Minimizing Acne During Pregnancy

You know that “glow” that many pregnant women seem to have? Well, unfortunately the increased oils production that is partially responsible for the glow is also responsible for the acne that many women get during pregnancy.

Breaking out in acne during pregnancy is a fairly common occurrence, and even more so if you’re already prone to breakouts. Changes in hormones and hormone levels during pregnancy result in the skin producing more oils, and thus more acne. During pregnancy, acne can break out not only on the face, but also on the body. Fortunately, there are some things that you can try to use to deal with breaking out in acne during your pregnancy.

1. One of the most simple but also the most effective ways to deal with breaking out in acne during pregnancy is to keep your skin clean. Use an oil-free facial cleanser, like Naturopathica’s Aloe Cleansing Gel, and avoid soaps that contain oils or other irritating substances. After you clean your skin, rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove any soap residue that might be left over.

2. It is important to keep in mind that touching your acne will only make it worse. As tempting as it might be to pop them or pick at them, this can cause the bacteria to spread, and thus create even more acne. In addition, picking at them can create acne scars.

3. During pregnancy, stress management is extremely important, not only in terms of your overall health, but in terms of your acne breakouts. Adding Lavender oil to your bath, or spritzing a Lavender mist on your face can be very calmin. Get regular exercise (subject to your doctor’s approval, of course) and get plenty of sleep. And, of course, massage therapy has actually been proven in numerous studies to reduce the level of stress hormones in your body… in addition to helping with back pain, heahaches, sciatic pain and sleep problems.

4. Eat healthy! A healthy diet and regular exercise can help control acne. Regular daily exercise can help to increase blood flow to the skin, and will help it to be more tone and stay more healthy.

5. Finally, you should be very cautious when using acne medications during pregnancy. Over-the-counter Acne treatments that include benzoyl peroxide have been tested as safe to use while pregnant. There are also many natural skin-care products that may be safe for both you and baby. We recommend both the Naturopathica and Mama Mio brands for safe, effective skin care. Stay away from any acne medications that contain Tetracycline, Salicyclic Acid (a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne treatments), Tretinon (sold under the brand name Retin-A), and Isotrentinoin (sold under the brand name Accutane).

With some extra care and a little patience, you may find that you can avoid or reduce breaking out in acne during pregnancy… and still “glow”!

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Chocolate… yes, Chocolate… May Reduce Pregnancy Complication Risk

Just in case you missed this….
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Indulging in chocolate during pregnancy could help ward off a serious complication known as preeclampsia, new research suggests.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is rich in a chemical called theobromine, which stimulates the heart, relaxes smooth muscle and dilates blood vessels, and has been used to treat chest pain, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries, Dr. Elizabeth W. Triche of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and colleagues write.

Preeclampsia, in which blood pressure spikes during pregnancy while excess protein is released into the urine, has many features in common with heart disease, the researchers add.

To investigate whether chocolate’s possible cardiovascular benefits also might help prevent preeclampsia, the researchers looked at 2,291 women who delivered a single infant, and asked them about how much chocolate they consumed in their first and third trimesters. The researchers also tested levels of theobromine in infants’ umbilical cord blood.

Women who consumed the most chocolate and those whose infants had the highest concentration of theobromine in their cord blood were the least likely to develop preeclampsia. Women in the highest quarter for cord blood theobromine were 69 percent less likely to develop the complication than those in the lowest quarter.

Women who ate five or more servings of chocolate each week in their third trimester of pregnancy were 40 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than those who ate chocolate less than once a week.

A similar, but weaker, relationship between chocolate consumption and preeclampsia risk was seen in the first trimester, with women eating five or more servings of chocolate each week at 19 percent lower risk than those who ate chocolate less than once a week.

Theobromine could improve circulation within the placenta while blocking oxidative stress, or it could also be a stand-in for other beneficial chemicals found in chocolate, Triche and her team note in the May issue of Epidemiology.

“Our results raise the possibility that chocolate consumption by pregnant women may reduce the occurrence of preeclampsia,” they write. “Because of the importance of preeclampsia as a major complication of pregnancy, replication of these results in other large prospective studies with a detailed assessment of chocolate consumption is warranted.”

SOURCE: Epidemiology, May 2008.

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Massage… Safe Medicine for Expecting Moms

Most people understand that massage can help relieve muscle aches and pains. Unfortunately, few people understand that massage therapy can be a first line of defense for more pregnancy-related discomforts.   This should be great news to pregnant women whose list of discomforts is long and medication options are limited …that is, IF they knew.     

Marnie McCauley, a Licensed and Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist and was a Medical Assistant for an area OB for 11 Years before becoming a Massage Therapist.  She says that the medical community simply hasn’t been educated on the effectiveness of Prenatal Massage.   “If I had a nickel for every time I told a suffering patient during those 11 years ‘sorry, that’s just part of pregnancy’!  We had no idea at that time that there was something effective to offer them. ”  Here is just a sample of the common pregnancy discomforts that pregnancy massage can address:

  • Sciatic Nerve Pain
  • Sinus Congestion
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Edema
  • Leg Cramping
  • Round Ligament Pain
  • Sleep Loss

Shorter Labors with Fewer Complications!

The Touch Research Institute has published multiple studies documenting shorter labors, a reduced need for pain medication, and fewer obstetric and postnatal complications.  Massage therapy may even reduce the need for a caesarian section.  In addition, multiple studies show that massage therapy can significantly increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the body, natural chemicals that result in lower stress and anxiety and can help improve sleep.  And better sleep is something most pregnant women need!

 Qualifications of the Massage Therapist are Critical During This Time!

A prenatal certified massage therapist is trained and experienced to know what is safe and effective for each stage of your pregnancy.    Don’t just ask if the massage therapist is “trained” in prenatal massage… this may simply mean they had a 15 minute discussion in massage school.  You want someone “certified” because that means they’ve gone through extensive training. 

A prenatal certified massage therapist will usually use a body cushion support system that allows us to provide comfortable side lying massage.  A pregnant woman should never be laid on her stomach or flat on your back after the 14th week of pregnancy.  Even massage tables with holes for your stomach will put unnecessary strain on your ligaments and uterus as well as compound any back pain you might be experiencing. 

 Have you heard you can only get prenatal massage during your 2nd trimester?  That is a falsehood perpetuated by spas that do not hire prenatal massage therapists and are protecting their liability.  A prenatal certified massage therapist can give you a safe massage throughout your entire pregnancy.

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Healing Headaches Naturally

by Dr. Maoshing Ni

One in six Americans experience chronic headaches. Headaches are especially common at this time of year when allergies wreak havoc on your sinuses. Luckily, Chinese medicine has an arsenal of natural remedies to help soothe your aching head.

Your body is trying to tell you something

According to Chinese medicine, pain is your body’s signal that there is a blockage of energy and blood. Your body is asking you to notice, evaluate, and change the behavior that caused the pain in the first place. For example, a headache may be pointing to improper diet. It is best to treat pain using natural methods, so you can avoid side effects and also become more aware of your body’s unique needs.

What is happening when you get a headache? In a migraine, blood vessels contract, causing pressure, inflammation, and a throbbing, pounding pain. Tension headaches are often the result of muscle tightness and spasm in the neck, upper back and shoulder areas pulling on the scalp. Most headaches, whether migraine or tension, are most commonly triggered by sinus problems, muscle tension, eye strain, jaw clenching, a virus, stress, hormonal imbalance, lack of sleep, or allergies.

Headaches may be due to severe medical conditions like glaucoma and brain hemorrhaging. If you experience severe, debilitating headaches that don’t respond to over the counter medication, visit your physician or the emergency room immediately.

Here are 6 all-natural remedies to alleviate headaches:

1. Press Valley of Harmony for headache relief

Recently, a patient’s eight-year-old child was suffering from a headache. I was able to bring her the benefits of acupuncture without the needles. I simply used my own fingers to administer acupressure on an acupoint in the web between her thumb and index finger called Valley of Harmony. Within five minutes, her headache was gone.

Find the acupoint Valley of Harmony (Li 4) on yourself. It’s in the web between the thumb and index finger on both hands. Apply steady pressure with your thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the other hand.

Find the acupoint Great Yang (taiyang), which is in the indentation of the temples. Stimulate the point with the knuckles of your thumbs or the tips of your index fingers. Massage in circular motion for 5 minutes.

2. Massage your headache away

Give yourself a simple spa experience to help relieve a headache. Put 5 drops of lavender essential oil in 1 cup of warm water. Soak a small towel in the water, wring it dry, and then place it on your forehead as a compress during a headache.

You can also apply tonic oil, which consists of oils of camphor, peppermint, eucalyptus, fennel, and wintergreen, to your forehead and massage gently in a circular motion

 3. Heal with white light

How often have you uttered these words in a stressful situation, “This is giving me a headache!” It turns out that the human brain is genetically programmed to translate physical and emotional stress into headaches. Headaches can typically be prevented by relaxation or stress releasing techniques like meditation and tai chi. Here is a simple visualization meditation called White Light Meditation that I have taught to my patients to reduce stress and headaches:

1. Sit or lie down comfortably. Clear your mind, relax your body, and breathe deeply and slowly.

2. Inhale and visualize a white light or clear mountain spring water entering your body at the top of your head and flowing down to your abdomen.

3. Exhale and visualize the white light or water continuing its downward course from your abdomen to the bottom of your feet, where it drains out.

Repeat for 10 minutes. Usually you will experience a quick reduction in symptoms right after this exercise.

 4. Be free from headaches with vitamins

B-complex vitamins are one of my recommendations for headaches — not only for their pain-relieving properties, but because they are crucial for energy production and help the nervous system. Vitamin B6, in particular, can be very effective for alleviating pressure headaches. Use supplements of B-complex vitamins to relieve pain when a headache strikes and take them daily to prevent headaches.

 5. Herbal tea helps headaches

Sichuan lovage, or ligusticum, has for centuries, been a traditional Chinese remedy for agonizing migraines. The usual dosage is 300 to 500 mg daily, or it can be taken as tea, 2 or 3 cups a day. You can find ligusticum (not to be confused with European lovage) in health food stores, online, and at the offices of acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists.

Ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory, has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese to cure pain. To make ginger tea, you can cut up the root, boil it for 10 minutes, then strain the water and sip as tea; or, use ginger tea bags available in health food stores.

Plum, mint, green tea will help release tension. Boil 5 dried plums, 1 tablespoon of green tea, and 2 tablespoons of mint in 3-1/2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Drink 3 cups a day until the headache subsides.

 6. The Food Factor

What we eat on a regular basis affects the energy flow in our body. The foods we eat eventually end up in our blood and meridians in the form of energy. Good eating habits help maintain a good flow of energy and blood to the head, preventing headaches. Some common headache-causing culprits to cut back on include sugar, wine, cheese, and caffeine (although caffeine may alleviate one temporarily, especially if you are addicted to it).

Here’s an uncommon food remedy: Drink a glass of fresh carrot juice every 4 hours until the headache subsides.

If you are suffering from the headaches that come with allergies, try Allergy Tamer, a traditional Chinese herbal blend that promotes temporary relief from nasal congestion, sneezing, itchiness and watery eyes.

If all-around head health is what you’re after, try Super Clarity, an herbal blend that nourishes the brain and clears the mind.

I hope you have found ways to heal your headaches naturally! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

-Dr. Mao

 This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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Style Secrets for Dressing for Two… from Maternity & Style Magazine

Maternity clothes have come a long way, baby.

Just a short generation ago, a pregnant belly was something to be hidden, not celebrated. Pregnancy fashion is no longer an oxymoron.

Embrace the opportunity to channel your inner fashionista. All it takes is some carefully selected clothes and some fashion savvy. Here’s some straight-up advice about what you need when building that wardrobe for two.

Dark colors are slimming
Black, navy blue, dark brown or charcoal can all create a slimming effect, minimizing body bulk and giving you an overall trimmer appearance.

One shade fits better
Wear one color from top to bottom, and you’ll look longer and leaner. If you wear a different color on top than you’re wearing on the bottom, it’ll create a break in your figure, causing the eye to stop right at the color change.

Adjust the spotlight
Draw attention to the spots that look great (think cleavage!) and away from places you might be less inclined to show off — such as those swollen ankles (keep them under pants or dark opaque maternity tights).

Watch your lines
Remember that vertical lines cause the eye to move up and down, creating that longer, leaner look. Horizontal lines cause the eye to look side to side, creating width you almost certainly don’t need. So skip the horizontal stripes, and favor clothes with vertical stripes, zippers, stitching, and rows of buttons.

Tighten up
Your inclination might be to go loose and flowing, but bigger isn’t better when it comes to maternity clothes. In fact, clingy clothes actually make you look slimmer than baggy clothes. Plus, they give you a chance to show off exactly what’s causing all the ballooning in the first place — the growing baby in your belly.

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