How to Relieve Stress Naturally With These Easy Helps

how to relieve stress naturallyEpisode 60- We’ve been talking about emotional eating and how bad it is for your health. Last week, I discussed how to take simple steps to stop emotional eating. But, what can you do to handle the stress instead of satisfying that urge to eat? In this episode, I talk about how to relieve stress naturally with some easy helps. These include natural remedies as well as some other things you can do in the moment without any prep work. Let’s get started!

How to Relieve Stress Naturally

Some of the best ways for how to relieve stress naturally don’t require any special tools or foods. Sometimes, it’s a matter of attitude, self-talk, breath exercises, and other quick and easy things you can do in the moment. Sometimes, it’s as easy as meditating on God’s Word. Here are some great ways you can de-stress and enjoy the holidays.

Focus on the positive

Very often, we focus on the hurtful, the frustrating, the overwhelming, and all the other negative stuff instead of the positive things. Every time you are tempted to dwell on the negative, find a way to turn it into a positive. For example, traffic and parking lot etiquette is terrible and frustrating. But, it also gives you more time in the car alone so you can praise Jesus and pray.

Express gratitude

This is directly related to focusing on the positive. Stress seems to bring out the grumbling complainer in all of us. We might complain about how Uncle Joe is late again or Mom embarrassed you with that same story as last year. Maybe it’s a child or spouse who won’t help clean or cook. Whatever it is, expressing gratitude and again, thinking positive, will help diffuse your rising anger, stress, and frustration.

Go outdoors and/or do something just for fun

Taking a walk outside or doing something for no other reason than to just have fun are great ways to diffuse stress. Laughing together, walking in the bright sunlight, getting cozy with hot cocoa and a movie, all of these things can instantly change the tension in the air.

Some other ideas…

  • Listen to worship music
  • Stress balls, fidget toys, adult coloring books
  • Weighted blanket, yes, even for adults!

How to Relieve Stress Naturally with Essential Oils

  • Lavender
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Clary Sage
  • Mandarin
  • Marjoram
  • Spikenard
  • Ylang Ylang

Or with Herbs…

 

 

How to Stop Emotional Eating Right Now With These Simple Steps

how to stop emotional eatingEpisode 59–We’ve been talking about the roots and damaging effects of emotional eating. But, how can we escape this vicious cycle that drags us down into depression and obesity? What are some key steps that can help? After all, dieting usually doesn’t help. In fact, dieting can sometimes make it worse. This is because emotional eating is a psychological and spiritual issue, not strictly a food issue. Today on Crunchy Christian Podcast, we’re discussing how to stop emotional eating from a spiritual and psychological perspective.

Disclaimer: Remember, I am not a psychologist, pastor, or counselor. Trying the things I mention won’t hurt, but you may also need professional help from a counselor or pastor. The intent is not to substitute professional guidance, but rather to make you aware that there are simple and effective things you can do to overcome this issue. You don’t need to suffer in silence and shame. 

How to Stop Emotional Eating with Some Simple Steps

Now, I’m not going to lie. These steps for how to stop emotional eating are simple, but not necessarily easy. First, they will require you to gather your courage and your Bible.

Step 1: Renew Your Mind by Telling Yourself the Truth

One of the biggest issues with emotional eating is negative self talk. You need to change the tapes playing over and over in your head. Pay attention to the things you tell yourself inside your head and the lies you believe about others and yourself. You can begin to change the tapes by posting and reading Bible verses about your identity in Christ. Just because someone says something rude to you doesn’t mean they dislike you. And just because you forgot something doesn’t mean you are stupid. You may not even be aware that you are telling yourself the worst possible things every time something bad happens. And that’s where step 2 comes in.

Step 2 of How to Stop Emotional Eating:  Practice Mindfulness

Have you ever heard the adage that our thoughts determine our behaviors? Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 15:18). So, part of how to stop emotional eating is changing your heart, which means your thoughts and beliefs. That means taking every thought captive and the only way we can do that is by practicing mindfulness. Being mindful is slowing down and examining why you feel what you feel. What happened just before? It means examining your thoughts and feelings and asking three whys. Why do I feel/think that way? and then asking yourself Why? until you drill down to the very heart of what’s driving you.

Sometimes this can be painful, but it is key to how to stop emotional eating. You need to better understand yourself and then change your thoughts and beliefs. Essentially, you need to renew your mind by replacing the thought patterns that keep you prisoner with those that will set you free to be all that God intended.

Step 3: Use Simple Tools

Sometimes it helps to use a journal or affirmation coloring book. A journal can help you with practicing mindfulness and force you to slow down and reflect. It also gives you a way to track your progress as you renew your mind. If you prefer, you can write a letter to the person who triggers you to most. This is not a letter you would mail, but rather a way to get your feelings out. I have done this before and then put it through the paper shredder. Letting go of past hurts and practicing forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget about it. It means that you will let God deal with that person. It also means that you will not allow that situation to enslave you to all those negative feelings that make you want to eat.

Step 4: Confront Toxic Situations

The Bible tells us to go quickly to our brother who offends us and work it out. We are also encouraged to not let the sun go down on our anger lest we fall into sin. Therefore, it is Biblical to confront toxic situations that trigger your eating issue and try to resolve them. The best thing to do is to confront the person at the time that the offense happens, not days or months later. But, if the offense happened when you were a child, it may be best to give that situation over to the Lord and have peace with it.

Step 5: Involve Others Who Care

Sometimes, we need someone else to encourage us, keep us accountable, or talk us through temptation. There is no shame in asking for help. And, there’s no shame in going to a pastor or counselor if you don’t know how to stop emotional eating on your own, even with these steps. For some people, it is just too hard to do it alone and that’s okay. We need to stop shaming ourselves about this issue. Lots of women struggle with food addictions and eating disorders.

Emotional eating effects that shorten your life!

emotional eating effectsEpisode 58-The holidays aren’t always cheery and joyful, right? Sometimes they stir up stress, hurt, and other negative feelings. We deal with these feelings in different ways, but one way is eating. Do you eat when you feel sad? Hurt? Disappointed? If you do this often, it may be a sign of something much bigger called emotional eating. In Episode 57, I talked about how emotional eating starts. In this episode, I share the detrimental health effects of emotional eating. One of the worst emotional eating effects is a shortened lifespan. That’s right! Let’s dig in and discover how emotional eating is not only bad for your waist line, but also bad for your emotional, mental, and spiritual health as well.

Emotional Eating Effects

Your mental and emotional health

One of the less obvious emotional eating effects but also one of the most devastating is what goes on in your mind. Emotional eating sets up a vicious cycle. First, you eat because you feel bad. You might feel sad, hurt, angry, depressed, frustrated, defeated. But, instead of evaluating why you feel that way, you eat. Instead of confronting the situation and resolving it, you eat. Then, you feel better for a little while. Eventually, though, the effect wears off and you feel the urge to eat again. After all, the thing that stirred up those feelings is still there. Meanwhile, inside your mind, you tell yourself things like, You are such a pig. There you go again. You deserve it, fatty. They’re probably right. You can’t control yourself, stuffing your face like that. This negative self-talk drives you to eat even more to stuff those feelings, too. And it just keeps going. You may even come to believe what you tell yourself.

Your physical health

Of course, another emotional eating effect is weight gain. In the podcast, I talk about some other factors in your body that compound the effects of this weight gain. One that you may not know about is sleep apnea. Excessive weight can impact your breathing at night and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Because people tend to eat a lot carbs and sugars with emotional eating, diabetes is a serious emotional eating effect. We choose carbs rather than fats or proteins because the sweet taste is comforting. I talk more about this on the podcast as well.

Your spiritual health: the worst emotional eating effect of all

Emotional eating may start out as an occasional binge to drown your sorrows. But, it can also develop into a full-blown food addiction and idolatry. That’s why it’s such a hard habit to break and why some people can’t lose weight. Instead of seeking comfort from other people and especially from Jesus, you seek comfort from food. The cycle is powerful and triggers the rewards center in the brain, much like other types of addictions. The more you do it, the more the habit becomes ingrained, and the harder it is to reverse. But, it can be reversed! If drug addicts, alcoholics, and other types of addicts can be healed, so can you!

If you need help with conquering cravings and getting control of your sugar addiction, check out my Ditch the Sugar Habit Challenge Bundle

The Nasty Truth About Roots of Emotional Eating

Emotional eatingEpisode 57–Around the holidays, we often engage in emotional eating. That’s because the holidays bring both joy and stress. Who makes all the food and often buys all the gifts? Mom. Who plans the parties and decorates? Mom. And, you guessed it, it’s mom who gathers all the craft supplies and situates all the guests who arrive. So, what does mom do to manage the stress and frustration? She eats. Let’s explore how this happen begins so we can better understand how to combat it. In the next few episodes, we will discuss it’s effects on the body, what to do about it, and how to get natural relaxation without gaining the extra pounds.

What is emotional eating?

Triggered by negative events

First, the basic idea of emotional eating is eating to suppress negative emotions. Essentially, it’s eating to feel better. But emotional hunger doesn’t just come out of nowhere. There’s always a trigger of sorts that causes you to start feeling hungry, even if it’s not clear at first. These triggers vary depending on the person and situation.

This tends to be a very straightforward cause and effect situation. Because of something in your life that caused distress, you then feel emotional hunger. For example, let’s say someone cut you off in traffic or your relative called and started yelling at you over the phone. You feel bad, of course, and a little while later, you grab the bag of chips to get your mind off of it and feel better. Your stomach doesn’t actually need food. But, your mind has learned to associate eating with alleviating negative feelings. So, you engage in emotional eating.

Like an addiction

It’s not uncommon for people to feel the urge to emotionally eat without fully understanding why. This is because they’ve blocked themselves off from their emotions. So, they don’t associate the day’s events with their eating habits. But, it’s important to do a bit of self-analysis to learn about your own triggers.

You can figure out your triggers by watching patterns in your own life. Then, you can see when certain things happen and how they drive you to eat during stressful times. You can discover your patterns by keeping a journal or practicing some mindfulness. It is important to notice what you do when something irritates you, someone upsets you, or you feel stressed out. Do you grab some chocolate every time you feel sad? Do you eat while cooking when you’re upset about something? Write these things down.

This knowledge of your own triggers is crucial to fixing your emotional eating habits. Because, if you don’t understand your motivations, you can’t fix it. You have to know your enemy, so to speak.

While many people think that you can simply will away emotional hunger, that’s not quite the case. It’s not as simple as just “stopping eating” for many people, because it’s almost like an addiction. And that’s why diet after diet fails. It’s an emotional hunger, a spiritual hunger, that is temporarily sated by food.

Emotional eating is a strong urge that they feel like they must fulfill because it is meeting a deeper need. This is what drives them to keep on doing it, even though they know it’s bad for them. Studies show that this is because a sugar addiction is just as powerful as a cocaine addiction. If you feel this might be you, I talk more about the dangers of sugar and offer a Ditch the Sugar Habit Bundle to help you.

How did the emotional eating start?

Emotional Eating Often Starts with childhood rewards

So, where did this correlation come from? How do we develop those triggers? Well, from our early years, food is treated as something other than a nutrition source. Think back to when you were a child – maybe even your toddler years. Remember hearing this–“You can have dessert when you finish your dinner.” That’s one form of turning food into something other than what it’s meant to be. You also may have been taken for a treat like ice cream if you got good grades. This is another way that parents turn food into a reward. It sets the stage for rewarding ourselves later in life when we need those “feel good” endorphins during stressful times.

Other situations

Another example is receiving a treat when we hurt ourselves or felt sad. For instance, if you fell off a bicycle, your mom or dad may have given you a popsicle or cookie to calm your tears. In this way, you grew up associating food as a form of solace and comfort.

You didn’t know it then, and neither did your parents, but you were being conditioned for a psychological link between eating and emotions. Even schools do this sometimes, such as handing out treats for those who followed a rule or got a certain grade.

(However, moms, giving kids food rewards doesn’t automatically lead to an emotional eating issue later on. But, it’s not a bad idea to switch it up with other rewards such as monetary rewards, toys, a special outing, or something else in place of food.)

Not everyone with these childhood experiences will develop an emotional eating issue, but for some people, they become predisposed. You start to see that unhealthy foods can be both convenient and comforting, eliminating some of your stress in certain moments. You may begin to think that in order to “make it through” a tough time, you need food to be on hand. 

Important role in social gatherings

Finally, food is an important part of social gatherings and happy times. Food isn’t just used for pain avoidance. Family dinners and events are filled with delicious meals, including birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving – even graduation celebrations, retirement parties and more.

We learn to associate specific foods or meals with feelings of happiness during these events, so they become woven into our lives with fondness. Later, when you encounter tumultuous times, you’ll seek out foods that may be unhealthy, simply because they take you back to a time when life was pleasant. So, I urge you to take some time to examine patterns of emotional eating, especially during the holiday season when we tend to put on extra weight. Food is only our medicine if it helps us attain health. It should never take the place of Jesus.

Learn more about how emotional eating and your emotions go hand in hand.

Check out Julie Naturally’s Healthy Mom Hacks for the Holidays series!

9 Best Fertility Herbs for Happy New Parents

pregnant woman in the grass with best fertility herbdsEpisode 56-In the United States, about 12% of women aged 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant and/or carrying a baby to term. That percentage increases as couples wait longer to have children and is in addition to the 6% who can’t get pregnant at all. That means that nearly 20% of women or 1 in 5 experience fertility issues. On top of this, male infertility has been increasing over the past four decades. That’s because average sperm counts are down by 52% compared to the early 1970’s. Maybe you and your husband are among these folks. So, it’s time we talk about the best fertility herbs and other natural helps we can try before turning to drugs and expensive fertility treatments.

Let’s Talk About Fertility

Most people take fertility for granted. But, many, many things have to go right in order to conceive a child. In women, several organs have to be working optimally. In men, the quality and quantity of sperm has to be high, in addition to an optimally functioning organ. Very often, we assume that if a woman is having her period, she is fertile. That is not necessarily true. We make similar assumptions about a man’s virility, but he may have low sperm, dead sperm,  or the pH of the vaginal tract could be killing the sperm. If there is low or dead sperm, there could be a physiological reason, such as having only one testicle.

But, if there is no physiological reason, many times, infertility can be reversed with the best fertility herbs and other natural helps. After all, sperm is produced in response to hormones and hormone production is influenced by diet, exercise, lifestyle factors, and other things.

Fertility in Women and Men

Hormonal Imbalance in Women

Hormone imbalances that lead to painful periods and PMS can also impact fertility. Low progesterone levels can lead to a short luteal phase. This is the phase right after ovulation that encourages thickening of the uterine lining. The progesterone also helps support the early weeks of pregnancy until the placenta forms. So, low progesterone means that the uterus doesn’t thicken to support the embryo and there is an early miscarriage.

On the other hand, low estrogen levels affect the release of an egg. Low estrogen doesn’t always mean there is a problem with the ovaries. It can indicate an issue with the pituitary gland instead. That’s because it’s the pituitary gland that releases follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that then triggers the rise in estrogen levels in the ovaries. Usually, it’s diabetes that can cause problems with the “master gland.”

Some other things that have been linked to hormone imbalances are birth control pills, weight issues, a very low-fat diet, excessive exercise, stress, and exposure to estrogen mimicking chemicals (endocrine disruptors), such as pesticides and certain plastics. All of these things don’t just affect women, though.  Lack of exercise, low-fat diets, and exposure to endocrine disruptors can cause fertility issues in men as well.

Special Note About Male Hormones

Endocrine disruptors and phytoestrogens such as soybeans interfere with the production of testosterone. Boys exposed to these chemicals for any length of time, especially in the first three months of life and/or during puberty, are at risk. Please, for the sake of your son’s masculine development, do not use endocrine disrupting chemicals! 

Do not use them during pregnancy, either, and eliminate them as much as possible from your home. It is difficult to get rid of all of them, but severely reducing them helps. And, if you are breastfeeding, be careful about your own exposure as these chemicals do find their way into breast milk. If you are unable to breastfeed, do not give your son soy-based formula.

Also of note is that high performance male athletes tend to have a higher sperm count than their sedentary peers. So, exercise has a significant impact on testosterone and sperm production. Men need to be active, but stay away from tight underwear. Sperm are temperature sensitive and a overly warm environment kills them.

Best Fertility Herbs, Lifestyle Tips, and Natural Helps

Easy Fixes

As I’ve already mentioned, a very low-fat diet and either excessive or no exercise can have a significant effect on hormones. Remember that being too thin also can render a woman temporarily infertile. Some key nutrients to pay attention to include vitamin B6, choline, arginine, zinc, and vitamin C. If you are eating a whole foods diet with a good variety of veggies and quality meats and eggs (both you and hubby),  you should be getting enough of these nutrients.

Listen to the podcast for more easy fixes!

When the Reason is More Challenging

Sometimes, it’s not as easy as some curtains, cream, or eating more fat. Sometimes other health issues such as abnormal thyroid function, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or diabetes affects a woman’s fertility.  Prolonged use of birth control or an undetected sexually transmitted infection (STI) can leave a woman sterile. STIs can destroy the fallopian tubes. So, if you were promiscuous before you were a married Christian and you didn’t have symptoms so you never got tested, now is the time! If you suspect that a health issue might be the root of your difficulty, please consult a qualified medical professional and discuss your challenges and concerns.

Best Fertility Herbs

Well, there are a lot of things that you can do to improve fertility! So, while you try to eat better, sleep better, and balance exercise with relaxation, learn more about the best fertility herbs that have traditionally helped many women conceive.

For Men

Panax Ginseng is the male herbal tonic of choice in Chinese medicine, much like Dang Quai is for women.

Damiana has long been known as an aphrodisiac herb and appears in herbals as a help for both men and women.

Horny Goat Weed is a specific for erectile dysfunction and was shown in a small study using rats to be effective in improving the condition.

Listen to the podcast for more fertility herbs for men!

For Women

A lot of the same herbs that help with irregular periods, PMS, and painful periods also help with female fertility as they are general tonics for the female reproductive system. So, you won’t find any surprises here.

Chasteberry/Vitex is a tonic for the whole female reproductive system and balances hormones as well as improves fertility.

Dang Quai is the female tonic favored by Chinese medicine to strengthen and vitalize women.

Raspberry is a delicious tea and overall tonic that includes vitamins and minerals needed for healthy fertility. It is traditionally advised for the length of pregnancy, but is just fine to add to a daily regimen.

Listen to the podcast to hear more fertility herbs for women!

Sign up to receive the FREE email series, 10 Herbs for Women’s Health, and learn more!

Natural Remedies for Breast Cysts You Need Now!

woman in flowers for natural remedies for breast cystsEpisode 55-Aside from menstrual issues, we women also regularly deal with breast health issues. Do your breasts feel tender, lumpy, or painful around your period? Maybe you’re dealing with breast cysts. In this episode, we’ll talk about natural remedies for breast cysts and the difference between cysts and tumors.

Learning more about breast cysts

What causes breast cysts and who gets them?

Breast cysts seem to be correlated to the menstrual cycle. If you have premenstrual syndrome or irregular cycles, you are more likely to get cysts. They are related to hormonal imbalances, but are more common among women under age 50.

What is the difference between breast cysts and breast tumors?

The difference between a breast cyst and a possible breast tumor is that a cyst is a watery, grape-like sac, whereas a tumor is composed of connective and gland tissue. Cysts often show up suddenly and then dissolve after a menstrual cycle. You can usually move them around with your fingers and they also usually cause pain and tenderness. On the other hand, tumors persist, feel more like a mass than a grape, and grow over time. These also tend to feel firm, usually don’t move around easily, and often go unnoticed because they don’t cause much discomfort.

It is important that you understand the differences and if you aren’t sure, check with your medical professional. And of course, you should see a medical professional about any changes in breast tissue that persists or grows. Most of the time, these changes are benign, but you want to make sure you don’t have early signs of breast cancer.

Natural remedies for breast cysts

So, we have two things to focus on–balancing hormones and dissolving the cysts. We want to use diet and herbs to help prevent the cysts from appearing in the first place. And, we also want to use natural remedies for breast cysts that appear in the meantime.

Balancing hormones

First, if you are using birth control pills, understand that this could be the cause of your cysts. Birth control pills can also cause blood clots, vitamin deficiencies, headaches, depression, and increased risk for breast cancer. However, it is a personal choice and seems to offer benefits that outweigh the risks for some women. As a Christian, I do not endorse the use of birth control pills, but have used and recommend natural family planning methods.

Second, as you’ve heard me say many times on this show, diet plays a key role in hormonal health. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, quality fats and proteins, and moderate to low in grains and high carb foods is best. Eliminating sugar or reducing it helps a lot, too. Alfalfa and probiotics also help. Processed foods increase inflammation, overload the liver, and contribute to hormonal imbalance.

Now, let’s talk about herbs and oils specific to the breasts and dissolving cysts.

Natural remedies for breast cysts

Herbs

Herbs for breast cysts include herbs that dissolve cysts generally and those that address breast health overall. If you are lactating or are pregnant, use caution. In addition, herbs that help balance hormones–such as Black Cohosh or Vitex–will also help prevent cysts. Listen to my podcast about PMS to learn more about other herbs that balance hormones. These herbs should be made as teas. Then, soak a clean linen towel with the very warm tea and apply to the affected breast as a compress.

Recommended herbs: Evening Primrose oil, Burdock root, Hops, American Spikenard, Calendula, Bupleurum, Figwort, Chickweed, and Red Clover. I listed several because of availability issues. With Burdock and Red Clover, you can also take the herb internally.

Essential Oils

Geranium is the principle essential oil for breast cysts. Other oils can be added which help with the pain or stimulate drainage, such as Roman Chamomile, Lavender, or Peppermint. However, Geranium diluted in a carrier oil and then massaged into the affected breast in a circular motion helps get rid of the cysts.

Other helps

Other natural remedies for breast cysts help increase circulation to clear the cyst, but aren’t necessarily solutions in themselves. Getting mild exercise increases the flow of lymph and drainage. Couple it with breast massage, hot compresses (especially with teas from the herbs mentioned above), and drinking lots of water. Those cysts will be gone quickly!

Sign up to receive the FREE email series, 10 Herbs for Women’s Health, and learn more!

Banish Painful Periods Forever With These Tips

painful periodsEpisode 54-Many, many women dread “that time of the month” because every month, they experience crippling painful periods. When I was a teenager, I became a frequent visitor to the nurse’s office every month because of this. Of course, the nurse couldn’t dispense any pain medications, so all I ever got was a hot water bottle. That didn’t really help all that much. It wasn’t until about ten years later that I learned how to banish painful periods forever. Let me share with you what I learned.

Helps for Painful Periods

At that time, I thought all women had painful periods. I mean, all the women in my family suffered. It wasn’t really something my friends and I talked about, but there were plenty of teen magazine articles about it. I thought it was inevitable, just like acne. Every month, I just took some pain medication and hoped it would go away. But, after a while, I needed more and more medication to dull the pain. My periods were very heavy, too, and at the time, I didn’t know the two things could be related. But, years later when I made this one change, everything else changed, too.

The first thing

The first thing I did was change my diet. I talked about this in the podcast on PMS symptoms, too. Diet is the foundation of any wellness regimen and my diet as a teen and young adult had been full of processed foods, sugar, and allergenic foods. Triggered by other health issues, I drastically changed what I ate and eliminated all allergens, processed food, and sugar. The transformation was amazing but it took three months! However, by eliminating those foods that caused a lot of inflammation and eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, I saw amazing things happen! The cramps weren’t just less intense, they were completely gone. That time of the month came along and I didn’t even know it. You can hear more about my story on the podcast!

Stress Relief and Exercise

Another major contributor to cramping and pain is stress. Sometimes it’s hard to escape or control stress, though. But, we can choose our attitude toward what’s going on around us and we can pray, leaving our burdens at the feet of Jesus. Other things we can do are meditate on God’s Word and exercise. Deep breathing, walking, running, dancing, biking, and other exercises all help us get rid of stress hormones. They also cause our bodies to release endorphins and increase serotonin levels. (Interestingly, a more whole foods diet also affects serotonin levels.)  Endorphins relieve pain and promote relaxation, while serotonin improves mood. So, exercise can be especially helpful if muscles are tight because of stress.

Herbal Helps for Painful Periods

There are times when, despite our best efforts, we still feel some tightness and cramping. A bath of Epsom salts can help as it soothes muscles and induces relaxation overall. Other herbal and essential oil helps include:

  • Rubbing a blend of lavender, clary sage, Roman chamomile, sweet marjoram, and everlasting dissolved in a carrier oil over the abdomen.
  • You could also create the blend and add it to bathwater.
  • Drinking crampbark, dang quai, squaw vine, and/or raspberry tea. You could also take the tincture. Capsules are another option.

Get more herbs for women’s health with my FREE email series! Sign up!

These tips definitely helped me, but sometimes painful periods are due to endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, tumors, or another serious condition. It’s wise to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect one of these conditions is the culprit. You may need medical treatment.


 

A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Courageous Movie

 

From the Kendrick Brothers, creators of the No. 1 box-office movie WAR ROOM and OVERCOMER, comes the remastered re-release of COURAGEOUS Legacy, in theaters September 24. Celebrating 10 years of impact on families and fathers, this updated version of the film includes new scenes and an enhanced look and sound.

Filled with action-packed drama, COURAGEOUS Legacy will once again have viewers laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.

Check out the trailer here!


How to Get Fast, Natural Relief for Hot Flashes

natural relief for hot flashesEpisode 53-If you are a woman in your 40’s, you are probably in the years known as perimenopause. It is during these years–especially in your late 40’s–that you may start experiencing hot flashes as well as other symptoms of declining hormone levels. Sometimes your doctor may suggest hormone replacement therapy to ease discomfort. But, hormone therapy can have unpleasant side effects. So, you may choose to try natural relief first. Learn more about these options in this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast.

What Are Hot Flashes and Why Do You Get Them?

First, let’s talk about what’s going on in your body. Most women know that they will cease getting their period sometime around age 50 or so and this is called menopause. But, women’s bodies start winding down and preparing for that time anywhere from four to fourteen years before that. That means that you can start experiencing symptoms of declining hormone levels as early as your late 30’s. However, for most women, symptoms don’t appear until a decade later. The age at which menopause occurs is genetic, but is also influenced by surgeries, pregnancies, and some health conditions.

Your hormonal cycle

Progesterone

The menstrual cycle is a dance between two hormones, progesterone and estrogen. We hear a lot about estrogen, but not so much about progesterone. Progesterone is produced by the remains of the egg follicle, or corpus luteum, after the egg is released. This hormone stimulates the uterus to thicken to support an embryo. So, progesterone levels are high in the second half of your cycle. Then, the corpus luteum naturally breaks down after 13-14 days if there’s no embryo. Then, of course, progesterone levels fall and you have your period.

But if there is an embryo, the corpus luteum (and progesterone) plays an important role in nourishing and supporting the growing baby until the placenta can take over. Progesterone levels remain high throughout pregnancy. It is the hormone that gives us that baby glow and makes us feel happy.

During perimenopause, your ovaries aren’t reliably stimulated to release an egg each month. That means that some months, you don’t release an egg. No egg, no progesterone, although your adrenal glands do produce a very small amount. Less progesterone then results in unpleasant PMS symptoms such as heavy bleeding, weight gain, mood swings, irritability, and more.

Estrogen

Now let’s talk about estrogen. At the beginning of the menstrual cycle, both estrogen and progesterone levels are low. The low levels stimulate the pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and this, in turn, stimulates the ovaries to produce more estrogen. Estrogen stimulates the follicles to mature an egg for release and levels continue to rise until ovulation, then dip briefly, and then rise again until menses.

During perimenopause, the declining number and quality of follicles means that less estrogen and less progesterone is produced. Sometimes the pituitary gland will produce more FSH as an extra effort to nudge the ovaries, but of course, it’s in vain. This is the time when hormone levels become erratic and periods become very irregular both in timing and in heaviness. We also experience more and more menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. Then finally, the ovaries aren’t producing any estrogen or progesterone. At that point, the little estrogen circulating comes from our adrenal glands and fat stores.

Natural Relief

Not every woman experiences hot flashes, but many do. Doctors are not sure what causes hot flashes since those who experience them have the same hormone levels as those who don’t. And even though menopause is a universal female experience, not all cultures experience it the same way. For example, women in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula do not report any menopausal symptoms at all. In addition, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Southeast Asian women also enjoy far fewer symptoms. This leads us to believe that cultural traditions, diet and lifestyle factors can play a significant role in a woman’s menopausal experience. So let’s explore some natural relief for hot flashes.

Diet and Supplements

  • Soy
  • Omega-3’s
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin E

Essential Oils

  • Clary Sage
  • Geranium
  • Sage
  • Vitex

Learn more about essential oils for women like you!

Herbs That May Provide Natural Relief for Hot Flashes

  • Vitex
  • Licorice
  • Black Cohosh
  • Dong Quai

Learn more about these natural helps on the podcast!

You might be interested in other podcasts in this series! Check out the podcast on yeast infections.

Want to know more about natural remedies for women? Grab the ten herbs for womens’ health email series!

 


A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Show Me The Father Movie

The Kendrick Brothers, creators of WAR ROOM and FIREPROOF, have some exciting news to share: they have TWO films coming to theaters this fall—SHOW ME THE FATHER on September 10 and COURAGEOUS Legacy on September 24.

Featuring a variety of amazing, true stories, the Kendrick Brothers’ new feature film SHOW ME THE FATHER takes audiences on an inspiring and emotional cinematic journey. Their first documentary film has something for everyone and invites you to think differently about how you view your earthly father story and also how you personally relate to God.

Check out the trailer here!


 

7+ simple natural yeast infection remedies for you to try

natural yeast infection remediesEpisode 52-Most women at some point in their lives get a yeast infection. Most of the time, we reach for an over-the-counter anti-fungal medication. But, sometimes we experience nasty side effects from those or we have an allergic reaction. So, it’s a good idea to know some natural yeast infection remedies to try. It’s also good to understand how to prevent those infections from occurring in the first place. Let’s explore how to help ourselves with this common issue.

First, prevent yeast infections!

A bit more about yeast

One key to understanding how to prevent yeast infections is to learn more about the yeast that naturally inhabits our bodies. Everyone has yeast and it has an important role in our internal ecosystem living in all of our potentially exposed areas: skin, mouth, intestines, and vagina. These areas are naturally acidic and keep yeast in check. That’s due in part to the Lactobacilli bacteria also living there that release a slightly acidic waste that helps maintain pH.

However, when there is an imbalance, a change in pH to more alkaline can encourage yeast to migrate and become a problem.  pH can also change because of douching. In addition, keep in mind that yeast eat sugar and decomposing organic matter. Undigested food in the intestines and a high sugar diet combined with a change in pH can spell disaster. Not only can it lead to yeast infections, but it can also lead to a systemic candida overgrowth that invades the rest of your body. We’ll talk more about how such imbalances occur in just a bit.

Symptoms of an infection

Most women are familiar with the intense itching, cottage cheese like discharge, and burning associated with yeast infections. But, it is important to distinguish yeast infections from bacterial infections which have different symptoms. If you’re not sure which one you have, it’s best to see a qualified health professional for a diagnosis. Bacterial infections require a different approach, so don’t overlook this.

Why you’re getting infections

So, why did you get the yeast infection in the first place? Remember that yeast migrates from the gut to the vagina because of pH changes and an absence of the bacteria that keep it in check. And, it reproduces rapidly when you eat a lot of sugar. That makes diabetics more vulnerable to yeast infections. But, diabetics are not the only ones. Women on birth control and women who take a lot of antibiotics are also prone to more yeast infections. Listen to the podcast to hear other causes of yeast infections.

So first line of defense is prevention! Eat a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet full of good fats and plenty of fruits and veggies. Be mindful of medications, including birth control and especially antibiotics. And consider switching your menstrual products. If you experience recurring yeast infections, maybe your husband has a yeast infection, too. Then, he should try some natural yeast infection remedies at the same time as you are to prevent this.

Natural Yeast Infection Remedies

Food and supplements as natural yeast infection remedies

Your first line of defense should be nutritional. While these types of natural yeast infection remedies don’t really kill the yeast, they serve other important purposes. First, they encourage good bacteria to grow which then changes the pH of your gut and vagina. These good bacteria also compete with yeast, creating the proper balance of both in your body. Second, these nutritional helps strengthen your immune system and make it harder for the yeast to grow and spread. So, make sure to incorporate them as part of your natural yeast infection remedies strategy.

Food and supplement helps:

  • biotin and other B vitamins
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin A
  • colostrum
  • probiotics
  • yogurt
  • lacto-fermented foods
  • apple cider vinegar
  • cranberry (unsweetened)

Herbs and essential oils as natural yeast infection remedies

Now here’s where we get into anti-fungal natural yeast infection remedies from plants. These remedies are usually applied directly to the site in the form of a douche or bolus/suppository. Delicate body parts require a great deal of care when we’re talking about essential oils. So, keep that in mind.

Herbs and oils known to have anti-fungal properties:

  • Garlic
  • Pau d’Arco
  • Goldenseal
  • Echinacea
  • Tea Tree essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Roman Chamomile essential oil

Listen to the podcast to hear about additional herbal and essential oil helps.

You might be interested in other podcasts in this series! Check out the podcast on PMS.

Want to know more about natural remedies for women? Grab the ten herbs for womens’ health email series!

Easy Tips For How to Help PMS Symptoms Improve

easy tips for how to help pms symptoms improveEpisode 51-Many women struggle with monthly cramps, cravings, irritability, and other symptoms. In this podcast, Julie kicks off a series on women’s health with some easy tips for how to help PMS symptoms improve. Try these tips if you want to feel better naturally and you’ve ruled out more serious issues such as PCOS or endometriosis.

First, let’s talk about hormones and estrogen.

What are hormones and what does estrogen do?

The simplest way to discuss hormones would be to liken them to a sort of telephone system that keeps your body up to date with information.  They help your body do things. These chemicals are made in specific organs in your body, which are then sent all over your body to tell your body what to do.

Estrogen is a female sex hormone, and the majority of it is created in your ovaries. Some of it is also produced by fat cells and extra fat can affect estrogen levels in your body.

Estrogen controls important processes in the body such as the menstrual cycle. Estrogen plays a role in many body processes besides the obvious ones such as puberty and pregnancy, too. For example, it can also influence your weight, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and specific other body tissues. It can also protect you from some health issues, such as bone loss.

Estrogen’s Job Changes During Your Life

One of the most interesting things about estrogen, is how much it’s job changes through your life. When you are young and beginning to become and adult, a period of time called puberty, estrogen send signals to cause different parts of your body mature. As you reach complete adulthood, estrogen also activates the growth of adult characteristics. Estrogen also keeps your body from continuing to ovulate when you become pregnant.

How to Help PMS: Recognize the Signs of Hormonal Imbalance

Although unpleasant, the body provides you with signs that help you to be able to find answers for various conditions. Hormonal imbalances are no exception, so some of the basic symptoms could be tenderness in your breasts, changes in your menstrual cycle, or weight gain around your midsection and thighs. Other symptoms can include sudden decreases in your sex drive, mood swings, depression, difficult periods, problems in the gallbladder, and endometriosis. If you have been experiencing and of these symptoms, see your doctor to be sure you don’t have underlying serious conditions that need medical attention.

To learn about important factors that contribute to hormone imbalance, listen to the podcast!

Tips for Improving PMS Symptoms

Before I share some easy tips, I want to say that these tips are for women who have already ruled out serious health conditions.  You will find that the best ways of how to help PMS symptoms are also the best ways to help many other health issues.

Foods that Help

As you might imagine, a healthy balanced diet plays a significant role in managing PMS symptoms. Some hormones in the body are made of protein chains. But androgens such as testosterone and estrogen are made of lipids, which means they are made from cholesterol. That’s why athletes who over train and have very little body fat often don’t menstruate and also have hormone imbalances. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight with an appropriate amount of body fat. That means a balanced diet of whole foods. Cutting the sugar and the junky snacks can do a lot for PMS.

These foods can be especially helpful:

  • cruciferous veggies,
  • berries/fruit,
  • nuts,
  • seeds
  • soy and other dried beans are high in phytoestrogens but be careful.
  • probiotics

Another thing to consider is going gluten free. Just like sugar, for many people gluten can cause inflammation and gut issues. Gut imbalances have been linked to the mood swings and depression experienced during PMS. That’s because 95% of the feel good hormone serotonin is produced in the gut.

Lifestyle Helps

In the podcast, I discuss a few other ways to improve your symptoms through lifestyle changes. Listen in to learn about those!

To learn more natural tips for how to help PMS, grab the email series on 10 herbs for women.

Other information you might find helpful:

Five Favorite Essential Oils for Busy Moms You Need to Know

How to Stop Emotional Eating in 5 Simple Steps

How to Lift Mood Now! Feel Better Fast!