The Care and Keeping of a Good Day!

True Confessions: I’ve experienced recurrent bouts of severe depression since early adulthood. It hit for the first time when I was a junior in college. Most likely kicked off due to a sports injury which temporarily sidelined my collegiate track career. Of course, that was just the surface reason, the deeper issue being my plans being completely disrupted by things outside of my control (my body breaking down due to overuse). Ever since then some years are better than others, but depression is a constant bete noire in my life.  I’ve never been able to completely eradicate it.. It crouches in the corner ready to pounce if I am not on top of it. 

Every person must do intense research and decide the matter for themselves. 

I refuse medication because I actually read the inserts of medications that are recommended to me.  I long ago decided that the temporary relief of depression (most SSRI only provide relief for a short amount of time) are not worth the risks.  I’ve seen what those medications have done to friends and that path is not for me. Lastly, I am from a family that typically eschews modern pharmaceuticals because they “fix” one thing and break two others. I personally like my kidneys, liver and almost all bigpharma products don’t play nice with those organs.  And though my brain often turns on me I know what it is capable of when it is firing on all cylinders and so mostly like it too. And with no trust fund, no husband, and senior citizen parents, it’s kinda all I got.

Depression is not the issue, depression is a symptom or an expression of the issue it is the warning bell, to suppress the warning bell is not to fix the problem, it is to create a bigger one somewhere else. If the fire alarm goes off and you stuff cotton in your ears or you unplug it because it is disturbing your peace, don’t be surprised when your house burns down.

It is my strong belief that my depression is due less to chemical imbalances in the brain and more to living in a patriarchal, capitalistic, violent, domineering, monotheistic, avaricious, anti-life and living culture. Coupled with my idealistic, perfectionistic nature that refuses to be content with a life that does not precisely live up to the vision I have set for it. In short, my depression is mostly situational. My life looks like how I want it to be, no depression, when it does not live up to my expectations, severe depression.  Knowing this only helps slightly.  Over the years I’ve found coping mechanisms that have helped tremendously. WHEN I PRACTICE THEM. Too often I don’t, when I don’t; I pay the price.  If you also suffer from depression, lethargy, and anxiety perhaps the following tips will help you as well:

The Care and Keeping of a Good Day

1. Have you made a sincere effort to connect with the divine? Either by meditation, prayer, communing with nature or the reading of sacred texts. Did you start your day this way? Or have you scheduled and blocked out time for this important activity? Or is it routinely an afterthought?

2. Have you practiced gratitude? Made a list of what you are grateful for? Called someone to say thank you, or written a thank you note?

3. Have you selfcared? Taken a nap, taken time for your hobby? Journaled? Exercised? Taken the time to truly nurture your body with healthy chemical free food?

4. Have you reviewed your goals and life vision? Do you have goals and a life vision that you are excited about and have the confidence to pursue?

5. Have you done something kind for others? Your family, your community, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbors, the elderly that are in your circle?

6. Do you have something in the near future to look forward to? A vacation, recreational activity, reconnection with an old friend.

7. Has it been too long since you’ve ruthlessly edited? Commitments, things, entertainment, and lifestyle choices including people in your life that no longer fit who and what you are and your life priorities.

8. Did you do at least one fun thing today? Even if it was only fifteen minutes of fun and joy? No? Is joy, fun and delight even important to you? Do you think you don’t deserve it? You don’t have time?  If so, what kind of life have you created where you don’t even have 15 minutes for fun? 

If you regularly do all these things and on balance your mood, life, and outlook has not improved. Then deeper work is probably in order. You may want to start with an in depth reading of the following: Mind Renewal: A series of short articles on Depression.

To your health, XO,
Shalina Nicohl Rankin

November Special Gift Certificates

Did you know that experiences are considered the most memorable gifts? Why not gift your friends and family a unique bodywork experience? Give them the gift of the ancient healing tool of Reflexology.

Gift Certificates

Did you know that experiences are considered the most memorable gifts? Why not gift your friends and family a unique bodywork experience? Give them the gift of the ancient healing tool of Reflexology.

Eat Your Weedy Wonderland

It is the season of “weeds”. Not just dandelions, but violets*, purple dead nettle, and cleavers. What should you do with your weeds? Well you should eat them of course!** Nature shows us the way and the timing. When the weeds arrive, spring is here and so is the time to lighten up, and release from our body what harms us. Time to “detox”.

Funny that detoxing has gotten a bad rap of late and labeled as unnecessary, not real, or woo-woo. However, there is no argument that our environment, including our food and water, is increasingly filled with substances that are poisonous and carcinogenic.  As we ingest these substances the body tries to eliminate or mitigate the harm the best it can in a variety of ways. Skin irritations like eczema and rosacea are one way our bodies release allergens and toxins. When we’re unable to properly eliminate toxins via our skin and other elimination channels, they are deposited throughout the body. Sometimes in a desperate attempt to protect us the body will even grow tumors around toxins to seal them off from the rest of the system. Also, fatty deposits are magnetized toward heavy metals and other toxins. Making it harder to lose weight. Many medical professionals now believe the increased prevalence of autoimmune diseases are directly linked to our increasingly toxic environment. Scientific research is starting to back up this theory. A recent study concluded that 70 percent, of autoimmune disorders are due to environmental factors, including toxic chemicals, dietary components, gut dysbiosis (leaky gut), and infections. Only 30 percent is genetics! Heavy metals, pesticides, mold and other mycotoxins seem to be the main culprits.

And How Does Eating Cleavers and the Like Help?

In two main ways. Supporting our lymphatic system and protecting us from free radicals.

Dandelions, red dead nettle, cleavers, violets and most wild edibles are very high in vitamin c. Vitamin c is a powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune booster. It binds viral waste matter in the bloodstream and escorts it out of the body. It cleans up oxidative stress caused by heavy metal toxicity. Its vital to tissue repair and adrenal function. It also helps prevent  high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.

In addition, these edibles have powerful lymph stimulating properties. Our lymphatic system filters out toxins, waste, and unwanted materials from our system.

Traditionally violet flowers and leaves were considered blood purifiers and used as such. Renowned herbalist Matthew Wood recommends violet for “lymphatic stagnation and swollen glands”. As for cleavers they are the best well known lymphatic herb. They are best used in salads or juices as heat destroys some of their medicinal properties.

Adding the weeds popping up in your environs to soups, salad, smoothies and sautés will help protect you from the onslaught of toxin exposure.  Perhaps it is one of their reason de ‘etre. We have been designed to beautifully integrate with nature. Nature is our helper and healer. Why not accept the abundance nature is offering you this spring and say yes to her medicine and healing properties?

Please send me a picture of you eating the weeds and I’ll add it to the Fiery Maple Facebook page, and you’ll be eligible to win a complimentary Reflexology session.

Ten More Spring Weeds You Should Know

Don’t Leave Out Purslane and Red Clover

* Please do not munch on the potted African Violet on your windowsill, this is an entirely different plant and is poisonous. I’m just getting started and can’t afford to be sued.

**I promise I am not trying to insult your intelligence, but these are wild times and I must include a disclaimer: DO NOT EAT ANY WEED OR FLOWER THAT HAS BEEN SPRAYED WITH PESTICIDES. OR FROM A LAWN THAT HAS BEEN SPRAYED WITH PESTICIDES WITHIN THE LAST 2 YEARS.

Simple Inexpensive Ways You Can Boost Your Immunity in Preparation for the Coronavirus

Daily take an immune booster

Incorporate immune boosters into your daily food routine. Breakfast is an easy way to do this. Grapefruit, orange, cherry and lemon juice are a great place to start. Daily eating citrus works just as well.

Another way to incorporate immune boosters into your daily diet is to increase your use of herbs and spices. Thyme is a great example. I have eggs several times a week, I usually add some fresh thyme. Thyme is very appropriately named. It is great for the thymus gland which shrinks almost down to nothing by age 40, and is responsible for producing our T-cells. T-cells are key to our immune system and our body’s aggressive first line of defense. Modern medical doctrine believes that no T-cells are produced by the thymus after puberty. I don’t believe it. We were also told it’s impossible to regenerate brain cells. We now know that isn’t true. In any case, children who are still actively producing T-cells should benefit from adding it to their diet.   If you use this herb liberally in your meals several times a week, then you’ve added immune boosters to your routine.

Take a medicinal, aggressive approach to immunity boosting.  I practice the above as a lifestyle approach. I’ve decided due to the threat of a pandemic, to also aggressively strengthen my immune system by daily taking a dropper full of Reishi mushroom tincture. There are a variety of mushrooms noted for their immune strengthening properties. This article breaks down other options you may consider.

Daily sun gaze.

Vitamin D deficiency plays an outsized role in our susceptibility to infection throughout the winter months. Simply standing outside (or even inside by a window) and gazing at the sun for a couple of minutes a day greatly increases the Vitamin D.

Proper sun gazing is a must.  Under no circumstance should you look directly at the sun. Sun gazing without damaging your eyes can be accomplished in several ways:

Sun gaze at dawn when the sun is on the horizon and just creeping up. Or at dusk when it is setting.

View the sun through the leaves of a tree, through cloud cover or through a tiny gap between your fingers.

Incorporate nature’s antivirals into your daily routine

Garlic is one of the most powerful food medicines available to humans. It is practically impossible to consume too much garlic so that it is harmful. When cooking savory meals, sauté some garlic and add your veggies and meat.

Onions are another powerful food medicine. Some chefs claim that every meal should start with onions. Now is a good time to take this adage to heart.

Honey has been used medicinally for eons.  Almost all ancient cultures were known to use it in such a manner. Even the mainstream medical community acknowledges its antibacterial and wound healing properties. But recent studies have confirmed the old wives’ tale that it is an antiviral. A recent (2012) study supported by the National Institutes of Health concluded that both manuka and red clover honey have significant antiviral effects. If you are using honey for more than sweetening your tea: I recommend purchasing raw honey, manuka honey, red clover honey, or some combination of. Another recent (2014) study of the flu virus concluded that honey in general and manuka honey in particular effectively inhibit viruses from replicating, and concluded it was potent and promising medicinally. The viruses studied both the H1N1 Influenza virus and the varicella Zoster Virus (VZV). These viruses are enveloped viruses, they have a layer of protein encasing them, making them difficult to kill. Coronavirus is also an enveloped virus. Honey showing effect on enveloped viruses is very promising. Add it to your diet. Have it on hand in the event of an outbreak.

Ginger is my favorite antiviral and I consume it in some capacity every day. I add raw fresh ginger root to smoothies, juices, my water, and if I break down and have a Vernors, Pepsi, or other type of ginger ale, I add it to them as well.

Fear of a pandemic can be paralyzing and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be, taking one or two steps to prepare ourselves and our family for an outbreak can helps us feel and be prepared.


Mushrooms…medicinals of the future?

The Beautiful Reishi Mushroom

Did you have your ‘shrooms this week? No? Well perhaps you should. Not the psychoactive kind! Though those show many promising benefits, that is a different topic for a different day.

In recent years, there have been many great research projects showcasing the healing and regenerative properties of mushrooms. They’ve been proven especially beneficial to the human immune and nervous systems and have been used for centuries in Asia to fight cancer. They are also tremendous at healing the environment. Did you know that they can  clean up toxic waste sites?

Yep, it can be argued that mushrooms, like most natural remedies, are multi-faceted superstars. Though used for a variety of health concerns, they show wondrous results in three key areas:

  1. Cancer Fighting
  2. Immune Health
  3. Brain/Nervous System/Mental Health

Let’s Start with Kicking Cancer’s Butt!

A few varieties of mushrooms have shown great promise but the Reishi and Turkey Tail varieties standout.

A joint recent research study, conducted by the New York University (NYU) Cancer Institute and the Universidad Central del Caribe, School of Medicine, Bayamo ́n, Puerto Rico, showed Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum*) to be very effective at stopping breast cancer tumor growth. Additionally, even more exciting, the research shows that it shrinks cancerous tumors.

The researchers studied Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), a rare aggressive and lethal type of breast cancer that has a 5 year 50% survival rate compared to non-Inflammatory Breast Cancer that has a 5 year survival rate closer to 80%.  Standard IBC treatment involves non-targeted chemo-therapy or a combination of radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and surgery. This standard treatment has generalized destructive effects meaning, it kills both cancerous and non-cancerous cells. Naturally, researchers were interested in finding therapeutic options that are more targeted. To be blunt, radiation kills cancer cells but it also kills healthy cells that a cancer patient desperately needs. Not ideal.

Reishi, is full of polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system. Of course, an active immune system is better equipped to find and fight cancer cells than a sluggish one. However, that is just the tip of what Reishi accomplishes. It also has triterpenes that are poison to the cancer cells but NOT to the healthy cells. The result is that it suppresses the growth of the cancer and inhibits it from spreading.

So should you add Reishi to your regimen if you have breast cancer? Yes. Definitely. Many studies that test the healing properties of herbs test a highly concentrated extract. For example, in Germany Gingko Bilboa is commonly prescribed by doctors for treatment of Alzheimer and Dementia because it has been widely tested and scientifically proven. However, if you purchase it in the States you are most likely not getting the concentrated version. Meaning it may take longer and higher dosages to show affect.

Fortunately, this study used a commercially available Reishi called ReishiMax GLpTM, produced by Pharmanex Inc., an American company located in Utah.

Part two of this blog post will cover mushrooms and general immune health.

Stay tuned…

Additional reading if you are interested:

* In scientific fields its important to use the Latin name of botanicals since common names are sometimes country specific. In addition, there are often large differences in medical constituents depending on the plant variety used.