Showing posts with label integrative medicine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label integrative medicine. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

How to Make Food Your “Farmacy” for Optimal Health


By Nina Regevik, M.D., FACP, ABIHM
Co-Director, Division of Integrative Health, Medical Director, Division of HIV Services

Research continues to show how important our food is for the maintenance of our health and for disease prevention. Evidence exists showing that most of the common diseases we face such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity are directly linked to dietary factors. Perhaps even more importantly, life expectancy overall is greater in those who have healthy diets.

There are a couple of easy rules to follow in order to ensure that your diet is healthy. Eat mostly plants, the more colorful, the better, and foods that come from above or below the ground, not from boxes or cans. This includes beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, among others. If animal products are part of your diet, be sure to use pasture raised organics if at all possible. Organic produce is more expensive, but buying less animal products makes the organics more affordable. 

Phytochemicals are found only in plants. They protect both the plant and the person who eats it from disease. Some of the more common phytochemicals are allicin, garlic, anthocyanins (i.e., blueberries, black soybeans, acai, eggplant, red cabbage), and bioflavonoids (i.e., tea, cocoa, banana, citrus fruit, onions, parsley). The list goes on and the names get longer, but fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and pulses (legumes), are all rich in them. Vitamins and minerals are also found in these foods and are essential to life. Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential for optimal health and cannot be made by our bodies. Certain seafood is a great source, including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as are some plants; flaxseed and beans are a few. 

Nutritional information can seem complex and overwhelming but by following some simple guidelines, you can help prevent disease and stay healthier. If you have questions about your diet, discuss with your health care provider. Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine team members can help answer your nutrition and diet questions.

Click here for more information about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Fall Fresh/Autumnal Equinox


By Pamela Jansky, RN-BC, CDE, NBC-HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

"It is the summer’s great last heat, it’s the fall’s first chill: they meet."  --Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

We recently celebrated the arrival of fall with the Autumnal Equinox, also known as the September Equinox, the time when our days and nights are closely equal to one another. The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). It seems very fitting that many of us enjoy the balance of the climate in the fall as temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights. We begin to feel a shift in our energy as the business of summer and the start of a new school year begins to settle down.

Fall is my favorite season of the year. It is a great time to be out in nature and connect to this beautiful earth, our home. Known as the Garden State, New Jersey is in an area where we can enjoy and experience the bounty and the rhythm of the seasons. Local farms produce fresh seasonal produce to nourish our bodies. Throughout our state, we have a wide variety of outdoor activities that can nourish our body and soul. From our sandy beaches, to our mountains and our pinelands, our state is lush with much to do, see and experience. We have skiing, hiking, rafting, beaches, rivers, parks, winery’s, quaint towns and let’s not forget the festivals! We live near two amazing cities with all the culture they have to offer. There is indeed plenty to keep us busy, but how often do we slow down and mindfully appreciate what is right in our own back yard? Local food is healthy for the body so what kind of local soul food can you find?

For many, the change in season can be a meaningful time for reflection. Fall is a wonderful time to take a fresh look at everything! It is the perfect time for a pause as we take in the beauty of nature. I especially love the beach in September and October as the crowds disappear and a stroll on the beach offers the peaceful sound of the waves rolling in as the seagulls gently caw as they glide overhead. Our spirit also has many other opportunities for renewal as we “slow down and smell the falling leaves”. Experiences such as enjoying a walk through the woods at a state park where the aroma of the woods may bring back sweet memories of childhood and wonder, or perhaps a cruise along the Hudson or a hike in the Poconos to witness the fall foliage.

Even in our daily routines we can practice mindfulness by paying attention to the sights and sounds all around us, especially the ones in our own backyard. A crisp fall day as you rake the leaves, the smell of the earth as you plant your mums, a beautiful blue autumn sky, or the sound of geese flying by. What are some of the things that you enjoy in the fall? Why not make a list of all of the things you love about fall and set your intention to notice them in your everyday life. Pick some apples, go for a hayride, share experiences with those you love, and in all you do pay attention! Practicing mindfulness naturally produces gratitude and a sense of wonder. It makes you feel alive! At the close of the day, practice gratitude by jotting down a few things that are beautiful or good and give thanks. There is so much to notice and experience in your own back yard.

Call Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine at 732-263-7999 to learn more about mindfulness, our services and events!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Nurturing Oils & Immune Support for the Autumn Season


By Grace Orosz, RN-BC, CCAP
Integrative Registered Nurse, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist

Honestly, I cannot really say which season I prefer the most. I do know that it’s NOT Winter! With autumn just around the bend, I look forward to my yearly drive up to the Catskills to see all the fall colors and go apple picking. I am hoping that nature will bring some vibrant reds, golds and rusts to paint the landscape for autumn! Especially after the rainy summer we have had.

There is a welcome crispness to the air, a freshness on the skin and a deep connection to nature while taking a hike through the woods. Plan to take a walk in the woods. “Just be” there and fully soak in and experience your surroundings. It will surely lift your spirits, clear your mind and enhance your immune system.

One of my fondest memories is the October of 2013, when my dear mother and I took a fall Foliage Cruise up the New England Coast to Halifax. It was really unplanned, a very spontaneous adventure. I rented a lightweight wheelchair, as she couldn’t walk long distances anymore and she tired easily. She didn’t like that chair, but was grateful that we had it anyway. We enjoyed all the fall festivities at each stop along the way. Indulging in many seasonal goodies like pumpkin and cinnamon treats, gingersnaps and hot apple cider. Who knew that would be our last trip together. I am forever grateful for the gift of that special time with her. My mom and I always baked, and that time of year I fondly remember the warming spicy smells that filled our home. It is amazing to me how a simple scent can change our moods and emotions in about 1/50 of a second. My spirit is filled with gratitude when a scent recalls those wonderful memories. Aromatherapy is truly magical!

My other memory of the fall growing up was a yearly case of bronchitis or upper respiratory infection. Like clockwork, at the end of September through mid-October my immune system crashed. The temperature shift of the fall season permits different groups of viruses, including influenza, to flourish. We need some extra immune support to stay healthy during this season. Many essential oils can help to keep you and your home environment healthy and happy.

Since I regularly diffuse essential oils in my home, I would like share with you some of the nurturing scents that warm and comfort my spirit during the fall season, these also provide great immune support. Thankfully, I am happy to report that I rarely get sick this time of year.

You will need an ultrasonic cool mist diffuser. Preferably, with an automatic shut off. Add water to the “fill line” on your particular diffuser. Generally they hold 100ml – 300ml.

- Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum): supports immune activity and provides powerful protection against viral infections and contagious diseases. (Do not apply on the skin.) You need only one drop of this oil in any blend you create or it could be overpowering.

- Wild Orange (Capparis mitchellii): Citrus in an incredibly uplifting and purifying scent. This can ward off any cold symptoms and support your immune system, especially with the change to cooler temperatures.

- Frankincense (Boswellia cartieri): is a strong immune stimulant and antibacterial. Traditionally, it has been used to treat respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis. It also helps to warm and alleviate nervous tension.

- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary (chemotype 1,8- cineole) is highly recommended for any respiratory ailments. It also promotes clarity of mind and invigorates the spirit.

- Ravensara (Ravensara aromatic): This has excellent antiviral properties, particularly for influenza. A must have for the flu season.

- Ginger (Zingiber officinale): This is very warm and strengthening to the immune system. It is recommended for coughs and sore throats. The essential oil is NOT to be taken internally. For a ginger tea, use the whole ginger root.

- Atlas Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica): This has an intense warm, woody scent. Known for positive effects on respiratory system. It relieves chest congestion and serves as an expectorant. It can be comforting emotionally and promote calmness and a deeper sleep. 


Add 2-4 drops of any of these oils to the water in your diffuser. You can blend whatever combination brings you that warmth and comfort.

Be mindful of what your body, mind and spirit needs this autumn season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Affirmations to Create a Happier, Healthier You


By Sharon Yeskel, BA
Integrative Health Associate

Affirmations are phrases you repeat to yourself to help bring about positive changes in your life. They can also help you stop negative self-talk by choosing to state the opposite of what you believe is true. To create an affirmation out of a negative belief, change the thought:
  • I’m not lovable becomes I deserve to love and be loved 
  • I’ll never find an apartment I like becomes I trust that I will find the perfect place to live 
  • I’m always sick and tired becomes I am healthy and filled with energy to do the things I love
Affirmations should create positive images in your mind. Using words like scared, pain, or anxious make you think of those conditions. Make sure to use words like comfortable, safe, supported, and peaceful when writing your phrases:
  • I have no pain becomes I feel comfortable. 
  • I am not scared becomes I feel safe and supported. 
  • I’m not anxious becomes I choose peace in this moment.
Be sure you never start your affirmations with “I hope.” When you say “I hope this happens,” there is an underlying vibration of doubt. Say to yourself, “I hope I get the job and my boss respects me.” Now say, “I have a job that I love. My boss respects me and values my work.” Which phrase makes you feel better? Which phrase makes you feel that having that job is possible? Always chose statements that make you light up inside.

Have you ever thought about what would bring you joy and give you a reason to get up every morning? If you don’t know the answer, try using affirmations to lead you to your life’s purpose. Try these statements and see what shows up for you:

·         I am aligned with my life’s purpose.
·         My life’s purpose is being revealed to me now. I open myself to all possibilities.

When you first start saying affirmations, they may not be true or you may not believe they are true. As you continue to say them once or several times a day, they can change the way you think about yourself and the world. Make a commitment to repeat your affirmations every day for a minimum of 21 days. Keep a list of your affirmations on your night table and read them before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning.

Overtime, you may find those statements that were once just wishful thinking, are true. Drop some and add others as the statements become a reality. Affirmations can be a powerful tool to help you let go of limiting beliefs and help you create the happier, healthier life you desire.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Your Body is a Garden

By Marissa Winters, MA, RDN
Integrative Nutritionist

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade” ~ Rudyard Kipling

The body is often described as a machine. We say the heart is a pump; the kidneys and liver are filters. If a part wears out, for example, a knee or a hips, we replace it. The mechanistic point of view sees each of us as made of individual units. Many of us take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, waiting until a health challenge arises before we consider adjusting our diet or activity.
 
This perspective does us a disservice. We are not machines. We are more like gardens.  Gardens are composed of different parts, all with their function, but all contributing to the health of the whole.  If a part of the garden is out of synch, the whole garden is affected. If the soil is missing nutrients, the plants are unable to reach their full beauty. Gardeners know that keeping the components of the garden in balance supports the whole system. Sometimes things must be added; sometimes things must be pruned away. But always, the whole garden is considered.

Gardens also operate within the cycles of nature. There are times to prepare the ground, and times to trim back the bushes. No garden could thrive if it tried to do every part of the cycle at the same time. Being aware of what part of the cycle you are in can help focus your attention and actions to have the best result with the least effort.

The benefits of working with an integrative health practitioner is the broader focus on all critical aspects of your life – mind, body, and spirit. Integrative practitioners help you see what is supporting and what is undermining you, and the team works with you to drill down to the root cause, not just manage symptoms.


Now is the time to start working on the garden that is your life.  How will you nurture yourself? What will you do to care for your garden? Be realistic; be honest with what you are able to implement within the boundaries of your other responsibilities. What things do you want to encourage to take root? What things need to be curtailed? This is your garden, you get to decide what you want to grow. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Beat the Heat 5 Pillar Style!

By Lisa Sussman, Psy.D.
Health Psychologist

Here we are in the dog days of summer. Typically, July and August are the warmest times of year in the U.S. While it’s great to have warmth and longer days, by now we may be itching to cool down a bit, or at least regulate our bodies amidst relentless heat. At times, we may find ourselves overheated, both physically and mentally. At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we view health from our Five Pillar model: Sleep, Activity, Purpose, Nutrition, and Resilience. Let’s take a look together at how we can beat the heat through the perspective of the Five Pillars of Health and Well-Being.

Sleep: The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit.  Studies have shown that temps above 75 degrees can disrupt sleep.  To stay cool through the night and foster a good night’s sleep, use air conditioning, fans, cotton sheets, a light blanket, and light cotton pajamas. Pack up that winter quilt! There are also mattress pads and gel mats that can be purchased which provide a layer of coolness on the mattress.  Another point to consider about sleeping in summer is that our eating, exercising and overall activation time may happen later in the evening due to vacations, longer days, and increased socializing.   Try to put at least 3 hours between eating a meal and exercising before going to bed to optimize your sleep.  Alcoholic drinks also impact quality of sleep and tend to disrupt sleep.  When socializing, we can be mindful about what we are consuming, when, and how that may affect our sleep that night.  Carve out a wind-down period of 30-60 minutes between the evening activity and going to bed to relax the body and mind and initiate our melatonin production for sleep.

Activity: Current guidelines (American Heart Association and others) recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both. How can we get this in during summer while minimizing our risk of getting overheated or having heatstroke? Exercising outdoors and participating in social or team sports gives an extra boost to our mood, releasing endorphins and even oxytocin, so plan to get out there either early in the morning, or after dinner, when the weather is cooler. Summer is also a great time to change our exercise routine, so try things such as biking and swimming. On stormy days or when it doesn’t work to be out in the cooler parts of the day, hit the gym with a fun class, yoga, or strength workout, or break out a fitness DVD in the house.

Purpose: While managing the dog days of summer, it’s important to infuse sparks of joy and meaning into the hot and sometimes energy-draining days.  What can we do in the summer that we can’t do as easily the rest of the year?  There may be more time for meaningful volunteer work and giving back, and enjoying more gatherings with family and friends.  Take that vacation or stay-cation!  Go watch the sunrise and take a walk on the beach (my personal favorite thing to do in the summer) before heading to work. When it’s too hot to be outdoors, stay in the cool house and enjoy that book we’ve been meaning to read or tackle the home improvement or craft project that’s been on our list.

Nutrition: Summer = more sweat = drink more water! Every day we should be drinking water equal to at leaset half of our body weight in ounces. Here in August, we need to make sure we are staying hydrated, and cool water does that best. Keep it fresh and appealing by adding slices of fruit or cucumber. Drink or make sparkling water for a change up, flavoring it yourself to stay away from chemicals and sugar. Ayurvedic teachings point us in the direction of consuming cooling foods in summer while staying away from spicing it up too much. Naturally sweet, bitter, and astringent foods are good choices. Go for ripe fruits such as cherries, peaches, pineapples, avocados and mangos, as well as green leafy veggies, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and green beans. Spices like mint and cilantro will help keep us cool.

Resilience:  Prolonged heat not only affects us physically, but can impact our mood as well.  The term “hot and bothered” comes to mind.  Emotionally, we may feel drained and irritable when it seems like there’s no escape from the heat, or when the events we attend are overly crowded.  To get balanced, incorporate daily activities that increase joy, and spend some quiet time in thought, meditation, or listening to music.  Whatever it takes to “cool down”!  Try some activities such as taking a cool bath with lavender essential oil, riding the waves in the ocean, digging your feet in the sand, walking in a shady park, or chilling on a raft or kayak.  Take a few minutes to breathe slowly and deeply, then imagine with all of your senses being at the beach, in the water, or somewhere cool.  The brain will get the “cooling” message and the body will physiologically start to respond, providing a respite and balance.  

We can use the Five Pillars of Health and Well-being to make the most out of the last few weeks of summer, keeping cool, healthy, and happy.   Enjoy!

For further information about the Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being and taking care of your mind, body, and spirit, visit our website at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine or call 732-263-7999 to make an appointment! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Summer Simplicity

By Kathleen Welshman RN-BC, BA, NBC-HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

Summer reminds us of simpler times, being carefree, running barefoot on the beach or in the grass. Close your eyes and visualize that, what do you see? What feelings does that evoke? Hear the waves crashing on the beach, the seagulls chirping and the smell of salt air, the warm breeze on your face……aaah, yes, summer has arrived. Perhaps you have feelings of freedom and not a care in the world, if only for that moment. A simple time.

Warmer weather often means flip flops, shorts and tank tops. Minimal clothing for comfort. As we have moved into the season of summer, perhaps we can begin to look at what we can pare down, besides our clothing. What can we minimize and simplify in our life? Often stress comes from too much “stuff.” Clutter can take many forms, it is not just physical. It can be toxic relationships, unhealthy attachments, emotional baggage or anything that causes overwhelm. We can even clutter our minds with our own to-do lists. We have become a society that thinks “more is better” and “busy is best.” We are always on, always connected. But at what cost do we stay on that fast track? We often rush through tasks, trying to get them done, so we can go on to the next thing. Or rush to drive somewhere, so we can hurry to the next destination. Have you ever stopped to think about what madness this all is? At the end of the day there is often a feeling of pure exhaustion and stress.

We hear words like de-clutter, simplify, minimize, limit, edit, purge…….what does this all mean and what is the benefit? When asked what he wanted for Christmas this past year, my son’s response was, “We don’t need any more stuff mom, we want experiences.” Well this spoke volumes to me and led me to look more into the art of minimizing. There are many benefits to living a simpler life. You may find yourself feeling less stress, more at ease. Discover what’s important, what you value, what’s your passion and find more meaning and purpose in your life. Do what brings you joy! Perhaps spend less time online and really connect with those you love. Don’t forget to also spend time alone. Living more simply can help us to live more consciously, more deliberately, perhaps even a more purpose-driven life. What adds value to your life? Consider streamlining your life, your closets and your to-do list. The benefits will astound you!

Find inner simplicity. Create a peaceful calm, rather than chaotic confusion. Be aware of the calmness you feel when your surroundings and your head are clear of clutter. Simplify your goals; you will feel less stress and more successful as you meet each goal, one at a time! Be mindful. Be present. Be here now.

“Whatever the tasks, do them slowly and with ease, in mindfulness. Don’t do any task in order to get it over with. Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine or call 732-263-7999 to learn more about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine and our Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Why Do Massage Therapists Always Tell Me to Drink Water?

By Amy Grutzmacher, LMT
Licensed Massage Therapist

As a rule of thumb, it’s good to remember that drinking water in general encourages proper hydration which will help the kidneys and other organs process the various substances that move through the human body regularly.

Drinking water before a massage is recommended because a hydrated, soft muscle is easier to manipulate then a dehydrated, rigid one. Picture one of your muscles as a sponge. A dried up sponge is hard and rigid but once it’s submerged in water, it becomes supple. Our muscles also soak up water like a sponge and become more pliable with hydration.

It’s beneficial to drink water after your massage because as the massage therapist manipulates your muscles, substances are released. Drinking water post massage helps the body flush out any accumulated materials that were released during the massage. This is especially pertinent in deep tissue and therapeutic massage as massage stimulates circulation in the body while expressing water, salt and other minerals from the muscles. Circulation is designed to carry away waste materials. You can help sweep away these waste materials by drinking water.

Massage can be dehydrating. The manipulation of muscles can deplete them of water. By drinking water, you can rehydrate your muscles for the same reason you’d drink water after exercise and other forms of exertion because when the muscles are worked, they can lose water and electrolytes.

So, it is true you should drink water before and after massage because your body is using water at a faster rate, but the key is to be drinking enough water every day. Water is vital for every function that occurs in the body and necessary to maintain healthy, hydrated muscle tissue.

Visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine or call 732-263-7999 to learn more about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine and our Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Summer Check-Up

By Pamela Jansky, RN-BC, CDE, HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

Summer is upon us! I hope you are all enjoying the energy of this season! In the spring we talked about spring Renewal and the preparation that takes place as we begin our spring clean-up and plant our summer gardens. We talked about internal cleansing as well, and the importance of setting personalized, realistic and sustainable goals that can become new healthy habits so that you, like your garden, may remain vibrant and fruitful. As we said, “Motivation gets you started but habit keeps you going!” So let’s give ourselves a summer check-up!

If we started some new habits a few months ago, we should begin to see some growth and change in the same way we see our gardens grow and change. Perhaps you started moving more and doing some resistance training with the fruit of your labor being weight loss and muscle toning. You are eating cleaner and nourishing your body with more fruits and vegetables. You are feeling stronger and more energetic! How good does it feel to fit into your favorite summer clothes, or enjoy the new ones you are wearing? How satisfying is it to see more muscle tone in your arms with that sleeveless shirt? How much more are you enjoying summer activities with your increased strength and endurance? Best of all, how has this increased sense of well-being and vitality improved your life and relationships? Even better, you may feel motivated to set some new goals to build on your success and move to the next level. After all, in the rhythm of the seasons, it won’t be long before we start planning our fall planting beds so that we can enjoy the fruits of that season. Let’s keep the momentum going!
On the other hand, what if things did not go as planned? You set some awesome goals and had high expectations, but for one reason or another, you are not where you hoped you would be. Perhaps you started strong and your commitment fell off. Well, you are not alone. Many of us find it challenging to navigate through the business and seasons of life. Sometimes we have significant life altering events that get us off track. Often times it is simply a matter of re-learning self-care or perhaps our goals were not realistic and attainable. We are all unique and we may find there are any number of situations that present challenges to making sustainable change. Sometimes, it may seem too overwhelming to start, or we simply need some help in clarifying and setting our goals. Whatever the case may be, it’s never too late to change direction and move toward increasing wellness!

At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we offer a variety of services that support people in their journey to maximum health and well-being. As a Nurse Health Coach, we can partner with you and support you in personally identifying and addressing areas in which you may feel blocked or in need of change. A Nurse Health Coach can assist you in identifying your readiness to change and supporting you in setting personalized SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. It is more important to set specific realistic goals that are achievable, that you can build upon, rather than goals that are so big you can’t even get started. Those goals must be client driven and have personal value.

Integrative health & medicine focuses on the whole person: mind, body, and spirit, while addressing our Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being. Whether it be Sleep, Activity, Purpose, Nutrition or Resilience, we have a team of practitioners that specialize in each area. We are here to support you in your health and wellness journey. Summer is a time to be more active and creative. A time to grow and flourish. A time to feel alive! Let’s keep up the momentum and live our best lives!

Visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine or call 732-263-7999 to learn more. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Essential Oils for Seasonal Allergies

By Grace Orosz RN-BC, CCAP
Integrative Registered Nurse

When I was growing up in Chicago, I can vividly remember how I looked forward to the change of seasons -- ALL FOUR OF THEM! The mid-west was an open, clean, fresh place to live.  I spent most of my free time outdoors. We almost never played inside.  We had many wonderful forest preserves, lakes and hiking paths.  I loved being in nature.

At the time, I was unaware of how pollen and grasses affected people.  I never had a problem with any seasonal allergies.  However, I knew several people that did.  I would privately make fun of them, in my mind.  I just could not believe that people could be suffering so miserably with allergies, hay fever, sinusitis etc.  It seemed almost “too dramatic” for me.  However, I tried to understand how maybe it affected them and make an effort to be sympathetic.   They were always going for Sinus X-rays, CT Scans and using a plethora of antihistamines, decongestants and steroidal sprays and inhalers.

Then, about 27 years ago, I moved to the East Coast. Initially the seasons were pretty much the same, but not for long. Everything started to change.  Perhaps the unhealthy climate changes, our polluted environment and dramatic fluctuations in the barometric pressure contributed to my newly developing allergy symptoms: sinus pressure, headaches, congestion, sneezing, phlegm and an annoying cough. OH BROTHER, NOT ME, I thought!

I found myself in the same position as I mentioned above – blame KARMA!  There I was with a cabinet full of all the over the counter (OTC) allergy medications you could imagine, and pretty much addicted to Sudafed.  Then I just could not stand taking those chemicals anymore. They made me feel so crummy! Can anybody relate?

It was about that time that I had a personal and spiritual awakening, about my health and my life...  I knew I needed to be more mindful of looking for a natural and holistic approach to treating this condition, as well as in my life in general.

This is when I started using Essential Oils to treat my sinus and upper respiratory symptoms.  I use them religiously and have to say that I cannot remember the last time I took an OTC allergy medication.

Allergens trigger symptoms in the nose, throat, lungs, ears and sinuses.  Therefore, I thought perhaps you might like to try something a little different if you suffer with these symptoms. I diffuse essential oils in my home almost constantly.  I switch up my essential oil choices depending on the time of year and the symptoms I have. Here a few tips that might help you too!

First, find yourself a moderately priced diffuser with an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier. They hold anywhere from 150 ml – 500 ml of water. Be sure to get one that has a timer and an automatic shutoff.

§  Lavender Essential Oil works as a natural antihistamine and possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties that will treat and relieve most allergic reactions.
§  Peppermint Essential Oil is strong, fresh and minty and opens clogged sinuses almost immediately. It also has anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and decongestant relieving abilities. It opens airways and relieves a scratchy throat.
§  Holy Basil Essential Oil reduces the inflammatory response of allergens, and supports our immune system overall. It has antimicrobial abilities and can remove toxins from our system, as well as clear airways.
§  Eucalyptus Essential Oil opens up the sinus and lungs, therefore improving circulation, which reduces the symptoms of allergies. It works as an expectorant, but also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
§  Lemon Essential Oil works as a natural antihistamine relieving excess mucous and cools down inflammatory reaction. It also helps with respiratory conditions. Lemon is also known for its anti-bacterial properties.  Its best used in a blend with Lavender and Peppermint.

Depending on the capacity of your diffuser, use 2-5 drops of any of these oils mentioned, in whatever combination you like. You could also use 1 drop of each of these oils on a tissue and just directly inhale deeply. Experiment to find the combination that gives you the most relief.


As a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, this affirms for me that this is the best treatment for so many ailments.  Here’s hoping that this information brings you some healthier options for relief this allergy season.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How Resilient Are You?


By Sharon Yeskel, BA
Integrative Health Associate

The late Dr. Wayne Dyer left a legacy of spiritual and practical wisdom through his many books and lectures. He always shared great stories. In his book “Inspiration, Your Ultimate Calling” he shares one about resiliency. Dr. Dyer notes that it’s not what happens to us, but how we respond that will ultimately define who we are and what kind of lives we will create. He calls this story “Carrots, Eggs and Coffee” and it goes like this….

A young woman is complaining to her mother how hard her life is. She says she feels like giving up. The mother takes her to the kitchen. She fills three pots with water and puts them on the stove to boil. In the first one she puts carrots, in the second she puts an egg, and in the third she puts coffee grounds. After 20 minutes, the carrots are soft, the egg is hard-boiled, and the coffee is ready to drink.

So what does that have to do with overcoming difficulties? The mother explains that each of the objects faced the same adversity: the boiling water. The carrots went in strong, hard and unrelenting. After boiling, they became soft and weak. The egg started out fragile, but after boiling, it became hard. The coffee grounds mixed with the water and actually changed the water itself.

We all get thrown for a loop sometimes. We can’t control what happens to us. What we can do is choose how we will respond. Adversity can weaken us and harden our hearts or it can propel us forward. New possibilities await if we open our hearts to change. It is a key to becoming resilient.

Resilience is one of the Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being (Sleep, Activity, Purpose, Resilience and Nutrition). Learn more about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine’s Five Pillar approach to optimize your health by calling 732-263-7999, visiting our website at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine or following us on social media on Facebook: Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine or Twitter: @HMIntegrativeHM.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Managing Resistance to Change

By Marissa Winters, MA, RDN
Integrative Nutritionist

“What you resist, persists” -Ancient Wisdom Tradition proverb

Change can be hard, really hard. Even when you are very motivated, it can be difficult to stop doing those things you do that keep you stuck. Here are some strategies which can help when your inner saboteur comes out:

1. Remember change is a process. It is learning and practicing new responses to the same old conditions and circumstances.

2.  Shift your focus. Instead of telling your “story”, become an observer. What is really going on here? For example, if you decide you want a brownie even though you have committed to avoiding sugar in your goal of living a healthier life, say so. What is going on is,I want a brownie. It’s not that I have no willpower, and this always happens, and I was so motivated and now there’s this brownie! Instead, stop, take a breath, observe what is happening, and then, proceed. Put some distance between yourself and your trigger. This may require stepping away from the situation for a brief time.

3. Remind yourself of the value or feeling you are bringing into your life. “I want to have more energy,” or “I want to feel confident in my clothes”. Now you have a benchmark against which to measure if the action you are considering will bring you closer to your desires.

4. Ride the urge. When faced with a craving, it is easy to forget that like all things, cravings end. When you’re in the ocean, and a big wave comes at you, what do you do? If you stand your ground, you’re likely to get knocked around.

Instead, you go under the wave and let the rough surf pass over. When faced with a craving, simply notice the sensations you are feeling. You may feel uncomfortable, but you don’t need to do anything. It will pass. Cravings crest, just like waves, and then subside, just like waves.

This is more effective than trying to use your willpower to fight the urge. Some research indicates we have the equivalent of about 15 minutes worth of willpower, and the more it’s challenged, the faster it wears down. Resistance is not an effective strategy. Instead, take a pause, honestly state what you are feeling, and remind yourself of your goals. These steps allow you to take action, rather than react to challenging situations.

Our team in the Integrative Health & Medicine practice can support you with tools and techniques to keep you heading in the direction you really want to go. Call 732-994-7855 to make an appointment with me directly!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Power of Gratitude

By Paula O’Neill, MS, RN-BC
Clinical Program Manager

According to the English Oxford dictionary, gratitude is “the quality of being thankful…readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Gratitude is appreciating what you have and recognizing the simple pleasures of life…things we often take for granted.

Gratitude is a powerful force that can make us happier and healthier. Many studies, including those by Emmons and McCullough, found that people who focus on and write down what they are grateful for every day showed evidence of greater emotional and physical well-being at the end of the study than those who focused on difficulties. Research shows that people who focus on gratitude experience greater joy, get sick less often, are more creative, have less anxiety, and have stronger social relationships.

So how can you develop and nurture gratitude in your life? Here are some suggestions. 
  1. Keep a gratitude journal—each day before you go to sleep, before you get out of bed, or anytime during the day that works best for you, write down three things that you are grateful for. It can be the laughter of a child, the new job you just got, the smell of the spring flowers. What are those things that brought a smile to your face and joy to your heart? 
  2. If you don’t like to write, replace the gratitude journal with a daily reflection or gratitude meditation. 
  3. Write a thank you letter to someone who has had a positive influence on your life. According to Emmons this is a powerful way to cultivate gratitude. Some experts recommend that you read the letter to the person. 
  4. If you do not have time to write or personally thank a person, thank them mentally. 
  5. Change your perception of a difficult situation. Choose to find something positive about the situation. This can be difficult; however, this will help you to move from a negative emotion to one of gratitude. 
  6. Help others who are less fortunate. Not only does this demonstrate true compassion but it will make you more appreciative of what you have. 
"The more you practice gratitude, the more you see how much there is to be grateful for, and your life becomes an ongoing celebration of joy and happiness." - Don Miguel Ruiz

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are (Part 2)

By Mary Brighton, M.S., RDN
Integrative Nutritionist

Welcome to Part 2 of Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are. This blog is not about the food we consume, but about the most essential nutrient vital for health and life - our beloved H2O - water. In the last decade, the water we drink for our main beverage has changed from tap water to water from a packaged bottle. An average American consumes 300 bottles of water a year! The bottled water industry is a multi-billion dollar drink market.  The good news is that high-sugar soft drink consumption has decreased as bottled water sales have increased, and we know it’s always a good healthy habit to drink water in place of sugar rich drinks. 

Now I ask you: do you know where the water you drink comes from? Let me give you an example of what I mean. Last year I taught a nutrition class at a community college. My students were busy young adults who propped their water bottles on their desks during the lectures. During our lecture on nutrition and water I walked around the classroom and stopped by each student’s desk. I picked up the branded water bottle they owned, held it up and asked that student where the water they drank came from. 

Their typical answer: “I don’t know.” But they were curious. Where does Spring, P.W.S, Mineral or Purified water come from and is one water type better than the others?  Even if my students didn’t know where their water came from, they did consume a lot of it. And this is a good thing. We need about half our body weight in pounds converted to ounces in water daily to function well. As an example: A 160 pound man would need 80 ounces or 10 cups (1 cup equals 8 ounces) of water daily. 

What is the best water for health? That is a harder question to answer because the source is important. A clean water source that has been filtered is my go-to water. Tap water is low-cost and is monitored by the local authorities where you live.  If you drink tap water, you can add a water filter on your pipes or use a Brita-type water pitcher that filters your water for contaminants. 

If you drink bottled water, here are the main different terms and what they mean: 
'
Artesian is water obtained from a well that hits a confined aquifer which is an underground layer of rock or sand that contains water. 

Mineral is groundwater that contains minerals and trace elements from the source and has dissolved solids of at least 250 parts per million. 

Public Water Source P.W.S. is tap water. 

Purified is water treated from any source, including tap water, to remove chemicals and pathogens. 

Spring is water from an underground formation and comes naturally to the earth’s surface
Keep in mind that if you are concerned with your water source, check with the town or company where you drink your water from. Bottled water from a ‘natural source’ like spring water may not fully come 100% from that source, some water bottle companies mix their water sources from what it states on the bottle with purified water. 

Finally, water first is a good health mantra. You are what you eat, you are what you drink; good nutrition and clean water helps to keep the body functioning at its best. 


If you missed part 1, you can read it by clicking here: “Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

You Know What You’re Supposed To Do, So Why Aren’t You Doing It?


By David C. Leopold, M.D.
Medical Director

As a physician, I have long been fascinated by what people do NOT do when it comes to taking care of their health. Why do we not make the choices that we know are best for us? As I have discussed before, healthy living choices in many ways are simple and straightforward, and definitively lead to healthier and higher quality lives. So why do people not do the things that they know they should? Some recent studies and papers have examined this and found some very interesting things.

There are 8 prominent reasons why people do not do the things that they know are better for them, and I will examine a few of them here and some in later blogs.

1) WE WANT IT NOW! As everyone is aware, we are creatures of immediate gratification. To sort of quote the late great Tom Petty (R.I.P Tom!), “Damn the Torpedoes! (full steam ahead)”.  (Well, actually that was Tom quoting U.S. Admiral Farragut , but you get the point).  We want what we want now; we don’t care about what happens in the future. If it is food or that new giant TV and the cost is to our bodies or our bank accounts, we want it now. And none of this makes for very good long term results.

2) GOOD STUFF CAN WAIT, BUT WE FEAR THE BAD. We are concerned with the bad stuff that can happen but not as much when it comes to positive outcomes. This may be because we are wired to be concerned with risk - particularly immediate risk, and avoidance of danger, but we are not really set up to appreciate the benefits of healthy behavior, and certainly not benefits that are in the future. So not making a healthy choice for activity is actually compounded by the immediate gratification of the poor choice (particularly relevant to food choices). The healthy outcome is just too far down the road.  We care a lot if we just had a heart attack, we don’t want another one, but until that big one hits, well, one more cheeseburger sounds pretty good….

3) WE THINK NOTHING IS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN TO US. This one is particularly interesting to me; we have a false sense of optimism. We think: that won’t happen to ME. Smokers don’t think they will be the ones to get cancer, people who continually make poor dietary choices  don’t think they will be the one to get diabetes or have that heart attack; it will always be someone else. I can tell you right now, I have spent much of my career taking care of people who did not think they were going to be in a doctor’s office suffering from what they are suffering from. And the unfortunate part of this is that so much of our chronic disease is preventable. People have a false sense of their ability to avoid disease. Most don’t realize that they are on their way to an official diagnosis until it is too late, and then it is often very difficult to reverse what has occurred. An ounce of prevention is really better than a pound of cure, but few see it that way.

4) WE ARE ALMOST ALL IN SOME STAGE OF BURNOUT. Being in a constant state of depletion and fatigue often leads to making bad choices. These may be comforting in the moment, but are usually detrimental to our long term prospects. Who does not want to reach for the Ben & Jerry’s or that delicious chocolate scone when we are tired or feeling down? I have yet to meet the person who makes consistently great choices when they are feeling lousy, frustrated, down or hopeless.

So what can we do about all of this? Well, first realize that although the path to good health is clear and should be easy, in the modern world it is not. Temptation is everywhere and making poor choices is supported by industry and advertising all around you. Easily available poor and nonproductive options (e.g. sit around, eat poorly, take the elevator, pretend you are not a ball of stress, etc.)  are the constant devils on your shoulder, encouraging any amount of “bad” behavior you can image.
I was really struck once again by this recently watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament. This event is a paragon of athleticism, which is ironically completely dominated by ad after ad of things to eat that will absolutely wreak havoc on your physiology. How do we stay healthy when we are constantly inundated by things and ideas that want to pull us towards the unhealthy?

So, how to improve when the odds are so stacked against us? Good news, it is not hopeless, although it can be challenging. It can also be liberating and empowering and lead to a better life in our bodies and minds, and the same for those around us. (Here’s an added bonus; study after study shows positive health is contagious. People are healthier when they associate with healthier people. Imagine the implications to your family and friends if you take up the mantle of becoming a shining example of health for yourself and those close to you.) 

Next time, we will talk about the ways to accomplish these goals by focusing on immediate benefits, avoiding too many choices, making commitments to ourselves, being prepared, keeping it simple and believing in ourselves that we can make these positive changes. We will see how we can use the same principles that advertisers use to get us to do detrimental things, to do the good stuff. 
You will soon find that you can actually be feeling better by tomorrow, and soon you can be well down your path to wellness! 

In health and happiness,

David C. Leopold, M.D.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to Really Know Your Health Coach


By Kathleen Welshman RN-BC, BA, NBC-HWC
Integrative Nurse Health Coach

Health Coach? Wellness Coach? Life Coach? All trendy titles these days that catch people’s attention. But, what do these titles mean and what is the education and credentialing behind them?  If you google “health coach”, you will find varying information from how to become a health coach to where you can find a local health coach.  Consumer be aware. Because this is a new field, anyone can hang a shingle out calling themselves a health or wellness coach.  This does not mean they have any formal training or expertise.  There are many folks out there calling themselves by these titles, some with very little, if any, educational background in the healthcare field.  At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we set the bar quite high.  All of our health coaches are Registered Nurses first. Our nurses have varying backgrounds and areas of expertise, all with at least 10-20+ years of nursing experience before becoming a health coach.  This background has given these nurses a solid foundation on which to build. 

Our registered nurse health coaches have all attended and graduated from coaching programs in “integrative health coaching,” not just “health coaching.”   Their knowledge in integrative approaches to health and well-being are based on evidence-based practices.  Our health coaches have attended programs at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The University of Arizona, Center for Integrative Medicine.  Both of these schools have met all the standards and requirements by the International Consortium of Health and Wellness Coaches (ICHWC).  The ICHWC has joined with The National Board of Medical Examiners to develop a national standard for Health and Wellness Coaches.  They have set a measure of foundational competencies, knowledge, tasks, and skills essential to the practice of health and wellness coaching.  The application of coaching knowledge is assessed by the Health and Wellness Coach Certifying Exam.  Our health coaches have sat for the very first qualifying exam, have passed and are now National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches. They are among the elite, approximately 1,000 NBC-HWC in the country.  Add to this, the requirement of coaches at Hackensack Meridian Health, also are Registered Nurses.  So, when seeking out a coach to partner with on your wellness journey, do your research first and turn to Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine for highly qualified and credentialed RN/Health Coaches. 

Meet our health coaches and learn more about health coaching here. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Importance of Flexibility


By Judson Chaney, ND, Lac
Acupuncturist

My last blog entry was about making your mornings mindful. In it I suggested you choose three things to help set yourself up for a successful day each morning. For this entry, I would like to share one of the items on my own top three list.  



Flexibility. As we grow older, one universally recognized change we experience is a decrease in natural flexibility. Alas, the days of youth with its effortless cartwheels and back bends, how quickly time goes by!  


All is not lost; it now simply requires your input of time and effort. We can counter balance some effects of aging by employing mindfulness. Making time each morning to stretch and improve flexibility is a great way to start our day. Which is why it is on my top three list to include each morning. I schedule 10 minutes prior to my morning commute to work on basic flexibility motions. There are many great options and programs out there and I encourage you to find one that works best for you and your body. Just remember to keep it simple.

Treat yourself like an athlete and your day like a challenge. Stretch before you begin. I know that I feel my best when I start my day off with stretching. My body feels more awake, more alive, and better cared for throughout the day. I feel more calm, centered, and have more flexibility in not only my body, but in my ability to adapt to the demands of the day as well. Get started today, your body will thank you for it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Successful Change


By Marissa Winters, MA, RDN
Integrative Nutritionist

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”-Socrates.

Did you know that less than 10% of people successfully achieve their New Year’s resolutions? According to one study, about 80% of resolutions fail by the second week in February. So…. how are you doing with your resolutions? Or did you not even make any this year, because, why bother?

Change is challenging because it is uncomfortable. It forces us to practice new behaviors, and a part of us resists this because we don’t like feeling the discomfort that comes with a different approach. The brain prefers the known to the new. Successful change depends on being very clear about what the change will bring to your life. What is the underlying value you anticipate? So often, we don’t take the time to address this. For example, you may want to lose weight because you know you “should”. But the pivotal issue is, how will making this change affect your life? Losing weight because you “should” is not as powerful a motivator as is losing weight so you can feel more confident in your clothes, or be more energetic so you can play with your kids or grandkids, or experience more ease when you move. Being clear on the values supported by your intentioned change gives the framework to measure your behaviors. The feeling you are after becomes your guidepost. Does each action you are choosing bring you closer to the things you value and want to have in your life?

Focusing on the values brings clarity about how you want to feel in your new life. How does You 2.0 feel when you wake up? What does You 2.0 feel when you eat lunch? When you run your end of the day errands? When you get home? When you get in bed? How do you want to feel?

Once you get clear on the feelings you are working towards, put it in writing. No, really - it needs to be expressed, not just kept in your head. Make a vision board (on your phone, on Pinterest, or on paper) or write a description of your perfect day. Look at this tool often to keep yourself focused on where you are heading. People who write things down have a 50% greater success rate than those who carry it in their head. (This includes diet journals.)

By focusing on the feelings you want to generate, you get better at recognizing when your actions are out of alignment with your goals. It is akin to turning a large cruise ship. It takes persistence and a consistent tugging on the wheel to move through the prevailing current. When you notice yourself slipping, keep turning the wheel. Take one minute to step back and remind yourself of your desired goal and the feelings it brings. In a few weeks, you’ll realize that the “old” way of doing things becomes uncomfortable. When that happens, you’re on your way. Congratulations!

Learn more about nutritional counseling at Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine and call 732-994-7855 to make an appointment!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring Renewal

By Pamela Jansky, RN-BC, CDE, AAACN

Spring is just around the corner! Signs of life are blooming all around us as the crocuses begin to emerge from the snow. Days are getting longer, temperatures are rising and the air is fresh and clean. Our excitement begins to build as we anticipate the annual renewal of life, symbolizing new beginnings and growth. We begin to think about the areas in our personal lives that may need a breath of fresh air. Our homes await their spring cleaning and our yards need to be tidied and prepared for spring planting. All in preparation for the summer when we will enjoy the fruits of our labor.

So too, we think of our internal housekeeping and renewal. Many of us wholeheartedly committed to our New Year’s Resolutions as we began the annual celebration of a new year, full of promise. We start off with great zeal but as the coldest days of winter descend upon us, we may fall back into hibernation mode. Such are the cycles of life. But what is the key to sustained change that brings about the results that we can enjoy in our renewed health and vitality?

What are the areas that you are looking to take to the next level or even find yourself struggling in? At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we are committed to supporting people in their quest for health and wellness through many different modalities such as acupuncture, nutritional counseling, health coaching, health psychology, massage therapy and more. Integrative health and medicine focuses on the health and well-being of the whole person—mind, body and spirit. Our approach is based on the Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being which are Sleep, Activity, Purpose, Nutrition and Resilience. Every person is a unique individual with needs that change throughout the different seasons of life.

Our diversified team offers the support we all need to strengthen these five pillars that help us to form the habits needed for sustained health and vitality. This of course is what we all desire. Motivation gets you started, but habit keeps you going. Our summer gardens continue to need our time and attention if they are to continue to be vibrant and fruitful. An Integrative Nurse Health Coach can partner with you to help you identify the areas where you are blocked and strategies to overcome any obstacles or barriers you may face. They will work alongside you in setting personalized, realistic, sustainable goals that can become new healthy habits so that you too may remain vibrant and fruitful. Click here to learn more about health coaching or call 732-994-7855 to make an appointment with someone on our team.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are

By Mary Brighton, M.S., RDN
Integrative Nutritionist 

You have probably heard the adage “You are what you eat,” but did you know this proverb came from France? In 1825, the French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin published this now celebrated quote in his masterpiece book Physiology of Taste: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es” which translates to "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are." The French still take their food seriously and this “you are what you eat” theme still holds true today, in France, in America and worldwide.

What you may not know is that how you eat has an influence on your health. Mr. Brillat-Savarin knew this too, and if you delve into his “meal process adds to life’s happiness” attitude you will see trends that we incorporate here at Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine. Mindful thinking and eating, living with a purpose, and life enjoyment are interrelated with food and meals. What better way to feel part of a social relationship than sharing a meal around a table? And is there nothing better to wind down from a busy day than enjoying a home-cooked meal? The meal process is as important as what foods you put into your body. Eating mindfully and with pleasure can help your whole body and overall health.

Here are a few ideas to add mindfulness around your meals: turn off screens, sit around a table, light a candle and dim the lights. Take a moment to feel gratitude for the positive parts of your day and sip and savor your dishes. Even the simplest foods can be pleasurable if we have a mindful attitude. Enjoy the meal process, just as Mr. Brillant-Savarin said, "The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all areas; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.”

To learn more about nutrition and our Five Pillars of Health & Wellness, contact me at 732.994.7855 or visit our website at HackensackMeridian.org/IntegrativeMedicine