cheap + easy + relaxing =
Epsom salt baths

Posted by on Mar 5, 2015 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

Epsom Salt BathsHolistic pain relief can take many forms. In my years as a massage therapist, I’ve explored a wide variety of alternatives. By explored I mean both tried these methods myself, and recommended them to clients. Lately I find myself recommending Epsom salt baths to friends and clients on a regular basis. There are so many options for pain relief, but taking a warm bath with naturally pain relieving stuff in it is one of the most satisfying options. No side effects, just relief!

What’s the best way to try this? You only need a few ingredients:

  • Epsom salts (2 cups)
  • Baking soda (1 cup)
  • Tub with warm or nearly hot water (to your own temperature preferences)

The following ingredients are optional, but can be wonderful if you’d like to try:

  • Essential oils
  • Bentonite clay
  • Powdered ginger

So what is it about Epsom salt that’s helpful for pain relief? They’re actually magnesium sulfate. As I’ve mentioned before, Americans are woefully deficient in magnesium. While getting enough magnesium from food sources is ideal, that’s not the only way. You can absorb magnesium through your skin, including while soaking in the bath.

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, plus it’s anti-inflammatory—both positives for holistic pain relief.

Simply fill up your tub with water (as hot as you can safely enjoy), adding the two ingredients and soak for 15-20 minutes. There’s no real benefit in a longer soak, plus the water starts to get chilly.

About the optional ingredients—you may find some benefits but it’s up to you whether you add them to the bath. Essential oils like lavender will add to your relaxation and possibly help you sleep. Bentonite clay can up the detoxification effects of the bath. Powdered ginger spice (yes, I got mine at the grocery store) is also anti-inflammatory and detoxifying.

While these are all readily available ingredients and likely to have no side effects, if you’re living with any chronic or acute conditions you should discuss regular use of Epsom salt baths with your health care provider.

Happy soaking and here’s to pain relief!


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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hydrate or die!

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

Being properly hydrated is critical to holistic pain relief. The big question is what does “properly” mean to you?

Back in 2008, I had the opportunity to participate as a support team member during the bicycling race called Race Across America or RAAM. I was the massage therapist for a team of four cyclists and eight crew members. The race began in mid-June on West Coast—beautiful Oceanside, California. We traveled to the finish in Annapolis, Maryland in just over seven days. The cyclists rode as a relay without stopping for overnight resting periods. In fact, none of us had “normal” sleep for the entire race. We just grabbed our zzzz’s as we could, rotating crew and cyclist duties to continue moving forward. It was one of the most physically challenging events I’ve ever participated in—as much for our crew as our cyclists.

Newsletter 07172014 RAM

That’s me doing massage! Our stop in Death Valley is the photo at left.

And you’re wondering what this has to do with hydration, right? Well, that’s when the phrase “hydrate or die” became a part of my regular vocabulary. We went straight through California’s famous Death Valley! But hydration was just as important every other day of our eight-day trip. Riders and crew were pushing themselves to the limits of physical and mental endurance. We had almost no time to eat a “proper” meal, but fuel was critical. So we grabbed healthy food as we could. No matter the food choices, we always made sure water was available for everyone.

If you’re living with chronic pain, hydration is no less important. Not one system in your body—muscles, bones, blood, lungs, heart, digestion, etc.—can work correctly if it doesn’t have enough fluid. The water we drink supplies that fluid.

Think about your pain, whether muscle tension, headache, or something else, as a communication from your body. Often pain is a cry for more hydration—more water!

How Much Water is Enough?

You probably grew up with the message I did, “Eight eight ounce glasses of water a day is best.” There is some disagreement about whether this advice is truly logical for all of us. And hydration is bioindividual just like all other decisions we make in our lives.

I’d recommend letting two things be your guide: thirst and urine color. These two guides are a simple way to tell what your body is communicating. When you’re thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. So drink water. And know that you may need more than a glass. You may need well more than eight ounces, and that’s where having a refillable water bottle can be so helpful. They are larger and often designed to keep water cool if you prefer it that way. When you’re dehydrated your urine will be dark yellow or almost brown. That’s another cue to drink more water. The more hydrated you generally are, the easier it will to change that urine color to clear. If you’ve been dehydrated for a long time, it may take more time and more water to change that color. Let your body teach you the best amount for you, adjusting for conditions like heat and activity level.

Will Other Liquids Hydrate Like Water?

The short answer is no. But I know you want to know more. Somewhere in the last few decades, we’ve decided that water doesn’t have enough taste. It’s not as interesting to our palate as some of the other options, especially the multi-flavored soda and “energy drink” concoctions we find on shelves today. So we choose coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, juice—there are a multitude of options!

Many of these options contain caffeine, which actually dehydrates us. Caffeine flushes water out of our system, which is exactly the effect we need to avoid. I’m not saying you have to completely eliminate caffeine (although that’s something to consider), but if you’re living with chronic pain it may not be helping your body feel better. It’s always your choice!

I did recently find this interesting research on coconut water, which is being touted as a healthier choice for electrolyte balance than the Gatorades of the world. You might find coconut water to be helpful as an addition to your plain water intake, especially in the heat of summer or physical activity. But be aware that all coconut water isn’t created alike.

Hydration Strategy

Here’s a simple way to be sure you get enough hydration. First, buy 4-5 refillable water bottles and mark each of them with a different interval during the day. So one says 8am – 11am, and the next says 11am – 1pm, 1pm – 5pm, 5pm – 10pm. Use the intervals that work with your sleeping and waking cycle during the day. Start the first one immediately upon waking.

When the first bottle is empty then you move on to the next and so on. And notice that the intervals between them are shorter in the morning. Drinking more water in the morning helps detoxify us, and also means we’re less likely to have to get up in the middle of the night for the bathroom.

If you find that carrying multiple bottles of water is impractical in your day, set some timers on your phone as reminders. Name the timer something like, “Have you finished 24 oz. of water since 8am?”

Thanks for reading … now go drink some water!


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!



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autumn smoothie recipe

Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices | 12 comments

Autumn Smoothie Ingredients

Fruit, Squash, and a few Extras!

If smoothies make you think of summer berries and fruits, here’s a seasonal option for your autumn breakfast or snacking pleasure. Do you like pumpkin pie? Or sweet potatoes? Does fall inspire you to fill up on squash? Then this is the smoothie for you — it’s one part dessert, one part healthy and three parts delicious!

Put the following ingredients in your blender.

1 ripe banana, sliced or in sections (use frozen banana slices for a thicker smoothie)

1 apple, cored and sliced

1/2–3/4 cup roasted squash or baked sweet potato (completely cooled & chilled)

2 tablespoons uncooked whole oats

2 tablespoons plain greek-style yogurt

2 tablespoons shelled hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts)

Ground cinnamon to taste (at least 1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 tablespoon salmon or flaxseed oil

8–12 ounces of almond milk (can substitute another type of milk or non-dairy beverage)

Blend thoroughly. (The best way to judge is when the apple pieces are completely incorporated.)

Autumn Smoothie

Can be kept in a glass jar for up to 12 hours

Let me know what you think and if you have ideas or suggestions for enhancing the recipe!

More smoothie tips


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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the most important detox you can do

Posted by on Sep 11, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 2 comments

Smiley GR EmoticonPeople often ask me about whether a detox program or a cleanse is right for them. They especially wonder if it’s a good idea to help initiate some holistic pain relief. My answer is always, “It depends on you.” Sometimes a 7-14 day detox is just the thing to reset our taste buds and remind us of all the yummy things we gain by adding more vegetables and fruits into our lives. But I also often find that clients living with chronic pain discover that the detox is more stressful than it’s worth. All the restrictions and extra planning can be taxing if you are living in an exhausted, pain-filled state. On the other hand, if you’re doing pretty well … a short detox can really create a wonderful boost. It depends on you, and I’d encourage you to really be still and let you intuition tell you what’s best.

What I like to do instead is teach people how to maximize their body’s detoxification functions every day. It’s possible to make small changes over a little while really amp up the things your own body can do for you! It takes a little more patience, but it also can be a lot less stressful.

But today I wanted to talk about something other than food-related detox. What about detoxing our thoughts from the negativity of the world? I believe that how we refer to our bodies, our pain and any diseases we live with can make ALL the difference. Negativity detox is so critical to your holistic pain relief plan. This is all up to you, and not something you can pay someone to do to you or for you! This is personal philosophy, so if it doesn’t resonate with you that’s okay too.

Here’s what I mean: When I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I was immediately concerned about the type of language that is used to describe autoimmune disease. This is a situation where part of your immune system is overactive towards your body. Notice I said overactive—but typical medical language is that your immune system ATTACKS your body. I decided very early on to NEVER use that phrasing when I was talking about myself. It just doesn’t seem to be productive to me since my main goal is find healing and pain relief, not WAR and FIGHTING.

It’s not that I’m dishonest about my pain or about RA when someone asks, but I always look to the most positive possible way to frame the situation. People asked, “how could you do massage with RA?” My answer, “I’ve never NOT done massage with RA, so it seems normal to me!”

If I feel limited in any given day, I choose to focus on and remember what I CAN do instead of what I can’t. Every moment I am up and moving around is a privilege, because I know people whose pain immobilizes them and makes them 100% dependent on others. So what do I GET to do today? Instead of what CAN’T I do!

Want some help with these ideas? I have two friends who are creating great programs RIGHT NOW about letting go of negativity in our lives. Of course, I can help too … but I wanted to share these great additional options because they are helping ME!

Star Staubach’s 21-Day Challenge to RECEIVE is still open … it started September 1 but I’m guessing all the content will be available even after the 21 days are over!

Jennifer Boykin’s 30-Day Negativity Cleanse is open too! You take a pledge to refrain from negativity, and Jennifer sends you a daily uplifting email for 30 days. What would happen to our world if we ALL did this?

Let me know what you sign up for okay? I’m excited for all of us to receive all this GOODNESS!


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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