Why You Should Make Your Own Salad Dressing

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

Last week, I shared a few of my favorite salad recipes to help you take advantage of the variety of spring and summer produce coming into season. Salads are a great way to boost your vegetable and nutrient intake, but it’s important to point out that how you dress your salad is just as important as what you put in it. Store-bought salad dressings can be a convenient option, but they often can turn a healthy choice into a calorie-dense, preservative-laden health bomb. 

Here are just a few reasons why you should consider skipping the store-bought stuff:

Added sugar. Ever sprinkle a couple teaspoons of sugar over that bowl of leafy greens before digging in?  If you’re using a store-bought dressing, you likely are. Sugar is a common ingredient in store-bought dressings, often hiding under the name of high fructose corn syrup or dextrose. Added sugar causes blood sugar spikes (which fuel cravings later on), depletes nutrients in the body and encourages weight gain.

Poor quality oils. It’s nearly impossible to find a store dressing made with high-quality, 100 percent extra-virgin olive oil. Rather, to keep production costs down, manufacturers often use canola, corn, sunflower or soybean oil. These cheap oils easily become rancid (which causes inflammation in the body) and have been shown to increase cholesterol.

Additives. The ingredient list of most salad dressings includes a litany of gums, thickeners, colors, flavors and preservatives. Even in small amounts, these chemical additives are toxic to the body. It’s always a good idea to avoid unnecessary additives – especially if you have food sensitivities.

Fortunately, making your own salad dressing couldn’t be easier. A homemade salad dressing not only tastes better, but it can also be whipped up in a matter of minutes – many times with ingredients you already have on hand. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started:

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Maple-Dijon Dressing  (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil (if doing oil free use 2 tablespoons of broth or water)
salt to taste
Combine the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and pepper in a small jar with tight fitting lid. Whisk in the oil or broth in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Blueberry-Walnut Vinaigrette (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup blueberries
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
½ teaspoon dired thyme
½ teaspoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste

Puree the vinegar, blueberries and half of the walnuts in a blender until smooth, thinning it with 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if desired. Finely chop the rest of the walnuts. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and add the shallot or red onion, thyme and maple syrup. Shake to combine and seas with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to 3 days to allow the flavors to meld.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 small garlic clove, chopped
½ cup tahini
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ to ½ cup water

Pulse the lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic, tahini, salt and pepper in a high-speed blender to combine. Slowly add the water, starting with ¼ cup until it reaches your desired consistency. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Colorful Salad Ideas for Spring

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove, Pathways to Healing

Our bodies require a rainbow of nutrients for optimal health, and eating a variety of colors is one way to achieve this fundamental health goal. It can be easy to fall into the same eating routine once you find foods the entire family likes, but the truth is our bodies benefit from food variation. Children, especially, need a diversity of foods in their diets and adults benefit, as well.

Eating an assortment of colored fruits and vegetables is the best way to receive a complete range of the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function. Each fruit and vegetable has a distinctive color that indicates an abundance of unique nutrients. The range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have enormous healing powers that can help our bodies thrive.

This week, try buying a new fruit or vegetable that is not usually on your shopping list and find a way to incorporate it into a meal. Below are a few of my favorite nutrient-dense salad recipes to help you get started.

Rainbow Chopped Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette
Salad:
8-10 red radishes, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ pint yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 small zucchini, chopped
¼ small red cabbage, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

Avocado vinaigrette:
1 soft avocado, peeled and pitted
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup water, add more as needed

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in blender until smooth, taste and salt as needed. Chop all vegetables and toss together with dressing in a large bowl.

Colorful Kale salad
1 bag of organic kale or baby kale
1 tub of pomegranate seeds
Slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Healthy vinaigrette to taste

Toss all ingredients and enjoy.

Dr. Axe Raw Superfood Carrot Salad
Salad:
10 large shredded organic carrots
1 cup dried goji berries
4 organic green apples, chopped (you can use any color or what is on sale)
1 cup pecans

Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve chilled.

Asian Chicken Salad
Salad:
Handful of shredded kale, white cabbage or both!
2 slices purple cabbage
4 slivers of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
½ carrot, slivered
4 mini red bell peppers, cut into slivers
2 mini yellow bell peppers, cut into slivers
½ pulled rotisserie chicken, no skin
Handful of spring green peas, slivered
Handful of diced green onion
Handful of chopped cilantro
Handful of black sesame seeds
(Optional additions: red chili flakes, diced water chestnuts)

Dressing:
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

Heat oil, then add other ingredients and whisk together for 3-4 minutes. Let cool before dressing the salad.

Balsamic Beet Salad
Salad:
3 large beets
5 ounces mixed salad greens
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Vinaigrette:
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Cube the beets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water with lid on. Steam the beets until tender, 10-15 minutes. Combine the salad greens in a bowl and top with cooled beets and crumbled goat cheese. Make the dressing by combining the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and whisk. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Benefit Of Nuts

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

If you’re looking for a quick, convenient, nutrient-dense snack option, you really can’t do better than a small handful of raw nuts or seeds. There are a host of health benefits associated with eating raw nuts, which some experts even refer to as a “superfood.”

The Mayo Clinic notes that eating nuts can lower your LDL, or bad cholesterol, while improving the health of your artery linings.  In addition, nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein, antioxidants, fiber, amino acids, minerals and omega oils. These nutrients boost heart, brain and digestive health, while fighting free radicals. The high fat and protein content of nuts also helps with satiety and controls hunger by stabilizing blood sugar.

Almonds are the most nutrient-dense nut. The almond skin is rich in antioxidants including phenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that one serving of almonds contains a similar amount of polyphenols as a cup of steamed broccoli or green tea! Almonds also have one of the highest protein contents of nuts, nearly one gram of protein per almond.

Brazil nuts contain a high amount of the trace mineral selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant and aids in boosting the immune system. It is believed that selenium can benefit heart health by its ability to fight inflammation and increase blood flow.

Cashews contain a large amount of oleic acid, a heart-healthy fat. They are also a great source of biotin, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Hazelnuts are rich in many antioxidants, as well as vitamin E, arginine and B vitamins.

Macadamia nuts have the highest protein concentration in one serving. They are also a great source of fiber, magnesium and potassium.

Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals! They are second highest in protein content and include calcium, copper, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and include B vitamins, as well as A and E.

Pine nuts may help with weight loss because they contain pinolenic acid, which triggers the release of an appetite-suppressing hormone. Pine nuts are most often used in recipes to make pesto.

Walnuts have recently been hailed a “superfood,” due to high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.  Pumpkin seeds are a nutritional powerhouse with a wide variety of nutrients ranging from copper and zinc to magnesium and manganese, and are also high in protein. The high zinc content in pumpkin seeds can boost prostate health.

(It’s important to point out that, although commonly viewed as a nut, peanuts are actually legumes and grow underground. For a variety of reasons, I do not recommend my patients eat peanuts.)

While nuts and seeds are very healthy, they are high in fat and protein. It is very easy to overindulge in nuts, eating too many servings (and thus consuming too many calories) in one sitting. One serving is considered one ounce. The following list details how many nuts are in a single serving. Eating a variety of nuts is your best bet, and moderation is crucial.

Almonds (20-24 nuts): 160 calories, 14g fat, 6g protein

Brazil Nuts (6-8 nuts): 190 calories, 19g fat, 4g protein

Cashews (16-18 nuts): 160 calories, 14g fat, 4g protein

Hazelnuts (18-20 nuts): 180 calories, 17g fat, 4g protein

Macadamia (10-12 nuts): 200 calories, 22g fat, 2g protein

Pecans (18-20 halves): 200 calories, 20g fat, 3g protein

Pine Nuts (150-155 nuts): 160 calories, 14g fat, 7g protein

Walnuts (14 halves): 190 calories, 18g fat, 4g protein

Pumpkin seeds (140 hulled) calories 153, 13g fat, 7g protein

When purchasing nuts, look for raw options. Roasted nuts are often processed in hydrogenated oils (a harmful fat source), which destroys the nutritional benefit nuts have in their raw form.  Additionally, roasted nuts are frequently coated in sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.  If you prefer roasted nuts and seeds, roast them yourself so that you can control the roasting temperature to keep the nuts as nutrient-dense as possible. Raw pumpkin seeds, for instance, can be roasted on a low-heat setting in the oven (no more than 170 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes), and sprinkled with Himalayan or other natural salts.

Nuts are a simple addition to your daily diet. Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle nuts on top of a mixed green salad for enhanced crunch. Add chopped nuts to hot oatmeal to increase the protein and fiber content. Eat nuts with your fruit and yogurt, or add to your granola. You can also create a simple pre- or post-workout snack by mixing nuts with dates and dried fruit for a healthy homemade 3-ingredient energy bar.  Or, throw together this simple trail mix for an easy snack on the go:

Superfood Trail Mix

Recipe courtesy of thehealthyfamilyandhome.com

  • 1 cup organic almonds
  • 1 cup organic cashews
  • 1/2 cup organic goji berries
  • 1/2 cup organic dried mulberries
  • 1/2 cup organic dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup organic sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut flakes

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and toss well. Store in an air-tight container until ready to eat.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Surviving Allergy Season

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

Springtime in Georgia is beautiful, from the birds singing to the spectacular flowers and blooming trees, everything is coming alive once again.  But with this awakening of nature, many people also experience the “awakening” of seasonal allergies. The dense clouds of pine pollen hanging in the air, combined with a myriad of other unseen pollens, make many allergy sufferers want to hide inside until the season passes. So, what are allergies and is there anything we can do to prevent them and enjoy this time of year without suffering?

An allergy is an abnormally high sensitivity to a substance that is not typically harmful. An allergy is essentially an indication that something is out of balance in your body causing it to overreact with an immune response, such as itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, eczema, abdominal pain or bloating. Some common causes of allergies are pollens, certain foods, stress, dust mites, pet dander and air pollution.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in allergies and asthma, especially in children. The amount of people suffering with allergies in North America has gone from 10 percent in 1980 to 30 percent today. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people now suffer from allergies. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates the annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses in the U.S. to be $7.9 BILLION.

Why are we experiencing this dramatic increase in allergies? The simple answer is that most allergy sufferers’ immune systems are not as strong or efficient as they once were. Over 70 percent of your immune system is in your intestinal tract, and it is common to find an imbalance in the bacteria of the gut resulting from the use of medications, especially antibiotics. A 2010 study from the University of Marcos found that children given antibiotics during their first year of life were at a 66 percent increased risk for developing allergies. 

Another cause of increased allergies is inflammation, especially in the gut. Many of the foods commonly consumed by Americans are filled with chemicals and trans fats.  In addition, the antibiotics and hormones found in many of the meats we consume also cause the body to become inflamed. Chronic inflammation can cause the body to become over-reactive and hypersensitive, while also causing a decrease in healthy gut flora.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help reduce allergies naturally. As we head in to spring, consider taking some of these simple steps:

  • Use a neti pot. A neti pot cleanses and refreshes the nasal passages, thereby improving allergy symptoms. The pot is filled with purified water and a salt-based mixture. (Using water alone in the nasal passages can irritate the inside of your nostrils.)
  • Strengthen your immune system by eating good quality food, lots of vegetables, some fruit and some lean meats.
  •  Eat garlic.  Garlic is a natural antibiotic and helps to fight off viruses, infections and allergies. Using real cloves of garlic in your foods is more effective than taking it in supplement form and can offer a powerful boost to the immune system.
  • Increase Vitamin D. The optimal range for Vitamin D levels in our blood is between 50 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D is a modulator for the immune system and decreased levels of Vitamin D have been linked to autoimmune conditions.
  • When possible, reach for natural antihistamines and decongestants. There are several whole food supplements available that can help eliminate histamines, support liver function and loosen mucus without the side effects of most allergy medications.  Supplements that we use in our office with great success include Allerplex and Antronex.
  • Reach for lemons and limes. Both fruits have high levels of Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and helps reduce allergies.  Drinking lemon/lime water also helps your body get rid of toxins.
  • Drink turmeric ginger tea. Together, turmeric and ginger have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and act as a natural painkiller to help alleviate allergy symptoms. Avoid chamomile tea if you are allergic to ragweed.
  • Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to stay adequately hydrated. Dehydration makes allergy symptoms even worse.
  • Change your air conditioner filters frequently during the pollen season.
  • When in your car, keep the ventilation system on re-circulate.
  • Experiment with essential oils. Peppermint oil can often unclog sinuses, discharge phlegm and offer relief to scratchy throats. Basil oil reduces the inflammatory response to allergens and helps detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses. Eucalyptus oil can open up the lungs and sinuses, thereby improving circulation and reducing allergy symptoms. Lemon oil supports the lymphatic system drainage and helps overcome respiratory conditions by boosting the immune system. Tea tree oil can destroy airborne pathogens that cause allergies. It also is an antiseptic agent with anti-inflammatory properties.

It is possible to reduce allergies naturally by taking a few simple steps toward strengthening the immune system and limiting overall exposure to environmental allergens.  Taking these steps can allow allergy sufferers to move beyond merely “surviving” this time of year, and bring them to a point where they can thrive and enjoy all spring has to offer.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Are You At Risk For Osteoporosis?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

As many as 54 million Americans have low bone density, and many of them don’t even know it. Ten million Americans have such low bone density they actually have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. Advanced osteoporosis usually presents with symptoms such as bone pain, backache, curvature of the upper spine presenting as a hump, and loss of height from vertebral compression fractures. 

However, osteopenia (characterized by low bone mineral density that is not extreme enough to be called osteoporosis) and early-to-middle stages of osteoporosis are silent diseases that have no symptoms. A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis is often found accidentally, such as when a bone is being x-rayed to determine the existence of a fracture. Typically, when low bone mass shows up on an x-ray, as much as one-third of the person’s bone mass has already been lost.

You could be at risk for low bone density and osteoporosis if you:

  • Are a woman – especially if you’ve had a hysterectomy or are postmenopausal
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have an inactive lifestyle
  • Have amenorrhea because of extreme exercise
  • Have a history of an eating disorder or under-eating for many years
  • Are a heavy user of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, sugar or carbonated beverages
  • Have a chronic health disorder such as diabetes, malabsorption condition, celiac disease, or hyperthyroidism
  • Are small-boned and consistently below normal weight for someone your size
  • Are, or have a history of, taking certain prescription medications long-term, such as steroids (cortisone and prednisone), certain birth controls and anticonvulsants
  • Have a history of cancer treatments, including chemotherapy or radiation
  • Are deficient in certain key nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium
  • Have a low level of testosterone – even if you are a woman
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis, fractures or bone disorders

The only way to truly detect the bone loss associated with osteopenia is with a bone scan – most commonly a low-radiation DEXA scan (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) of the hip and spine. A bone scan can detect even small changes in a person’s bone density.

Our bodies are constantly making new bone, however, as we age, we tend to start losing more bone than we create. The good news is, it’s never too late to focus on bone health. Here are a few simple ways you can help increase your bone density naturally:

ExerciseExercise, especially “weight-bearing” types, is needed to keep muscles strong, sustain skeletal strength and help maintain bone density. Weight-bearing exercises include any type of exercise that forces you to work against gravity.  Weight-bearing exercises require your bones and muscles to support your body weight, while also enhancing coordination and balance. (Coordination and balance are important for preventing the slips, falls and accidents that wind up causing a serious fracture or injury.) Examples of weight-bearing activities include walking, dancing, yoga, skiing, tennis, body weight exercises using resistance bands/cables, or even lifting soup cans. Aim to do weight-bearing exercises at least 3 to 4 times per week for 30-60 minutes in duration.

Eat a Bone-Healthy Diet – Focus on eating bone-healthy foods that are high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Incorporate a variety of green leafy vegetables like kale, bok choy, broccoli, and cabbage. (Spinach should be avoided as a source of calcium, because it is high in oxalates that bind calcium.) Fish, such as sardines with small, edible bones, are an excellent source of calcium and oily fish, especially wild-caught salmon, are a good source of vitamin D. Other great sources of magnesium and calcium include: almonds, sesame seeds/sesame butter, beans and legumes, avocadoes, and dark chocolate.

Keep in mind that while eating foods high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium is encouraged, it can be difficult to get the ideal amounts from your diet alone. This is primarily because the amounts of these nutrients in foods can vary widely. For example, a study of the vitamin D content of salmon found an average of only 240 IU of Vitamin D3 in farmed salmon compared to an average of 988 IU vitamin D3 in 3.5 ounces of wild-caught salmon. 

Optimize Vitamin D Levels – Vitamin D helps the body improve calcium absorption. Spending most of your time indoors and avoiding the sun may mean that your body isn’t making the vitamin D it needs to help maintain bone mass.

It is best to obtain Vitamin D naturally by exposing your bare skin to sunlight for about 15-20 minutes every day.

If you are at high risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about having a bone density test (DEXA) and check your vitamin D levels. No matter the current state of your bone health, incorporating these simple tips today can help you prevent fractures or complications in the future.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Pathways to Healing: Health Benefits Of Oregano Oil

February 21, 2019

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

If you’ve ever made Italian food, you’ve likely reached for dried oregano to add Mediterranean flavor to your favorite sauce. But this humble herb can be used for much more than simply flavoring your favorite dishes. In the world of essential oils, oregano oil is a powerful tool that provides a wide variety of healing benefits and uses.

To create oregano oil, medicinal grade oregano is distilled to extract the essential oil from the herb, which is where a high concentration of the herb’s active ingredients are found. When made into a medicinal supplement or essential oil, oregano is often called “oil of oregano.” Oil of oregano contains two powerful compounds called carvacrol and thymol, both of which have been shown in studies to have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.

In fact, oregano oil may rival antibiotics when it comes to treating and preventing various infections. In 2011, the Journal of Medicinal Food published a study that evaluated the antibacterial effect of oregano oil against five types of bad bacteria. Oil of oregano showed significant antibacterial properties against all five species. The highest activity was observed against E. Coli, which suggests that oregano oil could potentially be used to promote gastrointestinal health and to prevent food poisoning. (When traveling internationally, I always pack oregano oil capsules to help fight foreign germs I may come in contact with.)

Another study found that a combination of heat, salt and use of essential oils (including oregano) had effects against strains of bacteria that commonly cause the fungal infection known as athlete’s foot. After testing the fungicidal activity of 11 essential oils against the bacteria known to cause athlete’s foot, oregano oil was found to be the most powerful (followed by thyme, cinnamon, lemongrass and clove).

Oregano essential oil also helps balance bacteria and fight yeast overgrowth, making it a popular natural treatment for Candida and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). (SIBO is a common digestive problem that causes gas, bloating and intolerances to many carbohydrate-containing foods.) Oregano oil hinders bacterial replication and can be used for treating infections that affect digestive health and nutrient absorption. Thymol, one of oregano’s active compounds, may help relax the soft tissue of the throat and stomach, which can help to decrease GERD, heartburn and discomfort after eating.

Oregano oil is safe as long as it’s diluted in water or with a carrier oil (some of my top choices are jojoba, olive and coconut oils). The ideal ratio when diluting this herbal oil is one part oregano oil to three parts carrier oil. Before using oregano oil, be sure to conduct a spot test to check for allergic reactions. Simply apply a diluted drop on your arm and see if any irritation occurs. Oregano oil can be used topically, diffused or taken internally. 

Ideally, you want to purchase 100 percent pure, unfiltered, Certified USDA Organic oregano oil. If taking internally, the oil must be 100 percent therapeutic grade. The oil is very strong and hot, so start with less and add more as needed. Be careful when buying oregano oil, as some manufacturers sell adulterated oils and oils made from thyme, Spanish oregano, or cultivated oregano, which DO NOT provide any health benefits.

I take oregano essential oil internally for a maximum of two weeks, in most cases, because it’s so powerful. When taking oregano oil internally, it should always be diluted with water or mixed with coconut oil. I find it’s helpful to combine oregano oil with olive oil in capsules to avoid burning the throat. Oregano oil is also available as soft gels or capsules to take internally without the mess of trying to make your own capsules.

The dried herb oregano is typically fine for pregnant women but, generally speaking, it is not considered safe to use oregano oil during pregnancy. If side effects, such as nausea, dizziness or an allergic reaction are ever experienced, then stop using oregano oil immediately and consider seeing a doctor. Because oregano oil might interfere with other medications, always ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take it internally. Some people may experience stomach upset when ingesting oregano oil (or even the herb itself). Those who are allergic to plants from the Lamiaceae family (mint, lavender, sage and basil) should also avoid this oil, as they may also develop an allergic reaction.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

SAD_Tips For Surviving Winter

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Being from the Great White North, a.k.a. Alaska, I have encountered numerous people affected by the “winter blues.” As we head into the height of the winter season, cooler weather combines with shorter periods of daylight and sunshine. Some people welcome this seasonal change, but others may experience something more serious — a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of clinical depression that comes and goes based on a specific seasonal pattern, hitting around the same time each year. Studies show about half a million Americans are affected by SAD.

SAD symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms can start out mild and become more severe in peak winter months. People suffering from SAD may experience a loss of interest in activities or decrease in motivation to socialize with friends and family.  Other common symptoms include trouble sleeping, decrease in energy, weight gain, irritability, and appetite changes — especially cravings for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.

Unsurprisingly, location makes a difference in the occurrence of this condition since sunlight and temperature play a major role. SAD is more common among people who live far north or south of the equator due to abbreviated daylight hours. For example, in my hometown in Fairbanks, Alaska on December 21 (the shortest day of the year) there is about 3 to 4 hours of daylight and temperatures are often below zero. You can imagine the effect this has on the brain and body! In Georgia, the shortest day of the year still has 9 to 10 hours of daylight and is not as cold.

It can be challenging to differentiate if a person is suffering from “traditional” depression or seasonal depression, but the main difference is the duration.  With SAD, feelings will begin in September, be the worst in peak winter months, and ease up once spring rolls around in March or April. Health professionals typically wait to see if symptoms persist over two or three consecutive winter seasons before making an official diagnosis, however, no one should have to wait that long to start feeling better! There are several natural remedies that can provide relief.

Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because the body produces it when exposed to the sun. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to depression. Check with your doctor to make sure your vitamin D levels are up to par. Adding a supplement could help you feel better, while also improving bone health and boosting your immune system.

It can be challenging to get to the gym or go outside when you are not feeling great, but regular exercise has been proven to help with all types of depression. Staying active increases the production of endorphins – those feel-good chemicals that help ease depressive feelings and clear brain fog. One study showed just 20-30 minutes of walking for 10 consecutive days was enough to significantly reduce depression.

Research also has shown consistency and frequency of exercise has more positive effects then duration or intensity. You do not need to run a marathon or lift massively heavy weights in order to reap the benefits of exercise. Join a group fitness class, walking club or practice yoga. Also, when there is a ray of sunshine or the temperature is tolerable, take advantage! Get as much natural light as possible — your brain and body will thank you for it later. If you can squeeze in a workout outside, great! But even playing fetch with the dog outside will boost your body’s ability to make proper hormones and regulate your circadian rhythm.

Talking it out is another option. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people change unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving into positive solutions. Reach out to friends and family, and establish a support network to help ease feelings of isolation.

Finally, be sure to eat a healthy diet. People with SAD tend to crave sweet treats and sugary carbs, which make them look and feel worse. Try to focus on lean protein, leafy greens and fish, which will keep hormones in check and boost serotonin.

These simple lifestyle changes can greatly impact overall mood and health – and help minimize the “winter blues,” should they come knocking on your door this winter. 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Principles Of Intuitive Eating (Part 2)

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Last week, we discussed five strategies you can use to begin eating intuitively, as opposed to relying on the typical “diet” approach to weight management.

Intuitive eating doesn’t rely on a diet or meal plan, counting calories or excessive willpower.  Rather, intuitive eating is about learning to trust your body again. It’s about learning to read internal cues, like hunger, fullness and satisfaction, and moving away from external cues like food rules and restrictions.  People who eat intuitively, trust their bodies to tell them when, what and how much to eat.  And they give themselves permission to eat what they want without feeling guilty.

This week, I’m sharing five more ways you can begin to incorporate intuitive eating principles, from Sun Basket’s staff dietitian, Lindsey Kane. By beginning to implement these strategies on a regular basis, you’ll develop healthy habits and be able to get off the diet-go-round for good. 

Discover the satisfaction factor.
Intuitive eating encourages you to identify foods that truly make you feel good—not just during a meal, but afterward, too. By doing this, you’ll find yourself gravitating towards and returning to foods that make you feel your best. In addition to eating foods that make you feel good, try engaging all your senses. Slow down, appreciate the way the food looks, respect how it arrived at your plate, breathe in all of the aromas, and eat in an environment that feels good and with people who light you up. 

Honor your feelings without using food.
Food can be comforting, but that pleasure only lasts as long as the meal. Afterward, whatever was eating you is still there, buried under food, perhaps now served with a side of guilt and shame. Intuitive eating encourages you to identify whether you’re feeling anxious, bored, lonely, sad, or angry and then seek a true solution. Go for a walk, call a friend, practice yoga or meditation, get a massage, read a book, or write in a journal. You’ll know you’re responding appropriately when the response makes you feel better, not worse. 

Respect your body.
Our differences are our superpowers, yet we live in a world that idealizes a cookie-cutter body type. The idea that we can radically transform our bodies is unfair and unrealistic. Intuitive eating challenges you to embrace your genetic blueprint, set realistic expectations, and celebrate your uniqueness. Anytime you catch yourself comparing your body to someone else’s, respond as you would if a friend said something similar about themselves. 

Exercise and feel the difference.
People who practice intuitive eating enjoy exercise because it gives them energy, improves their mood, promotes self-efficacy, and makes them feel strong, flexible, and agile. For intuitive eaters, working out isn’t about which activity will burn the most calories, but rather about which activity is the most fun and energizing. Exercise you enjoy is exercise that you’re likely to repeat, creating the momentum that drives sustainable, long-term happiness.

Honor your health.
Acknowledging how your health impacts the richness of your life erases superficial reasons for health goals and grounds your motives in what truly matters: your personal values. Getting perspective on why health is important helps you understand that no single meal or bite can make or break your self-worth. Align your health with your ambitions and you’ll be more motivated to cultivate habits that support your life goals. Ask yourself if your goals are realistic, are you accepting of your natural body or constantly fighting your genetics and beating yourself up? Respect your body and start feeling better about who you are so you can take better care of yourself long-term.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Principles Of Intuitive Eating (Part 1)


By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

According to U.S. News and World Report, about 90 to 95 percent of all diets fail. Although almost any weight-loss plan can yield short-term benefits, over time the pounds inevitably creep back on, and it’s not unusual to end up weighing more than you did before you started dieting.

A healthy approach to eating, called “Intuitive Eating,” believes the blame should be placed on the flawed process of dieting rather than blaming the “dieters”. This week, I’m sharing five ways you can begin to eat intuitively, from Sun Basket’s staff dietitian, Lindsey Kane. Next week, I’ll share five more. By beginning to implement these strategies, you’ll develop healthy habits and be able to get off the diet-go-round for good. 

1. Reject the diet mentality.
Stop chasing diets and allowing the latest fad dictate what, how much, and when to eat. This rigid lifestyle of restriction and deprivation can lead to a toxic relationship with food. Instead, make a commitment to trust your gut when it comes to food choices. 

2. Honor your hunger.
While most diets require you to resist a growling stomach, intuitive eating is about rebuilding faith in your body’s cues. You’ll learn to be more aware of your hunger and how to respond appropriately to it before you become ravenous.  Before each meal, rate your level of hunger, jot down a few internal cues that you observed, and the time of day. Do this for a week and you’ll become more in tune with your appetite, as well as which foods deliver long-lasting energy, and those that deliver short-lived satiety. 

3. Make peace with food.
Abandon the idea of “good” and “bad” foods. Viewing foods that way fuels an ‘all or nothing’ mentality that can lead to cravings for ‘forbidden’ foods, followed by binging and a rush of self-loathing and shame. Intuitive eating promotes the idea that food should always be a life-enhancing experience.

4. Challenge the food police.
Reframe your attitude toward food. Take note of any “food police” thoughts you may have, such as “I was bad today” or “I shouldn’t eat that.” Resist the notion that your food choices define you and the value you bring to this world. Look out for people who may be consciously or unconsciously manifesting a food-police mentality, share your intuitive eating philosophy with them and ask them to support you by keeping their negative comments to themselves. 

5. Respect your fullness.
The flip side of honoring your hunger is to respect when you’re full. Because diets limit what, when, and how much you eat, it’s easy to become disconnected from the internal signs that signal satiety. When you practice intuitive eating, you start a meal with a lower level of hunger and in a frame of mind that allows you to be more sensitive to satiety cues. Plus, you know you can refuel whenever you’re hungry again, and you won’t feel pressured to clean your plate. Use a satiety scale during meals to train your mind to get in touch with cues of satiety. Jot down observations of how you feel and what you ate. This will help determine when to put your fork down and walk away from a meal feeling comfortably nourished and energized.

By implementing these strategies, you can create healthy habits around food that will positively impact your health for years to come. Stay tuned next week for five more tips on how to incorporate intuitive eating into your daily life.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Bee Pollen

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

We’ve all heard about the numerous health benefits of raw honey but the same honeybees responsible for honey actually produce something even more nutritious and beneficial to our health: bee pollen.

As bees buzz from flower to flower the pollen collected from various blossoms is mixed with a small dose of nectar from the bees’ salivary glands. This mixture is then placed in small “baskets” on their hind legs to be taken back to the hive as food for the colony. As these microscopic pollen particles accumulate on the legs, they begin looking like little balls of yellow fuzz. Beekeepers use special devices called “pollen traps” to collect this pollen as the field bees return to their hives.

Research has shown bee pollen to be one of nature’s most nourishing foods. Rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, fatty acids and enzymes, bee pollen acts as an antioxidant to help us fight free radicals. Bee pollen also contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that stimulate our immune system, reduce inflammation, enhance energy and support the cardiovascular system. In fact, it has been reported that regular ingestion of bee pollen in the diet decreases low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which helps normalize cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

In 1948, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a very important article on bee pollen in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. According to the article, there was a delay in the development of mammary tumors and some mice became tumor-free following ingestion of mice chow mixed with bee pollen. Additionally, the high concentration of RNA and DNA nucleic acids in bee pollen have been shown to help prevent the premature aging of cells and stimulate the growth of new skin cells. Bee pollen stimulates blood supply to skin cells and helps with detoxification. The result is healthier, younger looking skin that is less vulnerable to wrinkles.

Bee pollen may offer relief for allergy sufferers, as well. Utilizing a technique called desensitization, a person can ingest a small amount of the allergen (in this case bee pollen), to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that will eliminate the effects of allergy symptoms and reactions when exposed to the offending substance. It is advised to start taking bee pollen at least six weeks before allergy season begins and continue throughout the season for maximal benefit. 

Perhaps most intriguing, bee pollen can boost the energy of high-performance individuals, enhancing athletic performance and strength naturally. Here is what the Finnish coach Antii Lananaki had to say after his track team swept the Olympics in 1972, “Most of our athletes take bee pollen food supplements. Our studies and experience show it significantly improves their performance. There have been no negative results since we have been supplying pollen to our athletes.”

You can purchase bee pollen from a local beekeeper you trust (I buy mine from the local farmers market to make sure that the pollen is free from pesticides and that the bee colonies are not harmed or treated with chemicals). You can also find bee pollen in most health food stores.

Bee pollen pellets or granules can be swallowed alone, added to smoothies or sprinkled over salads. The granules can be blended or ground and mixed with honey, yogurt or food items of your choice. Pollen pellets can be added to warm water and left for two to three hours as they crack and release their nutritional value. You then can drink the liquid or mix with fruit or vegetable juice to gain awesome bee pollen benefits.

It is safe for most people to take bee pollen by mouth, however, there are some caveats. If you are allergic to bees or pollen, you should start slowly – taking just one teaspoon of pollen a day.  If you notice any itching, swelling, lightheadedness or shortness of breath after consuming bee pollen, stop taking it immediately. Additionally, women who are pregnant should ask their healthcare provider before using bee pollen, as it may stimulate ovarian function.

Grab your bee pollen now to boost your nutrient intake naturally as studies show it contains nearly all nutrients required by the human body to thrive.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.