seasonal changes

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Good friend of the nest, and writer, Eric Hawxby is our featured guest blogger. A big thank you to Eric!

As we emerge from the longest, coldest Winter since The Ice Age; consider the Spring season is traditionally known as one of rebirth. It is at this time of year that our natural inclination is to lay to rest our sedentary wintry lives and begin a new existence refreshed and renewed.  Spring-cleaning is performed, dust-bunnies are shooed with a sweep of the broom, ushering in the bunnies of Easter (Spring). While binge-cleaning our homes is a great way to clear the air and freshen the psyche, it’s also an ideal time to treat our bodies to a gentle Spring-cleaning of its own.

Generally speaking, Winter is the season of rich and heavy comfort foods, not only during the holidays but during those bitterly cold nights hunkered down on the couch, armed against Arctic Blasts with our favorite take-out food. Traditional Chinese medicine correlates Spring-time with the liver—our body’s vigilant and dedicated house-keeper. It rids our bodies of dangerous toxins helping it to stay healthy and balanced. In this modern era we are assaulted with toxins which we absorb into our systems every time we breathe, eat, and drink. Toxins are even absorbed through the body’s largest and most vulnerable organ—our skin. At The Nest, in order to honor this Spring, we are celebrating the liver and all that it does to keep us living healthy, productive, and joyful lives.

There are many ways to gently assist the detoxification of our bodies. By cleansing ourselves of built-up toxins we can help boost and sustain our energy levels, enjoy a glowing complexion, and restore balance to our natural bio-rhythms. It’s important to remember that when approaching a cleanse or detox regimen that your goal isn’t to shock your system with an abrupt and drastic fasting or by over-doing it with supplements designed to flush your system; these practices can cause serious short and long term problems for you. Instead, start simply by first reducing the toxins you ingest through the foods and beverages you consume. Cut out or reduce your intake of sugary, chemically-sweetened sodas, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and coffee. Instead, moderately consume organic fruit juices, unsweetened teas and make a concerted effort to drink 8 glasses of  purified drinking water. Avoid drinking out of plastic containers. There are free smart-phone apps that can monitor and encourage your intake of water. Adding fresh lemon and cucumber to your glass of water aids the detox process and is palatable and refreshing. Organic green-tea will help cleanse the body of free-radicals whose only goal is to accelerate the body’s aging process. While growing older is an inevitable and beautiful part of our life-cycle, we don’t need free-radicals pushing us towards the grave. Catechins, found in green-tea, will help you fight off these fun-haters. On the go, order a green-juice drink from the neighborhood health-food joint, or make your own incorporating watercress, spinach, ginger, broccoli, add some fresh mint for taste.

Your Spring detox plan should also include eating smaller meals made with as many whole, fresh, organic ingredients as possible. Mom may know best, but Mother Nature knows even better. Make a point to eat natural foods that come into harvest during the season of the region in which you live; in addition to seasonal produce from other areas. Some healthy Springtime bounties include: artichokes, nettles, lettuces, asparagus, New Potatoes, and Spring carrots. Add some of that fresh mint to your smoothie or iced tea or eat a few leaves as-is. Morels, peas, radishes, rhubarb, green garlic, fiddleheads, fennel, naval oranges and lemons are at their best during the Spring season. Incorporate them into your favorite recipes.

Another effective way to cleanse and rejuvenate the body is by taking a dry sauna or steam bath to open pores and sweat out the accumulated toxins inside our bodies. Obviously, exercise is a great way to induce sweating and should be incorporated into any lifestyle regardless of the season. Detoxing should be a gentle and healthy component of your health regimen. Over-exercising or too much time in the sauna will dehydrate your system and stress the body’s ability to regulate temperature and will purge your body of necessary electrolytes. Treat your body with care and respect and you will be rewarded with the gift of health.

Chinese Medicine modalities can also help facilitate the cleansing and detoxing of our bodies. Cupping and Scaling are gentle and effective ways to increase circulation and draw out harmful radicals traveling through the blood-stream and residing in our muscles. Chinese foot-plasters can also be beneficial in expelling toxins via the many acupuncture points of our feet and are worn while sleeping. Your health practitioner at The Nest can advise you on these treatments and determine if they would be necessary and of benefit to you. Chinese herbal supplements to aid in detox can be specifically designed for the individual needs of our clients. It is always wise to consult a health-care professional before making drastic changes to your diet and exercise regimens. In our modern times we tend to take aggressive approaches to exercise and fad ‘diets;’ while it’s important exchange the harmful habits for healthier ones. The rabbit may be Spring’s icon, but heed the tortoise for slow and steady always wins the race.

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Have you adjusted to our crisp, blustery Autumnal weather?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season corresponds with an organ system in the body. Autumn corresponds with the Lungs which are a “tender organ”, susceptible to wind and cold. If you don’t transition well into Fall — not getting enough sleep or continuing to dress in lighter, summer clothes — you may weaken your defenses and become more vulnerable to colds, allergy, and sinus problems. The transition to Fall can be difficult when you live in a city like Chicago where it is 80 degrees one day and 55 degrees the next. As parents and professionals we can attest that in the busy transitions from the start of school schedules to the holidays, we can neglect our sleep. This is why we recommend having the cold and flu preventative formula on hand. It is meant to be taken at the first whisper of a cold or flu. If taken at the onset of illness, you will only need to take it for up to three days. This formula will give your body the strength it needs to overcome the imbalance, thus preventing you from the drain of full sickness.

What is the Cold & Flu Preventative Formula?

The Cold & Flu Preventative Formula is made up of a synergistic combination of herbs that fight invading pathogens while strengthening Qi (life-force) and balancing yin and yang energy. In part, the herbs in this basic, nourishing formula will balance yin and yang, releases stiffness, clear heat, and nourish fluids. In scientific studies, some herbs in this formula were found to be anti-inflammatory, antibiotic or had immune stimulating properties. With these herbs in hand, rest and fluids are still very important, but you will no longer need to “just wait it out” the way you usually do with colds and viruses.

Typically, we create custom blended herbs according to the presenting symptoms and constitution of each individual. However, because the cold and flu formula is predominantly a balancing formula with a pathogen fighting component, it is an excellent tool to have on hand for anyone to prevent sickness before it advances. The proper dosage is adjusted for adults or children. If you live in the Chicago area and are interested in this formula, feel free to call us so we can answer your questions and make up a formula for you.

For more information on bolstering immunity for Fall and Winter, take a look at this blog post.

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