Tejomaya Wellness

A Blog About Well-Being

The Sweet Life: Honey’s Surprising Health Benefits

     Hey There, Well-Beings!

It’s a blazer out there today, so I’m planning to be inside tackling some of the tasks I’ve been putting off while the weather was a little more pleasant. Because I try never to leave you hanging, I wrote this article for the July issue of Inner Child Magazine and wanted to share it with you! Did you know that using honey can sweeten your health? How’s that for good news?! I hope you enjoy my findings and have a wonderful rest of your week!

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

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It’s probably safe to assume that most of you have sweetened a beverage or baked good with honey at some point in your life. Maybe you drizzled a little on your oatmeal this morning, or even swapped out refined sugar in favor of this nectarous, golden elixir. Honey is more than a thrill for our tastebuds, though. It has been used as both a medicine and a food for centuries. It’s depicted in a 10,000 year old Spanish rock painting, it was left in the tombs of pharaohs by the Ancient Egyptians, and is mentioned in the sacred texts of almost every major religion. It’s been used to dress the wounds of Roman soldiers and clay tablet prescriptions have been discovered dating as far back as 2000 B.C. from the region of Nippur. It seems our ancestors knew that its value was worth more than its weight in gold. The good news is that you can still use honey today to address a number of health concerns and reap its tasty benefits for yourself.

Honey is full of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds like flavonoids. These antioxidant compounds have a host of benefits, including lowering blood pressure, decreasing bad LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol, and lowering triglyceride levels. All of these benefits can have positive effects on heart health and show promise in assisting Type 2 diabetics when honey is used to replace table sugar in the diet.

Honey has been a common ingredient in home remedies for cough and commercial cold medicines for years. In fact, in a 2010 study showed that honey scored better than two common cold remedies, dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine, in relieving nighttime coughing in both children and adults. It’s also becoming a commonly accepted form of seasonal allergy relief, thanks to some promising discoveries in the field of immunotherapy. Pollen found in local honey is introduced to the allergy sufferer in such a small amount that it may help them build immunity to it over time. Keep in mind, that honey from other regions may not have the desired effect.

Honey isn’t just good for the insides. Research suggests it has a healing effect on the skin, as well. One such group of studies touts the use of honey as an effective treatment for diabetic ulcers, while another series suggests that it may help heal partial thickness burns and wounds infected after surgery. That’s because researchers believe that honey’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help protect and nourish skin tissue. That’s also why you might see it in the beauty creams in high end cosmetic shops and in DIY skincare recipes.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that honeybees are hurting. They are dying at an alarming rate and they need a little compassionate human intervention to survive. Get to know your local beekeepers at farmer’s markets in your town and like or friend them on social media. When you see a hive in your neighborhood or somewhere that it’s likely to be sprayed and lost, give them a call so it can be properly captured and cared for. The health benefits of honey could be lost to us forever if we don’t first concern ourselves with the health of the honeybee. Do your part to save them and sweetness will follow.

Putting Down the Pen: When it’s Time to Stop Telling a Story (& Start Telling a Better One)

     Hey There, Well-Beings!

From the moment I could speak my first full sentence, I’ve always been a detailed and passionate storyteller. Being a writer has always been in the cards for me, even when I occasionally try on other career hats in my personal time. I love being able to express myself with language, even ones that aren’t native to me. Regardless of genre, stories entertain us. They elicit response through emotion, and they help us process those emotions into memories so we can hold on to them in a meaningful way. They can be wonderful tools for tapping into our own wells of insight and intuition, and can even help us recognize patterns of destruction or self-sabotage in our own lives so we can nip that ish in the bud.

Sometimes though, the stories we tell no longer benefit us, and we end up just reading aloud from the same chapter to our captive audience. At its worst, bad storytelling can cause us to shut our laptops and shelve a writing project right in the middle of the conflict stage of the story, mere pages away from a climactic plot-twist and a satisfying conclusion. John Greenleaf Whittier gets where I’m going with this. In his 1856 poem Maud Muller he expressed it perfectly:

“For of all sad words of tongue and pen,

The saddest are these: It might have been!”

 

I’m not exempt from bad storytelling, nor am I convinced we haven’t all written ourselves into a corner a time or two. It was pretty recently that I realized how often I was letting anxiety and depression prevent me starting a new chapter on a fresh page. It’s been eye-opening to pinpoint moments when I let unfounded fear, unhealthy environments, and grief that was no longer healing, keep me from the kinds of experiences that make for a captivating memoir.  Of course, I wouldn’t have been able to set our plucky heroine on this path of honest self-revelation without the help of a few Pulitzer Prize winning authors in my life (read: my awesomely supportive doctor, my spiritual support, and other trusted advisors).

When it’s time to stop telling certain stories from your past so you can revel in the present and create a fulfilling future, it’s my hope that you remember that you, too, have a team of bestselling authors to consult should you find your plot has problems and that you always remember that you hold the pen when it comes to writing your own story. You deserve a happy ending.

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

 

Jennifer

From the Archives: Sun Protection Foods -Nature’s SPF

floating    Hiya, Well Beings!

I’m off this weekend, enjoying some free time with my fella before starting a new job in a week. In the meantime, I thought we could all use a little boost of SPF as we spend the next few days out in the summer sun at all of those 4th of July parties. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

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There’s something about Summer that brings people outdoors. Whether it’s block parties, barbecues, or taking the kids on a family vacation, we sure do like to gather under the sun. While Vitamin D is an important building block to health, too much exposure to the sun has consequences that can harm us. We’ve all been told time and time again to wear our sunscreen when prolonged exposure is unavoidable, but there are some additional ways to ward off UVA and UVB rays, and guess what? You get to eat them!


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Vegetables – Your mother was right. You need to eat your broccoli! That’s because it contains sulphoraphane, a powerful antioxidant with anti-cancerous effects that helps the cells in your body protect themselves against UV damage. Leafy greens are a good idea, too. They have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer by as much as 50%. In the mood for some fresh garden salsa? Bell peppers and tomatoes are both great sources of lycopene, which has been shown to have an SPF of anywhere from 1-3. Sweet potatoes and carrots offer beta carotene and Vitamin C, which help protect the skin against free radical damage with their high antioxidant content. Slice both into long matchsticks, drizzle with olive oil and herbs and bake for a healthy substitute for fries with your grilled goodies.

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Fruits – Watermelon is a warm weather staple, and it’s not just a delicious way to stay hydrated! Its lycopene content is almost 40% higher than that of tomatoes. Other fruits with high levels of lycopene include papaya, guava and grapefruit. Pomegranates are an excellent source of polyphenols like catechins, which strengthen the top layers of skin and allow them to resist UV rays. Vitamin C is found in all varieties of citrus fruit , but can be found in berries and kiwi to fend off nasty free radicals, as well. Blend these beauties into a smoothie or use them to make a fabulous and functional fruit salad.

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Beverages – If you’re going to be out in the sun, it’s just smart to drink water to avoid dehydration, but water also helps keep skin’s Natural Moisture Factor (NMF) high. This isn’t just a fancy name, either. It helps skin protect itself from environmental factors that cause damage, like the sun. While you may not be in a hurry to put the kettle on as temperatures creep into the triple digits, taking your green or black teas iced will provide plenty of polyphenols to help skin fend off the sun’s rays. If the idea of drinking plain tea or water doesn’t excite you, slice any of the fruits above and add them to your glass for color and flavor. Infusing your teas and waters is a tasty trend that’s sun smart, too.

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Sunscreen is still the gold standard in sun protection and you definitely shouldn’t leave home without it, but isn’t it nice to know that salsa and smoothies can save your hide, too? Be the perfect party guest by offering to make a delicious, double-duty side dish. Now that you’ve done your dietary due-diligence, rest easy and enjoy those lazy days of Summer!

Gratitude Review: June

Untitled design(1)     Hey There, Well-Beings!

It’s hard to believe it’s the last week of June. It’s been a pretty busy month for me. I typically opt to curl up at home with a good book, but was able to connect with a few good friends and my family to celebrate my birthday this month, and am really thankful for each of those moments.

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Speaking of birthdays, my fella got us both Kindles this year! I’ve been wanting one for a while, but wasn’t as focused as I wanted to be for Black Friday last year, so I was really surprised when he showed up on Saturday with one for the both of us. We used to go to the library, or hit up the local book fairs and charity sales and then spend one hour of our Saturday together reading. I’m not sure how we got out of the habit, but it was something we both enjoyed doing because we could devote some uninterrupted time to our book of choice, but still be together. I’m thankful that we will be picking up where we left off, and maybe also a little grateful (okay, a lot) that I can watch Netflix in bed! I’ve got new seasons of three of my faves to catch up on.

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This month, I also joined a really amazing essential oil group that’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  Even with my 20 years of experience in aromatherapy, I am still learning something new almost every day and I am surrounded by the most amazing women  who are holistic health professionals, body and energy workers, creative business owners, and some of the coolest and most supportive people in the industry.  I am incredibly fortunate to have been pointed there and even more excited about all of the inspiration I’ve gained and will be able to direct toward an abandoned project that I thought was lost for good.  This has been life changing for me, and I’m only a month in! I can’t wait to see where I am in a year from now.

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My outdoor photo shoots have been ramping up lately, too.  In fact I’m even looking at adding a fourth camera to my collection and am squirreling away a little cash here and there to make that a reality. (You should see the pictures this thing takes! I cannot wait to take it out for a spin!) I’m even exploring the option of taking an evening class to enhance my skills and get better behind the lens and am having so much fun taking day trips out to practice my craft. I don’t know where I’m headed with this quite yet, but I’m really enjoying the journey and am thankful for the outlet.

What has been making you so happy that you just want to tell the world? Do you have any good news to share? What is the single most gratitude inspiring thing to happen to you in the last few weeks? Share in the comments below and let’s celebrate each other’s happy moments this past month!

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

 

Jennifer

You Know What They Say About Assumptions…

image     Hey There, Well-Beings!

My friend and mentor pointed me to this article on the Zen concept of Shoshin, and it helped me find peace in a time where I really needed it. I’d been having some troubles in one of my daily interactions with someone and it’s helped me approach the entire situation from a place of calm empowerment, rather than one of heartbreak, misgiving, and tightening of the solar plexus. As someone with a maybe overly soft-heart that’s often broken by the goings-on of the world, I’m grateful to add it to my growing arsenal of stress management tools.

Shoshin means “beginner’s mind” and in its purest definition encourages us to approach subjects without preconceptions; as if we know nothing, because an expert’s perceived knowledge of a topic limits them experiencing things with the openness and eagerness that a new student might. Of course that can be a bit of a preconception in and of itself, so I prefer to simplify it further by thinking of it as going into all things with a blank slate. It’s taught generally, but for me, it’s had many applications in my dealings with other people, and has helped me to avoid making assumptions when I don’t, and probably will never have, the entire picture.

Say for instance you’re pulling out into traffic, and you end up behind someone reluctant to turn. Now, you could lay on the horn and extend your digitis medius, but you might not be aware that the person in the car in front of you has just received tragic news about a loved one, and is attempting to remain functional while also processing a great deal of shock and grief. I’ve quite literally been in both driver’s seats at one point in my life. It’s easy to just mutter the word asshole under our breath, but better to show a second of patience and compassion for the person in front of us because, sure they might just be texting and not paying attention, but on the off chance that they aren’t, it’s better to give everyone a little room and come from a loving place.

A very humbling lesson came my way a few years ago after catching up with old coworker. We’d all assumed that our former boss was just a terrible person. Her behavior was erratic and unpredictable, and made for some truly infuriating experiences. Sometimes she’d tell you at the beginning of a shift that you could leave early, and then threaten to write you up for packing up before dinner service had ended. Other times she’d tell you to do a task a certain way, and then would be upset when you had completed it according to her exact specifications. I’d finally and personally had enough after explaining that my schedule would be changing when I went back to school in the fall and was only available to work weekends, but had been consistently scheduled to work weeknights. I reluctantly worked my weeknight schedule for the duration of my two weeks notice, but hung on to that resentment for a number of years until learning recently that my former boss had succumbed to a brain tumor that had been affecting her mood and behavior for quite some time. I’d been bitterly angry with a woman who had a then undiagnosed cancer raging inside her mind and assumed it was about me. Take it from me; you do not ever know what it is like to be somebody else.

You won’t be able to control what someone whispers about you when you leave a room, but you can control your response and the lingering sting from it by realizing that perspective is only helpful when it’s wide and without conjecture. It might help you give that grumpy person in front of you at Starbucks enough grace to soften and find sweetness, but even if it doesn’t, it will at the very least allow you to hang on to yours.

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

Beautiful Benefits: Supplements That Turn Back the Clock

youthful     Hey There, Well-Beings!

I had the pleasure of writing this article for Inner Child Magazine a couple of months back and wanted to share it with you this week, because Summer is drawing nearer.  Season changes are a good time for me to assess my skincare steps to see what’s working and what needs tweaking, so it might be the right time to look at your own routine and see if it’s still giving you the results that you want, or if you don’t have a routine, to establish a personalized self-care ritual that you look forward to twice each day.  Get glowing!

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

 

Jennifer

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There are plenty of things we can do while we’re young to keep our skin from aging too quickly. We’ve all been told to drink plenty of water and use our sunscreen, but at some point, time catches up with us and begins to show on our face. While we may not be able to stop the aging process entirely, there are some natural options out there to help us keep our youthful glow that won’t break the bank or give you worry lines.

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Collagen – When we start losing collagen, we start seeing wrinkles. Your first inclination may be to reach for a collagen cream, and while it will provide skin with essential moisture, the molecules are often too large to truly plump up collagen supplies. This is where supplements and collagen producing foods shine. Bone broth is all the rage for a variety of wonderful health reasons, but did you know that it contains collagen which will help with the effects of aging? You can also look to brightly colored fruits like tomatoes and watermelon, which contain lycopene, to protect collagen stores. Collagen is also available in capsule form at your local health food store.

green tea

Antioxidants – We are exposed to free radicals 24 hours a day. Even if we never smoked or consumed alcohol and always used our sunscreen, we’d still be subject to stress and pollution and that’s enough to produce evidence on the skin. Scientifically speaking, free radicals are atoms that are missing an electron and in order to recoup their losses, they steal our skin’s electrons. If you want to counter free radical damage, you want to use an antioxidant, which fights free radicals by giving an extra electron to the process, keeping our skin protected. We can introduce antioxidants into our systems internally, by eating a variety of fresh fruits and veggies and drinking green and white teas. You can even make your own antioxidant skincare treatments with ingredients you likely already have on hand.

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Hyaluronic Acid – Hyaluronic Acid is a gel like molecule that holds water. Our bodies produce it naturally, but that production starts to decline as we age. When we’re in our prime, Hyaluronic Acid fills and protects our eyes, cushions our nerves and joints, and it keeps our skin, hair and nails hydrated, and as we age its loss is something we are likely to notice not just in the way we feel, but as we glance in the mirror. The good news is, Hyaluronic Acid is available in both supplement form and in many skincare products. Because the loss of Hyaluronic Acid is likely evident on both the skin and in other areas of the body, it may be a good idea to double up on its benefits by utilizing a serum or skin cream as well as taking a capsule or liquid form internally.

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Time ticks by no matter what we do, but taking steps to nourish, protect, and replenish ourselves now can keep people guessing about exactly how much time has passed. Eating a clean diet, supplementing where needed, and maintaining a good skincare routine may be all that’s necessary to keep Father Time at an arm’s length and leave your worry lines in the past. Beautiful skin is here to stay!

Gratitude Review: May

image     Hey There, Well-Beings!

Goodness, it’s really been a while since I posted a Gratitude Review! I certainly haven’t been ungrateful, just using some much needed downtime over the past couple of months to learn how to set better boundaries on my time, take care of my own health and well being, and feel my way through what I want this blog to be. One of the things I enjoyed writing the most each month was the Gratitude Review, because it gave me a moment to pause and look back at the four weeks that had passed and file away a few winning moments so I went into the next month feeling more positive, well adjusted, and happier. I’m really quite thankful that I’ve decided to start that up again, after the long time away.

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Last week I took my cameras out of their cases and found my way back to a creative outlet that I fell in love with a few years ago: nature photography. I’d forgotten how liberating it felt to get outside and get behind a camera lens. I appreciate many other forms of creativity, but this one put me in a place to literally stop and smell the roses. I am thankful for the opportunity to slow down, take in every detail, and really savor something that fills my heart and recharges my battery.

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I got really sick this past month. It sent me to the doctor a couple of times and had me in bed for four and a half days. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to be thankful for, but it allowed me the opportunity to flex my natural health muscles and use some herbs and oils that I’d have had a much longer recovery time without. Don’t get me wrong! I’m plenty thankful for modern medicine, but I’m especially thankful for all of the resources I’ve had access to over the years and the wonderful teachers I was sent so I could learn an art that literally saved my life once.

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Another thankful thing to come out of my sick time this month was that I used the time to get reacquainted with an app that got lost in the shuffle over the past couple of years. My body was resting, but I needed a little help getting my mind to cooperate and follow suit. Insight Timer is a free app that connects you to a community of people who meditate with a massive library of free guided meditations, a nifty timing tool for days when you want to go it alone, and groups with specific interests that match your own. I used it pretty faithfully for a while, but then I started exploring other techniques and during one of those dreaded-data-storage warnings, it ended up getting sacrificed to spare my music and photo editing apps. I’m thankful that I rekindled this relationship. It’s deepening my practice and holding me accountable each day.

I want to hear from you! What made you grateful in the month of May? Did you go anywhere exciting? Did you get an early start on your summer reading list? What’s making you happy these days?  Share your comments below and let’s keep the good feelings going.

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

 

Jennifer

Gratitude Review_

 

Cultivating Bliss: How Does Your Garden Grow?

image     Hey There, Well-Beings!

I went to see my mentor and friend for a healing session on Friday night and she gave me some homework. In my meditation time, I have been focusing on bliss and it’s been just what the Reiki Master ordered! I’ve been so down deep in depression and wound so tight with anxiety that my routine left little time to enjoy the things I used to light up about and I slipped into survival mode. Our talk really got me thinking about how untended my mental, physical and spiritual garden has been while I’ve been going about the business of just getting through life, so I decided to take her advice a step further and go on an impromptu adventure today! I played hooky from my usual Sunday writing and got out in the sunshine. My camera had been calling and so had our local rose garden. It’s one of my favorite places to spend a day, happily snapping as many photos as I can. There’s also a lovely little greenhouse on the property, filled with lots of little treasures. Here are a few shots from my trip to midtown:

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Depth Perception: How to Fix Your Gratitude Problem

bench-1245994_1920     Hi There, Well-Beings,

It’s been a while since I have been able to get a post up. The website went a little wonky in the past couple of weeks and it took some time to get those wonks ironed out. I’m back though, and ready to share something that’s been on my heart lately.

I’ve been preaching gratitude for a while now. I still believe in its transformative powers, and I think it’s a good place to start whenever you’re down and out and don’t know what to do. If I’m being honest though, life has thrown me so many lemons lately that I stopped making lemonade, because I’d gotten kinda sick of drinking it. In moments that felt totally overwhelming, I used to find comfort in being able to rattle off a couple of things that I felt thankful for and it helped me save the day, even if only a little, but I was so burned out that even my never-fail list felt empty and ineffective. Great. Even the thing I tell people “changed my life” isn’t working anymore. How do you bounce back from that?

I’d been going over old Facebook posts, notebooks, and journal entries and wondering what happened. One of the things that really stuck me was how much more detail I used to use in describing things. Then, scribbled in the corner of page in one of my idea notebooks was a quote by Marie Forleo that helped me to see why my practice was failing, “When it comes to gratitude, the dividends are in the details.”

I’ve changed the way I’ve been thankful for things in the past week, and I believe it’s making a big difference. Rather than rattling off three things and getting on with my day, I’ve tried giving myself just one thing to focus on and then really experiencing it in as much detail as possible, by journaling about it or making it part of my daily meditation practice. For example, if I was thankful for my dog, (and you bet I am), I might recall how sweet it is when he curls up next to me while I’m writing, or the way he gives run by kisses when I’m in the kitchen filling his food bowl. I might also remember what a comfort it was having him in my life while I was grieving, or how his love of a sunny spot in the grass on a nice day reminds me to slow down and enjoy life a little more. I couldn’t forget the goofy little dance he does when I make popcorn and “accidentally” drop a few pieces. See? Quality, not quantity. There’s always a lot of quality when you take time to notice it.

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I want to know how you’re doing. Are things humming along or have you started to forget the words? Do you have any tips for bringing more depth to your gratitude practice? Leave a comment below and let’s talk it out. You never know how your contribution might set off the spark of gratitude in someone else.

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

 

Jennifer

 

 Depth Perception

Keeping Your Nose Clean: The Neti Pot

basket-1846135_1920  Hey There, Well Beings!

Back in February, I wrote an article for Inner Child Magazine about neti pots. I’ve been a devoted fan of the neti pot for years, and it always helps me tremendously when springtime allergies kick in around this time of year.  It’s not Valentine’s Day anymore, but since I use my neti pot year round, I thought you might still enjoy learning about this strange, but useful contraption.  I think you’ll find that it will help you soothe your sneezes!

Wishing You Total Well-Being,

Jennifer

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It’s February, and love is in the air. Since Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of cold and flu season, there’s the potential for some germs to be in the air, as well. Getting a good night’s sleep, eating a clean and healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise are all good ways to give your immune system a fighting chance, but there’s another way to help your chances of being struck by Cupid’s bow rather than a nasty virus or infection, and it starts with your nose.

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We take in approximately 11,000 liters of air in a day, with our nose acting as a primary filter for most of whatever happens to be traveling with that air. When things are working normally in the nose, your cilia keep mucus moving along in your nasal passages, bringing it to your nose to be blown out or to the back of the throat. When things become congested in there or the membranes inflame due to allergens these hair-like cilia can benefit from a good rinsing to thin mucus and get rid of the irritants that are clogging up the works. That’s where the neti pot comes in.

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The neti pot has been used in Aryuvedic therapy for centuries, but is just now getting it’s due in the west as allergy and sinus suffers are discovering its ability to ease congestion and clear pollen and other debris from nasal passages. They come in a variety of materials from plastic to copper, and in the traditional teapot-style or more modern squeeze-bottle designs. No matter what type you use though, the end result is the same: to irrigate the sinuses by flushing out mucus and any particles inside the nose that may contribute to illness or inflammation. By inserting the tip of the neti pot inside the nostril and directing a warm, salt water solution through to the other side on a regular basis, health experts suggest that you can prevent or shorten the duration of colds, reduce snoring, ease sinus headaches, improve taste and smell and more.

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Neti pots can be found in pharmacies and health food stores, and are typically inexpensive when compared to nasal sprays and medications. Prepackaged saline packets can be purchased, or can be made at home with minimal cost and supplies. Keeping your neti pot clean and sterile is recommended, especially if it is being used to clear congestion due to illness or to clear seasonal irritants. Nasal irrigation can be performed as frequently as needed, and some experts suggest doing it as often as you brush your teeth. There are some circumstances and pre-existing conditions that can be affected by use of a neti pot though, so always talk to your doctor before starting any new alternative therapies to make sure they will enhance your health and not hurt it. Once you get the okay, take some extra time to stop and smell the roses. They ought to be especially lovely, now that you can breathe.

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