Dr Frank Lipman http://www.drfranklipman.com Functional and Integrative Medicine Fri, 29 Jul 2016 14:13:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Let Stress Roll Off Your Back — Literally! http://www.drfranklipman.com/let-stress-roll-off-back-literally/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/let-stress-roll-off-back-literally/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:00:50 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27468 It’s no surprise that so many people feel stressed out. We’re living in a hyper-connected world where we’re always “on,” and multi-tasking is the new normal. Add in the constant fear-mongering by our ratings-driven news media and the fact that paying the bills is an increasingly difficult goal for many, and it’s little wonder that stress is on the rise.

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stress
It’s no surprise that so many people feel stressed out. We’re living in a hyper-connected world where we’re always “on,” and multi-tasking is the new normal.  Add in the constant fear-mongering by our ratings-driven news media and the fact that paying the bills is an increasingly difficult goal for many, and it’s little wonder that stress is on the rise.

According to the American Institute of Stress (who knew we had one?!) some 44 percent of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago, and 1 in 5 experience extreme stress.  In fact, the AIS estimates that stress causes 60% of all human illness and disease and that 3 out of 4 doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments. (Stress also costs the nation about $300 billion in medical bills and lost productivity every year.)

Called ‘the silent killer’, stress is increasingly recognized by Western medicine as a major contributor to some of the most persistent and chronic diseases of our time — think heart disease, cancer, obesity, and depression.

In my private practice, I see the results of stress on a daily basis.  Many of my clients literally ‘trap’ stress in their bodies, and it manifests itself as poor posture, persistent pain, tension, thickness, bloating, and even excess weight.  But there is a solution. I’ve developed techniques based on my one-on-one work with clients that help them to get their bodies back in alignment and reduce these symptoms — and the good news is you can do this at home with just a foam roller. What I’ve seen is that once the physical symptoms are alleviated, people often are able to reduce the stress that caused those symptoms in the first place.  

As I like to say, when you align your body, you also align your mind and heart.

The following foam roller video sequence will help you unwind, connect with your body, and breathe better — all of which will help release tension and calm your mind.  This combination of movements and mindful breathing will help regulate your nervous system to reduce stress, release tension and help you be more present in your body and mind.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Getting a good night’s sleep is also a great way to alleviate stress. Here are a few things to try just before bed:

  • Try an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salts contain magnesium, a powerful mineral that aids aid relaxation.
  • Make your bed. According to the National Sleep Association, people who make their bed regularly are 19 percent more likely to sleep well.
  • Make your bedroom a technology-free zone. Electronic devices emit an artificial blue light that activates the brain and makes it harder to sleep.
  • Meditate. There are many methods of meditation from chanting a mantra to simply focusing on your breath.  Find whatever method works for you.  Don’t overthink it – just take the time to clear your mind.

For more information and videos please check out www.laurenroxburgh.com.

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It’s Time To Wind Back The Harms Of Too Much Medicine And, Instead, Prescribe Food. http://www.drfranklipman.com/whats-best-heart-medicine-hint-not-pills/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/whats-best-heart-medicine-hint-not-pills/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:00:31 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27483 It may be hard to believe, but poor diet now contributes to more disease and death than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol combined. We have been consuming sugar, refined carbohydrates and industrial vegetable oils as never before, with devastating consequences for public health. In the UK alone, type 2 diabetes and obesity have cost the National Health Service (NHS) more than £20 billion.

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The Big Fat Fix
It may be hard to believe, but poor diet now contributes to more disease and death than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol combined. We have been consuming sugar, refined carbohydrates and industrial vegetable oils as never before, with devastating consequences for public health. In the UK alone, type 2 diabetes and obesity have cost the National Health Service (NHS) more than £20 billion.

The good news, though, is that relatively simple changes in diet can rapidly reduce your risk of disease. As I tell my heart patients, adopting a Mediterranean diet after a heart attack is a more powerful life-saving tool than taking aspirin or statins or even having a stent inserted.

It’s time to wind back the harms of too much medicine and, instead, prescribe food. Four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil daily, a handful of nuts, lots of vegetables and quitting sugar are just some of the daily prescriptions I outline in The Big Fat Fix, a documentary film I just made. The film shows how simple lifestyle changes can have a dramatic impact.

Dr. David Unwin, for instance, has managed to save £45,000 in diabetes medications through a simple message to patients: Cut out the sugar and other refined carbohydrates from your diet, and your blood glucose levels will improve. If this was adopted across all GP practices in England, it could save £423 million in diabetes medications alone.

The brutal fact is that the increasing burden of chronic disease will not be solved by even more conventional medicine. Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, has pointed out that one in seven NHS treatments (including operations) should never have been carried out in the first place. A “more medicine is better” culture lies at the heart of this, exacerbated by financial incentives within the system to prescribe more drugs and carry out more procedures.

The harms of over-medication are now colossal. According to Peter Gotzsche, the co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, a highly regarded network of independent researchers, prescription drugs are actually the third most common cause of death across the world after heart disease and cancer.

In other words, the 1 billion NHS prescriptions that are handed out every year are an appalling waste. But what should concern us most is the considerable harm to the public.

A version of this article was previously published in The Times on Friday, July 22nd.

Download The Big Fat Fix here.

There will be a screening in NYC on Tuesday, August 2nd, 6-8PM, at MagnoSound Theater, 729 7th Ave., at 49th St.

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Over-Medicated Me http://www.drfranklipman.com/over-medicated-me/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/over-medicated-me/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 09:00:18 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27450 Whenever I tell people I used to be on eight different types of medication, they immediately look shocked. I think it comes from the fact that I’m 5 feet tall and petite. From the outside, I don’t look like I’d be a candidate for that many meds.

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Over-Medicated

By Be Well Health Coach Anne Markt

Whenever I tell people I used to be on eight different types of medication, they immediately look shocked.  I think it comes from the fact that I’m 5 feet tall and petite. From the outside, I don’t look like I’d be a candidate for that many meds.

A couple years after college, I started the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program.  I loved wellness and planned to use it as a skill outside of performance to help others achieve greater wellbeing.  Little did I know, it was the start of my own journey through self-healing.  

One day, while having a practice session with a fellow coach, she looked over my health history and asked, “Why are you taking so many medications at your age?”  All it took was that one question from a fresh perspective to wake me up. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind before. My doctors told me to take them, so I took them. Or I had convinced myself that I needed to continue them or else chaos would ensue. But in that moment, I realized there was no actual “need” for the meds. They had simply become a psychological comfort and crutch over time.

It was in that moment that I decided to make it my goal to be off all the medications within the year I was taking the program. I became instantly curious to know what my body would be like without them. I never knew my baseline since I was always taking something.  And in the process of cutting them out, I would see if they were actually assisting me or not.

Some meds were easier to cut out then others, like the medicated face creams I used to ward off acne. Since I was 11 years old, I had been applying each morning and night.  That’s when I experienced my first transformation.

In college, I started going through facial oil-blotting sheets like packs of chewing gum. I could fill two to three sheets in one sitting, and you could see the light reflecting off my greasy forehead in most photos. I had always assumed I had oily skin by nature.  Turns out I had abused those face creams and dried my skin out so much that my body overcompensated by producing more oil to protect me. Once I cut the creams, my skin returned to normal and I’ve never had to “blot my face” for a picture since.

The next three I addressed were two nasal sprays and Clarinex for my environmental allergies.  They had always made me feel tired, and since I never had severe enough allergies that left me unable to breath or keep from sneezing/coughing repeatedly, I simply let them go.

But the last three meds were the most difficult. I chose to approach the acid reflux medications next. My second semester senior year of college, I had begun waking up with the taste of metal in the back of my throat every morning and felt acid regurgitation with particular foods and drinks.  Between gearing up for my leap into adulthood and finishing up my graduation requirements, the pressure mounted.  Looking back it was stress and poor diet/lifestyle choices that were to blame.  But before I fully accepted and addressed that truth, I immediately asked for acid reflux medication to protect my voice.  I eventually ended up losing my voice for two weeks in an off-Broadway show due to continued reflux issues, and finally realized the meds wouldn’t suffice.

My physician had put me on Prilosec/Omeprazole when my reflux first cropped up. Then upon losing my voice, an ENT doctor prescribed Dexilant, a higher and more powerful dose, to get it back under control. To my doctors’ credit they both advised I not be on PPIs long term, and asked that I address diet and lifestyle and wean off once symptoms subsided.

Dealing with reflux naturally took a little more investigating into my triggers.  For example, I finally decided to kick my coffee habit once and for all. I’ve learned to always replace a habit that no longer serves me with a healthier enjoyable option so that I don’t backslide or feel deprived.  I swapped out the coffee slowly with tea and ended up loving it.  Dark chocolate is another story. I’ll never give that up!

During this time of exploration, what I found most fascinating was learning which foods exacerbated my reflux symptoms that weren’t on “the list” of typical culprits like spicy/fatty foods. For example, through the process of elimination and trial and error, I learned that I refluxed from plain old fashioned oats; a food I had been eating for years.  I’ve now found much better breakfast options and my body thanks me for it. I also discovered dairy, which I ate daily in yogurt and cottage cheese, was not working for me. So while I switched up my diet, and made sure not to eat close to bedtime or workouts, out went the acid reflux pills as well.  Since that time, addressing underlying gut issues has been another major support for staying off the PPIs.

Then came the final two and trickiest medications to eliminate.  How would I look and feel without these two? I was scared, but determined to find out.

The first was birth control. I had been on it for six years and had gotten so accustomed to practically non-existent periods and symptom-free bliss.  I didn’t want to leave that comfort, but had always wondered if it was really healthy for me to be on it that long. Every time I asked my gynecologist, all she’d say was, “Do you smoke? No? Then you’re fine.” I wanted to trust her and take full advantage, until I discovered that “the pill” may have been the cause of my final and hardest medication crutch of them all; The anti-depressant.

Throughout college I had fought against taking anti-depressants as it felt like the wrong choice for me. I had my bouts of mild depression during winter months in college, which made sense in the cold/light-deprived midwestern climate, but when it persisted through summer months I knew something was off. I also had mild anxiety as a performer, but that seemed to come with the territory. I tried so many alternatives to avoid taking it (e.g. exercise, massage, getting a pedicure, talking to a therapist, talking to friends and family, journaling, etc.). But I finally gave in when symptoms left me feeling so estranged and emotionally taxed that it seemed the only other option that could work. (This was all before I learned the power of food/lifestyle habits, and how they could completely transform my state of being.) So I said “yes” to Zoloft, and reluctantly agreed to take it for 1 full year at my doc’s recommendation.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had mid-way through my year at IIN that helped me discover how birth control truly impacts the body, and how it could have been a major contributor to my developed depression.  I’m forever grateful for that one discussion that made connection, and reaffirmed the importance of moving forward with my goal.  

After a year of being on Zoloft, I called my doctor and explained my new plan to go off birth control and anti-depressants. He gave me permission, but expressed that the two had nothing to do with one another and that I was completely safe to continue on both.  Just so long as I weaned off of antidepressant very slowly. He recommended going off birth control first so I’d have Zoloft as a “mood buffer” for stability.

I dropped my birth control in November of 2012 and immediately got my period the following month, surprisingly and gratefully.  It went back to my average cycle from when I was a teen in high school.  So in January of 2013, I took the plunge and weaned off of Zoloft. I took 25mg less every two weeks until I hi zero.  At first it seemed fine, until I began experiencing the strangest sensation that I soon learned was a symptom of withdrawal.

I did some research and discovered my symptom was fondly referred to as “brain shivers”. No pain, thankfully. But I was nervous how long it would last or if it would force me to go back on the meds. I was extremely relieved to discover it disappearing within a matter of two to three weeks.

So there I stood a year later.  From Spring of 2012-Spring of 2013 I went off all medications and celebrated at my Health Coach Training Program’s graduation ceremony at Lincoln Center.  The pride I felt over that accomplishment is hard to put into words.  In that beginning stage, things were going wonderfully.  Until I started getting my period twice a month only six months after quitting the pill.

Through more research (especially utilizing Flo Living and the book Woman Code by Alisa Vitti), I learned further that birth control essentially works like a band-aide. It may keep symptoms at bay, but if you have underlying hormonal issues that haven’t been addressed, it can take time to rebalance your body.

It took me another six months of assessment and discovering the herb Vitex before my cycle was back to only once a month. Prior to that, I went from doctor to doctor for answers, only to be told repeatedly “Go back on the pill.” And my reply? Absolutely not.  I had worked too hard to get back homeostasis, and I knew the pill wouldn’t solve the root problem.  My body was just trying to rebalance itself, and I wanted to assist it. None of my doctors understood nor truly supported my decision at the time, and that’s always been a disappointment.

Now three years later, I’m delighted to say that I’m still medication free and feel more balanced and understanding of my body than I ever was in the past. Am I telling you this story to make a statement against all western medicine and to proclaim no one needs medication? No!  This is just my story.  I highly recommend consulting a Functional Medicine doctor and getting second opinions as needed to make sure you take the right steps for your health.  Particularly from practitioners who know the importance of diet and lifestyle.

That being said, I learned from this experience that education, patience, and intuition are key.  I still deal with occasional reflux, which I treat with apple cider vinegar, gut supplementation, and watching my diet and lifestyle to reduce stress and foods that don’t serve me.  Self care is non-negotiable for keeping my gut and hormones on track.  And two years ago, I also began a meditation practice of twenty minutes twice a day via Ziva.  Stress reduction alone is life-changing and essential.

I hope this inspires you to simply take a look at what’s working for your health, what’s not, and what you’ve never explored before. Take a deep dive into your wellbeing. You spend the most time with your own body, so get to know it intimately. Get advice from holistically minded professionals who practice what they preach.  And rather than accepting yet another pill and taking it for granted, like I did, it’s time to listen, take note, and support your body’s desire to function optimally.

For original full version, visit Mogul.  

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4 Foods That Stress You Out—and 12 Foods to Tame Stress http://www.drfranklipman.com/4-foods-that-stress-you-out/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/4-foods-that-stress-you-out/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 11:00:25 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27437 Stress. We’ve all got it, and most of us would love to have a lot less of it. While there are many healthy ways to combat it—starting with meditation and regular exercise—how you eat plays a big role in how well you manage stress. For example, those times when life is crazy busy or things are tough at work or home, are you feeding your body or are you feeding the release of more stress hormones?

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Stress Foods
Stress. We’ve all got it, and most of us would love to have a lot less of it. While there are many healthy ways to combat it—starting with meditation and regular exercise—how you eat plays a big role in how well you manage stress. For example, those times when life is crazy busy or things are tough at work or home, are you feeding your body or are you feeding the release of more stress hormones?

When we’re stressed, both adrenaline and cortisol go to work, signaling your body to restock energy supplies regardless of whether you’re depleted or not. The result? You tend to feel hungry more frequently and answer the call with more food than you may actually need. Add to that cortisol’s ability to encourage fat storage, not enough exercise, and some poor food choices—like the ones outlined below—and you’ve got a recipe for rapid weight gain and a host of serious health problems down the road.

What follows is a list of stress-boosting foods to avoid and the stress-tamers you should always have within easy reach, particularly when times are tough:

The Stress Stimulators

1. Sidestep anything that calls itself an energy or coffee drink. When you’re stressed out, the last thing your body and brain needs is a dose of caffeine, with or without a side of high fructose corn syrup. While a grande latte or Red Bull may give you the initial lift you’re looking for, you also get the inevitable crash, which leaves you feeling agitated and down. Drink more throughout the day to help you push through, and by the time bedtime rolls around, you’ll be exhausted, irritable, struggling to fall asleep—and even more stressed.  

2. Lay off sweet stuff and baked goods. Tempting as it may be to hit the cookie jar, sweets will give you a quick energy surge at the cost of insulin resistance and weight gain. When you’re stressed, the overproduction of stress hormones, combined with unhealthy food choices, helps pile on pounds by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut at the expense of the good. This gut imbalance can help trigger a vicious cycle of weight-boosting cravings and belly troubles that should make you think twice before “rewarding” yourself with a visit to the local cupcake shop.

3. Skip the processed foods. While there are numerous familiar reasons to drop processed foods, here’s one more: They’re very good at increasing stress hormone levels. In addition to bad fats, chemicals, and factory-farmed, virtually nutrient-free ingredients, processed foods are loaded with cortisol-boosting sodium and sugar, which, as outlined above, is not what you should be feeding your brain and belly when stressed. Much as you may crave them when you’re stressed-out, processed foods and simple carbs, like chips or pretzels, push cortisol levels up and mood down.

4. Hold the highballs. After a long, hard, stressed-out day, a cold beer or fancy cocktail may be high on your let’s-unwind-quick menu. Granted, a light buzz may be exactly what you think you need, but, in reality, drinking alcohol is counterproductive for stress-management, as it stimulates the release of more stress hormones, putting your system under additional strain. Alcohol also has a depressive effect on mood, which can further exacerbate the stress pile-on.

The Stress Soothers

Trade your coffee and energy drinks for:

  • Tea: Hot or cold, a cup or two of black, white, green, or red tea will give you a light caffeine lift, minus the crash, plus a healthy serving of good-for-you antioxidants. Drink your tea straight, without milk, which can reduce absorption of tea’s antioxidants.
  • Green juice: To revive, re-energize, and replenish your energy reserves, mix a high-quality greens powder with water for a jitter-free, nutrient-rich energy boost.

Trade sweets and baked goods for:

  • Berry “salad”: When you need a healthy treat, think berries. Combine several types in a bowl. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon, flax, and/or chia seeds. Enjoy the delicious taste, extra fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and folic acid, polyphenols, and anthocyanins (which give berries their color).
  • Apples with almond butter: Apple slices with a dollop of almond butter are the perfect combination of crunchy, creamy, and a little bit sweet. There’s enough fiber to slow the sugar’s release into the bloodstream, so stress hormones stay calm.
  • Dark chocolate: A 1.5-oz daily serving of dark chocolate can help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood, according to a recent study.

Trade processed foods for:

  • Real foods: Fresh, whole, preferably organic, unprocessed foods. (“Nothing in a box” is a good rule of thumb.)
  • Foods rich in omega-3s: Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, have been shown to be helpful in keeping cortisol levels from surging in times of stress.
  • Real, homemade chips: Craving a little crunch? Then make your own chips. All you need is a baking sheet, a drizzle of olive oil, and a little Himalayan salt tossed on your veggies of choice–like thinly sliced sweet potatoes, zucchini, or kale. Bake ’em till they’re crispy, and dig in.
  • Healthy on-the-go snacks: Eat a handful of nuts every day to promote better blood flow to the brain and add a layer of protection from cardiovascular problems.
  • Stress-busting support: In addition to these stress soothers, I recommend our Be Well Stress Support formula with adaptogenic and adrenal tonic herbs along with nutrients to help optimize adrenal health and cortisol balance.

Trade cocktails and beer for:

  • A glass of wine: As in, one glass—not two glasses, not a bottle. This will give you a dose of antioxidants to lower blood pressure a bit. But remember, to avoid kicking cortisol production back into high gear, less is more, so don’t overdo it when you’re stressed.
  • Mocktails: For a healthier alternative to alcoholic drinks or sugary sodas, make an alcohol-free mocktail by adding 1–2 oz. of organic, unsweetened tart cherry, pomegranate, or cranberry juice to 8–10 oz. of sparkling water, plus a touch of stevia. Remember to use fruit juice with a very light touch to keep sugar consumption low.

For additional ideas on how to fight stress, check out my three favorite fast-acting, stress-busting techniques.

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How Acupuncture Works http://www.drfranklipman.com/how-acupuncture-works/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/how-acupuncture-works/#respond Fri, 22 Jul 2016 09:00:08 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27425 Have you ever wanted to try acupuncture but weren’t sure how it worked? Acupuncture is a type of Eastern holistic medicine that was developed over 2,000 years ago. It uses a unique system to diagnose any imbalance the body may have and uses specific points on the body in order to restore and regain balance. By using this method of therapeutic intervention, acupuncture allows us to treat a wide variety of illnesses.

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Acupuncture
Have you ever wanted to try acupuncture but weren’t sure how it worked? Acupuncture is a type of Eastern holistic medicine that was developed over 2,000 years ago. It uses a unique system to diagnose any imbalance the body may have and uses specific points on the body in order to restore and regain balance. By using this method of therapeutic intervention, acupuncture allows us to treat a wide variety of illnesses.

Studies have shown many benefits from acupuncture:

  • It stimulates the release of powerful pain-killing and anti-inflammatory substances from the brain.
  • It changes the way your brain responds to pain and can modify internal organ function to treat many complex diseases.
  • Its local effects include relaxation of contracted muscles and increase in blood flow.

Many people are turning to alternative medicine like acupuncture, but not all acupuncture is the same. There are different types for different needs:

  • Traditional Chinese Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM uses very fine disposable needles that are inserted in specific areas of the body. In TCM, there are 12 primary meridians (energy pathways). Energy can be blocked or stagnated, which can result in injury, sickness, or disease; with TCM,  needles are placed on specific pathways to allow the energy to flow freely throughout the body.
  • Dry Needling or Trigger Point Therapy is a Western medical technique of acupuncture. This is the use of fine disposable needles or hollow-core hypodermic needles. The needle is inserted directly into the myofascial trigger points to help reduce muscular tension or pain and reduce restricted range of motion in muscles.
  • Contemporary Medical Acupuncture, also known as Neurofunctional Acupuncture, is a precise peripheral nerve stimulation technique in which fine solid needles (acupuncture needles) are inserted into the anatomically defined neurofunctional site and stimulated manually or with electricity for the therapeutic purpose of modulating abnormal activity of the nervous system and/or of its associated effectors. This technique is usually performed on the endocrine, exocrine, and immune systems and in the pain areas, functional problems, and any diseases in which these modulatory mechanism are available.

The physiological goals are to restore normal muscle and nerve function, which results in increased strength; improve and/or normalize sensory motor integration (how your body receives messages through feeling, touching, hearing, etc. and how our body reacts to it by movement), which results in normal recruitment patterns and increased articular function, muscle control, and movement efficiency; normalize tissue structure, which results in increased tissue healing, increased tissue remodeling, and decreased adhesions; and stimulates nerves by modulating abnormal neural pathway , which results in decreased pain.

While there are a few different styles of acupuncture, they all use many healing mechanisms in your body to treat a wide variety of pain conditions and internal diseases. The most common conditions treated with acupuncture include:

  •   Digestive/gastrointestinal issues
  •   Musculoskeletal pain
  •   Chronic degenerative diseases
  •   Neurological problems
  •   Inflammation
  •   Immunity
  •   Stress
  •   Fatigue
  •   Anxiety
  •   Sleep problems
  •   Allergies
  •   Skin conditions
  •   Fertility

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How to Stop Overcommitting Your Time http://www.drfranklipman.com/stop-overcommitting-time/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/stop-overcommitting-time/#respond Thu, 21 Jul 2016 09:00:35 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27415 Veronica Arreola’s schedule seemed to sneak up on her. Her job at the University of Illinois at Chicago required long hours, and she did some pro bono freelance writing for a local nonprofit. Weekday mornings, she drove her 6-year-old daughter to school and picked her up after work. She also fit in errands, housework, and social obligations. It felt manageable—but just barely. She was constantly running behind schedule.

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Overscheduling
Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.
Veronica Arreola’s schedule seemed to sneak up on her. Her job at the University of Illinois at Chicago required long hours, and she did some pro bono freelance writing for a local nonprofit. Weekday mornings, she drove her 6-year-old daughter to school and picked her up after work. She also fit in errands, housework, and social obligations. It felt manageable—but just barely. She was constantly running behind schedule.

Then things got out of control. Commitments and tasks seemed to fill every moment of her day. Arreola started cramming work and chores into her evening hours, cutting into her sleep. She wasn’t eating well, and self-care fell off her list, even after she started experiencing severe migraines.

“I was always wishing I had time to get a massage—and, really, I probably did have time,” she recalls. “I was always putting off things that would be good for me.”

Eventually, her mood and her relationships began to suffer, and her depleted vitality affected her work. “I was working hard to keep up,” she says. “But I wore myself out, got sick, and fell behind because of missed time from work.”

Arreola’s plight is familiar. Too many of us pack our calendars full. We commit to more than we can handle, assuming that we’ll squeeze it all in somehow. Often, we ignore the consequences until, like Arreola, we become so exhausted we can’t keep up, sometimes to the detriment of our health and relationships.

So once you’re committed to all these commitments, how do you stop overscheduling? Admitting you’re overloaded is the first step. Then, breaking the addiction to overscheduling requires three things: acknowledging your limits, observing your patterns, and clarifying the values that make your life worth living in the first place.

Boundary Issues

The world of work has changed dramatically in the past 25 years. People do business across far-flung time zones 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Instant communication with smartphones and email has dissolved the built-in boundaries that once surrounded the workday. We’re awash in electronic interruptions, which can make it hard to complete even simple tasks.

Meanwhile, many of us aren’t good at estimating how long activities are going to take before we commit to them—and then we overcommit because we can’t accurately take stock of how busy we are.

“People overcommit simply because they don’t know everything they’ve committed to,” says time-management guru David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. “Their self-regulating mechanism has blown a fuse.”

All this adds up to a schedule that not only runs you ragged, but regularly throws you curveballs and prevents you from focusing on what matters most, says Julie Morgenstern, productivity expert and author of Time Management from the Inside Out.

“When you are overscheduled, you have no time to reflect on your priorities and your to-do lists,” Morgenstern notes. “Then you easily get caught up in—and spend an enormous amount of time on—things that are not necessarily important.”

Making Time

Making commitments consciously—instead of reactively—is the first step to creating a manageable schedule. This means taking time to reflect on what tasks you really need to accomplish now, and what commitments can wait or be dropped entirely.

Once you prioritize, here are some additional tips for taking control:

Build in buffer zones. When you’re scheduling, add a “buffer zone” on each end of an activity—say, 15 to 30 minutes—instead of planning items back-to-back. This builds in the breaks you need to be effective, acknowledges that most tasks require mental and physical transition time, and helps you tend to unexpected items that crop up (travel time, extended conversations). Meetings, in particular, tend to involve both preparatory and subsequent tasks. Creating a buffer also keeps those obligations from triggering a cascade of lateness.

Know when you work best. Everyone has peak times of energy, creativity, and mental focus—and times when those resources lag. Pay attention to this ebb and flow and schedule accordingly. Working with natural energy patterns allows you to accomplish more in less time, and with less effort.

Understand your limits. Most of us don’t know how long it actually takes to complete routine tasks. Morgenstern suggests timing yourself doing the same task on three occasions, then determine the average. This will give you a guideline to follow when making future time commitments. Alternatively, double the amount of time you think something “should” take. This will probably get you close to the actual time requirement, and you can always use any leftover minutes to get a head start on your next task. Finally, avoid scheduling more than one ultrademanding task on a given day.

Use technology to stay on task. Before you begin a work session at the computer, turn off your phone ringer and email-alert beeps, and close down any social networking or instant-messaging tools. Set a timer to alert you when your allotted time for that session is almost up. If you notice you are running behind as the day progresses, proactively reschedule or delegate items that can’t be accomplished—realistically—within the confines of your current schedule.

Uni-task. Multitasking actually works against effective time use, says performance psychologist Jim Loehr, Ed.D. “People get the sense—because there is so much on their plate—that they have to be able to do a number of things simultaneously,” Loehr explains. “But the energy signal in a human’s focusing system is binary. You are either focused or you are not. If you have 10 balls in the air, nine of them are in free fall.”

Honor the priority of the moment. Designate specific hours for work, family, and self-care, and don’t let them overlap. Answering emails while trying to interact with someone you love doesn’t give either commitment the attention it deserves—and frustrates everyone involved.

Back on Track

Arreola’s migraines finally convinced her to rectify her schedule. Now, in addition to limiting her after-work obligations to two per week, she has begun leaving her work at the office more often. She is also trying to become more attuned to her body’s signals. “The migraines raised the ante,” she admits. “Now, if I don’t listen to my body, there’s a bigger consequence.”

Arreola still has a lot to do, by choice and by necessity. But she’s learned that overscheduling works against her. Today, Arreola takes the planning of her self-care activities and downtime as seriously as she does her professional commitments.

“If I’m making time for a board meeting or some other obligation,” she says, “then I know I can make time to go to yoga.”


Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelife.com to learn more, to sign up for Experience Life newsletters, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

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Your World, Your Microbiome http://www.drfranklipman.com/your-world-your-microbiome/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/your-world-your-microbiome/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 09:00:04 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27407 Buzz around the microbiome is growing louder.

You may have read in the news: Our bodies are home to a vast community of microbes, forming “the human microbiome.” Research at this point is centered largely around the gut microbiome, and studies have been done on such diverse topics as obesity and the gut microbiome, fecal transplants to combat c. diff infections, and which bacteria can be returned to the gut via various foods and probiotics.

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Microbiome
Buzz around the microbiome is growing louder.

You may have read in the news: Our bodies are home to a vast community of microbes, forming “the human microbiome.” Research at this point is centered largely around the gut microbiome, and studies have been done on such diverse topics as obesity and the gut microbiome, fecal transplants to combat c. diff infections, and which bacteria can be returned to the gut via various foods and probiotics. We’re beginning to get comfortable with the idea that there are small, essential organisms living in us that keep us healthy, so much so that the microbiome is being recognized by the academic and research community as a new field of potential in human health. It’s so big that even the White House is putting force behind it, with the National Microbiome Initiative!

But the microbiome isn’t static; it changes and grows as much as its hosts do.

Bacteria at Birth

At birth, a baby’s microbiome is made up largely of bacteria from the mother’s body. As babies grow, begin to eat solid food, and crawl around, they come into more and more contact with bacteria in the outside world and develop a more robust microbiome, packed with bacteria from food, the outdoors, and the people in the baby’s life. Some researchers even believe the reason babies like to put everything in their mouth has to do with an innate knowledge that they need to expose themselves to as many bacteria as possible in order to build their immune system.

The World’s Effect on Your Microbiome

It’s not just people who harbor unique microbiomes; every little nook of our outside world has a specific community of bacteria too. The forest is different from the beach, the country from the city, and even those differ by region. In cities and towns, different neighborhoods actually have different microbiomes. It all depends on who lives there, what the plant and animal life is like, what the local industry is made up of, the climate, and the density of the population.

Families Share More Than Genes

As children grow up and become more independent, eating different foods from their parents and going different places, families living together maintain similar microbiomes. Couples in particular develop similar microbiomes. A hug isn’t just a symbol of affection—it’s also a friendly exchange of bacteria!

Syncing Up

Interestingly, animals can join in the development of the family microbiome too. As families spend time with each other and their pets, their microbiomes begin to resemble each other. Even though Mom, Dad, and baby are sharing one meal, and Fido sticks (mostly) to his dog food diet, the whole family begins to effectively sync up their microbiomes. The skin microbiome demonstrates this syncing more than the gut microbiome.

One More Reason to Get a Pet

Pets can even help encourage this microbial syncing. One study shows that families with pets develop more closely linked microbiomes than families without pets. Think about that the next time you consider adopting a new kitten ;).

Me and My Microbiome

The various communities of bacteria that live in the natural world are constantly in flux, interacting with people, plants, and animals. Biomes are delicate ecosystems that are seeking gentle balance. The bacteria in our world don’t just affect us; they are also affected by us, by many of the modern lifestyle changes of the past few decades—from food to personal care to even our ventilation systems.

Now what can we do to keep our microbiomes in balance?

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5 Ways to Instantly Cut Chemical Exposure and Endocrine Disruption http://www.drfranklipman.com/5-ways-cut-chemical-exposure-endocrine-disruption/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/5-ways-cut-chemical-exposure-endocrine-disruption/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 09:00:24 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27399 Endocrine disruptors—they’re everywhere. And they mess with your hormones. They block or promote estrogen as well as other hormones, throwing off the balance. In some cases, they affect the levels of your hormones. In other cases, they affect the function of your hormones. If we encountered them only once in a while, there’d be little cause for concern, but because they’re so ubiquitous, most of us are receiving constant low-grade exposure, and that’s no good for hormonal health. And while it’s tough to completely purge all toxins from your life, you can significantly cut your exposure by making smarter choices.

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Endocrine disruption
Endocrine disruptors—they’re everywhere. And they mess with your hormones. They block or promote estrogen as well as other hormones, throwing off the balance. In some cases, they affect the levels of your hormones. In other cases, they affect the function of your hormones. If we encountered them only once in a while, there’d be little cause for concern, but because they’re so ubiquitous, most of us are receiving constant low-grade exposure, and that’s no good for hormonal health. And while it’s tough to completely purge all toxins from your life, you can significantly cut your exposure by making smarter choices. With a few simple swaps you can give your endocrine system the toxic vacation it needs to support your hormonal health along with the rest of you. Here’s how to clean up your late night and early morning routine—or about a third of your day:

1. Sleep Cleaner

The bedding you nuzzle all night long isn’t as fresh and clean as you think it is. Your sheets and comforters, particularly if they’re synthetics or synthetic blends, have been manufactured with an array of toxic ingredients, including endocrine-disrupting chemical solvents, flame-retardants, and even formaldehyde. Switching to bedding made of organic, untreated fibers that have been organically processed is an excellent way to instantly reduce seven to eight hours of nightly exposure. Ideally, bedding should be Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. If switching bedding to organic items all at once isn’t feasible, then transition a piece at a time, replacing worn-out items with cleaner, greener alternatives. In the meantime, you can start the switchover (and add a bit of a physical barrier) by covering old blankets and comforters with organic, untreated duvet covers.   

2. Clean Up Your Mattress

They say we spend up to a third of our lives in bed, so the mattress you’re sleeping on matters. As with bedding, traditional mattresses can contain a veritable witches’ brew of dangerous chemicals, which waft and off-gas while we breathe ’em in all night long. My advice? Get a new mattress as soon as you can, and upgrade to the cleanest, greenest one you can afford. Take a look at eco-friendly suppliers like KeestaLifekindOmimattress, Naturepedic, and Dax Stores—or consider an organic futon as an economical stopgap measure if you’re not yet ready to invest in a higher-end model.

3. Curl Up With a Healthier Pillow

Trade those petroleum-based foam and synthetic pillows for cleaner, more natural options. You might want to do the same with down pillows, which, though comfortable, often feature feathers that have been treated with bleach, formaldehyde, and chemical antiallergens. Instead, try resting your head on pillows made of buckwheat, organic cotton, organic wool, kapok fibers, or natural rubber. Cover your greener pillow with organic cotton pillowcases, and you’ll snooze cleaner, breathing in the night air rather than a toxic cloud.

4. Clean Your Water

It’s easy to absorb disruptive chemicals through your skin, so lessen the load by installing a water filter that attaches to your bath and showerhead. Better yet, consider adding a whole house filtration system to cover all your faucets and help to remove a significant percentage of common disruptors like chlorine, ammonia, atrazine, arsenic, perchlorate, and heavy metals. At a minimum, be sure to filter all drinking water and let water run for a minute or two (till it runs very cold) to flush the line before filtering. To find the right filter for your water and budget, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Water Filter Buying Guide.

5. Shower—Don’t Scour

The morning shower is for most of us a daily ritual, but please, take it easy on the industrial cleansers! Unless you’ve got a very dirty job, you don’t actually need to soap every last germ off your body—nor should you. Instead of covering yourself in anti-bacterial soaps, shampoos, and body washes that are loaded with harsh chemicals, faux fragrances, and detergents, switch to a mild, organic soap and “clean” personal care products. Use them all sparingly so as not to strip your skin of the good bacteria that keeps skin problems at bay, and always steer clear of products containing parabens, phthalates, DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. Need help finding healthier personal care products? The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a fantastic resource.

For more ways to avoid endocrine disruptors, check out my post on hidden sources of endocrine disruptors.

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8 Health Documentaries to Watch This Weekend http://www.drfranklipman.com/8-health-documentaries-watch-weekend/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/8-health-documentaries-watch-weekend/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2016 09:00:37 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27386 Summer reading is great for the beach, but for those times when you need some respite from the sun, there are plenty of educational health documentaries to binge on. Here are a few of our favorites:

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Health Documentaries
Summer reading is great for the beach, but for those times when you need some respite from the sun, there are plenty of educational health documentaries to binge on. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Dr. Lipman Recommends Unacceptable Levels

Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children.

Over 80,000 chemicals flow through our system of commerce, and many are going straight into our bodies. Even our unborn children are affected. Due to this constant exposure, we have approximately 200 synthetic industrial chemicals interacting with our cells every single day. Until recently, modern science really didn’t understand what that could mean for all of us in the long run, but that is changing.

Unacceptable Levels opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so that we can make informed decisions now and in the future. The film poses challenges to our companies, our government, and our society to do something about a nearly unseen threat with the inspired knowledge that small changes can generate a massive impact.

2. Laura Kraber Recommends Fed Up

Produced by Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth) and journalist Katie Couric, Fed Up reveals the disastrous consequences of U.S. food policy and the food industry’s role in creating obesity, diabetes, and other health issues related to diet. Heartbreaking and eye-opening, this film is essential viewing for all Americans.

3. Jackie Damboragian Recommends Food, Inc

This documentary by Robert Kenner was a game changer for me—it really brought to light just how messed up our food industry is. I like that it’s not preaching one diet, but rather giving a fair and honest portrait about how the food industry is failing us and what we can do about it as consumers.

4. Amanda Carney Recommends Cooked

In the documentary Cooked, based on one of his best-selling books, Michael Pollan explores the four classic elements of earth, air, fire, and water and their role in transforming the natural world around us into delicious food. He travels all over the planet to discover different methodologies and beliefs around food and, in the process, presents the underlying idea that no matter the meal or location, cooking and eating provide us with a much-needed sense of nourishment and connection to people, places, and nature.

5. Alexandra Samit Recommends Sugar Coated

Sugar Coated compares the PR tactics the sugar industry uses to cover up the harms of sugar consumption to those previously used by the tobacco industry. Confidential documents are exposed that provide evidence that Big Sugar has known the damage sugar causes. Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig further confirms the harms of sugar by the numbers of cases of kids he sees in his office with fatty liver.

6. Anne Markt Recommends Super Size Me

Growing up in the Midwest, I lived on a diet that consisted mostly of Happy Meals (I was very “picky”). But I eventually felt so sick and nauseous that at age 10, I made a huge transition away from fast food and awakened to how great I could feel! When I eventually discovered Super Size Me in adulthood, I finally understood why I’d felt so sick. For anyone who may still believe fast food isn’t “that bad,” this documentary is a must-see!

7. Brette Bennett Recommends Happy

No matter how well you eat, how much you exercise, how many healthy rituals you embrace, if you don’t have happiness in your life, then your health—emotionally and physically—is at risk. Happiness from within (not from the perfectly staged Instagram post) is vital for a healthy life—and this documentary shows a happy life in all scenarios.

8. Courtney Blatt Recommends Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

I knew Joe Cross back in the day when he was a corporate executive and was fat, sick, and nearly dead. It’s amazing to see the transformation he made and how he’s inspiring the world to make healthy changes. While I don’t think juicing is a long-term solution, I think this film demonstrates how feeding your body with nutrients is an easy way to start healing yourself quickly.

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Is a “Clean” Bar of Soap Too Much to Ask? http://www.drfranklipman.com/clean-bar-soap-much-ask/ http://www.drfranklipman.com/clean-bar-soap-much-ask/#respond Thu, 14 Jul 2016 09:00:25 +0000 http://www.drfranklipman.com/?p=27379 As United States citizens, we are considered innocent until proven guilty. This is a comfort we are guaranteed, and as a country we value our rights. Is this right something that should be given across the board—not just for citizens, but for industries as well? When it comes to consumer goods and ingredients, should suppliers enjoy the same luxury? Currently, suppliers and manufacturers of cosmetic ingredients in the U.S. do; this is in contrast with other countries that have more stringent premarket regulations. Since these manufacturers of ingredients and products do not have to prove their safety, the burden falls on consumers to determine toxic from safe, right from wrong, good from bad. Without sufficient information and education, we have to be our own advocates for our health and well-being.

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Bar of Soap
As United States citizens, we are considered innocent until proven guilty. This is a comfort we are guaranteed, and as a country we value our rights. Is this right something that should be given across the board—not just for citizens, but for industries as well? When it comes to consumer goods and ingredients, should suppliers enjoy the same luxury? Currently, suppliers and manufacturers of cosmetic ingredients in the U.S. do; this is in contrast with other countries that have more stringent premarket regulations. Since these manufacturers of ingredients and products do not have to prove their safety, the burden falls on consumers to determine toxic from safe, right from wrong, good from bad. Without sufficient information and education, we have to be our own advocates for our health and well-being.

This is evidenced in recent cases brought against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn consumers about the known health risks, namely cancers, associated with talc, which used in its products. More than 1,000 women are suing Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imery, claiming that the companies knew for years that talc was linked to ovarian cancer—yet failed to warn consumers. Furthermore, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the talc read, “Perineal use of the powder is a possible risk of ovarian cancer.”

Some talc contains asbestos, a known carcinogen, in its natural form. And while Johnson & Johnson claims to have been using asbestos-free talc in its products since the 1970s and asserts its purity and safety, this may not be the case. Studies by the National Toxicology Program demonstrated that even cosmetic-grade talc that is free of asbestos could be toxic and carcinogenic.

This is not the first time Johnson & Johnson has been in the press for “chemicals of concern.” In 2012 the company announced that it would be removing all these chemicals from its adult products by 2015 and from baby products by the end of 2013. It removed the ingredients that released formaldehyde from its No More Tears shampoo and other chemicals from the rest of their baby care products. While I’m happy to see such a big player in the industry pay heed and remove “chemicals of concern,” I’m confused by the definition. Was talc an oversight? Did Johnson & Johnson just expect consumers to continue slathering themselves in chemicals until the company could remove them?

Fortunately, we’re entering a new age of consumerism. We’re waking up. We’re beginning to question these established, legacy brands and their supply chains, which have been trusted for decades. Less and less are we blindly accepting products at face value.

While Johnson & Johnson is not alone in using potentially carcinogenic ingredients in  products, it is currently getting most of the press and, therefore, bringing this issue to the forefront. When the press covers a topic, awareness follows. Thank you, Johnson & Johnson, for being the current offender du jour, thus shining light on a health concern that needs to be brought out of hiding.

Currently, under U.S. law, only color additives need to be FDA-approved for use in cosmetics and personal care products. Other cosmetic ingredients and finished products do not need approval before being brought to market. Additionally, only 11 ingredients have been banned by the FDA for cosmetic use.

In contrast, the European Union has banned 1,328 chemicals for cosmetic use (citing that they are suspected or confirmed to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm, or birth defects). The European Union requires manufacturers to perform safety evaluations and to have product safety reports before they can bring a cosmetic product to market. The U.S. is far behind Europe and other countries in its effort to make cosmetics safe.

Making the issue even more confusing, we have “greenwashing,” “pinkwashing” (guilting consumers into buying pink-packaged products they would not have bought before the advent of breast cancer awareness campaigns), and numerous other tactics to make consumers feel good, safe, and trusting when making a purchase. In addition, there is no regulation in the U.S. for using terms such as “natural,” “safe,” “organic,” and even “nontoxic” on a cosmetic product label. Catchy phrases such as “good for you,” “safe for you, safe for baby,” “trusted,” and “approved by moms” trick us into believing that what is in the bottle is safe and nontoxic.

Recently, while perusing the internet for a client with a labeling question, I went to a popular “natural skincare” company’s website. I felt instantly engaged and trusting. The company had countless “seals” proving its innocence and honesty: free from fillers, GMOs, and synthetic fragrances; gluten free, cruelty free, and more. The page for the product in question was emblazoned with the same seals next to the ingredients, instilling more confidence. The truth came when I read what was in the product: an extensive list of many other synthetic ingredients. While most were not harmful, they were nonetheless a direct contradiction of the company’s “no synthetics” seal. One of the company’s taglines was “100% natural and non-toxic.” Sadly, this company is not alone in false claims. It’s just one of the many “all natural,” “organic” cosmetic brands that aremisleading consumers. More and more cosmetic companies making safe products are coming to market, but it’s confusing trying to figure out who is who and what is what!

There’s so much to clarify just to be able to have a shower with a “clean” bar of soap! And other dilemmas exist. Everything “natural” is not necessarily good and everything synthetic bad. So even the conscious, informed consumer can be duped into buying harmful products. For example, talc is a naturally occurring mineral, made up primarily of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen (geology.com/minerals/talc.shtml). It’s natural! So doesn’t that mean it’s safe?

Some harmful ingredients you will not find on the label, as in the example of formaldehyde. Many ingredients are “formaldehyde releasers,” meaning formaldehyde is in the product without being listed.

How do we untangle the convoluted web of information and misinformation within the cosmetics and personal care industry? We can start by being proactive proponents of our own health. Here are eight steps:

1. Educate yourself: Read the entire back label, where the ingredients are listed, and tune out the rest!
2. Research: Understand ingredients beyond what the label says. If it says “from corn,” look at what it’s actually made from.
3. Use products with fewer ingredients.
4. Simplify your regimen—use fewer products.
5. Does it pass the taste test? If you won’t eat it, why put it on your body?
6. Know all your ingredients. Just because something is natural does not mean it’s not toxic.
7. Read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Once only privileged industry insiders were able to access these, but now they can be found online.
8. Consider your source. Find trustworthy academic and other vetted sources of product information.

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