Category Archives: Green Living

Eco-friendly Healthy Living

Gentle Cleansing Techniques for Springtime

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, spring is the cleansing season.  It is time to remove the debris and stagnation built up from a long cold winter and make room for new growth, creativity, and action. The same way that you spring clean your home, this is a great opportunity to cleanse the toxins from your body.

While there are many cleanse programs available, such as juicing, fasting, or eating raw fruits and vegetables, these methods can be intimidating and extreme. The good news is that there are more subtle and gentle techniques that you can use to support your body in getting rid of toxins.

Why Cleanse?

Why should you consider incorporating cleansing techniques in your life?

Your body is an incredible organism that has a natural built-in filtration system to help you get rid of toxins, the harmful substances that have a negative impact on your health. The primary organ that helps to process excess toxins is your liver. Your liver is a powerful filter for toxins, but it’s worth noting that you are exposed to more toxins than any previous generation. This influx of toxins comes from pollution in the air and water, toxic ingredients in beauty care and household cleaning products, electric and magnetic fields from technology, and more.

Some common symptoms of an excess toxic load in your body include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Infertility
  • Skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.)

Here are some gentle cleansing techniques to try this spring so that your body will begin to eliminate toxins more effectively and efficiently.

1. Dry Skin Brushing

Dry skin brushing specifically helps to activate the lymphatic system that resides directly underneath your skin. You can think of the lymphatic system as the stream that helps to get rid of toxins. When you activate your lymphatic system, it helps move toxins more efficiently through your body.

This cleansing practice is best done before you get into the shower. To get started, you’ll need to buy a dry skin brush or glove (look in your local health food store or online). Your dry skin brushing practice will only take about three minutes. Starting at your feet, brush your skin in a circular motion up toward your heart. Work your way up your entire body. Then, using the same circular motion, brush both of your arms—starting from the hands.

Once you are done, hop into a hot shower to experience the full benefits of this gentle cleansing practice. Skin is the body’s largest organ. As you can release toxins through your skin, this exfoliation method also supports healthy detoxification through your skin.


2. Greens Powder

While I recommend increasing the amount of green vegetables in your diet as a great place to start, I know it can be difficult to get the variety of concentrated nutrients that you’ll find in a greens powder supplement by eating alone. The concentrated vitamins, minerals, and  phytonutrients (such as polyphenols, terpenes, and organic acids) that are found in a complex greens powder are helpful for gently opening up detoxification pathways and supporting liver cleansing. Most greens powders contain sea algae such as chlorella and spirulina, which are phytoplankton from the ocean that have antioxidant effects in the body. Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll, which assists in heavy metal and pesticide detoxification.

I like to add one scoop of greens powder to a cup of coconut water with half a fresh lemon n the morning. This is a great way to jumpstart your system and help the body cleanse the liver & kidneys. Drink your greens powder either in the morning or mid-afternoon as a gentle way to boost your energy levels.

3. Yoga & Breath Work

The movement and breath work in Yoga can help gently cleanse the system, oxygenating and rejuvenating the whole body.  Gentle twists can, in fact, help “wring out” the organ systems and help them release the last remaining stuck areas.  Deep yogic breath fills the entire lungs with fresh pure oxygenated air and each exhale releases toxins.  In addition to cleansing your lungs, this form of breath work also helps to oxygenate your cells, which helps to purify your blood.  While most people’s everyday breathing is shallow and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), this full yogic breath stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and allows the body mind spirit to rest easy releasing built up cortisol thereby allowing other hormonal systems to rebalance.

4. Bodywork

Massage and bodywork stimulates the release of metabolic waste products stored in the cell tissue.  The circulation resulting from massage enhances oxygen exchange among local tissues and improves colon drainage capability, this is a good addition for helping escort impurities out of the body.  Integral to detoxification, the lymphatic system sequesters circulating threats in the body and aids in their elimination. Thus, draining the lymph nodes of accumulated toxins with lymphatic drainage massage removes blockages and improves their cleansing function.  Drinking plenty of water will allow for the elimination of waste products from the body, thus detoxifying the cell tissue and boosting the immune system.

5. Salt Baths

Skin is a toxin carrier and what better way to flush the toxins out than have a nice detox bath.  Soak up daily in warm water with Pink Himilayan Salt, Sea Salt, or Epsom salt and a few drops of your preferred aromatic oil to draw toxic waste swiftly out of the pores. Bath salts are beneficial to health due to the presence of minerals in them, primarily magnesium. A salt bath helps relieve stress, detox the body, sleep well, improve blood circulation and decrease blood pressure. Since magnesium plays a crucial role in all intracellular physiological functions, a deficiency in the mineral can lead to various neuromuscular, cardiac and nervous disorders.  It helps you sleep better, maintain healthy heart rhythm and blood sugar levels, and regulate hormones. The sulfur in these salts can help in the production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, which plays a major role in methylation, a biochemical process in the body involved in almost all of its functions.

6. Infrared Sauna

An infrared sauna helps to increase your blood circulation and stimulate your sweat glands to help get rid of toxins. They also heat the body from the inside out, raising your core temperature and driving toxins and heavy metals out of the largest organ in your body—your skin.  Infrared sauna treatments may be available at different levels: near, middle, and far.  These different levels represent the different sizes in infrared wavelengths and refer to the intensity of the treatment. Near-infrared levels are best for wound healing and increased immune function, middle-infrared levels are ideal for increasing circulation and promoting muscle relaxation, and far-infrared levels are used primarily for detoxification purposes. If you are new to using an infrared sauna, start slowly by going in for 10 to 15 minutes. Eventually work your way up to 25- to 45-minute sessions, three to five days per week.

There are many different ways to support your body’s detoxification process. These gentle cleansing techniques help maintain your health and prevent disease. “Gently” press the reset button and start experiencing the many healing benefits of cleansing toxins from your body this spring!

*The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Evergreen’s Wellness Center; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

About the Author

Freya Farley is Evergreen’s Executive Director and an Acupuncturist at the Wellness Center at Evergreen. Her practice focuses on Women’s Health and Fertility, which at its essence is the manifestation of balance and health within the body.  Along with acupuncture, and herbal medicine, Freya practices a food-as-medicine approach, helping her clients utilize the healing powers of food to nourish their bodies mind and spirits.  She offers private consultations & treatments as well as a weekly Community Acupuncture Clinic. The presence of yoga throughout Freya’s life has influenced and informed her ongoing path of health and wellness and she offers Open Studio morning yoga sessions to join in her practice – (free to those registered in another class!).


Everything Under the Sun: Healthy Sun Exposure

As the days get longer, nature beckons you outside for a summer full of fun and activity.  Life is good, and you should embrace as much of it as you can. The sun invites you to sit, relax, and play in its warmth. Your family and friends get together on the beach, in your backyard, or at a local park for hours on end.  While soaking up the sun can boost your mood and your body’s vitamin D levels, it is important to be safe while doing so as frequent overexposure to UV radiation can also damage your skin.

Benefits of Sun Exposure

There are many health benefits from taking in sufficient amounts of sun exposure and it plays an important role in:

  • Boosting hormones like vitamin D
  • Reducing blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health
  • Improving mood by releasing endorphins

Spending moderate time in the sun has even been shown to contribute to pain relief in people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia.

The most commonly known benefit of sun exposure is inducing production of vitamin D, a critical steroid hormone that acts on receptors throughout the body, influencing bone health, heart function, and inflammation.  When UVB rays from the sun strike exposed skin, the body can synthesize vitamin D3, which is transformed by the liver and kidneys into the biologically active hormone.

Due to a variety of factors including lifestyle and environment, vitamin D insufficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide.  Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Excessive Sweating
  • Fatigue & Muscle Weakness
  • Chronic Pain
  • Broken Bones
  • Depressed Mood

If you think you have a Vitamin D deficiency, ask your doctor for a simple blood test to measure your levels.

While there are different ways you can increase your Vitamin D levels, emerging research suggests that natural sun exposure may regulate vitamin D in a way that supplements cannot mimic. For example, vitamin D produced in the skin may last at least twice as long in the blood compared with ingested vitamin D.

Risks of Overexposure

While there are multiple benefits to sun exposure, there are also risks. Sunlight includes rays of invisible ultraviolet light of varying wavelengths (UVB and UVA), which can contribute to:

  • Sunburn
  • Accelerated skin aging
  • Skin cancer
  • Cataracts

The majority of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface is UVA, which penetrates more deeply into the skin (compared to UVB rays) where it can indirectly damage DNA via the generation of free radicals. UV radiation can also damage collagen and accelerate aging of the skin as well as contribute to cataracts.

Like most things related to health, bioindividuality and lifestyle habits are important when it comes to sun exposure. Certain groups of people are more susceptible to the negative impacts of UV sun exposure and may require different strategies to avoid harm. For example, those with certain autoimmune conditions such as lupus can be exceptionally sun sensitive. Further, medications such as tetracycline antibiotics, used to treat various infections, can increase sun sensitivity.

People with a personal or family history of skin cancer or other genetic susceptibilities, which can make it more difficult to repair UV-induced DNA damage, need to be more vigilant to avoid too much sun exposure.

Limit Your Exposure

Expose unprotected skin to the sun for 10 to 20 minutes at times of the year and day when UVB rays are optimal for vitamin D production. The best time for sun exposure is around noon, according to studies done at NIH, when UVB rays are most likely to reach your skin and boost vitamin D production, and when UVA rays, which increase the risk of skin cancer and photodamage, are minimized.

Incorporate Natural Dietary Skin Support

Many of the fresh healthy foods available in summer can help fortify your skin. For example, a mix of carotenoids including lycopene (found in tomatoes and watermelon), lutein (found in spinach and other dark-green veggies), and beta-carotene (found in orange, red, and yellow produce) can reduce your skin’s susceptibility to ultraviolet damage. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid pigment found in microalgae and seafood like salmon, shellfish, and krill, also contributes to skin health.

Find Sress-Reduction Practices

Studies have led researchers to believe that chronic stress can increase the susceptibility of your skin to UV damage. Stress weakens the immune system and makes you more susceptible to the effects of free radicals, which can lead to skin damage and cancer.  In fact stress alone, without sun exposure, has been shown to damage DNA and increase signs of early aging. Adopting regular stress management practices such as meditation, yoga, and mind-body practices can make you more resilient to resist the damaging impacts of chronic stress, including sun damage and skin cancer.

Throw Some Shade

When you plan to be outside for long periods of time, one of the best ways to enjoy a sunny day without suffering damage is to minimize your time spent in the strongest rays. This means staying in the shade when possible to avoid extensive time in strong sun and wearing lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats that are specifically designed to block UV rays.

Choose a Safer Sunscreen

Sunscreen provides either a chemical or physical barrier against the sun’s rays. When choosing a sunscreen, ingredients matter to ensure adequate protection without harmful endocrine-disrupting chemicals, potentially affecting reproduction and development hormones. Some toxic ingredients to look for and avoid include oxybenzone, octinoxate, retinyl palmitate, and homosalate, which can alter hormones and/or cause skin irritation.

Synthetic fragrances should also be avoided in all personal care products, including sunscreens. These chemicals, such as parabens, phthalates, and synthetic musks, are linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive impacts, and even cancer. Instead, look for non-nano  (meaning the particles are less likely to be absorbed by your skin) physical or mineral-based sunscreens like zinc oxide.

Tried & True Mineral Based Sunscreens:

Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion


Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen SPF 30 Mineral Lotion


Brush on Block Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Powder Sunscreen


All Good Lips Tinted – SPF 18 Lip Balm- Alpine Pink


*The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Evergreen’s Wellness Center; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

Experience profound rest and renewal by attuning to the natural rhythms of your body at Evergreen’s Wellness Center.


Are you starting to feel the rising Spring energy? The winds, chaotic weather, and beginning of more daylight? With this shifting and rising energy many people may notice some kind of sleep disturbance. Almost one-third of the US population is affected by insomnia on at least an occasional basis. Given the prevalence of insomnia in today’s society, the need is great for effective treatment. Though drugs used in Western Medicine may provide acute relief, they often fail to address the root cause of the insomnia and may have unwanted side-effects. The approach taken by Chinese Medicine is to balance the individual as a whole and treat the root energetic cause of the imbalance.


What is sleep?

“If sleep doesn’t serve an absolutely vital function, it is the greatest mistake evolution ever made.” -Allan Rechtschaffen, Ph.D.

Sleep is generally defined as an active state in which the body and mind are less responsive. It is believed that sleep is a restorative process.1

Sleep is composed of different stages:1,2

  • Stage 1– light sleep, between awake and falling asleep
  • Stage 2– onset of sleep, disengage from surroundings, regular breathing and heart rate
  • Slow wave sleep (3-4)-deepest and most restorative, blood pressure drops, slower breathing. Relaxed muscles, tissue growth and repair, energy restored, hormones released
  • REM– 25% of night, about every 90 minutes, energy to brain and body, brain is active, dreams occur, eyes move but otherwise immobile
  • “Good” sleep allows all stages to be completed in many cycles (3-4).

What is insomnia?

The problem of insomnia in our society is huge and complex. However, from the perspective of the average citizen, it is like the weather – everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything.” -William C. Dement, M.D., Ph.D.

Insomnia is characterized by difficultly initiating or maintaining sleep.  Consequences of insomnia include impaired daytime functioning, irritability and mood disturbance, fatigue and sleepiness.  Insomnia comprises both daytime and nighttime components, with the perception that sleep is short or fragmented with associated negative daytime consequences. 3

  • Most frequent sleep disturbance- 30-35% “mild” or “occasional;” 10-15% “severe” or “chronic”
  • Negatively impacts work, physical, and social performance and overall quality of life
  • May come from general hyperarousal
  • More easily aroused from sleep and slower to return
  • Link with levels of waking arousal (heart rate)
  • Elevated HPA-axis activity and cortisol

Despite the prevalence and impact of insomnia, it is not often recognized or treated by many physicians.4  When insomnia is treated in Western Medicine, pharmacological treatments are often used (though cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective).  Chinese Medicine focuses on the individual’s unique pattern and designs a unique treatment to balance the individual’s qi.

The Yin and Yang of Sleep

Ideas about health in Chinese Medicine are based on the yin and yang energy. These energies are interdependent, in opposition, always in motion, and transform into each other. To be in good health, one’s yin and yang energy must be balanced moving, not blocked.


In Chinese Medicine sleep and wake are viewed as yin-yang to each other. According to this, consciousness and waking are the result of yang energy rising to the head.5 Sleep is the result of the yang energy descending back to the core after it has been used by the day’s requirements to be nurtured by the yin.During sleep, yang energy that has been depleted is nourished and revitalized to be used again upon awakening.  The body’s yin and yang energy follow the light of the sun and ascend and descend accordingly.

Causes of Insomnia

For good sleep, yin and yang energy must be balanced. According to Chinese Medicine, one reason insomnia may result is because the yin energy becomes very week (e.g., as a result of aging) and cannot control the yang energy.  Thus, the yang energy may flow upward and ascend when it should not.  The yang energy may be depleted by the end of the day so that the person is able to fall asleep, but if there is inadequate yin energy to keep the yang down it will rise upward too early, resulting in an inability to fall back asleep.  In general, anything that results in yang energy rising and moving outward will exacerbate insomnia.4 Chinese medicine (e.g., acupuncture) may treat insomnia by stimulating the body to produce more blood and yin.

Factors leading to insomnia through an imbalance of yin and yang in the body include:

  1. Excessive/ over-active thinking
  2. Frustration or emotional stress depressing flow of qi OR Yang energy, moves upward, disturbing the tranquility of the heart.
  3. Excess activity; Yang hyperactivity resulting from insufficient yin
  4. Lack of exercise, poor diet (including eating greasy or fatty foods).
  5. Being overweight
  6. Overeating a large meal before bed; causes an acute case of insomnia by blocking the yang energy from returning to the body’s interior.

Tools and Practices to Improve Sleep

Practices that address Yin/ Yang imbalance:

  • Acupuncture and Acupressure
    • Improves sleep quality and quantity6
  • Meditation
    • Improves daytime functioning following sleep loss7
    • May decrease sleep need in long-term meditators7
  • Yoga
  • Spending time outside in Nature
  • Essential Oils
    • Lavender inhalation improves sleep quality8
    • Lavender works to decrease general arousal and excitability of the body and nervous system.9


Tracy (2)Evergreen Practitioner & Contributing Writer:  Tracy Rupp Hockmeyer Ph.D., M.Ac., L.Ac. practices Five Element Acupuncture; a nature inspired and based medicine with its fundamental principles based on the movement and energetics of nature. She specializes in sleep and addressing sleep complaints.  With her background in research and practice as an acupuncturist, Tracy offers a knowledge base from both Eastern and Western medicine. She addresses individuals’ sleep complaints using acupuncture, essential oils, and lifestyle recommendations.


  2. Purves D (2004). Sleep and Wakefulness. In Purves D, et al., ed. Neuroscience, 3rd ed.. Sunderland, MA, U.S.A.: Sinaur Associates, Inc. Ch. 27.
  3. Drake CL, Roehrs T, Roth T (2003). Insomnia causes consequences and therapeutics: An overview. Depression and Anxiety18, 163-178.
  4. Sateia, M.J. (2002). Epidemiology, Consequences, and Evaluation of Insomnia. Sleep Medicine. Editors Lee Chiong, T.L., Sateia, M.J., Carskadon, M.A. 151 – 160.
  5. Flaws (1997).
  6. Cao et al. (2009). Acupuncture for Treatment of Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15 (11).
  7. Kaul et al., (2010). Meditation acutely improves psychomotor vigilance and may decrease sleep need. Behavioral Brain Function, 6.
  8. Goel, N., Kim, H., & Lao, R.P. (2005). An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiol Int, 22, 889-904.
  9. Duan X, Tashiro M, Wu D, et al. (2007) Autonomic nervous function and localization of cerebral activity during lavender aromatic immersion. Technol Health Care, 15, 69–78



Medical doctors are now prescribing yoga along with or instead of exercise as a therapeutic.  It is well established that exercise is a means of acquiring and keeping the body healthy.  Now, there are numerous studies indicating profound changes towards wellness with a simple, and regular yoga practice.  More and more doctors are directing their patients to find a yoga class or  a yoga teacher.

Why yoga?  While exercise and yoga are both beneficial, traditional exercise regimens usually stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, making it tiring, and often stress inducing.  Yoga, on the other hand, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, making it relaxing and stress reducing.  Stress has been determined to be a major cause of illness in the typical American lifestyle.

Exercise typically uses rapid, forceful movements and increases muscle tension, thereby increasing the risk of injury.  Yoga uses slow, dynamic movements that become progressively more challenging.  This reduces muscle tension and creates a lower risk of injury to muscles and ligaments.

Yoga emphasizes balance and trains the practitioner to develop better balance, not only in the body, but in the mind and emotions as well. The emphasis on deep, steady, rhythmic breathing in yoga is both energizing and calming. The taxed breathing in exercise often creates fatigue and restlessness.

We often burn more calories with exercise than with yoga. However, after exercise, we’re hungry and with a stimulated sympathetic nervous system, food cravings typically occur. The result is that we can easily eat more calories than were burned. Following a practice of yoga, if there is hunger, it’s more balanced, and the mind is drawn toward healthy foods and a relaxed pace in eating. This allows the digestive tract to perform optimally, extracting the nutrients from the food, and delivering a sense of satisfaction. With yoga, the tendency to overeat is greatly reduced.

The emphasis in yoga is on internal awareness, and engaging body, mind, and spirit to bring wellness to the individual. A successful yoga practice creates a sense of balance and lightness in the body and joyfulness in the mind. It’s process oriented, non-­-competitive, and presents limitless possibilities for growth in self-­-awareness.  So when faced with the question of whether to do yoga or exercise, you might consider a bit of both each day. If forced to choose, however, yoga will bring you further along the path toward wellness. So, find a good yoga teacher in your area to help you find a healthier, more balanced you!

This week’s contributor:

Lynda Barrow has over eleven years experience as a yoga teacher and has an RYT – 500 certification with Yoga Alliance.  To learn more and work with Lynda consider joining her Intermediate Yoga class Mondays 6 – 7:30 PM.

Ease into Fall – Creating Balance in Times of Transition

The Beatles give us a lesson in “Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be”. . . 

We are in a seasonal time of stillness, of fullness, of holding, and a time of quiet transformation.  The abundance, made apparent hanging on the vines and trees, the heat of the sun, and the heavy air all seem to be asking us to be still, to take this all in.   This time before the brisk change of Fall reminds us to Let it be.  Some of us are holding on to the past, wishing the exuberance and heat of summer wouldn’t leave so soon, and others are pushing forward into the the cool dryness of Autumn.  But now is the time of acceptance for what is – right here and now – Let it be.

This time of stillness may feel stagnant for some – frustrating, heavy, and difficult.  The natural flow of things has taken a pause and we are left to sit with all of our accumulated choices. – Let it be. Others may feel put at ease by this respite being offered, deficiencies filled by the lush damp air. But there is often an anxious sense here that it will not last forever. – Let it be.

“Whisper words of wisdom, Let it be.”

Transitional times can be hard, and often leave us open to outside influences – good and bad.  It is important to take steps to help balance the body, mind, and spirit and give a sense of ease to the transition in order to stay healthy throughout the coming seasons.

5 Steps to help balance during times of transition:

1.  Make movement a daily habit.  Movement helps keep the body, mind, and spirit flexible and oxygenates our blood to remove stagnation and patterns of holding.

2. Go to bed early & wake early. Let your body be in rhythm with the cycles of the earth, sun, and moon. This practice will energize and bring joy.

3. Nourish.  Eat regular meals according to your body type/constitution.  In general, opposites work to help balance.  For instance, if you are feeling heavy and lethargic, eat light, dry, warming/moving foods.  If you are feeling deficient, dry, and anxious, eat more unctuous, substantial, and naturally sweet foods.
(For more information on this consider joining our Yoga: A Path of Self Healing class, and Robert Messick’s Ayurvedic Fall Cleanse Workshop.)

4. Hydrate.  Drinking plenty of clean water helps the body flush built up toxins and restore the proper pH.  It gives structure and life to every cell in the body.  It keeps us fluid and able to adapt more easily.

5. Protect.  During transitional times (seasonally or in other cycles of life) the body is more susceptible to outside influences.  This affects the health of our bodies, the integrity of our immune systems, and the balance of our emotional state.  Protection can come in many forms.  It is a reflection of our boundaries in the world, and of our personal integrity.  Do not open yourself to extremes – If it is cold and windy, wear warm clothes and cover the back of the neck.  If it is hot and humid, do not exert so much energy – there is enough heat, no need to create more.  A calming Ayurvedic practice to help protect is to oil the bottoms of the feet, and inside the ears with sesame oil.

Listen to the wisdom of the body and be true to yourself, to your inner nature.

This week’s contributor:

Freya Farley NEWFreya Farley, M.Ac., L.Ac. is a practitioner of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine at Evergreen’s Wellness Center. Through these modalities Freya helps facilitate the body’s natural ability to heal itself and move back towards a state of balance and relaxation. Freya’s practice at Evergreen specializes in Women’s Health and Fertility treatments.  She encourages her clients to take an active role in their own health and well-being and offers support and lifestyle coaching that is unique to each persons specific needs.