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Gestalt Therapy And Hypnosis

The Gestalt approach to therapy can be termed “phenomenological-existential” as it is concerned with an awareness of the here-and-now, working away from concepts and towards pure awareness (Clarkson, 1989). By the client becoming aware of their thoughts, feelings, etc the goal is for the individual to achieve insight into the situation under examination. As Yontef (1993) writes, insight is gained by studying the phenomomenological focusing, experimenting, reporting, and dialogue of the client. The philosophy behind this approach is that most people do not function in the world based on how the world, including themselves, is, but through a filter of self-deception, whereby one does not have a clear picture of oneself in relation to the world. Living that is not based on the truth of oneself leads to feelings of dread, guilt, and anxiety (Yontef, 1993).

The historical antecedents of Gestalt therapy are the experiences of its co-founder, Fritz Perls. Trained as a psychoanalyst, Perls rebelled against the dogmatic style of Freud’s approach (as had other notable founders of schools of psychotherapy, Jung and Adler. In the preface to the 1969 edition of “Ego, Hunger and Aggression” Perls wrote of this period of time as follows, “Started seven years of useless couch life.” (Perls, 1969)), and incorporated aspects of holism into the belief that ultimately the individual is responsible for creating his or her existence.

Additionally, the early decades of the 20th century are notable for their refutation of Newtonian positivism and its replacement with phenomenology. These two themes were then combined within the scaffolding of Gestalt psychology to produce an approach centred on the individual’s relationship to their existence. The structure that Gestalt psychology offered was that perception should be considered as the recognition of patterns and relationships between items in the perceptual world which fulfils the central human need of giving meaning to perceptions, experiences and existence (Clarkson, 1989).

Reductionist approaches could neither account for the richness of perception, and its immediacy (for example, see Koffka, 1935; Gibson, 1966), nor take into account the importance of the observer. This led Perls to the idea that the actual awareness of an individual is more trustworthy than an interpretation of any data that a person might provide a therapist with and is primarily a description of movements between ‘figure’ and ‘ground’. The figure is the item of attentional focus at any one time, and the ground is the remainder of perceptual awareness. These movements, or ‘cycles of experience’ can become disrupted by being incomplete or unresolved and it is this ‘unfinished business’ which Gestalt therapy attempts to address. These ideas probably did not constitute a therapeutic approach until 1951 when Perls opened the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, despite the fact that the first recognisable Gestalt therapy book was published in the 1940’s (Perls, 1969).

Accompanying this combination of ideas, based on the thinking of Gestalt psychologists, philosophers (e.g., Lewin, 1952), and politicians (e.g., Smuts), was the fundamental concept of the person as basically healthy, striving for balance, health, and growth (Clarkson, 1989). The unfinished business referred to earlier is seen as an obstacle to these processes, restricting the person’s ability to function fully, often termed by Gestalt therapists as ‘dis-ease’. Van de Riet (Van de Riet et al., 1980) encapsulates the idea that dis-ease is a consequence when people do not experience themselves as being psychologically and physiologically in balance with their environment.



“As action, contact, choice and authenticity characterize health in gestalt therapy, so stasis, resistance, rigidity and control, often with anxiety, characterize the state called ‘dis-ease'”

The stasis, resistance, rigidity, and control prevent graceful flow through cycles of experience.

Having briefly outlined the core of Gestalt therapy it is necessary to consider some of the techniques that Gestalt therapists use in order to consider how they might be incorporated into hypnotherapy. Although there are techniques that are closely associated with a Gestalt approach, there are two caveats we must bear in mind. First, as Berne (1970) noted, gestalt therapy does use any techniques exclusively:



“Dr. Perls is a learned man. He borrows from or encroaches upon psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, and other systematic approaches. But he knows who he is and does not end up as an eclectic. In his selection of specific techniques, he shares with other ‘active’ psychotherapists the ‘Moreno’ problem: the fact that nearly all known ‘active’ techniques were first tried out by Dr. J. R. Moreno in psychodrama, so that it is difficult to come up with an original idea in this regard” (Berne, 1970: 163-4).

Second, that in Gestalt therapy, technique is considered secondary to the relationship developed between the therapist and the client, as Resnick (1984) writes:



“every Gestalt therapist could stop doing any Gestalt technique that had ever been done and go right on doing Gestalt therapy. If they couldn’t, then they weren’t doing Gestalt therapy in the first place. They were fooling around with a bag of tricks and a bunch of gimmicks” (1984: 19).

Based on these two caveats we might argue that anything of an ‘active’ nature which is incorporated into hypnotherapy would constitute Gestalt, or alternatively that without explicit training in the Gestalt client-therapist relationship there is nothing we could do which would be Gestalt. However, as the spirit of Gestalt therapy is very much identified by its use of specific techniques that is the approach that will be taken in the following discussion.

The techniques that are associated with Gestalt therapy are closely related to the idea that clients should want to work towards self-awareness through a mastery of their awareness processes. This is in contrast to patients who firstly are actually seeking relief from discomfort, although they may claim that they wish to change their behaviour, and secondly clients who expect that relief will come via the efforts of the therapist. Thus, Gestalt therapy is “an exploration rather than a direct modification of behaviour…the goal is growth and autonomy” (Yontef, 1993). The techniques are modifications and elaborations of the basic question, “What are you experiencing now?” and the instruction, “Try this experiment, or pay attention to that, and see what you become aware of or learn” (Zimberoff & Hatman, 2003).

Perhaps the most well known of all techniques that are identified as Gestalt is the empty chair. This is where clients project their representation of a person or an object, or part of themselves into an empty chair and they then present a dialogue between what is projected into the chair, and themselves. In some cases the client moves between the chairs, but either way, the idea is that inner conflicts become expressed and so the client heightens their awareness of them. This in turn forces the client to take responsibility for their difficulties so that they can make choices to resolve the sources of unfinished business (Stevens, 1975). As Becker (1993) writes, this is the whole point of Gestalt, to “take people who are conditioned and automatic and put them in some kind of aegis over themselves.”

Similar to the empty chair, another common technique is known as topdog/underdog. A dialogue is performed between two aspects of the client’s personality, the topdog representing the introjecting demander of perfection, expressed by “should” and “must”, and the underdog, which is a manifestation of resistance to external demands. Through the dialogue “resolution, compromise, understanding or permanent divorce becomes possible” (Clarkson, 1989). This is attained by the individual becoming aware of their internal battles, which often lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression.

The Gestaltist focus on awareness is not confined to awareness of cognitive processes, such as dialogue, but also physiological processes through a process termed bodywork. This involves the client consciously noting where they experience tension in particular situations, or how their pattern of breathing changes. Once aware they can learn strategies to reduce these reactions, which have produced both physical and mental discomfort.

As Zinker (1978) writes, “this may include the person’s awareness of his body, its weight on the chair, its position in space, its minute sounds and movements.” Here the individual is taking responsibility for their body and taking charge of choosing how they want to react. Sometimes these tensions are based on a preoccupation with earlier circumstances. If the client is not responding to the current circumstances then they are seen as projecting the past to the present, so old patterns of responding, rather than new, experimental approaches are dominating their life (Parlett & Hemming, 2002). Working to release the physical manifestations of those old patterns can lead to greater engagement and awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings (Zimberoff & Hatman, 2003). This approach is also known as establishing sensation function (Clarkson, 1989) and is considered useful for clients who have become ‘alienated from their senses’ or those with narcissistic attributes who have ‘experienced it all’ (Clarkson, 1989).

The importance of bodywork is made clear by Becker (1993) who suggests that physical expressions are closer to truth because the mind is engaged in deception and sabotage: Perl’s basic assumption was that the body and its total processes are somehow anterior to and bigger than the mind. Gestalt conceives of the mind as an interference, as a way of blocking the total momentum of the organism in some way. Not only that, but the mind is not even the noble part of the organism that we always thought it was. For most people the mind and the creations of the mind work against the body. They work against the best interests of the total person.

In line with other psychodynamic approaches, Gestalt therapy includes dream work. The Gestalt position is dissimilar to Freud, in that Perls did not think of the unconscious as an inaccessible region of the mind which dreams could provide access to if interpreted correctly – Freud’s ‘royal road to the unconscious’ was Perl’s royal road to integration. His view was more in line with Jung, who saw dreams as existential messages for the dreamer. In dream work the client is typically asked to relate the dream in the present tense as if they were experiencing the dream in that moment. From this the client develops an awareness of the existential message and how it consists of projected parts of the self.

The above descriptions of some of the techniques associated with Gestalt therapy should neither be considered exhaustive nor exclusive. As cited earlier, Resnick (1984) amongst others clearly believes that Gestalt therapy is not and cannot be tied to particular techniques, it is about the relationship between the client and the therapist.

An important part of this relationship is that the therapist is acting to guide the client towards greater self-awareness, responsibility and ownership of emotions, thoughts, sensations etc in order to complete any ‘unfinished business’ so that s/he may move smoothly through cycles of experience. The experienced therapist is able to adapt to the particular client in order to achieve this, relying on a wealth of techniques and skills. This essence of Gestalt therapy allies it more closely with cognitive behavioural approaches than typical psychodynamic methods because it relies less on interpretation of the client and more on their active participation. It is perhaps this that makes it possible to incorporate aspects of Gestalt therapy into hypno-therapeutic practice.

Interestingly Levendula (1963) suggests the view that a Gestalt therapist would be in a more advantageous position if he would combine his approach with hypnotic techniques. For example, the Gestalt therapist teaches the increasing of awareness through experimental exercises. The hypnotherapists can achieve this much more easily by directing the patient’s attention to become sharply aware of an idea or sensation or memory which thereby becomes a “bright Gestalt” while the rest of the perceptual field recedes into a background. The hypnotic state itself corresponds to the Gestalt-background principle, and the Gestalt formation becomes more or less an automatic function of it. …the combination of Gestalt therapeutic principles with hypnosis enriches both approaches.

From this it is clear that Gestaltists are being advised to incorporate hypnotherapy into their practice. The following discussion will consider whether hypnotherapists can introduce aspects of Gestalt therapy into their work.

One of the central tenets of Gestalt therapy is that clients experience events in the present, that is they re-enact past events in the present. By re-living them they can focus on their experiences, both psychological and physiological and thus gain understanding. Awareness was considered “the key to unlock insight and ultimately bring behaviour change” (Zimberoff, & Hartman 2003). Bringing the experienced past into the experiential present is one important property of hypnosis.

Through hypnotic age regression, working with dreams etc clients can re-experience events that have occurred at some other time as if they were happening in the here and now. This is not merely a cognitive reliving of a copy of the event, but a fully nuanced resurrection of the experience. As Zimberoff, & Hartman (2003) state, “Keeping the client’s awareness on concrete detail is a constant in hypnotic age regressions, because it promotes presentness emotionally and viscerally (emphasis in original). Of equal importance is that the client’s awareness can be focused on different aspects of their experience through repeated re-experiencing of it, allowing for a detailed, and concrete re-living of the experience in all its original strength and from physiological and psychological perspectives. This then fulfils Rosen’s (1972) view that “Patients move best when they are moved” (emphasis in original).

It is clear that the Gestalt concern with realistic, present, re-experiencing of events is an important aspect of hypnosis. The concerns of Gestalt therapy with direct insight, rather than insight through interpretation would be a novel addition to hypnotherapy. To include this perspective is a philosophical and conceptual shift rather than a technical one and depends on the therapist’s own preferences. However it is quite possible to achieve.

Hypnosis is also useful in intensifying aspects of an experience, by directing the client to pay closer attention to particular details. For example, someone who wishes to stop smoking might be asked to strongly feel the sense of relief and strength from being able to take deep breaths of fresh, clean air. Greenberg and Malcolm (2002) have demonstrated that success in using such techniques as the empty chair are at least partially determined by the degree of emotional arousal experienced during the use of this technique. Here we can envisage that the client can be asked to imagine a dialogue, or in the case of multiple actors in the re-lived scenario, a conversation, where they can concentrate on aspects of themselves or others that are blocking their ability to resolve past issues.

Many hypnotic techniques are relatively passive in that the client is asked to view an event, rather than to participate in it, but there is no conceptual reason why this more active, almost didactic approach could not become a more integrated aspect of hypnotherapeutic practice. Indeed, in clients who are able to speak whilst hypnotised it might allow the therapist even greater understanding of the experiences that the client is reliving, and for the therapist to take a more active, flexible role in directing the client’s interactions.

As described earlier, Gestalt therapy makes use of experimentation in order for client’s to experience new sensations, and to become aware of old patterns of responding. For this to work we are effectively asking the client to suspend disbelief, for example to suspend the idea that they cannot say something to their parent. This may be difficult for some clients, especially where they have developed strong conscious strategies to protect them from predicted negative outcomes. Hypnosis, by inducing an altered state of consciousness, may be able to circumvent these strategies, allowing the client to explore options in a safe fantasy world that is experienced as vivid and real. S/he can then explore conversations with others, actions etc that may not be considered options when in a non-hypnotic state.

As suggested earlier, this active participation of clients is not common, but there is no reason why clients who have strong powers of visualisation cannot be directed under hypnosis to engage in experimentation. Usefully as a single scene can be replayed many times under hypnosis it allows the client to perform a variety of experiments and to compare and contrast the resultant emotions etc. Naturally they can also be directed to pay close attention to the details of these new experiences, so that they can be vividly recalled post-hypnotically.

As Gestalt therapy is primarily concerned with the client’s willingness to take responsibility, and the therapist’s ability to develop novel ways in which the client can come face-to-face with aspects of their life they have projected onto others, or denied control of, the main way in which hypnotherapy can incorporate aspects of Gestalt technique is twofold. Firstly hypnotherapeutic practitioners must be trained in Gestalt conceptual philosophy so they fully understand their role, and have the intuition and flexibility to carry it out in a range of situations and across a broad spectrum of clients. Secondly, just as Freud selected patients who were willing to accept his fundamental law of psychotherapy, perhaps the hypnotherapist must be selective at consultation with clients who show a motivation to change and a willingness to take responsibility for that change. Without these two features hypnotherapy cannot truly address “the key problem of people in our times…inner deadness” (Clinebell, 1981).



References

Becker, E. (1993). Growing up rugged: Fritz Perls and Gestalt therapy. The Gestalt Journal, 16(2). Available at http://www.gestalt.org/becker.htm

Berne, E. (1970). Review of gestalt Therapy Verbatim by F. Perls (1969). American Journal of Psychiatry, 10, 163-4.

Clarkson, P. (1989). Gestalt counselling in action. London: Sage.

Clinebell, H.J. (1981). Contemporary growth therapies. NY: Abingdon Press.

Gibson, J.J. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Greenberg, L.Sl. & Malcolm, W. (2002). Resolving unfinished business: relating process to outcome. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(2), 406-416.

Koffka, K. (1935). Principles of Gestalt psychology. NY: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Levendula, D. (1963). principles of Gestalt therapy in relation to hypnotherapy. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 6(1),22-26.

Lewin, K. (1952). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers. London: Tavistock Publications.

Parlett, M. & Hemming, J. (2002). Gestalt therapy. In W. Dryden (Ed.) Handbook of individual therapy. London: Sage.

Perls, F.S. (1969). Ego, hunger and aggression. NY: Vintage Books (first published in 1942).

Resnick, R.W. (1984). Gestalt therapy East and West: Bi-coastal dialogue, debate or debacle? Gestalt Journal, 7(1), 13-32.

Rosen, S. (1972). Recent experiences with Gestalt, encounter and hypnotic techniques. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 32, 90-105.

Stevens, J.O. (1975). Gestalt Is.Utah: real people Press.

Van de Riet, V., Korb, M.P., & Gorrell, J.J. (1980). gestalt therapy, an introduction. NY: Pergammon Press.

Yontef, G. M. (1993). Awareness, dialogue, and process: Essays on Gestalt therapy. Highland, NY: The Gestalt Journal Press.

Zimberoff, M.A. & Hartman, D. (2003). Gestalt therapy and heart-centred therapies. Journal of Heart-Centred Therapies, 6(1), 93-104.

Zinker, J. (1978). Creative process in Gestalt therapy. NY: Vintage Books.

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Is There a Herpes Cure & How Do You Treat Breakouts Effectively?

There is no herpes cure, and people who have been infected with the virus will carry it in their bodies forever. Throughout a lifetime, an infected person may experience periodic outbreaks of symptoms with varied severity. Many people live with herpes with few or no signs of the virus at all. Although no cure for herpes exists, treatment options for symptoms abound.

Symptoms of herpes can vary from fatigue to painful skin lesions, and there are a variety of products on the market, including both conventional medicines and herbal treatments. Over-the-counter pain medications can help control fever associated with the infection and can help reduce skin discomfort as the virus moves through its natural cycle that usually lasts 2-4 weeks. Prescription antiviral drugs and creams are the closest thing to a herpes cure, since they have been found to be successful in controlling the severity of herpes symptoms, the duration of an outbreak, and the frequency of recurring outbreaks.

Natural treatments can help those suffering from herpes by controlling symptoms until a cure for herpes is found. These natural options are widely available and gaining popularity as they offer the same and sometimes better results than conventional medical treatments. Natural herbal antiviral therapy may offer relief from symptoms without the side effects that can accompany the use of prescription medications. Ice can be used as a natural pain and inflammation reducer. And adequate hydration is probably the most natural herpes cure. Water is necessary to help control fever and to keep the body as healthy as possible as it fights the herpes infection.

Skin lesions caused by the virus have been found to heal most quickly when they are kept clean and dry. Infected areas can be cleaned with soap and warm water, but should be dried well with a towel or a hair dryer on the cool setting to be sure that excess moisture does not prolong the presence of sores on the skin. Salt baths can soothe the skin and encourage the sores to dry up.

Natural prevention of outbreaks almost totally depends upon the strength of the body’s immune system. Stressful events, serious illness, prolonged lack of sleep, and a poor diet can all contribute to the recurrence of a herpes outbreak. Until a herpes cure is found, there is no stronger defense against the disease than the immune system. It’s important that people with herpes commit themselves to a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements, if needed, reduced emotional stress levels, and adequate sleep and exercise. These behaviors along with treatment for periodic symptoms can help infected persons cope until a herpes cure is found.

Researchers continue to investigate the virus to help develop better treatments, a vaccine, and a cure for herpes. Until then, prevention is the key to controlling the spread of the virus, and effective treatment of the disease’s symptoms is the best way to live a life uninterrupted by herpes.

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Top 5 Homeopathic Pain Killers

Unfortunately pain is something that everyone will experience in life. While pain is uncomfortable, it can actually be a good thing and there are homeopathic pain killers that can be taken to provide you with safe natural pain relief that is non narcotic.

When you have pain, what you are really experiencing is your body sending you a signal that something is wrong. Imagine if you had a ruptured disc in your back (ok I’m feeling the pain just thinking about it!) and you were just walking around all day going about your every day responsibilities…working, exercising etc. If you didn’t have any pain, you would not know something was really wrong. Pain is your natural defense against being injured for the long haul.

Pharmaceutical drugs have a host of harmful side effects so opting to take homeopathic pain killers when you are hurting is a wise choice. I know after I had my foot surgery I decided against pharmaceutical drugs and chose the homeopathic route. Boy, I’m glad I did.

Below is a list of pain killers that are not new to homeopathic care and are effective for many interested in using homeopathic pain killers:

  1. Arnica is effective at treating arthritis, muscle sprains and strains, and bruises. Arnica is an herb that’s derived from a yellow flower grown in European mountains. Arnica can be applied topically in gel form or taken orally with another homeopathic treatment.
  2. Curcumin is a excellent because it helps to prevent and reduce inflammation. Curcumin should be taken in capsule form with an enzyme called bromelain because your body absorbs it better. Bromelain is also an anti-inflammatory agent and is used by many doctors to treat pain caused by arthritis. When I was experiencing signs of rheumatoid and I told my doctor that I didn’t want to take medicine, she recommended Bromelain.
  3. Devil’s claw fights pain and inflammation but you have to be careful with this one if you have stomach problems. Devil’s claw is actually a fruit that’s found in South Africa and has been used to help reduce back and arthritis pain.
  4. Feverfew is an age old homeopathic pain killer and works wonders at relieving headaches, arthritis pain and minor pain. Feverfew is not only a natural pain killer but it has also been proven to stop headaches and migraines from creeping up. Anyone with headaches should try this alternative pain reliever.
  5. Frankincense is known for its ability to treat chronic inflammatory pain in conditions such as arthritis. This herb helps to greatly reduce pain associated with minor injuries as well.

Homeopathic pain killers are your safe option for reducing and even eliminating mild to chronic pain because they are non narcotic. Even though taking certain herbs may have some side effects for different people, those side effects are much less harmful than those you get from taking pharmaceutical drugs. As with anything, you should exercise caution and do your homework when deciding to take homeopathic pain killers.

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Pet Natural Health Care – Try This For Hot Spots

According to Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM, hot spots, or Acute Moist Dermatitis, are on the rise with more and more dogs, cats and various other species of pets needing help with hot spots. Dr. Jones verifies that the most common cause of re-curring hot spots is allergies. Weeding out the cause of the allergy can often take some time leaving behind the problem of hot spots. In the field of pet natural health care, this new natural remedy just may do the trick.

Dr. Jones has been testing out this rather new hot spot natural remedy, putting it to the test and finding it’s potential one to be shared with all pet owners particularly those of dogs and cats.

First, lets start with the basic pet natural health care for hot spots, how to care for the wound, and an already known natural remedy so that all readers can benefit from this information not only those who have been down this road before.

It is important to know that when it comes to natural remedies whether for you or your pet, you may need to try several different remedies, and there are usually more than just one, as nature is full of medicinal valuable qualities. Each pet in it’s breed is unique and what works for one may or may not work for another. Therefore, always try more than just one remedy if the first doesn’t take hold.

Signs Itchy, oozing, red painful area on the skin that has an odor.

Causes A local area of bacterial infected hair follicles that mostly form in the summer months. The skin can become infected by any scratch or wound causing the hot spot to form. Most common cause is some type of skin allergy.

PET NATURAL HEALTH CARE SOLUTIONS

Remove hair

Removing hair on and around the hot spot should be your first step. It is very important in order to let the skin breath, helping the hot spot to heal. Be sure to use a blunt end scissor such as nose hair scissors. Be as gentle as you can, because the hot spot area is painful and your pet will feel discomfort just from the hair being cut.

Clean the Wound

It is very important that you clean the wound by using a MILD, non perfumed antiseptic soap to clean. Use a cotton ball and gently dab the wound with the cleaner. Be sure to rinse well and not leave any soap residue behind.

Tea and Aspirin

The key to healing the hot spot is to get it to dry out and there are some very powerful natural aids that can do this and are probably already in your kitchen. One of them is black tea and the other is aspirin. Make a strong cup of black tea and dissolve an aspirin in it. Immerse a clean cloth in this solution and apply it to the hot spot for minutes. Do this four times a day.

The New Remedy – Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is used in quite a few other home remedies such as ear cleaning, of which it is highly effective. (I know because I recently used it to clean my dogs ears and it did a heck of a job – better than any ear cleaning solution I have ever purchased). It also houses potassium in high form, which is good for older pets, and can be consumed orally to boost the immune system. I use apple cider vinegar in my dog’s food on a daily basis.

Soak a cloth in apple cider vinegar and apply it directly to the hot spot 4 times a day.

If your pet is having re-occurring hot spots it is suggested that you begin to address the high possibility of allergies in your pet. Addressing the root of the problem will give you a cure to these hot spots, and for pet allergies Essential Fatty Acids is vital in your pets diet.

Good pet wellness practices means getting down to the root cause of acute moist dermatitis by ensuring your pet is treated for allergies through Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) in his diet. In the mean time, or in the event your pets allergies act up, use this pet natural health care remedy of apple cider vinegar for pain relief and healing.

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Constipation – What Works and Why

Constipation is a normal occurrence that everyone will experience at one time or another within their lifetime. The older we get, the higher the tendency to become constipated. The age of forty seems to be a benchmark. People in this age bracket usually have a robust schedule, and there is usually less time for them to eat well, and exercise. Making eating disorders or bad eating habits a common cause of constipation.

Constipation is simply the inability to discharge digested food from the colon. The intestines are designed to remove nutrients from the food we eat. In the final stages, moisture is removed to allow well formed stools to pass out of the body easily. When the organs supporting the colon are not functioning properly, they either remove too much moisture and cause constipation or too little, and cause diarrhea.

Constipation can be a very painful condition, accompanied by stomach cramps, bloating, and pain sitting or standing. At its worst, fecal impaction or a blocked colon could result.

As the waste remains in the colon, some of the toxic waste from the stool might be reabsorbed into the bloodstream, causing fevers in some individuals.

CAUSES

The environment we live in also contributes to the tendency to be irregular. Stress and worry are key triggers which upset the normal body functions. As we stress out over the numerous interruptions in our lives, certain key organs fail to produce the enzymes and gastric juices which regulate the bowels for healthy passage of the waste from the body.

Similarly, our bodies react to the drugs we take into our system. Often after surgery, the patient will not have normal bowel movements until the drugs used wear off. The body seems to go into shock, and many vital functions either stop or slow down. Recreational and Prescribed drugs will send our systems into shock. Unfortunately, coffee drinkers have a high incidence of constipation, because it is a stimulant which alters the body’s normal chemistry.

Another contributing factor is the bad habit of holding back when we feel the need to “go”. Many people think because they are too busy, it can always come later. By then, moisture is reabsorbed leaving the stools hard and dry. The victims may end up passing a stool, but there is always a tendency that some of the now toxic waste will remain in the colon.

Unfortunately, most of us reach for the laxative before we really know what the cause of the problem is. Until the actual cause of the condition is treated, no solution will be permanent. The constipation will return time after time until the individual’s health is in jeopardy. If the causes are environmental; stress, drugs, or prolonging trips to the rest room, eliminating that cause will be the only way to insure complete relief.

METHODS OF RELIEF

Relief can come in several ways. There are the mechanical, drug induced, and natural methods of obtaining relief.

A. Diet –

1. Eat Right

To stem the continuous occurrence of constipation in the daily life of an individual, the best thing is to change your eating habits. This can safely be said to drastically reduce the incidence of constipation as most of the constipation people get is from eating low fiber foods and excess fatty foods. Foods that are rich in fiber such as wheat, bran, psyllium husks work wonders in the relieving constipation and its frequent occurrence.

2. Drink Lots of Water

The lack of sufficient fluids, particularly water ,is also an important contributor to constipation. Because we are always in a rush, we often forget to drink at least eight glasses of water everyday.

3. Exercise

Individuals who do a lot more exercise are often better physically that those who live a sedentary life. They look younger, brighter, their eyes sparkle, they have boundless energy and are generally healthier. They have a limitless zest for life and as a result of all these can fight diseases because they have a vibrant, healthy immune system. Recent stats have proved that people who lead sedentary lives are more prone to constipation that those who are active. So, just getting up and walking around the block in the morning is good enough to get your bowels moving.

B. Mechanical Relief –

1. Colonics

Mechanical methods include enemas and colonics. Some naturopathic physicians suggest you have a colonic at least once a year to remove any waste that has failed to pass through the system. Colonics are performed by a doctor in his treatment center. The patient is injected with as much warm water as possible while reclining on a bed. The solution is held in the bowel for a period of time and then the gates are opened and the re-moistened waste is discharged. The results are so drastic, that this is not appropriate to do at home. Since the only reason it is stuck in your colon is it is too dry to come out, the added moisture is very effective.

2. Enemas

Enemas are very similar, except on a much smaller scale. Usually using a water bottle held above the body while sitting on a toilet, or reclining in a bathtub or other receptacle, water flows into the rectum, and adds moisture to the colon. At some point the water is discharged, along with some of the waste. Often a second or third treatment is required to unplug the colon. Hospitals used to use this method frequently, and most nurses are trained in administering this treatment. However, the latest research on enemas and colonics seems to indicate that these methods cause as much harm as the good they do.

People who use A homemade colon cleanse enema tend to apply more water quantity than the commercially available ones; for instance, a homemade colon cleanse enema contains ¾ of water, peppermint, frankincense or fennel. Sometimes they combine one or more of these together or even all at the same time. It is important to note the role these oils play in getting an individual to have bowel movements. They act as stimulators of the colon muscles which in turn contract to expel the stool in the colon. Please note that in case you settle for this option, you need to add nothing more than 1-3 drops of the oils to the water you’ll be using as an enema.

While you may be satisfied with this, it is better that you know that applying it is pretty difficult. It entails having to lie down comfortably, being close to the toilet, the temperature of the water being between ninety eight and one hundred and three (98-103) degrees Fahrenheit, bag containing the enema hanging at least 2 ft above the body

C. Laxatives

There are numerous drug related laxatives on the market. Again these are only temporary solutions until the real cause can be found and treated. Like all drugs, they cause an organ to interrupt its normal function, and adjust to provide more moisture in the colon. As the largest organ in the body, the intestines use the gall bladder, liver, pancreas, and stomach to increase or decrease digestive enzymes, bacteria, and digestive acids as needed to accomplish its function. Anytime you change the way an organ functions, you risk an unfavorable reaction. Often laxatives over do their correction and the patient develops diarrhea, the opposite condition. The very last thing we want is to be subject to a mere chemical. Many people who have become very familiar with laxatives can even swear to its ability to make an individual dependent on it for bowel movement. Feelers that we are getting from health boards all over the world are that we avoid laxatives as much as possible.

1. Hyperosmolar Laxatives

These are compounds that can’t be digested or absorbed into the intestine. As a result they remain in the colon to retain the water that is in the colon. Hence, there is a softening of the stool as a result of the presence of moisture. Examples of this are sorbitol, lactulose and polyethylene glycol. These laxatives are only available by prescription. They have side effects -hence the restriction in access to it- and are used for the long term treatment of constipation. Part of the side effects it has on the body is abdominal bloating and flatulence. This occurs as a result of the laxative being digested by bacteria and its subsequent turning into gas. If this continues, a reduction in the dosage usually reduces the incidence of bloating and flatulence. In some cases however, the gas may reduce in volume by itself.

2. Saline Laxatives

These are laxatives that are made up of ions that can’t be absorbed by the colon. Examples of such ions are phosphate, citrate which can be found in the following combination’s: sodium phosphate, and magnesium hydroxide. They function by drawing water into the colon which in return softens that stool. This treatment has its disadvantages. People with weak kidneys may find it hard to expel resulting in the formation of kidney stones. This happens if it is used over a long period of time. Thus, short term usage in perfect order. It may also cause diarrhea which may lead to dehydration if the amount of fluid lost by the body is not replaced immediately. Saline laxatives are found in solutions such as Milk of magnesia or Epsom Salt.

3. Stimulant Laxatives

These incite the small intestine and colon muscles to push their substance faster. This they do by increasing the water content in the small intestine or inhibiting the amount of water absorbed by the colon. These laxatives can be found in Castor oil, Senna and Aloe Vera oils. They are quite useful in alleviating and curing constipation but also has its disadvantages. Because of its potency, it can instigate diarrhea which would result in dehydration if the individual does not take liquids. They can also cause intestinal cramping and long term intensive use can result in colon damage and worse constipation. Finally, not all of the constipation help methods are applicable. You can either consult your physician or get a quick, fast relief from constipation.

D. NATURAL REMEDIES

Before the advent of patent medicines, before there were doctors, people developed constipation. How did they handle it? Ancient Americans, the Aztecs, Mayas, and even the American Indian found that plants growing naturally had the desired effects on the body. And because they were all natural, they had no side effects. Many of our modern drugs are synthesized in factories to mimic the results of these naturally occurring herbs. One might ask, “Why manufacture something like a natural occurring substance. Unfortunately, it is expensive to grow and harvest the volume of the drug needed to satisfy the need. Or in otherwise “Greed.”

1. Boysenberry. The juice of this fruit is capable of functioning as a gentle laxative. It is to be used in the case of mild constipation not chronic ones.

2. Cantaloupe fruit is a very great fruit and is adequate for helping to relieve constipation. Its high fiber content is what actually makes it very useful to those who have constipation. It is also a rich source of both Vitamins A and C and lots of minerals.

3. Flaxseed Oil has been proven time and again to be an effective constipation remedy. All you need for maximum results is to take 1-2 tablespoonfuls with lots of water immediately after lunch or dinner.

4. Elder flower Tea is also very effective. Use as many times as it is needed daily.

5. Epsom Salts is also another good remedy. To use it as a constipation remedy, mix one teaspoonful in half glass of water just before bed. Please note that it is bitter, so the taste does not hit you unawares.

6. Adding roasted black gram powder to chapatti made of wheat including the husks too can enhance constipation relief.

7. Molasses which have high calorie content are also very good. Beware though as it has a strong taste and you’ll want to add fruit juice or milk to it when taking it. All you really need is two tablespoonfuls of black strap molasses just before sleeping at night.

8. Take half a cup of cabbage juice twice a day. This is very effective in treating and curing constipation.

9. If you have got access to mango, take one in the morning right after brushing before breakfast, and one at night after dinner. Mangoes are very effective bowel movers. There is a sure guarantee that you’ll have to “go” at least twice before nightfall.

10. Create a mixture of Spiegel seeds and warm milk. This is done by dipping the Spiegel seeds (5-10g) in warm milk (200g). To this, mixture, add sugar and you have for yourself a highly effective treatment method.

11. If you are suffering from chronic constipation, take a drink of figs dipped in water in the morning. If taken in copious amounts, you’ll definitely find yourself reaching for the next available toilet.

12. If you want instant relief from constipation, drink water that has been kept in a copper container and has been left overnight. It acts as a superb constipation relief.

13. Get half a glass of water and mix one-quarter (¼) of Epsom salts with it for fast constipation relief.

14. Also try pouring a whole sachet of Andrew’s Liver Salt in a glass of water sand gulp down immediately. This will also produce a fast constipation relief.

E. COLON CLEANSES

Doctors specializing in natural medicines recommend at least one colon cleanse a year to eliminate the toxins and excess waste that builds up over time in the intestinal tract. The body is like a highly functional machine. A machine as we well know must go through a period of complete readjustment, cleaning, realigning, refurbishing etc, so also should our body.

There are several good colon cleanses on the market. results vary from one manufacturer to another. Some are natural, other use ingredients you may have trouble pronouncing, because they are synthesized rather than natural.

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Canker Sore Treatment – Difference Between Canker Sores (Mouth Ulcer) and Fever Blisters (Cold Sore)

There are a number of differences between canker sores and cold sores. If you find out more about the features, you will easily distinguish and find the right methods that will lead to quick treatment and recovery. You might even discover the preventive measures by knowing the causes and triggers. Here are some more tips on how to differentiate the two and what you can do to alleviate these conditions should you have them.

The Canker Sore

Described as an open and painful sore in the mouth, canker sores appear yellow or white and are usually surrounded by a bright red area which indicates inflammation. These are benign and not cancerous. Canker sores are a basic form of ulcer in the mouth. These usually appear in women more often compared to men. These can also appear at any age, although they are initially present between 10 to 40 years old. They will be found on the inner surface of the lips, soft palate, cheeks, tongue and the base of the gums. The sores can also occur in families.

These are usually related to conditions that are associated with the immune system or defense system of the body. The sores can also happen after you acquire mouth injury because of aggressive tooth cleaning, dental work or accidentally biting the cheek, tongue or lip. They are usually caused by emotional stress, menstrual periods, dietary problems from lack of vitamin B12, folic acid and iron, food allergies, hormonal changes and other similar problems. These can also appear during viral infections. The cause may not be identified all the time.

Canker Sore Symptoms

The initial symptoms are burning or tingling sensation that you get before other symptoms arise. You might discover a painful red bump or spot that will develop into an open ulcer. The center usually appears white or yellow, measuring less than 1 cm, although it can be bigger at times. You might get one or more bumps in the area. The sore might also turn gray before it starts to heal.

About Cold Sores

Fever blisters or cold sores are common skin problems that happen in 15% to 30% of the United States population. The sores are generally caused by the HSV or herpes simplex virus and are usually indicative of herpes simplex virus infection. Fever blisters are triggered frequently by the HSV-1 or the herpes simplex virus type 1 compared to HSV-2. Over 85% of the population worldwide have experienced having HSV-1 at one point. The first outbreak is usually very painful and will last longer compared to the following infections.

Symptoms of Cold Sores

The blisters usually appear red or purple and are filled with fluid. These appear at the corners of the mouth or around the lips. The blisters will rise then collapse within a few days. A yellow crust usually develops over the sores and will heal without scarring in 2 weeks. Other symptoms include sore throat, general body aches, fever, swollen lymph nodes and soreness in the lips and mouth. Canker sore treatment will then be different.

To conclude, cankers sores and fever blisters are largely a result of improper skin management and hygiene. Are you sick and tired of dealing with the pain caused by canker sores? To be able to know the difference between the two will also be a big help in taking preventive measures.

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What is Expanded Awareness?

Through the NLP technique of expanded awareness, we can take in more information from the world around u, both in terms of what is observed from a rational conscious state as well as from subjective experiences. It enables you to sense more than your five senses allow, giving you something of a sixth sense to perceive what is occurring around you.

Expanded awareness is said to have been practiced by Samurai warriors who were required to notice an enemy coming from beyond in what could be sensed in a normal state of awareness.

Other than that, I find expanded awareness extremely useful in NLP training and coaching. It allows me to take in more information from the client in coaching as well as the ability to notice what is going on in an entire room of people.

Also you can induce a state of relaxation or trance in yourself, or others if you guide them towards a state of expanded awareness. I find it extremely useful to do on transatlantic flights, which I like to do from an altered state so I can zone out, or play with my own brain. After all, how can you NOT use NLP in moments when you are trying to preserve your sanity? You may as well put your brain to some good use, even in economy class!

Learning how to practice this technique is easy and fun once you get the hang of it. Please see my article entitled “Expanded Awareness Technique in NLP” to learn how you can try out yourself.

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Tips for Using Mineral Oil in the Treatment of Hemorrhoids

Talking about Hemorrhoids is not one of the most pleasant topic to discuss even with your best friend or even your doctor as it is an embarrassing subject and this is why many people who suffer from them hemorrhoid tend to avoid talking about them. However, having Hemorrhoids is very common and almost half of the American population will have suffered from them by the age of 50, though approx ten million Americans are suffering from painful hemorrhoids right now only 5% are seeking medical attention.

Having a hemorrhoid is not a fatal condition, but with lack of information, it may become dangerous, and it is important to identify the causes of Hemorrhoids to avoid them becoming worse and even to prevent it from becoming pathological, one must also be informed of the kinds of hemorrhoids and their recommended treatment.

Most Hemorrhoids will actually heal up on their own, which is good to know. Unless you continue to strain when defecating or have chronic constipation or diarrhea, which causes it to flare up, most hemorrhoids heal naturally with out any interventions.

You know when you have hemorrhoids when you find it difficult to even have a bowel movement. You will experience pain, itching, swelling and often bleeding because of your hemorrhoids. If any such symptoms occur to you, it is wise to first consult your doctor.

Your doctor may advise lifestyle changes and the use of a hemorrhoid treatment cream to treat your condition. However, in the world of hemorrhoid sufferers, the word ‘cure’ actually means that your particular hemorrhoid will shrink and so stop giving you the discomfort of the associated problems.

So is it possible for you to completely cure your hemorrhoid problem? Well, unfortunately the simple answer is “no.” The truth is that no matter what a treatment program claims it can do, the problem veins will remain in your anal walls. So although there is no way to permanently “cure” the problem, there are a number of treatments that help not only in minimizing your risk of hemorrhoid but can also help at shrinking the size and reducing the pain and irritation that is associated with hemorrhoids. We must then look at methods that ensure the veins in your anal walls stay stress-free as reducing this is a key way to keeping these veins from struggling and swelling to prevent hemorrhoids.

What sufferers really need are tips on how to avoid getting hemorrhoids in the first place and tips to reduce the suffering they inflict without resorting to surgery or expensive ointments, preferably using a natural remedy.

Tip 1. Check your Diet and lifestyle first:

A little knowledge of the main causes of hemorrhoids may help to prevent hemorrhoid in becoming pathological. They are most frequently due to an unbalanced diet and straining during excretion in the anal part. These two main causes are connected, because when you eat the wrong foods, it will lead to poor bowel movements which will often lead to constipation and straining in the toilet.

The Western diet makes many people much more liable to hemorrhoids, this is largely because the western diet has become full of processed contents lacking in fiber content, and consumption of processed foods has increased still further with the sheer numbers and variety of fast food outlets.

Tip 2 The Use of a Protectant.

Protectants such as Mineral Oil (Balneol) are used to prevent irritation, itching, pain and burning of the perianal area by forming a physical barrier on the skin. Some of the main protectants used are:

  • Aluminum hydroxide gel
  • Cocoa butter
  • Glycerin
  • Kaolin
  • Lanolin
  • Mineral oil (Balneol)
  • White petrolatum
  • Starch
  • Zinc oxide or calamine (which contains zinc oxide) in concentrations of up to 25%
  • Cod liver oil or shark liver oil if the amount of vitamin A is 10,000 USP units/day.

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Hypnotizability – Do You Have It?

Hypnotizability is the ability to experience hypnotic trance, usually via self-hypnosis or under the instruction of another person, such as a hypnotherapist. People vary in their ability to go into trance at will and on purpose. As a human trait, hypnotizability seems to be “normally” distributed throughout the population. In other words, statistically, the distribution of hypnotizability in the general population follows the bell-shaped curve. This means that a small percentage of people, about 10%, are highly hypnotizable and access trance quite easily. They seem to have a natural, inborn ability to go into trance. At the other end of the continuum, there is a small percentage of people for whom accessing trance (at least on purpose or at someone’s instruction) is difficult. The rest of the population, about 80%, are in the middle of the continuum of hypnotizability—they are low average, average and high average. In this sense, hypnotizability varies from person to person, just as other naturally-occurring traits, such as intelligence or height.

Certain psychological, social, and physiological factors correlate with hypnotizability, and may actually contribute to hypnotizability. When a hypnotherapist conducts formal or informal “tests of hypnotizability” he or she is asking the client to perform some simple exercises designed to elicit one or more of the factors that correspond to hypnotizability. According to Dr. Steven Gurgevich in his Self-Hypnosis Home Study Course (Sounds True, 2006) there are many common indicators of hypnotizability. These factors, or indicators, of hypnotizability are discussed below in the following paragraphs.

Ability to Follow Instructions

Some people follow instructions willingly when they believe it is in their interests to do so–and are very compliant with a hypnotherapist’s instructions. These people will have go into trance more easily than other who do not like being told what to do and will often have a compelling drive to disobey or ignore instructions, just to maintain their own sense of self-direction and independent thinking. People in the latter category (independent) can be hypnotized, as long as the hypnotherapist does not use an authoritarian approach.

The authoritarian approach usually will not work well with independent thinkers. To have success with independent thinkers, the hypnotherapist must reinforce the client’s own decision-making capabilities throughout the hypnosis process, and allow the client to consider options on how to best use and respond to the hypnotic process.

Capacity for Daydreaming and Deep Concentration

If you easily slip into daydreaming, and you get easily absorbed in movies, books, and video games, then you probably have a good level of hypnotizability. If you are distractible and find it hard to sit still for even a few minutes, you will probably have less hypnotizability.

Imagination

If you have a good ability to visualize and imagine new possibilities, then you are a good hypnotic candidate. The success of hypnosis often relies on your ability to imagine carrying out new behaviors. If you are lacking in imagination, your hypnotizability may be less than optimal.

The Eye-Roll Phenomenon

In the 1960’s Dr. Herbert Speigel conducted studies that showed a strong correlation between the ability to tilt one’s eyes up toward the forehead, and hypnotizability. The more white area one can show on the underside of the raised eyeball, the higher the hypnotizability. No one is sure why this correlation exists.

Interest in How the Mind Works

People with an interest in the mind and how it works usually become adept with hypnotic trance. People with an interest in the mind are those who often seek self-improvement by attending seminars, reading self-help books, listening to self-improvement CDs and DVDs, and spending time in activities such as meditation, journaling, yoga, relaxation, and hypnosis. People who have little interest in the mind will usually not even consider hypnosis as a viable option for solving a personal problem or for self-improvement.

An Open Mind

People usually succeed with hypnosis when they maintain an open mind about the process. They are curious and willing to explore what hypnosis is and how to use it. They maintain a positive expectation that hypnosis will be a pleasant, perhaps beneficial experience. People who are dead set against hypnosis or who want to prove that hypnosis doesn’t work or won’t work for them will usually not succeed with hypnosis.

Ability to Think Non-analytically

A person who thinks only in a logical, analytical manner will not have high hypnotizability. People with high hypnotizability can easily shift between analytical thinking and intuitive, creative, imaginative thinking.

Intellect

It is a common misconception that hypnotizability is usually linked to mental weakness or gullibility. Actually, the opposite is true. Those with high intelligence are often very good candidates for hypnosis.

A Word about Control Issues

Some beginners who don’t know much about hypnosis are reluctant to pursue hypnosis, and difficult to hypnotize, because they worry that hypnosis will cause them to give up self-control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hypnosis actually helps people acquire more control over their thinking, actions, and emotions. In fact, many people seek hypnosis because they are habitually engaging in some behavior that is out of control (smoking, overeating, gambling, etc.). A person with control issues will do best in hypnosis with a thorough understanding of the process in advance.

Paper and Pencil Tests

There are some paper and pencil tests of hypnotizability, but not all are well-documented for predictability and msny have not been subjected to rigorous scientific analysis as to what they actually measure. The tests that are well-documented are usually used in scientific studies in which hypnotizability is a variable. Hypnotherapists rarely use these tests in actual practice because:

1) The tests are time consuming and expensive.

2) Most people are hypnotizable under the right circumstances, regardless of what the tests might show.

3) Hypnotizability also depends on one’s own expectations. If you think you are hypnotizable, your chances of going into trance are improved. If a test says you have low hypnotizability, it may lower your expectations and your low expectations may actually reduce your ability to go into trance.

Other Factors that influence the Success of Hypnosis

There are other factors that influence the success of hypnosis. Rapport with the person conducting hypnosis is one. Even if you want to be hypnotized, if the hypnotist or hypnotherapist working with you doesn’t seem completely trustworthy, or sincere, or skilled in working with you, you may encounter difficulty accessing trance. If you don’t feel comfortable with the individual conducting hypnosis with you, some part of your mind will be on guard.

Motivation is a very important factor in hypnosis. Motivation is highest when the individual sees benefit to accomplishing the goal, is willing to engage in the processes and steps that lead to the accomplishment, is totally congruent about wanting the accomplishment, and believes in his or her own capability to accomplish the goal. The most hypnotizable people are those who sincerely want to be hypnotized, expect hypnosis to work, and who want real results from hypnosis. A person who is not motivated to make a change will not be easily persuaded to do so with hypnosis.

If you feel half-way motivated to make a change, but still have some concerns or conflicts, it may be necessary for you to do extra work with your hypnotherapist to get satisfying or lasting results with hypnosis. Your conflicts may be due to:

o Competing goals: You can have result A or result B but not both.

o Competing values: The goal is linked to a significant personal value or belief, but having it also violates another significant personal value or belief.

o Wanting the goal, but not the work or steps required to achieve it.

o Wanting the goal, but not the attendant problems and/or responsibilities that might come with the accomplishment.

o Wanting the goal, but not knowing how to accomplish it.

o Wanting the goal, but feeling blocked by fears, inhibitions, and limiting beliefs rooted in past experiences.

To complicate matters, the exact source of the conflict often resides in the subconscious and is not available for cognitive, conscious analysis. In this case, the conflicted individual has to contend with dread, procrastination, or self-sabotage, without actually getting at the heart of the matter.

Reaching resolution on one’s own is tough. A psychotherapist who is also a hypnotherapist can use a variety of hypnotic processes to help you identify the type of conflict you may be encountering and can assist you to work through it, reach resolution, come to terms with it, and put it behind you.

What to do if You Think you have Low Hypnotizability

Surprisingly, belief in one’s own hypnotizability does not seem to be a significant factor in hypnotizability. I’ve had several clients who came to my practice doubting, for one reason or another, that they could be hypnotized. Yet, once I explained the process to them, and worked with them, they easily accessed trance. I’ve also had a few clients who were told by other hypnotherapists that they were not hypnotizable, or who found they could not access trance with previous hypnotherapists. Many of these clients have also accessed trance, under my guidance and instruction. Most people can access trance once they understand the hypnotic process, and they truly have motivation to be hypnotized.

If you think you have little hypnotizability or believe you could be a poor candidate for hypnosis, don’t give up. Find and work with a skilled hypnotherapist with whom you feel comfortable. Sometimes people with low hypnotizability require a few sessions of practice before they can access trance. A skilled hypnotherapist will experiment with different approaches and inductions to find the methods that work best for each client.

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Ginseng is Good For You, But Do Not Overuse

Ginseng is a perennial herb that starts flowering in its fourth year. It grows in the United States, Canada, & the mountainous forests of eastern Asia. The translucent, yellowish brown roots are harvested when plants reach between 3 & 6 years of age. This herb has been used in the Orient for 5000 years as a tonic. According to traditional Chinese medicine’s philosophy of opposites, American ginseng is a cool or yin tonic used to treat hot symptoms such as stress, insomnia, palpitations, & headache.

In parallel, Asian ginseng is hot or yang & is used to treat cold diseases. In the Orient, ginseng is considered a cure all. This stems from the Doctrine of Signatures, because the root is said to resemble a man’s appearance & is therefore useful to treat all of man’s ailments. Throughout history, the root has been used as a treatment for asthenia, atherosclerosis, blood & bleeding disorders, colitis, & relief of symptoms associated with aging, cancer, & senility. Ginseng is also widely believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Ginseng is classified as an ‘adaptogen’, helping the body to adapt to stress, improving stamina & concentration & providing a normalizing & restorative effect. It is also widely promoted as an aphrodisiac. The Korean root is highly prized & the most expensive. Long term use of ginseng can lead to symptoms similar to those of corticosteroid poisoning, including hypertension, nervousness & sleeplessness in some subjects, yet hypotension & tranquillizing effects in others. The benefits of ginseng treatment are by no means confirmed at the pharmacological level.

One promising example of cancer preventive effects that are not specific to any organ is Panax ginseng, an herb with a long medicinal history. The genus name of ginseng, Panax, is derived from the Greek pan (all) akos (cure), meaning cure-all. No single herb can be considered a panacea, but ginseng comes close to it. Ginseng is a tonic herb that helps to improve overall health & restore the body to balance, & helps the body to heal by itself. Its protective influence against cancer has been shown by extensive preclinical & epidemiological studies.

Ginseng is a very slow growing perennial herb, reaching about 2 ft in height. The older the root, the greater is the concentration of ginsenosides, the active chemical compounds; thus the ginseng becomes more potent with time. More than 28 ginsenosides have been extracted from ginseng, & might be associated with a wide range of therapeutic actions in the central nervous system, cardiovascular, endocrine systems. Indeed, ginseng promotes immune function, metabolism, possesses antistress & anti-aging activities. Several ginsenosides were proven to be nonorgan-specific tumor suppressors & to improve learning & memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Consumer Reports revealed that the amount of ginsenosides in Ginsana®, the ginseng market leader in the United States, is well standardized. The manufacturer claims that each Ginsana capsule contains 100 mg of standardized, concentrated ginseng. A study of the Swedish Ginsana product revealed consistency in ginsenoside content between batches. Ginsana is available in the United States in soft gel capsules & chewy squares. The capsules are green because chlorophyll is added. Other forms of ginseng are most commonly available in capsule or tablet form & are usually brown. Dosage strengths normally range between 50 mg & 300 mg of Panax ginseng extract per capsule or tablet. Also, several combination products are available. For example, Ginkogin® is a combination of Panax ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, & garlic. There are other types of ginseng on the market including Siberian, Brazilian, & Indian ginseng. These are not of the genus Panax & do not contain ginsenosides.

However, two studies have also suggested that administration of ginseng and ginkgo biloba has no effect on cognition or mood. Hartley and colleagues evaluated the effects of a 6 or 12 week course of a ginkgo & ginseng combination product (Gincosan®) on the mood and cognition of postmenopausal women. Subjects were administered a battery of mood, somatic anxiety, sleepiness, and menopausal symptom tests.

No improvement in memory performance evaluated by eight separate tests was noted in either the group receiving ginseng or the group receiving ginkgo biloba. Thus, it appears that conflicting results still exist as to the ability of ginseng to improve memory and cognition; however, even in those studies demonstrating a positive effect, the enhancement was generally small in magnitude.

If ginseng are being over consume or overused symptoms of toxicity such as hypertension, shortness of breath, dizziness, inability to concentrate, a loud palpable fourth heart sound, thrusting apical pulse, and hypertensive changes on examination were reported in a 39-year-old man who had taken various ginseng products for 3 years. His blood pressure measured 140/100 mmHg on three occasions over 6 weeks, and when referred for management of his hypertension it was 154/106 mmHg. He was advised to discontinue the ginseng products and 3-month later, his symptoms had resolved.

In addition, A 72-year-old woman experienced vaginal bleeding after taking 200 mg daily of a Swiss-Austrian geriatric formulation of ginseng (Geriatric Pharmaton, Bernardgrass, Austria) for an unspecified time. In a similar case, a 62-year-old woman had undergone a total hysterectomy 14 years previously and had been taking Rumanian ginseng alternating with Gerovital® every 2 weeks for 1 year. The patient derived a marked estrogenic effect from the product based on microscopy of vaginal smears as well as the gross appearance of the vaginal and cervical epithelium.

So the bottom line is ginseng comes pretty close as one of the best natural remedy that promotes various healthy well being. It is a fantastic option for longevity but just be aware that too much of a good thing might not give you desirable result. Use ginseng in moderation & you will enjoy the great benefit of this ancient perennial herb.

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