clinic services including medical and mental health care, addiction counseling, health education, social services, assistance with food stamps, Medicaid, and disability services, and dental and eye care. For those who are homeless or living in poverty, you are always in fight-or-flight and survival mode. Getting a chance to think clearly, feel safe, cry, laugh, and feel emotions, and even just a kind word or gentle touch can mean the world to them. Everyone deserves the opportunity to feel human and to feel cared for.

Many organizations across the nation are realizing the need for alternative health for the homeless, low income, and improvised populations. New York Harm Reduction Educator works to put drug users and sex workers on the path of recovery, by providing syringe exchange, education, and outreach services. Other services include overdose prevention, counseling and family stabilization services, STD testing, support groups, sex education, as well as holistic health services. NYHRE provides meditation, reiki, qi gong, breathing exercises, and ear acupuncture throughout the city at several of their street-based syringe exchanges. The Care Through Touch Institute in San Francisco, California gives free chair massage at various shelters and churches, to the community of people who experience homelessness or are marginally housed. They also have a program called Comfort, Care, & Companioning Program that targets homeless and marginally housed seniors. This program provides a companion to give comforting massage, caring conversation, and companionship to support these individuals dealing with isolation and physical and emotional pain related to conditions arising from the aging process or illness and injury. Last but certainly not least, Everytable, a restaurant with a fast-food style twist, makes healthy foods quick and accessible to underserved communities in Los Angles, California. The meals are priced according to the neighborhood they serve, making them affordable to lower-income individuals and those living in poverty. The meals are healthy, fresh, and made from scratch and provided to communities with limited or no access to affordable healthy foods and sold at discounted prices.
While there are people out there doing great things and making big strides in creating more accessibility of complementary alternative medicine to vulnerable populations such as the poor and homeless, we still have a long way to go. Education and advocacy are the most critical aspects. Education of the health professionals and practitioners and education of those in need, as well as continually advocate for affected individuals and striving to make positive changes.

Works Cited
Allen, DMD, J., Carlson, APRN, BC, T., Colangelo, LSW, B., Orman, S., Rabiner, MD, M., Rodriguez-marzec, MS, FNP-C, PMHNP-C, R., . . . Bredensteiner, S. (2008, June). Healing Hands: Use of Complementary & Alternative Therapies in Homeless Health Care (P. Post, MPA, Ed.). Retrieved July, 2019, from www.nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/jun2008HealingHands.pdf
Burke, A., Nahin, R. L., & Stussman, B. J. (2015, June 17). Limited Health Knowledge as a Reason for Non-Use of Four Common Complementary Health Practices. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4470691/#_ffn_sectitle
Care Through Touch Institute. (n.d.). Carethroughtouch.org. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.carethroughtouch.org/welcome
CMC Catholic Medical Center. (n.d.). Health Care for the Homeless Program Manchester. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.catholicmedicalcenter.org/care-and-treatment/community-health/health-care-for-the-homeless
EVERYTABLE. (n.d.). Everytable.com. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.everytable.com/mission/
Fontenot, K., Semega, J., & Kollar, M. (2018, September). Income and Poverty in the United States:2017. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-263.pdf
Henry, M., Mahathey, A., Morrill, T., Robinson, A., Shivji, A., & Watt, R. (2018, December). The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) To Congress. Retrieved July, 2019, from files.hudexchange.info
Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., R. L., National Institutes of Health, Barnes, M.A., P. M., National Center for Health Statistics, & Stussman, B.A., B. J. (2016, June 22). National Health Statistics Report: Expenditures on Complementary Health Approaches: United States, 2012. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr095.pdf
New York Harm ReductionEducators. (2019). Nyhre.org. Retrieved July, 2019, from nyhre.org/programs-services/holistic-health-services/
Simon, MD, K. M., Beder, MD, M., & Manseau, MD, MPH, M. W. (2018, June 29). Addressing Poverty and Mental Illness. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/addressing-poverty-and-mental-illness
United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Poverty: How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/poverty/guidance/poverty-measures.html
United States Census Bureau. (2010-2018). QuickFacts San Diego County, California; California. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/sandiegocountycalifornia,CA/PST045218
United States Census Bureau. (2017). Poverty Thresholds for 2017 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years. Retrieved July, 2019, from www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/tables/time-series/historical-poverty-threshold/thresh17.xls
United States Census Bureau. (2018, November). Average Population Per Household and Family: 1940 to Present. Retrieved July, 2019, from www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/demo/tables/families/time-series/households/hh6.xls

Massage Therapist Salaries – How Much Can You Make?

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Income matters. Without a good-paying job, people look for something else during an economic crisis. In the massage therapy industry, it is guaranteed to have a good income considering the size of the market and high demand for the service.

According to the BLS 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay for massage therapists is $41,420 per year with an hourly rate of $19.92. The highest 10% of professionals earned more than $78,280 annually.

Career Bliss reports that Massage Envy Franchise Owners earn $100,000 annually, or $48 per hour, which is 50% higher than the national average for all Franchise Owners at $60,000 annually and 48% higher than the national salary average for ​all working Americans.

In addition, the Massage Therapy career may provide you with an opportunity to open your own business, and the income possibilities are endless.

 

 

Workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and fulfilling. Massage Therapists tend to have a low-stress level, with a better than average work-life balance and offer opportunities for upward mobility. Utilizing statistics of both career paths and location, Massage Therapists can take advantage of their best options for upward mobility in their career path.

When you decide to enroll in a massage therapy program, you can choose to complete the minimum training hours to begin working as quickly as possible, or you can complete more hours to specialize in a particular type of massage. The latter seems to yield a better paycheck with more expertise in a specific area.

Building your client base also seems to be an important element, building an established regular list of clients can provide steady income and gives you the potential to earn more.

Increasing your salary growth through expertise, regular client lists, and location gives you the earning potential you need to reach your goals. And here is the goal to work toward: The highest 10% of professionals that earned more than $78,280 annually.

Have you considered a career in massage therapy? Apply Online today!

Are Massage Therapists in Demand?

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Massage Therapy is the Next Big Thing!

 

  • Extraordinary Predicted Employment Growth and & Low Unemployment Rate

Employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 26% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand will likely increase as more healthcare providers understand the benefits of massage and these services become part of treatment plans. In addition, massage therapists may be able to attract a wider variety of clients by completing education programs in multiple modalities. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapist.

 

  • Good income

Income matters. Without a good-paying job, people look for something else during an economic crisis. In the massage therapy industry, it is guaranteed to have a good income considering the size of the market and high demand for the service.

According to the BLS 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay for massage therapists is $41,420 per year with an hourly rate of $19.92. The highest 10 percent of professionals earned more than $78,280 annually.

Career Bliss reports that Massage Envy Franchise Owners earn $100,000 annually, or $48 per hour, which is 50% higher than the national average for all Franchise Owners at $60,000 annually and 48% higher than the national salary average for ​all working Americans.

In addition, the Massage Therapy career may provide you with an opportunity to open your own business, and the income possibilities are endless.

 

  • Sense of Purpose at Work and in Life

Having an income to be able to live comfortably and having a sense of purpose are the main reasons when choosing a career. Many people quit jobs because they do not have a sense of purpose in their work.

A massage therapy career gives you the opportunity to help people improve their health and wellbeing. In this day and age, more and more people need massage therapy to ease their pain, avoid stress, improve joint flexibility and circulation, etc. It offers many benefits for those who need medical treatment and those who just want to have a healthy lifestyle.

[Read more below]

  • Among Best Jobs

Currently, the massage therapy career has jumped to rank 43 in The 100 Best Jobs and a record-breaking rank 4 in Best Health Care Support Jobs. The US News Career evaluates the most in-demand careers and comes up annually with their 100 Best Jobs of the year.

  • Relaxing Work Place

It seems like a dream to work in a relaxed, serene, and cozy work environment. Massage therapists are constantly working in peaceful areas which provide ease not only for clients but also for therapists themselves.

  • Flexibility

For independent and/or part-time therapists, work schedule is very flexible. Since they can be their own boss and decide the best time of the day to work, they effortlessly achieve a work-life balance.

 

Is Massage Therapy a fit for you?

Statistics show that massage therapy will continue to grow and be at par with other top-ranking jobs in the near future. If you are willing to dedicate some months to become a certified in Massage Therapy and getting the opportunity to work in a stress-free and relaxed environment, with good pay, then a career in Massage Therapy is for you. Click here to get started.

Professional Massage Therapist – Fun and Flexible

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Massage Therapists have the advantage of flexibility in most of the jobs that they hold. Since their jobs are based on appointments they can work in many different careers and can usually set their own hours. This offers a great advantage to people that wish to improve people’s lives through massage and want the flexibility of setting their own schedules.

There are many reasons to pursue a career in massage therapy, however, one of the best reasons is the flexibility it offers as a professional path.

Massage therapy appeals to those people who are not fond of sitting behind a desk the entire day and want their work schedule to be very flexible. Since their jobs are based on appointments, they can work in many different careers and can usually set their own hours. They can also run their own business and decide the best time of the day to work, achieving a work-life balance.

One of the most attractive aspects of massage therapy is how diverse the options are after graduation. Many people find jobs in a variety of settings, including:

  • Cruise ships
  • Airports
  • Spas
  • Hotels
  • Resorts
  • Sports Teams
  • Chiropractic Offices
  • Corporate settings
  • Business
  • Mobile Masseur
  • Celebrity Masseur
  • Hospitals

Because of the flexibility this career offers, it keeps you dynamic, and as a result, it improves your own health while you are helping others. Massage therapy is a great career choice if you want a job that offers versatility and job security

 

Flexibility in pursuing certification and starting a program

Massage programs cater to those who are juggling other daily responsibilities, such as a full-time job or parenting, by offering evening classes. If you need to work, take care of a child or just deal with other life responsibilities while studying, The Professional Massage Therapy Program makes a great option for you.

ICOHS College offers multiple start dates throughout the year, meaning you don’t have to wait until the fall to jumpstart your career. If the time is right for you, you can start within a few short weeks or months. Apply now to begin an exciting new path in massage therapy today.

How Much Does a Holistic Health Practitioner Make?

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Salaries for Holistic Health Practitioners may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, years of experience, location, and other factors.

According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), naturopathic doctors (NDs) working in large practices earn between $80,000 and $90,000 annually. However, many naturopathic doctors who have worked at building a reputable practice have been known to earn up to $200,000 annually

Differences in Holistic Health Careers

Approximately 40% of the population in the United States are already using some kind of alternative health treatment, and surveys indicate continued growth in the field. As more and more people are in search of whole-body wellness, the opportunity to enjoy a satisfying career in holistic health looks promising every year.

 

What are the most popular holistic health careers?

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture’s ancient healing technique uses needles to remove blockages in the body’s energy system, promoting balance and holistic health. According to O*NET OnLine, the median annual salary for acupuncturists is $74,530*.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a complete holistic health system that developed in India, where it has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Ayurvedic treatments seek to balance mind, body, and spirit, offering individualized recommendations based on every single patient. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, Ayurvedic practitioners, categorized under health diagnosing and treating practitioners, make a median salary of $74,530*.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a tool for teaching patients how to use the power of their minds to manage chronic or stress-induced pain, such as migraines and muscle spasms. Biofeedback is used in health care settings by licensed medical professionals, but it can also work well in a natural medicine setting or by trained psychologists. As psychologists, Certified Biofeedback Therapists can earn $75,230*, according to the BLS.

Diet-based therapies

Diet therapy uses food as a source of healing. Practitioners provide customized dietary suggestions to help their patients improve immunity, lose weight or fight illnesses such as cancer and allergies. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists is $58,920*.

 

 

Kinesiology or movement therapies

Kinesiology applies the study of muscles and movement as an evaluation and treatment tool in a clinical setting. Earnings from the practice of kinesiology are difficult to assess because most practitioners are already established as chiropractors, medical doctors or other health care providers.

Yoga

Yoga is now one of the most popular practices for physical fitness and relaxation. According to the BLS, the median national annual salary for yoga fitness trainers and instructors is $38,160*.

Holistic skincare or esthetics

Estheticians and holistic skincare specialists who specialize in holistic skincare administer facial and body treatments that feature natural ingredients, such as herbs, minerals, and essential oils. According to the BLS, the median national annual salary for skincare specialists is $30,270*

There are a variety of careers to choose from as a holistic health practitioner. You can have a good income and also benefit from making a difference in the lives of other people. When you join the wellness field, you become part of an ever-growing movement to create a healthier and more balanced society. Find out about the Holistic Health Practitioner program at ICOHS College and start your new career path today!

8 Health Food Buzz Words (And What They Actually Mean)

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We know you’ve been wondering…

There are a lot of health food words floating around these days. Grocery shelves are stocked full of products containing labels with some intriguing claims, especially for those who are not accustomed to the sudden shift.

From gluten-free to sugar-free, vegan and non-GMO, there is a lot of terminology to keep up with. Most of all, not all of these labels mean what they imply. For those who are interested in health and wellbeing, it is vital to do research and stay informed.

In this article, we cover eight of the ultra buzzy health food words that have been in circulation recently, going into depth about what they actually mean.

What Constitutes as a ‘Health Food’?

Before we dive into some commonly present health food words that are floating around, it may be first important to define what a ‘health food’ truly constitutes.

By definition, a health food describes a food of natural origins that is also said to have beneficial qualities for health and wellness. Health foods can be anything from greens and veggies to superfoods and other ingredients rich in nutrients. To be honest, the term is quite broad and, therefore, envelopes many things.

Here’s What These 8 Health Food Buzz Words Really Mean

To bring about clarification and to promote knowledge surrounding health foods, we break down the real meanings of these commonly used words:

  1. Superfood

Superfoods are certainly not superheroes, but they may potentially make your body feel like one. Although this term is perhaps used a little too loosely, some superfoods are known for their high densities of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of science to back up a claim like ‘superfood’, but nevertheless, it will not hurt you to indulge in these nutrient-packed picks. In fact, a wide selection of healthy options is necessary for a balanced diet, and considering how many superfoods are out there, there is plenty to work with.

Some popular superfoods include goji berries, chia seeds, maca powder, spirulina, berries, dark leafy vegetables, green tea, brazil nuts, almonds, garlic, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, turmeric, ginger, avocado, salmon, and seaweed, just to name a few.

  1. Organic

Probably one of the most heavenly words for health-conscious individuals to see on a food label, ‘organic’ is about as natural and pure as it can get when it comes to buying items from a store. Likely, the only way to receive purer quality is to grow produce yourself under strict conditions.

Organic is a set of agricultural cultivation practices that are in place to heavily regulate and monitor the way in which this food is grown. From soil quality to animal raising practices and pest/weed management, every step of the organic growing process is monitored and controlled, otherwise, a product is not awarded Organic Certification.

Organic Certification is normally given by the USDA, an organization that is especially strict with its requirements and regulations.

For those who are not in a position to buy only organic goods, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has generated a list of ‘dirty-dozens’ which includes the products that tend to possess the most pesticides. This is generally a good place to start when transitioning to an organic lifestyle.

These ‘dirty-dozens’ include:

  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  1. GMO (or Non-GMO/GMO-free)

GMO stands for ‘genetically modified organism’. In simplified terms, this refers to organisms such as plants that have had their genetics modified or manipulated in a laboratory.

Non-GMO or GMO-free foods are not managed and labeled by any government organization, rather “The Non-GMO Project” is responsible for awarding this label to products in the United States.

Although not enough science exists to thoroughly support claims made that GMO’s are bad for us, one aspect that is potentially quite frightening about GMO’s, is how GMO soy and corn that are mutated in order to resist pesticides are allowed to be sprayed by these carcinogenic chemicals to no end.

As a general rule, opt for non-GMO corn and soy in particular, or simply choose organic altogether, which is heavily monitored and for certain will not have been sprayed with carcinogenic pesticides.

Remember, not all foods that are non-GMO are organic, yet all organic foods are automatically non-GMO. Choosing organic IS the safer option if pesticide-consumption is a primary concern.

  1. Vegan

Sometimes it can be a bit silly what products are marked as ‘vegan-friendly.’ Vegan wine for instance; isn’t all wine vegan? The answer might come as a surprise – no. At times, the way in which wine is clarified, a process known as ‘fining’, an array of animal-derived products are utilized, such as animal protein (gelatin), casein (milk protein), and even albumin (egg whites).

A product becomes certified as vegan if it contains absolutely no animal-derived ingredients, which includes any substances used throughout the production process. For vegans, this matter can often be taken very seriously. For other vegans, things are a bit more lenient.

Depending upon the individual, there are different degrees of veganism. Some vegans, termed ‘honey vegans’, still consume products derived from bees, such as honey and royal jelly. Other vegans only eat food that is not derived from animal products, but potentially utilize commercial cleaning or personal care products or maybe even wear clothing derived from animal fibers (wool, leather, angora, etc.)

Regardless of to what degree one practices veganism, it can quite unanimously be agreed that reducing our consumption of animal products is beneficial to sustainability and the environment because it requires far less energy and water to cultivate a staple ingredient such as beans, versus having to raise an animal for its meat.

  1. BPA (or BPA-free)

BPA, known formally as Bisphenol A, is a common chemical found in plastic. You may have noticed various bottled goods making claims such as ‘BPA-free’ on their packaging. This is because BPA is said to be extremely harmful to one’s health. BPA is a hormone-mimicking chemical, meaning that it can potentially lead to adverse effects such as infertility, obesity, certain cancers, ADHD, and more.

More research does need to be done in order to fully understand BPA’s effects on the human mind and body, but the fact that any negative studies do exist could send many running for the hills far, far away from this chemical.

Avoiding single-use plastics might not be such a challenge, especially now when using less plastic is actually encouraged by many, but as it turns out, bottles are not the only containers that contain BPA.

It might be surprising but food cans are often just as laden with BPA. Tin food cans are normally lined with a plastic material which keeps anything inside from tasting metallic. For this reason, BPA-filled plastic is used to coat the inside of the can.

If you intend to avoid BPA completely, opt for glass or cardboard packaged goods only. These two materials are not plastic-derived so they do not have a chance of containing BPA. And let’s face it, using glass and paper only is probably far better for the environment.

  1. Gluten (or Gluten-free)

Gluten defines a group of proteins called glutelins and prolamins, that are found in some grains including wheat, spelt, and barely. Gluten is responsible for giving bread its classic light, airy, and puffy consistency that many know all too well.

Recently, gluten-free products have been popping up everywhere. Grocery store shelves, even conventional chains, are stocking their shelves with products that don’t contain gluten.

For those who are Celiac, this is good news. Finally, it has become a bit easier to protect oneself from the consumption of this allergen. Although Celiac disease does impact a number of individuals, it seems that gluten sensitivity is far more prevailing.

Gluten sensitivity is not a full-fledged allergy, rather a result of symptoms that are potentially triggered by the doughy substance. Regardless of your reason for staying away from gluten, if you search for products labeled as gluten-free, be sure to still check the ingredients.

Although gluten-free products definitely will not contain any gluten, they can still be bad for your health. In fact, just because something is gluten-free does not mean it is good for you. These products can still contain artificial ingredients, colorants, preservatives, and other chemicals, as well as other common allergens such as eggs, dairy, corn, nuts, and more.

If monitoring your health is your primary concern, always read labels before purchasing a product. If a label contains something you truly can’t pronounce, this could be a sign that it is not the best for your well-being.

  1. All-natural

‘All-natural’ might possibly be one of the scariest health food buzzwords for health-conscious individuals, due to the fact that the claim ‘natural’ isn’t actually regulated by the FDA, meaning that it can be used rather freely, even by companies who are not deserving of this title.

In fact, many companies do practice ‘green-washing’, a term that refers to products that are branded as being natural or green, when in reality they are far from it.

Normally, natural products will not contain preservatives, food colorants, artificial flavors, and so on, but just because a product is listed as ‘all-natural’ does not necessarily mean that it is healthy.

Natural products can still be packed-full of bad-for-you salts, fats, sugars, and more, which is why you should always check labels before buying anything if health is your number one priority when consuming food.

  1. Sugar-free

When a product has sugar-free written on the label, this may not mean exactly what one would think. You see, sugar-free just means that the product does not contain cane sugar in its formulation, but this does not mean that other sweeteners aren’t present.

In fact, sometimes sugar-free can be worse, especially if you are trying to avoid artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Acesulfame-K. In order to ensure the foods you are consuming are as pure as possible, check ingredient labels carefully.

For more natural sweetener options, you will want to see ingredients such as agave syrup, stevia, maple syrup, or honey listed on the label. As a general rule of thumb, keep in mind that ‘sugar-free’ does not automatically mean ‘no sugar’.

 

Final Thoughts on 8 Health Food Buzz Words and Their Meanings

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