College girls like us are busy. So, when we don’t feel 100%, it’s often easier to pop a pill or guzzle an energy drink to feel more like ourselves. However, in recent years, unnatural and chemical-filled fast-fixes (5-hour energy anyone?) have been getting a thumbs-down for our health, not surprisingly. So what should you do? Try turning to alternative or natural health fixes, which are getting more attention from health experts, who believe that certain remedies can aid in curing anything from mild stress and sore throats to helping prevent cancer.
The term "alternative medicine" is used to describe healing treatments that are not part of conventional medical training — like meditation, essential oils, or herbal medicine. But how do you determine the healing from the hokey? According to the Mayo Clinic, be a “savvy consumer”; try to keep an open mind, and do some research about potential benefits and risks. But since you’re busy, we’ve gotten the research started for you: here are some natural remedies and practices that are easy to incorporate into your crazy life and may actually help you simplify:
This is a mind-body technique that is intended to “quiet” your mind. According to a recent study of a group of about 200 college students, those who spent 20 minutes a day doing a simple meditation practice showed a reduction in blood pressure, mood disturbances and anxiety, and they showed better coping skills compared with the control group. Meditation is one of the best alternative medicine practices to start with – it’s free, simple, and you can do it in your pajamas. Here’s a beginner exercise: Start with breathing: Find ten minutes in your day when you know your roommate has class, and turn off your phone. Sit cross-legged on the floor, and close your eyes. Inhale, hold the breath for a second, and then exhale. Focus on every breath; listen to your breathing. After ten minutes is up, you’ll be surprised at how relaxed you feel. This is a great de-stressor.
These influence our sense of smell, also known as “olfaction.” When you inhale certain scents, areas of the brain are triggered that are linked to breathing, blood circulation, and even hormones. Oils can be diffused into rooms, directly inhaled, or even absorbed through the skin. Mary Halka, a Registered Nurse and Certified Massage Therapist, has seen “remarkable effects” from essential oils, such as prevention of common colds and muscle pain relief. Look for pure and organic essential oils derived from plants in diffusers, lotions, or pure oils. Put a diffuser in your dorm room, or add a lotion that contains these oils to your morning or nighttime bathroom routine. Calm down with lavender, wake yourself up with rosemary, and use thieves to support your immune system.
Drinking tea is an ancient form of alternative medicine that is easy (and tasty) for anyone to try. Green tea is a leading contender for the healthiest tea around; its antioxidants, called “catechins,” are thought to help prevent cancer and lower blood pressure.
Although the extent of green tea’s benefits is still disputed, in a WebMD feature on green tea, cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, and other experts agree that the compounds and antioxidants in green tea are undeniably good for your health. (As a beauty bonus, stash your used green tea bags in your refrigerator and use as exfoliating, skin-brightening pads in the morning!) Other winning teas include pomegranate tea (also packed with antioxidants) and Chamomile tea to soothe an upset stomach or just relax. Next time you have a long (and chilly) day ahead of you, fill up a thermos with one of these teas and tote it with you all day to reap the short- and long-term benefits. Sources: http://www.american.edu/media/news/2001118_-Study-Suggests-Transcendenta... http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-green-tea Mary Halka, RN, Certified Massage Therapist Michele Weisberger, MS, RD