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February Issue of Natural Alternatives
February 01, 2017

Natural Alternatives for Your Total Health

February 2017

Hello, and welcome to this edition edition of my Natural Alternatives Newsletter!

I hope you will enjoy reading this issue.

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“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” ~Hippocrates







By Elizabeth Scott, MS

While art therapy is its own field, you can use the benefits of art to express your creative side and drawing skills to reduce stress and get in touch with your feelings. I think most of us knew this instinctively as kids: virtually all of us know the joys of sculpting something (with play-dough), painting something (with fingers), or drawing (with crayons and other materials).

However, other than making random doodles in the margins of a page while you’re on killing time, if you’re like most adults, you don’t express yourself with art like you did as a kid.

There are many reasons that art is a great stress relief tool, even for those who don't consider themselves to be artistic.

Benefits of Art

One of the reasons that clinical art therapy is effective is that the act of drawing and creating art can help you relieve stress in several ways. Here are some ways that creating art can alleviate stress:


Drawing and art can take your mind off of what’s stressing you, at least for a few minutes. And when you’re finished being engrossed in your sketches, you should have a clearer head with which to tackle your problems again.


There’s a certain quality of being called “flow” that experts say is very beneficial for us. This refers to a state of being completely engaged in something to the point of being in a near-meditative state. It carries many of the benefits of meditation, leaving you much less stressed when you’re done. You can experience ‘flow’ when you’re doing creative activities like writing and even gardening.

You can also get it from drawing.


Just the act of having a hobby can make you feel more balanced in your lifestyle. Sometimes, with all of life’s responsibilities, we forget that we need and deserve ‘down time’ and self-care. Taking even a few minutes on a regular basis to devote to a hobby can give you more of what you need in this area.

And, with drawing, you have the additional benefit of being left with something beautiful (or at least interesting) to show for it!

Read more about the other research-proven benefits of art and creative expression for stress relief.

Do-It-Yourself Art Therapy for Stress Relief

One of my favourite ways to use drawing for stress relief is to maintain a sketch diary. Keeping a sketchbook can be a form of journaling, and it can be cathartic, creative, and stress relieving. You can use a journal for personal art therapy and stress management in the following ways:

Draw Out Your Emotions  

Sketch pictures that describe your feelings related to things in your life that are causing you stress currently. If it’s in the back of your mind anyway, this could be a way of processing your related emotions, reducing some of the stress they carry.

Process Old Stress  

Sketch abstract pictures that express feelings related to past stressful experiences, as a way of processing your emotions and healing.

Keep a Sketch Diary  

Keep a ‘Dream Sketch Diary’, and sketch scenes from dreams you’d like to remember or better understand.

Record the Beauty in Life  

Keep a sketch diary of what you think is beautiful in life. Draw the faces of those you love, places that bring you peace, or other pieces of beauty. The process of sketching can be a great stress reliever, and revisiting your creations can also bring you some peace in the future.

Enjoy Coloring Books  

Start enjoying some of the adult coloring books that have become popular—they can be especially relaxing for those who don't feel artistic, but want to create easy, beautiful, and stress-free pictures. Find more ideas for using art in your daily life for stress relief.

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

Elderberry, scientific name Sambucus nigra, comes from the elder tree, which is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. It also grows across the United States and Canada. Many cultures have appreciated and relied on the elder tree for everything from musical instruments to food and medicine. In medieval Europe, the elder tree was revered as holy and reputed to have health-preserving and restorative properties.For centuries, folk remedies in the form of teas, poultices, creams, and salves have all been produced from the elderberry and used to encourage good health, alleviate respiratory distress, and soothe irritated skin.

Alternatively called the “tree of music,” the wood from the elder tree is hard and well-suited for making instruments. The genus name, Sambucus, actually comes from the flutes the ancient Greeks carved from hollowed elder tree stems. The Sambuca, a large triangular harp from Europe, was also named after the tree from which it came. Woven baskets are another common use for elder wood; twigs are soaked in elderberry dye, dried, and then woven into designs with other twigs of contrasting colors. Other uses for elderberry wood include blowguns, combs, pegs, arrow shafts, and spindles for spinning yarn.

Elderberry in Folk Medicine

Believed to help everything from arthritis to livestock ailments, the elder tree and its products have been used in traditional medicine for centuries.Elderberries and elderflowers have traditionally been consumed or applied topically to remedy pain, swelling, infections, respiratory ailments, and skin conditions. From Europe to the United States, poultices and preparations have been used to expedite wound healing and prevent infection. Although recent science isn’t in complete agreement, traditional mindsets have believed that elderberry helps ward off a cold or flu and elderflower tea can break a fever.

Health Benefits of Elderberry

Although scientific interest in traditional medicine has surged in recent years, Traditional European Medicine is largely unexplored when compared to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Fortunately, Eastern European folk remedies (which include elderberry) have been preserved and passed down. Ongoing studies are evaluating and better establishing the benefits of elderberry.

1. Promotes General Health and Wellness

One of the elder’s greatest strengths is the nutritional content of elderberries. Elderberries contain flavonoids that are rich in antioxidants that help protect cells from free radical damage. A diet high in flavonoids can help lower the risk of developing chronic diseases.Elderberries actually rank higher than blueberries, blackberries, and even goji berries in both flavonoids and vitamin C content.

Like the berries, elderflowers are a good source of vitamin C but also have immune-strengthening compounds. Elderflower tea can be used to aid indigestion, edema, or a headache. The leaves may ease discomfort associated with constipation as it has a slight laxative effect.

2. May Alleviate Some Flu and Cold Symptoms

Preliminary research suggests elderberry may help offer a positive influence to some symptoms associated with cold or flu, but more rigorous research is necessary to verify these claims. Scientists have noticed a decrease in congestion and symptom duration when conventional therapies are supplemented with elderberry. The compounds in elderberries and elderflowers may reduce mucosal membrane inflammation and help alleviate congestion.

In one study, subjects suffering from influenza-like symptoms were given elderberry syrup. Those who consumed the elderberry noticed significant symptom relief about 4 days earlier than the subjects given a placebo. A similar study found that subjects given elderberry extract improved within a 48-hour period. More than a quarter of all subject were completely void of symptoms, and over half showed significant improvement. Only 16% of the placebo group reported improvements and none experienced a complete recovery.

3. Supports Healthy Looking Skin

Elderberry, elderflower, and elder leaf concoctions have long been used to address skin ailments in both humans and animals. As a bath or wash, the flowers and leaves promote cleanliness at a microscopic level and provide some relief from wounds, sprains, sores, and bruises. The flowers may also improve complexion by toning and softening skin. Short-term exposure to the anthocyanins in elderberry is thought to improve skin appearance.

Elderberry Foods

Across the globe, elderflowers and elderberries have been incorporated into many types of cuisine. Flowers and berries are made into flavorful syrups or baked into pancakes and muffins. They can even be dipped in batter and fried. The berries make distinctive pies, jams, jellies, candies, and sauces.

Elderberry is also used to brew beverages. Medicinal teas and elderberry wine are made from either the flowers or berries. Sambuca, an Italian liqueur, is made with anise, and elderberries. Socată, a traditional carbonated Romanian drink, is made by boiling elderflowers with lemon and sugar and fermenting the mixture for 3-6 days.

Raw berries are not often eaten intentionally because they tend to taste tart or bitter and can even cause illness. Elderberries contain cyanogenic glycosides, or cyanoglycosides, which can cause a drop in blood pressure, abdominal cramping, headache, vomiting, and other unpleasant symptoms that may require medical attention. Elderberries are not the only food to contain cyanoglycosides; yucca (tapioca), lima beans, almonds, sorghum, apple seeds, cherry juice, and bamboo shoots also contain cyanoglycosides. Like elderberries, these foods are quite safe to eat when properly prepared.

How to Find Elderberry

One of the most significant benefits of the elderberry is its action against some types of harmful organisms. In fact, that’s one of its most attractive features for those who participate in natural health.Elderberry extracts, syrups, tinctures, lotions, capsules, and teas are available for purchase at many retailers.

by Kathy Wong, ND

Qigong (also referred to as "qi gong" and "chi kung") is a healing system long used in traditional Chinese medicine (a form of alternative medicine that originated in China). Proponents claim that qigong can enhance health by stimulating the flow of vital energy (or "chi").

How is Qigong Used for Health Purposes?

Qigong takes two main forms: internal qigong (a combination of meditation, movement, and breathing exercises) and external qigong (in which a trained qigong master uses his or her own chi to promote healing in the patient).

Tai chi, another form of qigong, is a gentle martial art often used to reduce stressand aid in treatment of various health conditions (such as arthritis and anxiety).

The Science Behind the Health Benefits of Qigong

While research on qigong is limited, a number of studies suggest that qigong may benefit people with certain health problems. Here's a look at several findings from the available research:

1) Chronic Pain

External qigong therapy may be somewhat useful for pain management, according to a 2007 research review published in the Journal of Pain. In their analysis of five clinical trials, the review's authors found that patients receiving external qigong therapy experienced greater improvements in chronic pain (compared to those assigned to control groups).

2) Diabetes

For a 2009 report from Complementary Therapies in Medicine, investigators sized up nine clinical trials on the use of qigong among people with type 2 diabetes.

Although some trials showed that qigong may have positive effects on insulin sensitivity and several other factors, the review's authors concluded that there is not enough evidence to suggest that qigong is effective in treatment of diabetes.

3) High Blood Pressure

Some research shows that qigong may help lower your blood pressure, according to a 2007 report from Journal of Hypertension.

Reviewing 12 clinical trials, the report's authors found "some encouraging evidence" that qigong may help reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number on a blood pressure reading). However, the authors caution that most of the reviewed studies were of poor quality.

More Research

Preliminary research suggests that qigong may also be of some benefit to people with chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease, and tinnitus.

Using Qi Gong for Health

Although it's too soon to recommend qigong in treatment of any health condition, practicing qigong might help reduce your stress and improve your quality of life. If you're interested in practicing qigong, talk to your doctor about finding a qualified practitioner or training program.

Please visit the Health Store for organic health foods, vitamins, supplements, beauty products and more.


Thank you for reading.

Brampton, Ontario, Canada

P.S. If you have a comment or suggestion, just reply to this e-mail. Your feedback is important to me.



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This newsletter is for educational purposes only. It is your right to educate yourself in health and medical knowledge, to seek helpful information and make use of it for your own benefit, and for that of your family. You are the one responsible for your health. You must educate yourself in order to make decisions in all health matters. My views and advises are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medicine, but simply a help you to make educated changes in order to help your body heal itself. If you have a medical condition or concern you should consult your physician.

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