Monday, June 4, 2007

A Brief History of Incense

Ancient Incense

Mankind has used incense, in its earliest forms, since the dawn of human history. With the discovery of fire, our ancestors would have realised that most materials give off a unique and sometimes powerful aroma when burnt. The difference between the smell of a handful of Parsley and that of a Pine tree branch is greatly emphasized when each is burnt. Then as now, the air is quickly filled with intoxicating aromas simply by throwing some dried leaves, spices or twigs into a fire.

There is historic evidence in most cultures that our ancestors used incense burning for sacred and healing purposes. From ancient times people recognised that aromas produced by burning materials could heighten the senses, both sight and smell. When early man gathered around his fire, the smell of aromatic woods, herbs and leaves carried by heaven-wards spirals of smoke was a rare sensory pleasure - from this discovery it was no doubt a short step to dedicating fragrant products to the Gods, by adding them to a fire, which would also carry the good wishes and prayers of men upwards on the heat of the flames. Other benefits ascribed to the burning of incense included the purification of an area, to change a mood (to facilitate meditation or religious practices) and to cleanse and disinfect living spaces, especially after pollution caused by, for instance, death or illness.

The Rise of Incense and The "Frankincense Trail"

Several thousands of years before the advent of Christianity, the plants, herbs and spices that produced the best incense were traded as highly desirable commodities. For many years Frankincense from the Arabian peninsula was actually a more valuable currency than gold or silver. In almost every religion, aromatic oils, leaves and powders were considered a gift from the Gods, symbolic of divine grace. Frankincense was used in vast quantities by the ancient Egyptians, Persians and Assyrians, and via them, by the Romans, who would have learnt of its use when coming into contact with eastern nations.

The significance of the belief that the three wise men brought Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the infant Jesus was both the princely nature of the gifts and their symbolic significance - Frankincense was a costly gift literally "fit for a king", while Bitter Myrrh referred to the bittersweet fate awaiting the messiah.

The trade in Frankincense flourished for centuries, particularly in the Arabian peninsula area of Oman, and its use can be traced back to the reign of the Queen of Sheba, who reigned over the Hadramut Kingdom which included Oman. The Frankincense trade flourished for fifteen hundred years, peaking at the height of the Roman Empire. The trade only declined due to reduced demand after the fall of the Roman Empire and also because of the exorbitant taxes levied along the strictly controlled trade routes.

The Parallel History of Smudging

The idea of purification through smoke is certainly not the sole preserve of the world to the east of the Atlantic - the Native North Americans have also burned herbal smoke mixtures in ceremonial cleansing and healing rituals for thousands of years. Smudging (the common name given to the sacred smoke bowl blessing) has been a part of Native American tradition since ancient times.

As with its Eastern counterparts, the "smudging" or burning of herbs and resins was and continues to be a practise held literally sacred by many traditional cultures. Smudging takes many forms; herbs are either tied into bundles called "smudge sticks", or the longer, tendril like herbs may be braided into "ropes". Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and restore balance. The most popular herbs and plants for smudging include Cedar, Sage, Sweetgrass and Tobacco. Each of these plants is imbued with a unique quality and specific energy and as such are known as "Sacred Plant Helpers". Their smoke is ceremonially fanned through the energy field (aura) to cleanse negative energies, heal, bless and attract positive forces.

Smudging continues to this day as an integral part of Native American purification rituals -all spaces and the tools used for healings must be smudged, and smudging is an integral part of other important ceremonies such as medicine wheel gatherings, the vision quest and sweat lodge.

Incense and Modern Religion

The use of incense in organised religion continues as a relevant and important aspect of several confirmed religions, being used to prepare the congregation for prayer and ritual. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches, incense is a sacramental, that is - "an action or object of ecclesiastical origin that serves to express or increase devotion" (Merriam Webster online dictionary).

The Roman Catholic Church has always recognized the value of rites and ceremonial observances, not only for increasing the solemnity of her services but for arousing a spirit of devotion in those who minister at them and those who attend them. For a period the use of incense was discontinued in the Western Church because of its close association with pagan worship, but it has always been used in the Eastern Church. The incense used today is powder or grains of resin or vegetable gums or other such substances which, when burned, give off a sweet smelling of smoke. Perhaps ironically, the Roman Catholic church now shares a devotion to incense at the heart of its rituals with the increasing number of practising pagans and wiccans, the very groups it sought to dissociate itself from.

The mystical meanings ascribed to incense by the church hardly differs from those of our ancestors. By its burning, incense symbolizes the zeal of the faithful, its sweet fragrance echoes the "odour of sanctity" believed to be exuded by saints and martyrs, and its rising smoke symbolises the ascent of prayers to heaven. Also, incense creates a cloud, which is another symbol for godliness.

The Founder of Modern "Aromatherapy"

Incense has quite rightly been called the forefather of modern Aromatherapy, and its use as the earliest form of healing based on scent is undisputed. Today, there has been resurgence in the use of essential oils and the burning of incense as tools to employ the power of Aromatherapy, which is now recognised as being able, via the stimulation of the olfactory nerves, to produce physical, emotional and psychological effects independent of the thinking process.

As we smell scents, whether it be incense, fresh paint or sausage and mash(!) our mind is busy working on a subconscious level - deciding whether we like it and determining whether we recognise it. These responses are created in the limbic system - or more accurately the information is sent via the nerves to the olfactory epithelium, which is part of the limbic system in the brain. Data is then transmitted to the conscious parts of the brain. The limbic system is the oldest and most primitive section of the brain - it stores information about every scent ever smelled, and provides responses and reactions to various stimuli. It is considered the seat of memory, and as such is a powerful mood affecter.

All smell is molecular - in other words, when we smell a scent, we are registering a physical molecule that disconnects itself from its carrier and drifts in the air - arriving through the nose to the mucous membrane which has millions of odour-receptor cells and cilia to catch and identify scent molecules in the air. Unlike our other four senses, the nerve system for smell is directly exposed to its source of stimulation - this explains the immediate, unthinking effect of scents on the nervous system. Scent can cause an instant and overwhelming reaction, either pleasant or unpleasant, in a way that no other sensation can.

In addition, our ability to learn and our capacity for sympathy are also located in the limbic system, hence the often close link that feelings of sympathy and antipathy often have with smells. The limbic system is also responsible for creativity, inspiration, and all non-thinking, automatic life processes such as heartbeat, hormone regulation and respiration. Scent can affect all of of these powerful bodily processes.

The use of incense, and of essential oils in modern Aromatherapy has validated the belief held by our ancient forefathers. Many of the reactions and decisions we make are intrinsically linked to our sense of smell, and many areas of our health and relaxation can be positively affected by smell, and by definition, through Aromatherapy. Incense can help to:

cleanse the atmosphere

aid calm and reduce anxiety, stress, and fear

revitalize, stimulate, and renew energy

alleviate insomnia

prepare the mind and body for prayer, meditation and contemplation

accelerate healing

Follow the example of the ancients, and allow the fragrant smoke from incense to cleanse your living space, relax your body, calm your mind, create a spiritual atmosphere and heighten your awareness.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Going Beyond the Colon Cleanse Hype

There's no evading it. You open up magazines or newspapers or you turn on the TV….colon cleansing and detoxing has generated a lot of buzz and health aficionados have made it a byword. No matter how many detractors colon cleansing has, there is simply no denying the fact that a lot of people are using colon cleansing today and its more than just a colon cleanse hype.

Where there is smoke there is often fire. Even without the hype, colon cleansing has some ring of truth in it. All the claims of benefits colon cleanse have got to come from somewhere. Carried out for more than four thousand years colon cleansing is indeed a very beneficial detoxification procedure.

It is accepted that there seems to be more conditions that are caused by environmental factors, which is really scientific speak for we are suffering from a lot more conditions that we have bought on ourselves. Colon cancer alone has risen in the ranks becoming one of the deadliest killer diseases in America.

There is more pollution in the environment and in our foods, plus, the types of food we eat are packed with more chemicals, they are high in fat and low in nutritional content, as well as being low in essential dietary fiber.

For those that for some reason haven't seen all the ads colon cleanser manufacturers have put out, here is a brief description of what colon cleansing is.

As the name implies, it is a process of cleansing the colon and ridding it of the stubborn impacted fecal matter that can accumulate on the walls of the colon over time.

The problem though for people, who have decided to give colon cleansing a go, is the sheer number of choices one has to make. There are numerous colon cleansing programs that are being marketed and advertised. Each of them claims to be the best and would provide the most effective colon-cleansing program there is.

So how do you go about choosing which one is the best? This all depends on you and your preference plus your body's reaction to the colon cleansing program. Basically, even if there are numerous colon-cleansing programs to pick from, they are divided into 5 basic methods, and these are; taking an enema, colonic irrigation or colon hydrotherapy, laxatives, herbal supplements and oxygen-based cleansers.

Each of them has their own pros and cons. It is up to you to choose which pros you want and which cons you can live with. Enema and colonic hydrotherapy are the programs that give out the fastest results, but they are relatively invasive treatment procedures since they require the insertion of a thin tube into the rectum for water to soften and remove the waste material.

The next three require some time and programs generally last about 5 to 10 days. With them, all you need to do is to follow the step by step procedure and just ingest the medication or prepare a formula. However, you will need to think about your environment and where you are going to be over the course of the treatment as the proximity of the toilet will be paramount.

For more information on following a colon cleanse program sign up for the newsletter below.

So, although there may be an element of colon cleanse hype. More people now understand colon cleansing and are aware of the benefits it can provide.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is an Alternative Asthma Treatment Really a Supplemental Option?

The dynamic nature and variables surrounding an asthmatic situation will help decide the correct alternative asthma treatment that's right for you. There are many inconsistent considerations a doctor may attempt to understand before recommending specific course of action. Even then, the therapy strategy will need to be adjusted over both the near term and long term as the patient symptoms and needs change. You however can use alternative asthma treatment options like supplements, breathing techniques and dealing with asthma triggers to lower the number of attacks. Find out more at the links below.

Just a few of these factors that help formulate the overall treatment strategy include:

*. Use of a PEFR meter to measure how well your lungs are operating. The Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) determines if your lungs are operating at a good rate or have been compromised.

*. Respiratory Tests such as the use of a spirometer (speh-ROM-et-er). This measures how much air and the speed with which you can blow out of your lungs after a deep breath.

*. Other tests such as chest x-rays and possibly even a heart EKG may be done to rule out other conditions.

*. A medical history may be taken to provide a baseline of information that the doctor can use to determine the cause and diagnose the illness. Previous physical health plays a role in helping to accurately determine the right alternative asthma treatment, if appropriate for the patient. This just makes sense to understand the basic illness before attempting any alternative treatment options.

*. A complete physical may also be done for basically the same reason. By having as much information as possible, a medical professional has a better chance of accurately diagnosing the problem. All this work is especially important when diagnosing pulmonary illness.

Using the symptoms and the results of this work-up, a diagnosis will be made. It may take a week or more depending on how fast the doctor can collect and review the test results. Remember that blood tests and x rays are probably going to be done at another location. A good rule of thumb is that any test that done at another facility and not at the doctors office will probably result in some delay of a final diagnosis.

The gravity or seriousness is all important in developing the right set of asthma treatments for your respiratory affliction.. Maybe it's not correct to assume that there should be any alternative asthma treatment options but should be more accurately considered supplemental treatment options instead. From mild intermittent to the much more "severe persistent" type, the treatment options are determined by the problems a patient is having. Relying on alternative treatment plans without the approval of your doctor could lead to serious problems and possibly even death.

Fast acting drugs like bronchodilators are used to relax the muscles and allow air to again move through the bronchial airways. No alternative asthma treatment option available can deliver relief in those critical moments when an emergency strikes. These are a critical part of and asthma treatment plan and should be used at the first signs of symptoms.

Longer term management includes the use of longer acting bronchodilators that relax lung muscle and are not anti-inflammatory. Usually used to control moderate to severe asthma and help at night. Long-acting beta-agonists are usually taken together with inhaled corticosteroid medicines

Limit exposure to asthma triggers. By changing the environment, it's possible to lower the rate of attack. By careful analysis, it's possible to identify those things that work as triggers and cause a bronchial event. Remove those triggers and the number of attacks diminishes. Some common triggers include dust mites, bugs, dust, pollen, certain types of exercise among other things. Get a FREE report using the link below

Find out how you can learn to live WITHOUT the treatment drugs using techniques that have been shown to be successful for many asthmatics. Visit the site below for more information.

Asthma is a very dynamic respiratory disease if only because the disease can change over the course of time. Your job should be to attempt to change the treatment plan to use only as much of the various medications as necessary for a symptom free life.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Toileting Posture - A Light-Hearted and Philosophical Discussion

When it comes to toileting posture, very few people can explain why they do it one way, but not the other. There is actually a reason why this is so, as explained in a story that goes something like this:

A young newlywed woman was preparing a meal of chicken for her new husband. She took great pains to cut the chicken in a particular, if not peculiar, way, prompting her new husband to ask her why she was preparing the chicken in that manner.

"Because my mother prepared it that way," replied the young bride.

"Well, why did your mother prepare it that way?" the husband asked her.

"I don't know, she just does," said the bride who was beginning to become quite flustered.

So the husband took it upon himself to call his new mother-in-law to learn the reason for preparing the chicken in such a bizarre manner. But the mother replied that she did not know, it was just the way that HER mother had always done it.

Upon consulting with the bride's grandmother (the mother-in-law's mother) the husband learnt that the reason grandmother prepared the chicken in such a manner was that this was the only way that she could get it to fit in her small pan!

In our daily lives we perpetuate similar practices, for similar reasons, because...


In truth, people generally prefer the comfort of the status quo as opposed to learning and taking in new ideas, knowledge and ways of doing things, especially if the idea, knowledge or way of doing things - toileting posture included - is different from what they know and/or have been doing. And thinking is hard. It was Henry Ford who said that this was why no many people want to think.

The famed German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, put this in another way when he wrote: "The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking."

New ideas, concepts and experiences can be frightening, especially when we are not really thinking. Combine this element of change with a taboo subject – toileting posture (squat or sit) – and you literally have people quickly running for cover.

We can use "potty humor" and poke fun at "the john" and "crap", yet when it comes to actually "doing the deed", the majority of people are covering their ears, their eyes tightly shut, chanting in a sing song tone: "I can't hear you! La la la la!"


The reality is that while many Westernized countries have adopted the sitting toileting posture, it is not the healthiest practice. Numerous studies have linked the porcelain throne to many serious colon, bladder, prostate and pelvic health problems that are prevalent in the Western world.

In contrast, the groups which who have a squatting toileting culture, such as the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Middle Eastern peoples and Africans, tend to have fewer occurrences of digestive and elimination problems.

Aristotle said, "If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is Nature's way."

This has been proven over and over to be true. Squatting is the natural position for elimination and the best way in which the body responds. Squatting promotes the correct and natural placement of the colon and other internal organs, allowing them to function properly.

Sitting simply does not facilitate the natural function of elimination. The use of sitting toilet posture is not only unnatural to the body, but also hinders its natural process of elimination.



You can read about the specific ailments associated with

sitting toilets at this website on toilet-related ailments.


Long ago, Buddha saw the strong connection between the mind and body when he said, "To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear."

It is time to return to what is natural, and to return to our roots before we are unable to even lift ourselves from the couch or adopt the correct toileting position that will allow us to expel waste completely.

That can only happen when everyone starts to think about and question accepted norms and practices, and rejecting the excuse…


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Saturday, May 26, 2007

3 Remedies for Bad Breath that Work

Bad breath, or halitosis is what I like to call the sneaky disease. There are millions of people that have the problem, some of them dealing with it every day, but very few of them actually realize how bad the problem is. The reason is because having bad breath carries such a negative stigma that many of us just do not have the heart to tell the person that has halitosis that their breath stinks. Perhaps it is out of some feelings of pity, but telling them the truth could actually be the best thing that you have ever done for them. Once they know then they can go about solving the problem.

Perhaps that is why you are reading this article. Did someone tell you that you have a problem with bad breath? Then thank them, but only after you read this article. Now that you know you have a problem, here is how you can go about fixing the problem. Now the remedies for bad breath that I am going to give to you are considering that you actually have curable bad breath. If your halitosis is actually from another problem, such as a decaying tooth or a sinus infection, then you will need to seek some help from qualified professionals. That being said, here are my top 3 remedies for bad breath.

Sometimes the bad breath that you have is much deeper than an oral issue. It can be caused by a digesting problem. That is why I recommend that you up your water intake to see if this helps to cure the problem. Not only can additional water help you with your bad breath and digestive problems, but walking around dehydrated all the time is just plain old bad for your entire body.

If you drink a lot of milk then you might try kicking the cow for a while. An intolerance to milk and milk products can cause some people extreme digestive problems and this can cause bad breath. If you are concerned about calcium intake try supplementing it from another source while you check to see if the moo juice is the problem.

Perhaps your body is trying to tell you that you have some sort of a vitamin deficiency. Try taking such vitamins as zinc, vitamin c and b for a while to see if this clears up the problem.

Taking a natural approach to curing your bad breath will be much better for you in the long run than just trying to mask the problem with gum or mints. Hit the problem at the source and you will walk around with a fresh mouth for a very long time.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Health Tip - The Benefits of Water

Benefits of Water

Name any body part and you will find water is essential to keep it ticking over. Our bodies need H2O because we are 70% water - so drink up.

Here are ten reasons to drink water:

1. Keeps Headaches at bay:

Three quarters of your brain is water so if you need a top-up, this is one of the first places that will feel it. If your headache is caused by alcohol, then drinking lots of water - particularly before bed - will help get rid of it by flushing out toxins and re-hydrating the brain.

2. Reduces Infections:

The lymphatic system is your waste disposal system, breaking down toxins like caffeine before passing them into the blood stream. Dehydration weakens the flow of lymph in the system and makes the body less resistant to infection.

With Water, lymph flows properly again, fighting infection and lowering feverish temperatures.

3. Gives you better skin:

Skin needs water for elasticity, so too little water leaves it looking dry, looking lined and feeling delicate.

4. Keeps up your concentration:

Your body needs water to help flush out poisons from things like junk food and additives.

If you are dehydrated, toxins hang around in the liver, making you tired and unable to concentrate. Water swills the poisons out and gets the system moving again.

5. Banishes Bags:

Sunken eyes and under eye circles are signs that you need water. Eyes sink because there isn't enough water to keep them suspended in the eye socket. Under-eye circles are due to thin skin being bruised as fluid drains away.

6. Stops Cramps:

Blood transports oxygen to the muscles for activities such as exercise. If there isn't enough oxygen in the blood, the muscles create lactic acid which causes painful cramps. Drinking more water helps to keep blood pumped with oxygen.

7. Reduces Cystitis:

A healthy hydrated body removes waste with light yellow virtually odorless urine. If you are not drinking enough, the darker urine is more highly concentrated and waste products linger in the bladder, leaving you prone to cystitis and kidney infections.

8. Keeps Bowels Healthy:

Without Water the contents of the colon (lower intestine) can dry out and get stuck, eventually causing diverticulitis. Constipation can also be a problem, because water is needed to bulk out feces. Drinking water, along with taking in water from Fruit and Vegetables, helps to rehydrate this waste.

9. Prevents Fluid Retention:

When you are felling puffy as women often do before a period, drinking water isn't your immediate thought. But it's the best treatment for reducing fluid retention.

If your body doesn't get enough water, it senses there is a shortage and begins to retain every drop it needs for vital daily processes.

10. Keeps your breath Sweet:

Bad breath is a classic sign that you need to boost your water intake. Saliva helps cleanse the teeth of bacteria and keeps the tongue hydrated.

Lack of water dries the mouth, leads to furry tongue and prevents bacteria from being washed away, all of which can cause halitosis.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

An Explanation About The Many Wonderful Benefits Of Using All Types Of Aromatherapy

There are so many reasons why all of you should start thinking more about taking better care of yourselves and one fabulous way to start is by purchasing some aromatherapy products so that you can begin using them. You might not believe it but aromatherapy has a healing power within all of its amazing scents, lotions, oils, and all other skin care products and if you start using them consistently you might just be surprised by the results and by the way that you feel after using some of them. It is kind of difficult to explain all of the reasons why aromatherapy works so well and provides people with so many wonderful benefits but really the way that you should think about it is, the proof is in the pudding ok, you start using these products, you will see for yourself just how incredible they really are and you will never want to stop using them, I can assure you of that.

Aromatherapy is something that has been used for many, many years and most people that have used some types of it normally do it because they are feeling stressed, sore, tired, anxious, well, the list can continue but I'll stop at that for now, I think you get the drift right. These amazing products were formulated to help people in need and as soon as they became hot, more and more households were choosing to rely on such products to help ease their pain, stress, anxiety, depression and many other ailments that could be plaguing them. People find it to be so refreshing too because of the unbelievable scents that can come from most of these products. Our senses being lifted and awaken can really give us a feeling like no other, honestly. One might think that aromatherapy is really just about taking care of your skin, but that is not the case at all.

Sure, aromatherapy is great for many skin types but the majority of the people that are using these products are doing so because of the mental improvements it can bring forth after a period of time. Feeling good mentally can give you a more youthful feeling and it can also bring forth some improvements with the way that you look as well. The benefits definitely outweigh any minor irritants that could be brought on to certain individuals, so start your research today. By researching these types things you can start feeling and looking better, instead of just wishing that you could. After any of the essential oil products are diluted in water, by the way please make sure you remember to do so, you will immediately be able to tell the difference, the first second that you smell those wonderful fragrances filling the air that surrounds you. If you are hoping to be more energized there are aromatherapy products just for that and if you are simply wanting to relax, check out the other products, there is something in there for everyone's needs.