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The search for mental clarity, emotional balance, and spiritual openness will makes it possible to develop your unique creative potentials. The sky is the limits.

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Sacred Truth Ep. 67: Magic Motherwort - calm and courage for your health

Sacred Truth Ep. 67: Magic Motherwort - calm and courage for your health

Let we share with you my very favorite plant for soothing, healing and helping when you need it most. It is Motherwort—Leonurus cardiaca. In the Chinese pharmacopeia it’s known as Yi Mu Cao, meaning “Lion's Tail.” A herb of the heart, this humble plant grows in waste lands. Motherwort is the most comforting herb I have ever found anywhere. It brings a sense of inner security and calm strength unequalled by anything, except perhaps a love affair of the deepest order—maybe not even that.   This wonderful herb has gained its name from the ancient practice of using it to reduce anxiety during pregnancy. The plant has good sedative properties— well validated by scientific experiment. It is able to calm the nervous system while at the same time acting as a tonic to the while body. Culpepper, who believed that motherwort belonged to the goddess Venus and to the astrological sign of Leo, wrote "There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapors from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry." I think this sums up the virtues of my beloved motherwort superbly.   Its leaves are full of mind-altering natural chemicals. Studies in China have shown that these decrease the levels of blood lipids and exert a regulating action on muscles like the womb and the heart, bringing peace in their wake. This is one of the reasons why, in addition to being used by women to ease hot flushes, banish insomnia, and restore elasticity to the walls of the vagina, it is an excellent herb for the treatment of many heart conditions in men. No wonder it’s the most physically and psychologically healing plant I know. This magical plant is also rich in alkaloids. It’s bitter as an infusion. So it can be easier to take as a tincture or make into a herbal vinegar. Take 10 to 25 drops of the tincture made from the fresh plant, or 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb vinegar as desired. A herb for all seasons, here are just a few of the gifts it can bestow upon you: Motherwort reduces fevers and is often used to treat illnesses with delirium. It is often used to treat lung issues like bronchitis and asthma, and is sometimes taken in conjunction with mullein. It calms nerves. In fact there is something so calming and balancing about motherwort that it is hard to describe if you have never experienced it. Used frequently it can relieve anxiety, uplift the nervous system, and relax tensions, while raising vitality. I often turn to it when I know I need to confront a situation that I believe is likely to be stressful. Motherwort can also minimize hot flushes and reduce their intensity, length, and frequency while helping to calm the dizziness or faintness that sometimes comes with them.  This is probably thanks to its ability to oxygenate the blood in both men and women, tonify the thyroid, liver, and heart, and invigorate circulation all round. For best results use it regularly for 12 weeks or longer. Although sometimes, 10 to 15 drops or so of the tincture in a little spring water can ease a hot flush while it’s happening. If you want to sleep peacefully and undisturbed, motherwort can be a good friend. It’s also useful if you awaken in the night with sweats and have trouble dropping off again. Take 10 to 20 drops of the tincture kept at the side of your bed with a glass of spring water and swallow some each time you wake up. It’s a natural diuretic as well. A little motherwort every few hours can reduce water retention. This is especially useful after a flight if your legs and feet have become swollen. As for clearing menstrual and uterine cramps if your menstrual flow is absent or light to moderate, I’ve never found anything more effective. Use 5 to 10 drops of the tincture in a little water every few minutes until they have gone then repeat as necessary. Prolonged use strengthens the muscles of the womb, and even makes it resistant to cramping in the future. Finally, in my own experience, this magical plant even seems to enhance women’s self esteem, would you believe? Ten to twenty drops of tincture of motherwort works wonders whenever you are feeling unsettled. Alternatively you can take 5 to 15 drops of the tincture every day for a month or two to stabilize emotions long term. It also strengthens the heart and helps you feel courageous even when the chips are down. There are a couple of important cautions in regard to using motherwort that you should know about. If you are taking blood-thinning drugs—and I sincerely hope you are not—then don’t use motherwort. Finally, if your menstrual flow is very heavy, motherwort could well make it heavier, so avoid it in this case. Meanwhile, I leave you with a wonderful Chinese belief from ancient times when there were many stories of both men and women whose water source was a stream flowing through the banks of motherwort: these people were believed to have lived 130 years or even longer.

Sacred Truth Ep. 68: End Depression

Sacred Truth Ep. 68: End Depression

Most of what we've been taught about depression and its causes is not valid. Most so called anti-depressant pharmaceuticals don’t work. And, if taken long term they can seriously undermine your health and screw up your metabolism so that it can become very difficult to unwind the mess. A mounting mass of evidence shows that antidepressants are no better than placebos when it comes to the benefits they have long thought to bestow. An amazing 20% of Americans over the age of 12 are still being stuffed full of antidepressant drugs as are older men and women who have often taken these drugs for years. One in 10 Americans still take antidepressants as well as one in four women in their 40s and 50s.  So do 13 percent of pregnant women.  Meanwhile doctors continue to prescribe them—especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) despite a growing number of studies showing that these drugs can also put a pregnant woman at risk of giving birth to a child with severe birth defects or autism. SSRIs work by increasing the levels of a brain chemical called serotonin, which plays a key role in mood. Your body produces serotonin and keeps it at a certain level, but SSRI drugs increase serotonin levels in the brain by blocking its re-absorption. Prozac was the first SSRI to appear on the market back in 1988. By 2005 SSRI pharmaceuticals had become the most prescribed drugs in the United States.  Side effects that have been shown to accompany their use include weight loss, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, erectile dysfunction and  inability to experience orgasm in both men and women. The false belief that that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain which can only be treated by using a drug to increase serotonin levels turns out to be untrue. So what is the truth? Recent research shows that most, if not all of the benefits to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and personality disorders are the results of a placebo effect—a patient’s belief that taking a potent pharmaceutical drug is what he or she must do. An excellent report in relation to the placebo effect was published not long ago in the journal Zeitschrift Für Psychologie which strongly confirms this. Similar reports going back to 2009 and before also support these findings. New research continue to reverse the notion that depression can be countered by conventional drug treatments, which rely on serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Just the opposite appears to be the case. “Serotonin can increase anxiety not decrease it as was previously assumed,” explains researcher Andreas Frick, in the Psychology Department at Uppsala University in Sweden.  A University of Montreal study published in the 2015 issue of JAMA showed that pregnant women who took antidepressants were 87% more likely to have a baby born with autism. So what can help combat depression? Some of the latest findings may surprise you. For instance, the right nutritional supplements can help banish the blues while improving your health all round. Here are a few tried and tested suggestions of natural origin that many people whom I have worked closely with on Cura Romana report have helped get them off pharmaceuticals and become depression free. Omega-3s are right at the top of the list. And most of us get nowhere near enough of these vital animal-based oils. Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Stoll was one of the first to write about the value of taking top-quality Omega-3 supplements to counter depression in his book “The Omega—Three Connection." How much Omega-3 oils with the important EPAs and DHAs do you need? Most healthy people get along well by taking between 250 and 500 mg a day. But there are good indications that a larger dose of 2,200 mg a day is much more effective in countering mental and emotional issues from schizophrenia and depression to bipolar disorders. It is essential that you take only a top quality Omega-3 product. These can be hard to come by since there are so many poor quality ones on the market. The one I recommend is Life Extension Omega Foundations Super Omega-3 EPA/DHA with Sesame Lignans & Olive Extract. Of course, if you are taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medications consult your health practitioner first. Other nutritional supplements which have shown to improve depression include SAMe, 5-HTP, Vitamin D3+K2, and Vitamin B-12 in particular. Every one of these nutrients is known to offer significant help.   They are well worth trying as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, which can be ineffective and even seriously dangerous to your wellbeing in the long term. Equally important is the way you eat. Cleansing your body is the first step to releasing blocked creative energy and restoring a biochemical balance that will wash your blues away. Begin a long-term way of eating based on REAL FOODS, not the packaged stuff they try to sell you in supermarkets. Choose fresh spray-free vegetables—many of them raw—and top quality proteins from wild fish, organic meat, free-range chicken, and eggs. Avoid all cow’s milk products, including milk itself, yogurt, and cheese. Butter is OK because it is a fat. It’s milk protein that tends to cause problems for people prone to depression. Explore sheep milk cheeses, and yogurts, goat milk products, or buffalo milk products—my favorites. Must important: Stop eating anything made with wheat or other grains and cereals, including pasta, breakfast cereals, breads, and biscuits. And make all processed convenience foods a thing of the past. A diet free of convenience foods releases you from the sort of metabolic disturbance that causes mood swings and depression. It was just such a diet—one in which at least half of the foods I ate were raw—that cleared my own deep depression. It frees your body and opens up your mind. You start to see life with a much broader view. Slowly you can begin to feel a sense of excitement each day with what you are doing. But be patient. It takes time for the transformation to happen. Week by week, feelings of depression and impossibility melt away like snow drifts in the warmth of a spring sunshine. You begin to experience your own natural energies and a balanced state of mind starts to emerge. More peaceful and centered, you come to see that you are actually able to do whatever it is you want to do. The body is a magnificent system capable of the most incredible regeneration and renewal. Once you learn to live on simple, pure, natural organic foods, this helps transform your whole being physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In effect, you discover who you are at the deepest level of your being, and come to live your life from there. I did it. So have thousands of others who never dreamed this could be possible. So can you. A human being is most certainly “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It’s time to discover this for yourself. See below for my suggested Omega-3 supplement. Life Extension Omega Foundations Super Omega-3

Sacred Truth Ep. 46: Aromatherapy Heals Body & Soul

Sacred Truth Ep. 46: Aromatherapy Heals Body & Soul

The power that floral essential oils can exert over mind and body has been known for centuries. For example, before Cleopatra sailed out to meet Marc Antony, she drenched the sails of her barge with the scent of jasmine—an aphrodisiac. He could not resist her. The faintest hint of a floral perfume can transport you back to a place in your memories, and evoke all the emotions that go with it. Why should something as ordinary as a scent have such a powerful effect upon you? It is because your sense of smell is governed by the limbic system—the most primitive part of your brain. The limbic system also governs your most intense emotions—joy, fear, desire, or rage. So an evocative scent has the power to reach into the deepest parts of your mind and body. When you smell any odor, you are reacting to volatile molecules that are wafting their way to odor receptors behind the bridge of your nose. From there, nerve impulses are carried to your limbic system. The chemical messages from the fragrance are then interpreted, and a response is sent by the hypothalamus to the rest of your body.   It was not until the 1920s that the extraordinary physical healing powers of essential oils began to be explored in depth. It was at this time that the birth of modern aromatherapy took place in the laboratory of a French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who became interested in the healing qualities of the natural essential oils that he used in his family’s perfume business. Then, one day Gattefosse burned his hand in a laboratory explosion and he immediately plunged his hand into a bowl of pure lavender oil. He was amazed to find how quickly the wound healed without even leaving a scar. It was Gattefosse who coined the word “aromatherapy,” in a 1928 scientific paper. Floral essential oils work from outside in. They impact your body and senses through your sense of smell and by absorption through your skin. When essential oils meet your human body, their molecules not only produce psychological responses like euphoria and increased alertness as well as relaxation but also induce direct and measurable pharmacological changes through your blood stream. They affect your hormones and glandular system, your metabolic processes, and your nervous system, and subtly induce healing on many levels. There are over 1000 aromatherapy oils on the market—about 30% of them derived from flowers. Each floral essential oil has its own distinct personality, which is sometimes quite different from its ‘soul energy,’ which comes through in flower essence healing. Each can be used singularly or in combination. If you have not yet experienced the blessings of floral essential oils in your life, you are in for a treat. Here are some of my favorite flowers, from which teas can be made and whose essential oils or absolutes can be used for a multitude of other purposes. Get to know their healing effects and their uses, then experiment with them in your own life. SACRED ESSENTIAL OILS To open to the abundance of the universe Rose Otto, Neroli, Lavender To clear unhelpful habits and thought patterns Carnation, Tuberose, Hyssop For increased confidence and self-worth Geranium, Rose Maroc, Ylang Ylang To release guilt Clary Sage, Jasmine, Linden Blossom To enhance the connection with your higher self Rose Maroc, Jasmine, Neroli Immerse yourself in a bath laced with essential oils. Breathe in the mind-altering aroma while you absorb the life-enhancing molecules through your skin. Don't disrupt the experience with perfumed soaps, shampoos, or body washes. If you need to get clean, shower first, then bask in the full aromatherapy experience. Once you emerge from your bath, let yourself enjoy the floral aura that you will carry with you for hours. The simplest method for taking an aromatherapy bath is to sprinkle a few drops of essential oil into your bath, swish it around so that the oil is well dispersed, then immerse yourself. Begin with only 2 drops of essential oil in a tub of water then gradually build up over a period of weeks to 4-7 drops. This may seem like a very small amount, but undiluted essences are extremely potent. More than this could irritate your skin. Also be aware that some florals stimulate while others sedate. For example, if you want a relaxing bath, choose an essential oil like lavender, which has a sedating effect, and use it in warm rather than hot water (somewhere between 28-35 degrees C). If you need invigoration, use a stimulating essential oil like neroli and take a shorter, hotter bath (around 35-39 degrees C). If you prefer a moisturizing bath, make your own bath oil blend by combining the following ingredients: To each 1-2 teaspoons of avocado oil or sweet almond oil, add 1 drop of a mild shampoo 2-5 drops of essential oil Shake the mixture in a small glass jar or bottle and add the blend to your bath. Experiment with your essential oils singly or in combination. Don’t use more than 3-5 drops of essential oil in total. Each has its own personality, and you will quickly learn which ones help you most and in which situations. Above all, have fun experimenting. Rediscover the ancient art of bathing that the Romans knew so well. Take time out to indulge your senses with a prolonged floral soak. It will benefit you in so many ways that it would be hard to list them all.

A Benevolent Bath

A Benevolent Bath

Allow an hour for the whole process of taking a delicious treat of a bath from beginning to end. Make sure you have everything you need - towel, loofa or hemp glove, and another towel to use as a headrest. Add essential oils to the water as the bath is filling, using about ten to fifteen drops total of either a single essence or of a mixture for a large bath. Each essence has a different effect on the mind and body (see below).  When you get into the bath, gently scrub yourself all over with a hemp glove or a loofa. Then just relax and soak for a few minutes, letting the heat penetrate your muscles.  Keep a cool cloth nearby to smooth over your face when needed. Let the essential oils work their wonders while you carry out a relaxing and waste-eliminating self-massage.  Water is the perfect medium for self-massage. The heat (remember not to have your bath too hot and stimulating) of the water works silent wonders, and it supports your body so that you have easy access to feet, legs, arms and torso while still remaining relaxed. When your bath is finished, lie down for ten minutes with an eye mask or a piece of dark fabric across your eyes and keep warm. the massage message Self-massage is nothing more than stroking, kneading, pushing and pressing your skin and muscles. Start with your feet. Grasp one foot between thumb and fingers and press in between the tendons, gently at first, then harder and harder, moving from the toes up towards the ankle. Then, using your fingertips and knuckles, go over the soles of your feet. Wherever you find a sore spot, work harder until you feel the discomfort melt beneath your hand. Now do your heel, grasping it between thumb and fingers and working around the area of the Achilles tendon. This is also a good time to make circles with your foot to loosen the ankle joint. Repeat this with the other foot, and then go on to your legs. Lift each leg in turn and deeply stroke the flesh on the back, from the ankle up to the knee. Then go back to the ankle again and repeat the same motions on the side and front of the calf. Keep working and, as you massage a little deeper with each stroke, you will gradually find that any tautness softens. Now go over your thighs with the same movement, and afterwards knead and squeeze around the knee area wherever there are trouble spots, just as you did on the feet. Now knead each thigh and hip. Then go on to your arms. Knead and squeeze every spot you can reach on your shoulders and neck, looking for sore spots and focusing on the areas between joints and muscles. Pay particular attention to the tops of shoulders, where most of us lock away our tension. Grasp this area in your thumb and fingers and insistently ease away any hardness you find there. Finally, go over your ribs, doing each side with its opposite hand. essence alchemy As part of the benevolent bath, choose essential oils not so much for what they can do for your skin as what they can do to expand your consciousness and lift your spirit. Whatever your mental state may be, it has an enchanting antidote from the world of flowers: Negative State Essential Oil Remedy anger: ylang ylang, rose, chamomile resentment: rose sadness: hyssop, marjoram, sandalwood mental fatigue: basil, peppermint, cypress, patchouli worry: lavender feeling jaded: neroli, melissa, camphor feelings of weakness: chamomile, jasmine, melissa irritability: frankincense, marjoram, lavender, chamomile physical exhaustion: jasmine, rosemary, juniper, patchouli anxiety: sage, juniper, basil, jasmine

Sacred Truth Ep. 49: Inflammation—Put Out the Fire

Sacred Truth Ep. 49: Inflammation—Put Out the Fire

The most dangerous damage your body ever has to handle is inflammation. When your body becomes inflamed this can trigger serious degenerative illnesses, from early aging and heart disease to diabetes, arthritis, food intolerance, and mental disorders. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection, injury, and tissue damage. It comes in two forms: Acute inflammation and chronic/ systemic inflammation, which spreads throughout your body. Acute inflammation is temporary, the purpose of which is to restore good tissue function as soon as possible. Your body creates inflammation as its defense against disturbing homeostasis in an attempt to prevent harm to surrounding tissues. Chronic inflammation, however, can be dangerous. It can turn into a festering fire that creates pain, illness, and disability. This is because your body reacts to chronic inflammation by triggering cellular and molecular distortions to pro-inflammatory immune cells that circulate throughout your body. This can bring damage to healthy areas like the linings of your blood vessels, as in arteriosclerosis, or your joint tissues in arthritis, or gut mucosa and diabetes. It may even act as a precursor to cancer. When it comes to the treatment of long-term illness—such as heart disease—savvy medical doctors now warn that we’ve been misled. It is inflammation in the arteries that is the real cause of arteriosclerosis and heart problems. Cholesterol can never line artery walls and cause heart attacks and strokes unless systemic inflammation is widespread in your body. So prescribing drugs to lower cholesterol and telling people to restrict saturated fats do not protect from heart disease as we’ve been told. In fact, statins, which the majority of cardiologists continue to prescribe for cholesterol, can seriously damage your health. Dwight Lundell, former Chief of Staff and Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital in Arizona, is one of many outspoken physicians in regard to this mistake. As he says, “We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority, often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong.” He continues, “I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years’ experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.” So, what are the causes of chronic inflammation in your body? The most common causes include: Exposure to chemical inhalants and pollutants, and electromagnetic exposure to cell phones, smart meters, and towers. Another is taking long-term courses of powerful drugs, from antibiotics to hormones, anti-depressants, analgesics, and sedatives, as well as drugs like statins and other pharmaceuticals, the remains of which can literally poison your body long term. Want to protect yourself from inflammation? Become aware of your possible exposure to these things and make changes to help protect you from possible causes. In many ways the simplest place of all to begin is by changing the way you eat, since the typical 21st century diet is right at the core of widespread chronic inflammation. Learn which foods are inflammatory in nature and which foods can help protect you from it. Then it’s time to throw out every one of the inflammatory foods that line your cupboard and your refrigerator, and forever change how you may have been eating. Foods that cause inflammation, which you want to avoid at any cost, are all kinds of sugars, regardless of how much they may be promoted as “good for you;” all artificial sweeteners, which are chemically dangerous to your body; and all GMO foods, which can literally be deadly. A large percentage of the population nowadays reacts badly to cow’s milk products—from the milk itself to cow’s yogurt and cheese. Buy goat, sheep or buffalo milk, yogurt, and cheese instead. Another category of foods that can be seriously inflammatory to the body are high-carbohydrate foods—breads, pasta, cakes, and biscuits made from common grains and cereals as well as all the common convenience foods that line our supermarket shelves. These are chock-full of colorants, flavor enhancers, and other chemicals that poison your body. And it goes without saying that you want to avoid all junk foods completely. Certain foods, herbs, spices, and supplements can help reduce inflammation and protect your body from it in the future. Organic dark green vegetables are high on the list: spinach, kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, broccoli, bok choy, beet greens, and asparagus are high on the list of protective vegetables. So are organic berries of all kinds, organic chicken, grass-fed lamb, beef, venison, wild salmon, and green-lipped muscles from New Zealand. Clearing inflammation from your body in whatever form it occurs is likely to be the very best action you can take to help you live a long and healthy life, during which you look and feel your very best at every age.

Stress? What Stress?

Stress? What Stress?

What goes up must come down. These words should be engraved on everyone’s brain, particularly those of us who live full and busy lives. We worry about stress, wonder why we don’t do anything about it, and wish it would go away. Seldom do we even stop to ask what it is. If stress gets out of hand it can wear you down, ruin your looks and destroy your peace of mind. Yet stress is the spice of life, the exhilaration of challenge and excitement, the ‘high’ of living with heavy demands. The big secret about stress is that it is not what appears to be causing it that does the damage. It’s how you respond to it that does that. Change your attitude to stress and you can make it work for you rather than against you. In short, chill out. Stress is hard to pin down: fatigue, overwork, loss of blood, physical injury, grief and joy can all produce stress, but none of them accurately describes what it is. The word stress comes from the language of engineering meaning ‘any force which causes an object to change’. Austrian-Canadian scientist, Hans Selye, first coined the word stress in relation to humans back in the 1930s. In human terms it refers to your body’s response to physical, chemical, emotional or spiritual forces that ask you to adapt to them. Selye discovered a typical physical reaction to stress which he called the General Adaptation Syndrome. Its function is to keep your body in a steady state, known as homeostasis. Every stressor you come into contact with threatens to destroy this steady state. The General Adaptation Syndrome has three states: alarm, where the body becomes alert; resistance, where all systems go in order to meet the challenge and protect you from harm; and exhaustion, which happens if stress lasts for too long and the body’s weakest systems begin to break down causing illness, chronic fatigue, even death. you are unique Everyone responds differently to stress. This depends to some degree on your conditioning, and on the amount of adaptive energy you were born with. This is why some people seem to breeze through stressful situations while others quickly reach exhaustion. Selye believed that once adaptive energy is used up, nothing can be done to restore it. We now know that this is not altogether true, but adaptive energy is certainly precious. This makes it imperative to examine carefully how yours is being used and if it is being burnt up unnecessarily. It also makes it important to remember that what goes up must come down. For making stress work for you means being able to switch off at will. This is something that most of us have to learn to do. Learn to move easily between stress and relaxation, and you will begin to experience your life as a satisfying and enriching challenge like the ebb and flow of the tides. Then you will never again have to worry about getting stuck in a high-stress condition which saps your energy, distorts your view of the world, and can lead to premature aging and chronic illness. Humans are natural seekers of challenge. Primitive man faced the daily challenge of survival – when in danger, the body reacted instantaneously to provide the energy needed to fight or flee, then relaxed again when the danger passed. We may no longer need to worry about meeting a saber-toothed tiger, but we still react to stress with the same physical responses – raised blood pressure and breathing, a rush of adrenaline throughout the body. The trouble is that modern life, with its noise, quick pace, social pressures, environmental poisons, and our tendency to sedentary, mental work, presents many of us with almost constant threat situations. This is particularly true in the business world where someone, instead of moving rhythmically in and out stressful situations, remains in the danger state for long periods, with all the internal physical conditions that accompany it. balance it The automatic, or involuntary, functions of your body are governed by the autonomic nervous system. It looks after the changes in the rate at which your heart beats. It regulates your blood pressure by altering the size of veins and arteries. It stimulates the flow of digestive juices and brings on muscular contractions in the digestive system to deal with the foods you take in. It makes you sweat when you are hot and is responsible for the physical changes in your body that come with sexual arousal. This autonomic system has two opposing branches: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic branch is concerned with energy expenditure - particularly the energy involved with stress and meeting challenges. It spurs the heart to beat faster, makes you breathe hard, encourages you to sweat, raises your blood pressure, and sends blood to the muscles to get you ready for action. The other branch of the autonomic nervous system - the parasympathetic - is concerned with rest and regeneration rather than action. The parasympathetic branch slows your heartbeat, reduces the flow of air to your lungs, stimulates the digestive system, and helps relax your muscles. When you are in a state of stress, the sympathetic nervous system comes into play. The parasympathetic branch is dominant when you are relaxed. A good balance between the two is the key to making stress work for you. Balance makes it possible for you to go out into the world to do, to make, to create, to fight, and to express yourself, as well as to retire into yourself for regeneration, rest, recuperation, enjoyment, and the space to discover new ideas and plant the seeds of future actions. make stress work for you The secret is getting the right balance between stress and relaxation, between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. Unfortunately, few of us get it right by accident - we have to learn. Take a look at the kind of stress you think you are under, eliminate unnecessary stressors, and discover new ways of working with stress. Second, begin to support your body physically with food, exercise and natural stress relievers to enable you to face stress with ease. Finally, learn to relax fully so that you can find the right balance between stress and relaxation and keep it. Not only will this help your body stay in balance and increase your level of overall vitality, it can bring you a sense of control over your life that is hard to come by any other way.

How Desire Becomes Reality

How Desire Becomes Reality

In my last post, we looked at unconscious image-making which prevents us from experiencing authentic freedom and undermines our sense of self. Now let’s flip destructive image making-on its head. It’s time to learn the art of conscious image-making It can improve health, heighten self esteem, and even forge the person whom you long to become in the future. All you need is a simple notebook in which to record your intentions, goals and experience plus 15 to 20 minutes a day to practice the art. This can be a lot of fun. POWERS OF THE MIND Creative imagery is the deliberate, repeated use of specific mental images, while in a deeply relaxed state or meditative state, to bring about change for the better. Just how creative imagery works has never been fully defined. It does, however, appear that the images one chooses to focus on when repeatedly held in the mind are able to affect one's body, emotions, and mind through the autonomic nervous system. Some of the process, at least, is explainable in biological and energetic terms. When a thought or image is kept in the mind of someone in a state of deep relaxation, his or her brain shows neuronal activity in both right and left hemispheres. Nerve fibres leading from the cerebral hemisphere through the hypothalamus can directly affect the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland as well as the adrenal cortex. Everyone has had experience of this image-making to some extent in day-to-day life. For instance, if you keep a frightening image in your mind's eye—say of a ghost, a fantastic monster, or a situation you want at all costs to avoid—your body will respond via the autonomic nervous system with a racing heartbeat, perspiration, dryness in the mouth, or gooseflesh. How strong your reactions are to the fearful thought depends entirely on how clear the image is. Similarly, when you hold a clear, relaxing image of perhaps a spring meadow or a person you love, your body responds with relaxed muscles, lowered heartbeat and blood pressure, and generally pleasant and passive bodily sensations. Researchers have found that through this mind-body connection we can exercise a great deal of control over our bodies and our behaviour simply by choosing images to focus on and using them regularly. In fact, this kind of deliberate visualization is the technique behind the ability yogis demonstrate in raising and lowering their bodily temperature or heartbeat at will, going for long periods of time without food, and performing extrasensory tasks. TRUST THE GAME Although the mechanism of creative imagery is highly complex, putting it to use is simple. For just as it is unnecessary for you to know how the nervous system, in conjunction with the brain and muscles, makes it possible for you to pick up an apple and take a bite out of it in order to perform the action, so it is not necessary to understand biological theories about creative imagery in order to practice it to your benefit. The imaging mechanism of your brain works automatically; all you have to do is provide it with images that are useful to you and let it do its job. Nor do you have to worry about whether or not you believe in creative imagery or whether or not you can do it well enough for it to work for you. If there is a goal that you want to achieve, you need simply to visualize it—again and again, at least twice a day; the rest is automatic, so long as your goal is something you consciously consider to be feasible. It would be absurd, for instance, to lie down for ten minutes each morning and afternoon and visualize yourself as an eagle. You might improve your imagination no end, you might also develop a great empathy for eagles, but it unlikely that you would develop wings or a beak. Nor need you worry about success or failure. As Maxwell Maltz says in his book Psycho-Cybernetics, "You must learn to trust your creative mechanism to do its work and not `jam it' by becoming too concerned or too anxious as to whether it will work or not, or by attempting to force it too much by conscious effort. You must let it work, rather than make it work. This trust is necessary because your creative mechanism operates below the level of consciousness." The only real "trust" needed for it to work is that which makes it possible for you to spend time repeatedly practising creative imagery. You do this by letting yourself go into a state of deep relaxation or meditation and then repeating your chosen image again and again over a sufficient length of time for it to take hold in your unconscious and begin producing results. You certainly don't have to trust it in the sense of believing in it for it to work. It will work whether you believe it or not. Just be consistent in using the technique regularly. PREPARE THE WAY Begin by learning to just let go. Creative imagery is an inner state of mind. To visualize effectively you need to put yourself into a calm, relaxed state in which mental images flow easily. Generally the more relaxed you are, the more successful your visualizations will be. This kind of relaxation is something that is learned gradually by practice. Even if you feel in the beginning that you are hardly relaxed at all, you will get benefits from your imaging and this will become progressively more true as you repeatedly practice visualization. Begin by lying down, or sitting in a comfortable chair, with your back well supported. Use a simple practice such as zazen or gentle, quiet deep breathing to let go of daily concerns and enter your private world. When you feel yourself quietly calm resting in your own inner space, there are several things you can do: In this space, you can examine in a new light any question that has been bothering you. You have access to the deeper layers of your mind where many answers can be found, provided you are willing to ask the questions simply and then just wait in stillness for the answer to come. This place is also where you can become aware of your belief systems and bring them to consciousness so that you can examine them in a detached, objective way and see whether they are working for you or not. You can then decide what you want to keep and what your want to leave behind. It is a place where you can learn to listen to the sound of your inner voice. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. This inner voice can guide you to where you are going next and tell you what you are about. It is a place where you can come to know yourself for who you really are, quite apart from roles and habitual assumptions you have always had about yourself. Most important of all in bringing about change, you can use this inner space to practise creative imagery. Go through your relaxation technique until you enter your inner space. Now you are ready to begin visualizing. You can do this in two ways: verbally, by simply repeating over and over a few words that describe the image, or visually, by simply seeing yourself as already having become what you want to be. For some, who at first experience difficulty in visualizing, the verbal method works better; for others, the visual method is more successful. Try them both and see which you prefer. Later on, after you are familiar with the use of creative imagery, you will probably want to use both. FOCUS YOUR DESIRE Let's say you pick as your goal the desire "I want to have more energy." Using the verbal method, turn the wish into a positive statement. It becomes "Every day I am more and more energetic and well." It is important that your goal be phrased in this way. It has to be in the present tense—not "One day I will be better" or "I hope that I will be more energetic," but Every day I am more and more energetic and well. It is happening now. Your subconscious mind, which holds the power to bring about change, does not function in terms of time and space as your conscious mind does. It understands only the simplest and most direct instructions, and when they are given it works as if they had already occurred or are occurring now. The words you have chosen become your image. You put them to work by simply repeating the words over and over again silently to yourself while you are in the deeply relaxed state in your inner space. It is the constant replaying of the message day after day twice a day that works best, not how long you do it each time you relax. One convenient way of doing it is to repeat the directions ten times in each session, moving one of your fingers with each repetition until you have been through all ten. Then you simply say to yourself the same, "I am now going to come out of my inner space...(by counting backwards from three, etc.) and open your eyes. The best time for most women to practice creative visualization is in bed at night just before they fall asleep, and then again in the morning just before they get up. But really you can do it anytime—whenever you can find ten minutes to yourself in the middle of the day, or in the middle of the night if you awaken, or during meditation. The important thing is to do it regularly twice a day every day. You needn't worry about doing it wrong, either. Because, in truth, there is no wrong way, and every supposed wrong in the way you are doing the technique will gradually put itself right with practice. WATCH IT HAPPEN If you prefer, you can use a visual way instead, or you can use a combination of both. Picking the same goal, I want to have more energy, go through your relaxation technique. When you are at the inner space, instead of repeating words let your mind play with the image of your goal as if it had actually come about already, almost like a daydream. In other words, see yourself moving through your day, relating to people, doing your work, playing games, all the while full of vitality and bounce. Watch yourself in your imagination and enjoy the ease with which you do things that once seemed difficult or tiring. Notice the glow of your skin, how well you look; see the vivacity in the way you speak and move. Watch yourself and enjoy it. The more of it you let yourself imagine and the more you enjoy your imaginings, the stronger will be the images you are creating and the more quickly they will become reality. But as with the verbal instructions, always keep your images in the present as if they are actually happening now and not as if they might happen in the future or are something you would like to see happen. You may find at some point that something or someone is interfering with your image. For instance, you might find that as you watch yourself moving about energetically through the day in your mind's eye, another figure appears—say an old woman—who speaks to you. Perhaps she says something like, "You silly girl, if you don't slow down you know you will exhaust yourself or make yourself ill." Or, "Why are you pretending to be full of energy when you know that you are really tired?" and so on. Pause for a moment and take a look at the figure. Who is she? Your mother? A friend who tends to be negative about everything you try? The voice of a belief system from inside you which, without your being aware of it, has been telling you for years that you are tired? Answer the figure back. Tell her quietly but firmly in your mind, "No, you are wrong. I am well and I have lots of energy. I also know how to use it wisely. I will rest and look after myself when I need to, I will eat well, I will enjoy what I do. I will be happy with my vitality." Then go on with your visualization. Unexpected intrusions like this while you are visualizing are often very useful, for they help make you aware of belief systems and notions that may have been unconsciously impeding your progress towards a goal. Then, when you have practised your visualization for, say, five or ten minutes, tell yourself you are going to count backwards from three and open your eyes. A FEW TRICKS TO HELP In the beginning, when you are just starting to explore the power of creative imagery, it is a good idea to pick only one goal at a time and work on it for several weeks or months until it is being progressively realized before taking on another thing you would like to change. The technique of keeping a journal is very useful in recording your progress, but even more important is keeping a record of insights and experiences you come upon while practising the deep relaxation and visualisation techniques. The information and insights they turn up for everyone are invariably rich. Many times something you record today which seems not particularly useful now will have a message of immediate importance to you three months from now. Finally, there is one very simple goal that I find particularly useful because it covers all areas of one's life and you can use it over and over again, year after year, with benefit. It is, "Every day I am more and more myself. My life grows richer and richer." “Practice makes perfect,” the saying goes. It most certainly does but never treat your practice as a chore. Let it be fun. When you do everything happens faster and with greater ease.

Natural Mood Helpers For Stress, anxiety And Depression. Alternatives to Antidepressants

Natural Mood Helpers For Stress, anxiety And Depression. Alternatives to Antidepressants

In our vastly overmedicated society, a mind-boggling 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled every year. Over the course of one decade, their use has doubled—they are now the most popular class of drugs in the US. Yet they are far from the miracle drugs many believe them to be. Not only do they carry the risk of seriously dangerous side effects. Many trials have suggested they are no more, and perhaps even less, effective than placebos—mere sugar pills. In light of all this, it would be a mistake to ignore the safe, effective help for anxiety and depression provided by nature, which comes in the form of some wonderful herbs and supplements. It’s vital that you become aware of these natural alternatives in case you, or one of your loved ones, are in need of the remarkable healing they can bring. Natural Remedies For Depression - Banish The Blues There are many causes of depression—some are of the body and some of the psyche. I don’t think you can separate the two. Just as body and mind feed each other in producing the dark, seemingly endless blues which can set in at any period of your life, the herbs you call on for help will improve both body and spirit. When you feel depressed, you can feel anxious as well. Many of the plants which are effective in lifting the blues also help to clear fear and anxiety. Here are a couple of the best. St John’s Wort Known botanically as Hypericum perforatum, St John’s Wort is possibly the best herbal antidepressant nature has to offer. Its Latin name means ‘over an apparition’—a reference to the belief that a mere whiff of St Johns Wort will banish any evil spirit. Used since the time of the Greeks and Romans to treat nerve-related disorders, it is now the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in Germany. This makes good sense when you look at the research: At least 23 randomized clinical trials have shown that this plant is just as effective as standard antidepressant drugs, if not moreso. It’s earned its name as “nature’s answer to Prozac”, but can be used without fear of the dangerous side effects that pharmaceuticals bring. How to use The bright yellow flowers of St John’s Wort contain a red oil called hypericin which is antiviral and probably mood enhancing. Many studies show that it is whole plant extracts, however, rather than hypericin alone, that have the best anti-depressant effects. You can pick the flowers, leaves and stems of St John’s Wort while the plant is in flower. Dry them quickly, as you want to preserve the red oil in the flowers. To make tea, use 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water. Steep for 10-15 minutes, strain, and drink 3 times a day. One of the most effective ways to use St John’s Wort for depression is as a tincture. Take 1 teaspoon of St John’s Wort tincture in a little water 3 times a day. It should be taken for at least a month before results can be expected. A lucky few people, however, respond right away. Nature's Tranquilizer The drug valium takes its name from a plant. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) was the primary herbal sedative used on both sides of the Atlantic before the advent of barbiturate sleeping pills. It is a safe and well-tested herbal remedy with a smell like dirty old socks. But don’t let that put you off since valerian is a powerful herb for inducing safe sleep – more potent than hops or camomile. You can take valerian in a couple of ways. I like the tincture best – 10 to 20 drops in a little water before bedtime or in the middle of the night when you awaken. Alternatively you can take a couple of capsules of the dried root. Valerian in lower doses is equally useful when your nerves feel ‘shot’, even during the day. It has the remarkable ability to enhance your ability to deal with stress and bring you stamina while it calms. Very occasionally, and only to a very few people, valerian will cause a hangover in the morning, if this happens to you lower the dose or try a different herb. Sam-E Short for S-adenosyl methionine, Sam-E was discovered in Italy in 1952. It is not actually a herb, but an amino acid, which occurs naturally in our bodies when we are in good health. However it easily becomes depleted by stress, illness and deficiencies. Though it has been popular for treating depression in Europe since 1975, it has largely remained unknown elsewhere in the world—that is, until recently, when it became available in the US. It’s still unknown exactly how it works to lift depression. One hypothesis suggests that it can increase the availability of two neurotransmitters that regulate our mood: serotonin and dopamine. Studies repeatedly find in its favor compared with pharmaceuticals and placebo. (You may be interested to read this 2002 analysis of depression trials by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality) Sam-E is especially recommended for those who have tried and not responded to traditional prescription antidepressants. Help From Omegas Last but not least, there is ever growing evidence to demonstrate the importance of fatty acids in the diet to guard against depression. In particular, the levels of omega-3 in the blood of depressed individuals was found to be significantly lower than those of non-depressed people. This is in addition to the wealth of other well-documented benefits that omega-3s bestow. Yet in the United States alone, it is estimated that over 90% of adults are deficient in this essential fatty acid. Therefore, adding a good quality omega-3 supplement to your diet (see recommendations below) is one simple and effective measure you can take to bolster your mental and overall wellbeing. LESLIE RECOMMENDS I have tested all of the products that follow, both personally and with others who wanted to leave behind antidepressant drugs in favor of natural alternatives. I have also listed below what I believe to be the best brand you can buy in the case of each product. Valerian Root Liquid Phyto-Caps - Gaia Herbs' patented technology delivers a concentrated full spectrum alcohol-free liquid extract in a 100% vegetarian capsule. Extra Strength Liquid Phyto-Caps For Ultimate Support of Restful Sleep 100% Vegetarian A Dietary Supplement Not to be used during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs, please consult with your doctor Order Gaia Herbs-Valerian Root from iherb Omega 3-6-9 Essential Fatty Acids in Hexane Free Nutritional Oils A balanced blend of two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (and their derivatives) necessary for many body functions: Omega-3 oil from Flax Seed and Canola, and Omega-6 oil (GLA) from Primrose and Black Currant. Oleic Acid, an Omega-9 oil from Canola and Flax Seed, is a monounsaturated fat not considered "essential" but does play beneficial roles in human health. Order Now Foods - Omega 3-6-9, 1000 mg from iherb Flora, St. John's Wort Extract A Wild-grown Full-Spectrum Extract. Flora's premium St. John's Wort is prepared in the traditional manner using freshly gathered wild-grown St. John's Wort flowers. They are sun-infused in extra-virgin olive oil for 1,000 hours to maximize extraction of the full-spectrum active principles into the oil. Flora's St. John's Wort can help reduce the effects of mild depression, anxiety, and nervous tension caused by daily stress. Order Flora, St. John's Wort Extract from iherb Nature's Bounty, SAM-e The body makes SAM-e from the amino acid methionine. However, you may not be able to obtain sufficient methionine levels simply by ingesting food. In addition, because of age or other factors, levels of SAM-e can fluctuate or decline. Supplementation with SAM-e is the easiest way to increase intake. The enteric coating helps the breakdown of SAM-e occur in the small intestine. In addition, the enteric coating is designed to protect SAM-e from moisture and serve as a protective barrier so that SAM-e can be absorbed where it can provide you with the greatest benefits. Order Nature's Bounty, SAM-e from iherb ORDERING FROM IHERB.COM: Get $5 OFF your first order. They ship all over the world very cheaply, and their products are the cheapest and best in the world. Get your order sent to you via DHL. I use them for almost everything no matter where I am.

Herbal Sleep Secrets

Herbal Sleep Secrets

Your body thrives on sleep. It is while you are peacefully slumbering that your body is busily repairing the damage the day has done. Your body’s cells including your skin regenerate and rejuvenate themselves during sleep. When you haven’t had enough sleep your face lets you know about it as soon as you look in the mirror next morning—dull eyes, dull lips and a dull complexion. Deep, regular sleep can do more to enhance your wellbeing as well as your good looks than the most expensive creams and potions on the market. NO SLEEPING PILLS There are no hard and fast rules about how much sleep you should get. Some people need a full eight hours. Others thrive on six. The better your diet—the higher it is in fresh fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods—and the more exercise you get daily, the less time you are likely to need for sleep. What matters most is the quality of your sleep. Sleeping deeply does not mean drugging yourself into oblivion. In Britain alone 50 million prescriptions are written for sleeping pills each year. These drugs taken regularly can bring about dementia Alzheimer’s, depression and mental disorders. They also suppress vital rapid-eye-movement or REM phases of sleep. This produces psychological repression. Herbs offer a far safer alternative to drugs without having to pay the pipe with side effects or morning ‘hangovers’. There are three medically recognised types of insomnia—transient, acute and chronic. Transient insomnia lasts from a few days to a few weeks. It is usually linked to something specific—a worrying event or an illness. In acute insomnia your body has learned poor sleep patterns over a month or more and just keeps repeating them over and over again. Both these types of insomnia can be greatly helped by herbs. Chronic insomnia—when it has lasted more than six months—needs more help than short-term remedies can supply. The underlying reason for your inability to slumber peacefully—be it physical or emotional—needs to be identified and addressed. NATURE’S BOUNTY The drug valium takes its name from a plant: Valerian Valeriana officinalis was the primary herbal sedative used on both sides of the Atlantic before the advent of barbiturate sleeping pills. It is a safe and well-tested herbal remedy with a smell like dirty old socks. But don’t let that put you off since valerian is a powerful herb for inducing safe sleep. You can take valerian in a couple of ways. I like the tincture best—10 to 20 drops in a little water before bedtime or in the middle of the night when you awaken. Alternatively you can take a couple of capsules of the dried root. Valerian in lower doses is equally useful when your nerves feel ‘shot’, even during the day. It has the remarkable ability to enhance your ability to deal with stress and bring you stamina while it calms. Occasionally, and only to a very few people, valerian will cause drousiness in the morning. If this happens to you lower the dose or try a different herb. SIGN OF THE CROSS Passionflower Passiflora incarnata is a climbing plant with extraordinarily beautiful flowers. It has a blissful sedative effect on the body. Passionflower is one of the world’s most useful plants if you wrestle with nervous tension. It can be particularly helpful to women around the time of menopause. Not as strong as valerian in its actions, passiflora is more calming than sedating. As such it is a great alternative to tranquillising drugs. But it is a personal favourite for sleep. I even like the taste. Use 10-20 drops of the tincture in water or take two capsules of the dried extract up to four times a day when you need it. As an anti-stress herb many people like to take passion flower throughout the day in small doses to calm nerves and make everything easier. There is an excellent organic passion flower tea too. GLORIOUS POPPY The Latin name is Eschscholzia californica. California poppy has been used for thousands of years by Native Ameicans to calm anxiety, relieve pain and induce sleep. To assure optimal extraction of bioactive compounds, the plants need to be hand-harvested while in full flower then taken directly to the laboratory and extracted while still fresh and succulent. It’s best taken as a tincture. Researchers tellnus that this plant has anti-depressant properties, is an excellent gentle sedative, gentles pain, calm’s restlessness, counters insomnia, and helps establish equilibrium without any narcotic effect. It is my very favorite anti-stress plant. WELL KEPT SECRET You can use the flowers from the hop plant, Humulus lupulus, together with other remedies as a treatment for everything from indigestion to agitated nerves. Like valerian, hops has a pronounced sedative effect but it is a far milder remedy. Unlike valerian, hops smell sweet and you can use them without worrying about side-effects. You can take hops in the form of a tincture too. But by far the best way for sleep—particularly good for people who awaken in the middle of the night and have trouble going back to sleep—is to drink hops tea. Make it before you go to bed by steeping a handful of flowers for 10 minutes in hot water. Strain it and allow it to cool. Put the tea—sweetened with stevia if you like—by the side of your bed so you can drink it should you awaken in the night. It can also be a good idea to use a little pillow stuffed with dried hops blossoms. Put it under your neck when you go to bed or if ever you awaken at night. Traditional Medicinals make a gentle mixture of hops, catnip, chamomile and passion flower tea called Organic Night Night. FUNCTIONAL AND FUN TO MAKE Herb pillows are small cushions filled with fragrant, sleep-inducing herbs, that you can tuck under your normal pillow or keep near you while you sleep. Once you have stuffed your pillow don’t sew it up too tightly so you can replace the herbs as as often as you wish. If you keep it inside another pillow case you will easily keep it clean. Herbs for relaxation include camomile, thyme, lavender, catmint and rosemary, but my favourite pillows include a high proportion of dried hops. A few drops of essential oil of camomile will help with sleeplessness, geranium will relive anxiety and lavender irritation. Sprinkling with a little orris root powder will help preserve the mixture. PERFECT BLISS Create a sleep sanctuary – somewhere you will enjoy going to rest and sleep. Don’t have a television in the room and as far as possible avoid noise and light disturbance. If you awaken in the night, don’t turn on the lights. Research has shown that 15 minutes of light in the night can affect levels of melatonin in the body and make it difficult to get back to sleep. A WORD TO THE WISE: Never drive, drink alcoholic beverages or engage in activities requiring mental alertness while taking calming herbal products. Consult a healthcare provider prior to using any herb or plant if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking barbiturates, sedative drugs or other medications. TINCTURE OF VALERIAN Eclectic Institute Organic Valerian Fresh, Organic Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root. Organic grape alcohol content: 45%. Fresh Herb Strength: 1:1. Buy Eclectic Institute Organic Valerian ORGANIC VALERIAN CAPSULES Eclectic Institute, Valerian, Rhizome & Roots Harvested Fresh & Flash Frozen for Optimal Quality Freeze-Dried for Ultimate Potency Buy Eclectic Institute, Valerian, Rhizome & Roots PASSION FLOWER TINCTURE Eclectic Institute, Passion Flower Organic Fresh, ORGANIC Passion Flower (Passiflora spp.) flower and leaf. ORGANIC alcohol content: 30% Filtered water. Fresh Herb Strength: 1.1 Buy Eclectic Institute, Passion Flower Organic PASSION FLOWER ORGANIC CAPSULES Eclectic Institute, Passion Flower 100% fresh freeze-dried ingredients, fresh freeze-drying maintains the biologically active constituents for highest potency and action. Buy Eclectic Institute, Passion Flower PASSION FLOWER TEA ORGANIC Gaia Herbs, Sleep & Relax, RapidRelief Herbal Tea Conditions that come rapidly can go rapidly when you give your body the right support. Gaia Herbs' RapidRelief products deliver results fast so you can get back to living life. Buy Gaia Herbs, Sleep & Relax, RapidRelief Herbal Tea NIGHT TEA ORGANIC Traditional Medicinals, Organic Nighty Night The use of passionflower, hops and chamomile for restlessness and mild sleeping difficulties is supported by clinical data and by traditional use. Buy Traditional Medicinals, Organic Nighty Night

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Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

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