Monday, May 28, 2012

Natural Remedies During Pregnancy, part 2

Welcome Back, this week we will continue with last week’s article regarding common ailments and pains during pregnancy.

Insomnia can be caused by a lot of factors: restlessness, the need to urinate, worry, overstimulation, discomfort, etc.

Eat a few hours before bedtime, making sure your meal is easily digestible
Try drinking chamomile tea before bed, or limeflower
Try warm milk or a calcium and magnesium supplement
Make sure that your room is well ventilated and your bed comfortable
Use extra pillows as needed
Do some pelvic rocking before bed, followed by a warm bath
Massage of the head and neck may relieve tension
Add two or three drops of essential oil of lavender to a base oil and use it with a massage before bed

Leg Cramps
Cramps in your muscles are common during pregnancy. It may be caused by the new weight you are carrying, circulation changes, sitting cross-legged or calcium deficiency.

Regular exercise
Stretching (Article on April 23, 2012)
Adequate calcium intake
When the cramp begins, bring your toes towards you, and massage the muscle

Pelvic Pain
As your pregnancy continues, the weight of the baby and your changing form may cause pain when your pubic joint expands in preparation for birth.

Regular exercise
Rest when you need it
Warm compresses at the site of pain

Skin Changes
Skin changes abound during pregnancy. Some are pleasant, others are not. Most of these changes will go away shortly after the birth of your baby. Here are some ideas for the not so pleasant changes that pregnancy can bring.

Use a sunblock when in the sun
Never bleach your skin
Use St. John's Wort oil to help prevent discoloration
Eat foods rich in PABA and folic acid

Changing laundry detergents to a dye free, perfume free brand
Wear cotton clothes
Oatmeal baths help with itching
Bach Rescue Remedy Cream
Lime Flower teas before bed can be soothing


Acne may either get better or worsen during pregnancy, try to keep your face dry, and avoid oils

Stretch Marks
Contrary to marketers for companies that sell stretch prevention creams, stretch marks cannot be prevented. Your best defense is healthy skin, moisturizing daily(best time to do it is after the shower as it helps seal in moisture), and good genetics behind you.

Eat the proper diet to help your skin be healthy
Drink plenty of fluids (Skin that is well nourished stretches better)
If you have itching, use a cream to moisturize the area, some people prefer a Vitamin E oil
Cut down on salt your meals(As it helps retain water)

Stretchmark Oil
dark glass 50 ml bottle
50 ml of wheatgerm oil, or mixture of wheatgerm and almond oil
essential oils of lavender and neroli
Fill the bottle with wheatgerm oil, or the mixture of wheatgerm and almond oils for a thinner solution. Add 15 drops of the essential oil of lavender and 10 drops of the essential oil of neroli. Massage daily after bathing.

Pregnancy causes changes to the blood volume and hormone levels. The increased flow of blood and the relaxation of the muscular walls of the blood vessels leads to a more difficult return of blood from the lower body. They can appear in the legs, vulva, or rectum (see hemorrhoids). The varicose veins that area a result of these changes can be painful, itching, and unsightly. However, heredity does play a part in this process. Here are some ideas to help.

Massage may help prevent, but avoid if varicosities develop
Avoid standing for long periods of time
Exercise regularly (Swimming, yoga and walking are great)
Eat well, including plenty of fiber, Vitamins A, C, E and B complex
Eat raw garlic, onions and parsley to increase the elasticity of your veins
Never sit with crossed legs
Avoid tight clothing
Support stockings may help if you raise your legs up before putting them on
Raise the foot of your bed 3-4 inches
Put your legs up whenever you can
Exercise the pelvic floor and inner thigh muscles

Natural Pregnancy by Janet Balaskas
Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley

Monday, May 21, 2012

Natural Remedies During Pregnancy, part 1

During pregnancy we may suffer from different types of aches and pains. I have researched and found  some natural remedy solutions for the most common issues. This is by no mean meant to replace your health practitioner. Please consult your practitioner before using any remedies.

First things first, the best cure is prevention. The best recommendation is to eat a well- balanced meal, drink plenty of water, and getting in regular exercise. Also try to limit the amount of sugar and salt intake. Lastly, try to keep calm and stay stress free. I find yoga to be very helpful.

Below are several common aches and pains. As there are many I would like to cover, this article will be split into two weeks. We will cover the rest next week.

Anemia is very common during pregnancy. We try and ward it off by prescribing iron tablets, this can be ineffective and actually cause other problems. However, there are times when we check for anemia that aren't appropriate. We tend to want to check for anemia right after an expanse in blood volume. When this occurs it will take a bit for the red blood cells to "catch up" to the rise in volume. This can look like anemia, when it's really not. Here are some other methods of getting the iron you need.

  • Eat lots of iron rich foods (liver, leafy greens, beets, cooked oysters)
  • Avoid caffeine, it prevents absorption of iron
  • Avoid excessive bran, alkalinizers and phosphates, they inhibit absorption
  • Drink something with vitamins C with your iron supplements (tablets or herbal), Vitamin C aids in the assimilation
  • Cook with cast iron
  • Good herbal sources of iron: Parsley, Nettles, Amaranth greens, Dandelion root, and Kelp

Backaches can be particularly aggravating. They can be caused by poor posture, inappropriate lifting techniques, lack of exercise, or the weight of the baby and the stretching ligaments.

  • Utilize good posture
  • Use proper lifting techniques
  • Pelvic rocking
  • Massage
  • Sleep with pillows supporting your legs and back
  • Wear flat-heeled shoes that offer good support
  • Heat (bath, shower)
  • Swimming
  • Stretch daily

Bladder Problems
Cystitis, an infection of the bladder, is not uncommon during pregnancy. This is due to the added stress placed on your bladder because of the increased volume of fluids in your body.
  • Avoid junk food, refined starches, sugar, coffee, tea and foods high in acidic content
  • Eat yogurt daily
  • Drink plenty on fluids, especially water
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid using soap to wash your genitals or using bubble bath or bath salts
  • After intercourse emptying your bladder and washing with water may help reduce the risk of infection
  • Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom
  • Include garlic, leeks and cabbage in your diet
  • Blend unsweetened cranberry juice with parsley three times daily
  • Barley water, chamomile, marshmallow and raspberry teas are effective
  • Try taking 500g daily of Vitamin C until symptoms improve

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This syndrome affects many of us, especially if you have an office job that requires you to be on the computer for the majority of the day. Being on the computer for the majority of the day may put you at a higher risk.

  • Use a wrist rest by your computer
  • Sleep with your arm on a pillow at night
  • Massage: Have a partner massage, using thumbs, from the inside of your wrist outwards and down
  • Kneel on hands and knees, lean your body forward stretching your wrists, hold for a few seconds
  • Hold your hand above your head and wiggle your fingers
  • A splint on your wrist at night may also help
  • Acupressure: Locate the point Lung 10 (LU10) in the center of the fleshy mound at the base of your thumb, press firmly, hold 5-7 seconds, repeat 3 times
  • Acupuncture

Constipation and Hemorrhoids
Constipation can become a problem in pregnancy due to hormonal changes affecting the digestive system. However, iron tablets can also lead to constipation as well as a lack of fiber in your diet. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum, which are associated with pregnancy. Preventing constipation is a good start to preventing hemorrhoids.
Suggestions for constipation:
  • Regular exercise (such as squats)
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet(eat the skin of the fruit as it will provide more bowel movement)
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Drink prune juice
  • Avoid straining your bowels (This will also help prevent hemorrhoids.)

Suggestions for Hemorrhoids:
  • Avoid straining
  • Apply baking soda wet or dry to take away the itch, even add some to your bath water
  • Witch hazel or lemon juice to reduce swelling or bleeding

Can result from hormonal changes or stress. Other cause may be too much sugar intake.
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Exercise regularly
  • Excessive caffeine can cause headaches, as can caffeine withdrawal. If you have been totally avoiding caffeine, a cola or cup of de-caffeinated tea(may help
  • Try relaxation exercises
  • Soak a washcloth in cold water containing a few drops of essential oil of lavender. Apply to forehead and rest in darkened room
  • Massaging the neck and spine may help


Hormones released during pregnancy allow the softening of the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach. This lets stomach acids back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. This may also occur in the latter months of pregnancy as your baby pushes all of your organs upward.

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Remain upright for an hour after eating, lying down can irritate the problem
  • Eating yogurt or drinking milk can help
  • Avoid spicy or greasy foods
  • Try a tablespoon of honey in a glass of warm milk
  • Wall stretch: face the wall and reach arms overhead with palms touching the wall, hold that pose for 15-30 secs, and try to reach up a little more. Repeat for several times.(see illustration)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Greening for Your Pregnancy

Green vegetables are typically the missing food group in a modern day diet. When it is present, it is often over-cooked, over-buttered, or even possibly over-steamed. Eating greens help to nourish our body and help keep us from getting sick. Greens are very high calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. It is always better to eat more locally, and organically. But if price is an issue, eating non-organic fresh or frozen vegetables is better than no greens.
Here are the top benefits to eating dark leafy greens:
-       Blood purification
-       Cancer prevention
-       Improved circulation
-       Strengthened immune system
-       Promotion of healthy intestinal flora
-       Promotion of subtle, light and flexible energy
-       Lifted spirit and elimination of depression
-       Improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function
-       Cleared congestion, especially in lungs by reducing mucus
-       Protects mom and growing baby from toxins added to food that have been proven to be linked to devasting health problems
      -       Lowers risk of UTIs (by keeping vitamin A level at healthy levels
-       Combats legs cramps because of the levels of calcium and magnesium
-       Helps resolve constipation (due to its fiber content)
The top green veggies to eat during pregnancy for its benefits and taste are: Spinach; kale; collards; mustard greens; turnip greens; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; red leaf lettuce; even yard greens such as dandelion; These power-packed vegetables help keep the you and the growing baby healthy. They contain folate in the natural form, which has been shown to prevent spinal cord birth defects. I suggest 2-4 servings per day of these greens per day.

Dandelion Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette 
2 large bunches dandelion greens

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash greens, remove stems and chop into 3/4-inch pieces.

2. Place greens in a large mixing bowl.

3. Heat oil in a sauté pan on medium.

4. Add garlic and nuts, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

5. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper.

6. Pour the cooled vinaigrette over the greens and toss well.

Penne with Vegetables
(I would recommend getting whole wheat but if don’t like the taste of whole wheat, try to put some regular penne in it to mix it up)

1 medium red pepper, sliced

1 medium green pepper, sliced

1 medium orange or yellow sweet pepper, sliced

1 cup snow peas, sugar snap peas, or green beans

1 large tomato, quartered

1 cup of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, shredded

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups dried cheese tortellini

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Cook penne as directed by the package.

2. Heat oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add onion, cook until translucent. Add garlic, peppers, basil. and beans. Continue to cook until peppers become slightly soft.

3. Toss vegetables with drained pasta. Top with parmesan cheese.

Yields: 4 servings

Eggplant Parmigiana

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/8 cup water
1 small eggplant, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup dried Italian bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs)
2 cups meatless spaghetti sauce, use more or less to taste
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbs. grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Beat egg and water in shallow dish.

3. Dredge eggplant in flour, dip in egg mixture then coat with bread crumbs. Place eggplant on baking dish. Bake, turning once until golden and tender, about 30 minutes total.

4. In bottom of a new shallow baking dish,  Layer 1/2 spaghetti sauce, baked eggplant slices and mozzarella.

5. Repeat layering.  

6. Top with parmesan cheese.

7. Bake until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

Yields: 4 servings 

       Roasted Veggies

2-4 medium carrots, chopped
2-3 medium potato  es, chopped
8-10 gloves garlic, peeled
6-8 mushrooms, halved
1 small yam, cubed
1/2 lb medium tofu, cubed
2-4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dill
2 tbsp rosemary
cracked chilies (to taste)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place the vegetables and tofu on lightly oiled cookie sheet or lasagna pan and drizzle olive oil over them. Sprinkle with dill, rosemary, chilies, salt, and pepper and mix together until well incorporated.

2. Bake for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven when potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork.

Makes 6 servings.

Veggie Stir-fry

Ingredients for Sauce:

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Ingredients for vegetables:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup carrot slices

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped red or green pepper

1. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl.

2. In a large sauce pan or wok, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, broccoli, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the zucchini and peppers, stir, cover the pan and cook for 1 minute.

4. Add sauce, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, covered. Serve vegetables while hot.

Yields: 4 servings

Spinach and Pear Salad:

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pears, cored and sliced lengthwise
10 walnuts, roughly chopped

8 cups torn fresh spinach

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, orange juice, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, and black pepper.

2. In large bowl, add the pear slices and 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss to coat

3. Add remaining dressing, spinach and onion and toss to coat.

Yields: 4 servings