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Most of us have at one time or another experienced the fresh, crisp air that is breathed in the countryside. Cozy corner at homeWe naturally attribute this to the concentrated number of trees, gardens and of course, the lack of fumes being emitted from thousands of cars.

We know that there is nothing that we can do about the busyness of our roads but we can, however, bring a little bit of the countryside into our homes and make a big impact in the quality of the air we breathe.
Houseplants are one of the best ways of cleaning and purifying your indoor air by effectively removing air pollutants such as benzene (carcinogen), formaldehyde (found in glue, shoe care agents, carpeting etc), CO and nitrogen oxides which are undesirable products of burning tobacco and wood.

In a NASA research project, Spider plants were placed in closed chambers with 120 ppm carbon monoxide (CO) or 50 ppm nitrogen oxide (NO2). After 24 hours, spider plants removed: 96% CO, 99% NO2 !
The most effective plants to use in removing pollutants like formaldehyde are those with a large leaf surface area. These are:

• Heart-leaf philodendron (philodendron scandens)
• Elephant ear philodendron (philodendron domesticum)
• Green spider plant (chlorphytum elatum)
• Lacy tree philodendron (philodendron selloum)
• Golden pothos (epipremnum aureum)
• Chinese evergreen (aglonema modestum)
• Mini-Schefflera (bassaia arboricola)
• Peperomia (peperomia obtusifolia)
• Peace lily (spathiphyllum clevelandii)
• Corn plant (dracaena fragrans ‘massangeana’)
• Snake plant (sansevieria traifasciata)

It is important to note that these plants do not remove all chemical gases, nor do they address mold, mildew, bacteria or pet dander. For these other indoor air contaminants a high quality air purification system is always recommended.

These plants do, however, create a cleaner, fresher home environment by removing the previously mentioned pollutants and by replacing the carbon dioxide we exhale with life sustaining oxygen! It is recommended that one plant be placed every 100 square feet of living area.

In addition to this immense health benefit, these beauties will enhance the look and feel of your home and when taking care of them, they will transport you to the peaceful nature that is inherent in them.

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Just last night I realized how tension disarming and health promoting laughter can be. Juju closeupAfter a “mini fit” thrown by my three year old because I had left her Dora video at her grandmother’s house, my already tense shoulders and upset stomach went into full gear. As I was trying to convince her that it was much too late to watch Dora and that I would surely get her video the following morning, she went into full upset and told me things that I was not able to decipher through her tears.

In an attempt to distract her, I asked her, “Where did you place your milk”…to which she answered “right there” but without motioning in any direction. She had hidden the milk and was now trying to punish me by not showing me where it was.

I looked and looked and every time I asked where it was, she would simply say “right there” but not direct me to it. I finally lifted a pillow and found her milk bottle (she drinks everything from a zippy cup except milk).

When I looked up at her with an “aha” look, she met my glance with a full grin and tremendous mischievousness. She started to giggle and I started to laugh. The more she giggled, the more I laughed. We threw ourselves on the bed and had a gentle pillow fight….and then I suddenly noticed that my stomach was no longer bothering me and that all my previous tension had left me with the abandonment of my laughter!

It was a moment of sheer appreciation suspended in time. Soon after Juliette agreed to a bed time story and I to a good night’s rest.

The moral of this story? Let go and let laughter lift you to higher ground, to greater health and to an extraordinary moment that you can always look back to with immense love.

Now, for all of my potential readers this is for you. I hope that the following bit of information will in no way diminish the beauty of the very real experience that I shared with you but rather may it serve to further validate it.

Joy or pleasure catalyzes a relaxation response. The same switch in the brain which turns on relaxation, which is the parasympathetic nervous system, also turns on full, healthy digestion and assimilation. Conversely, the same switch in the brain that turns on stress, anxiety and fear, which is the sympathetic nervous system, turns off digestion and assimilation.

In the final analysis, whether you are seeking pure joy or greater health, know that they go hand in hand!

I thank you for reading me and encourage you to share your experiences and feedback.

Best wishes! Nora

California Wildfires

How to protect yourself, your family and pets
Particulate Matter From California Wildfires Is More Toxic Than Particulate Matter In Ambient Airwildfire

A study of coarse and fine particulate matter (PM) generated by the California wildfires of 2008 suggests a toxicity level greater than that of an equivalent dose of particulate matter (PM) in ambient air, as reported in the January 2009 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).

This high toxicity in the air is due to the overwhelming amounts of burning pesticides and chemicals. Under normal circumstances we are already have indoor air pollution due to recycled air through air conditioning systems, household cleaners, as well as poorly ventilated areas.

More needs to be said about the measures that California residents need to take to protect themselves and most especially their babies from what can easily have a long term effect on the respiratory system up to and including severe lung disease.

My suggestion is to purchase a high quality air purification system for the home and or office and wear a smoke mask when venturing out.

You are welcome to contact me at norafarinas.wordpress.com for detailed information on the different air purifications systems available.

Consider Nutrition and Craniosacral therapy

One of the most effective ways to prevent ear infections is by carlitos breastfeeding. Studies have shown that breastfeeding provides your child with antibodies that help prevent infection and boost immunity. If your child is past the breastfeeding stage, then consider eliminating allergens which may cause acute otitis media by causing mucus production and mucous membrane swelling. Once the allergens are discovered and removed from the child’s environment or diet, health can greatly improve. Common food allergens in children include cow’s milk, wheat, soy, corn, citrus, and egg, although other foods may be implicated on an individual basis. Inhalant allergies include molds, dust, animal dander, and hay fever. For these a quality air filter is recommended as well as eliminating any household cleaners that are toxic. For information on a high quality air purification system click on the “contact me” tab.
If your child has been or is frequently on antibiotics, give him or her a pro-biotic supplement (the same good bacteria found in yogurt, just stronger). These can be easily added to food and drink without notice.

The second step in treating or preventing ear infections is Craniosacral therapy. I have personally experienced both the subtle power of it as well as the immediate healing results. On different occasions throughout the course of my life, I have sought Craniasacral therapy for stress, digestive problems and muscular pain. There are however an array of other maladies that Craniosacral therapy addresses. The core intent of Craniosacral therapy is to manually and gently facilitate the correct physical movements of bones, muscles, membranes, fluids, and any other related structures. For example, excess mucuos and stagnation of mucuous inside the inner ear can create pressure and dramatically affect the physical movements of the inner structures. Craniosacral therapy assists the body in returning to its healthy intended state. This is an effective and gentle treatment to which children especially respond. Among other conditions addressed by Craniosacral therapy are autism, language problems, ear infections, visual problems, seizures, emotional difficulties, balance & motor coordination impairments, cerebral palsy, colic children, central nervous system disorders and more.

What is CranioSacral Therapy?
CranioSacral therapy is a hands-on gentle approach used to evaluate the whole body, detecting and treating where there might be possible structural, emotional and physiological restrictions. If the body is functioning out of synchrony due to any trauma or disorder, it could potentially cause many different sensory, motor and neurological disabilities.

How is Craniosacral performed?
This treatment is best performed with the newborn or child comfortable fully clothed, lying face up, atop a table, seated or while pl aying in a quiet and friendly environment. Most of the time the therapist uses 5 grams of pressure (about the weight of a nickel) when working on different body parts.

What is the CranioSacral system?
It is a self-corrective mechanism composed of brain membranes and cerebrospinal fluid, which extends from the bones of the skull, face and mouth making up the cranium (head), down to the sacrum, or (tailbone) area.

How many treatments might a child needs?
The number of treatments needed is different from child to child; this depends on how the body responds and the child’s health history and condition. Some parents prefer to provide treatments regularly to keep their bodies healthier or to help alleviate a range of illness, pain and dysfunction. For contact information on a Craniosacral therapy click on the “contact me” tab.

Second only to the breath of life is Water!Smallest picture of baby drinking water

78% of your baby’s weight is water. All of his or her bodily functions depend on it. For this reason, the quality of water that you give your children is of the utmost importance.

After years of drinking bottled water and cooking with tap, I finally came to the conclusion that I was defying my purpose. I knew that the elevated temperatures while cooking would probably kill any possible bacteria in tap water but in my personal research found that no amount of cooking could eliminate hard metals such as lead. This was most troublesome to me because I had also learned that lead in water was the #1 environmental threat to our children and that it could affect their intellectual and behavioral development. I consulted my daughter’s pediatrician who confirmed what the Environmental Protection Agency conceded to, that there was no safe level of lead in water, especially for small children. What is so frightening is that numerous homes have lead contaminated water due to old plumbing systems.

So what of the bottled water I was drinking and giving my little girl? Was it safe?
On bottled water, when asking Associate Professor and director of the Center for Water and Health at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Kellog Schwab, PhD, he responded as follows:

Dr. Schwab: “Consumers should be more concerned with the initial quality of the drinking water inside a container than they should be about the composition of the container. Many people buy bottled water because they do not feel comfortable drinking tap water. The truth is that tap water in the United States is more highly regulated and monitored for quality compared to bottled water.” In addition, the FDA requires even less standards for water that is bottled and sold in the same state, meaning that a significant number of bottles have undergone almost no regulation or testing. If this is not enough to keep you from buying bottled water then consider Bisphenol A .

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic bottle containers. Research has shown that BPA can leach into water from these containers especially when the water heats up, as when left in a parked vehicle. This does not just happen when someone forgets it in their car. Imagine the number of times this occurs while the bottled water is being transported to the local grocery store. BPA acts as an environmental estrogen and once it is ingested it can disrupt proper hormone functioning, alter genes and interferes with normal physical and behavioral development.

Armed with all this information, I took specific action that has brought my family not only better tasting, uncontaminated water, but it has also brought me piece of mind. Not only am I now saving a great deal of money but I also feel very good about contributing to the well-being of our children’s future. I no longer add to the tons of plastic waste in our landfills. One plastic bottle may take as much as 1,000 years to disintegrate!

I purchased a water purification system that accommodates both my cooking and drinking water and I now carry a stainless steel container filled with purified water to the gym and work.

If you would like me to forward you the different options in water purification systems, send me your request by way of the “contact me” tab.

iStock_000009584051XSmallExpectant moms need an extra dose of iron to accommodate the new demand made on their bodies. The National Academy of Science recommends an additional 30 mg of iron to be taken daily. Upon their first doctor’s visit expectant moms are instructed to take a prenatal vitamin that includes this additional supplement as well as various others but there is no more delicious a way to get that extra nutrition than “Grandma’s Lentil Soup”.

This recipe was given to me by a good friend whose family has passed it down through several Italian generations. A key thing to remember is do not omit any of the ingredients. It is this precise combination that makes this the best lentil soup you will ever have!

Here is the recipe

¾ cup lentil soaked and cleaned
3 cloves of garlic diced
¾ cup onion, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 medium carrots, cleaned and sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 cups escarole, cleaned and chopped
3 cups of low sodium chicken stock
1 cup purified water

In 3 quart pan, sauté garlic, onion and olive oil until soft.
Add chicken stock, carrots, celery, escarole and purified water.
Cook at medium heat for 6 minutes. Turn heat down to low and cook for 30 to 45 minutes depending on how tender you prefer your lentils. For a thicker soup uncover at 30 minutes and allow for continued cooking until desired thickness.

A complimentary thing to do for greater iron absorption is to eat food rich in vitamin C in conjunction with food that is rich in iron. Iron absorption enhancer are broccoli, tomato, green and red peppers, orange juice, strawberries, grapefruit and cantaloupe.
Rich source of plant-derived iron are lentils, kidney bean, lima bean, soybean, spinach and tofu.

I hope that you will love this recipe as much as I.
Bon appetit!

A Healthy World

Are we cleaning our homes or polluting them?

Studies show that household cleaning products are associated with chronic wheezing, coughing and asthma in children. I was able to confirm the validity of this study in a recent visit to a friend’s home. As I entered her beautifully decorated high rise condominium I was immediately greeted by an array of fragrances. My sensitive nose was able to identify the laundry softener, the glass cleaner that was being applied at that moment as well and the various scented candles. Soon into my visit, I noted that her little three year old daughter had coughed and sneezed several times. As I turned to “bless her”, my friend mentioned that her little girl was suffering from allergies.

Thank goodness for the credibility that I had with my friend. She allowed me to open the sliding glass doors to allow for the fresh ocean breeze to enter the room. I proceeded to go through all of her cleaners some of which had pretty labels implying safety for babies but yet their ingredients were completely toxic. With full trust, she allowed me to throw all of them out. At my suggestion, she went to her local Whole Foods store and purchased environmentally safe glass cleaners, laundry and dish washing detergents and began boiling essentials oils for aroma instead of burning aromatic candles. She also went the extra mile and purchased an air purifier for her home. My friend was willing to do anything for her child. Her daughter had suffered from allergies for over one year.

Without exaggeration, two weeks later, she called me absolutely thrilled with the change in her little girl’s health. There was no more coughing or sneezing!

Over 87% of our time is spent indoor. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) tells us that indoor air pollution is 25 to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. For this reason enough cannot be said about providing fresh, clean air for our children; most especially the infants whose respiratory system is still developing.

I always recommend cleaning ones home with non toxic cleaners, ventilating by opening windows whenever possible and purifying the air with a quality air purifier.