These are da (bath) bomb …

bath bomb 2

If, at any time in the future, someone questions my hippy/naturopath credentials I am going to refer them to this blog post.

There are a few people in my family who are partial to a long hot soak in the bath and we usually like to throw in a bath bomb. I was having a look at the list of ingredients on some at the shops this morning and I realised that I really didn’t want to spend an hour of my life soaking in that stuff….Anything called PEG-150, titanium dioxide, benzyl benzoate and weird colours and fragrances that are identified only by scary secret numbers are not my friend.

So I came home, did some research and made my own !

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With a few simple ingredients from the pantry I made a dozen of these sweet smelling beauties. Just a few dollars worth of ingredients, a quick trip to the garden and five minutes of my time and I now have twelve baths to look forward to and the knowledge that there is no cocktail of nasties involved.

How to …

Mix together 1/2 cup citric acid, 1 cup bicarbonate of soda and 1 cup epsom salts

Stir well and make sure there are no lumps.

Stir in 2 – 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and mix well again. Stir in 10-20 drops of essential oil if desired. The mix should be crumbly but hold together when you squash some in your hands. You can add a little extra water or coconut oil to get the right consistency.

You can mix in any colours, herbs, flowers etc that you’d like to use now or you can just sprinkle them into the moulds before filling with bath bomb mixture.

Lightly oil a muffin tray, or any mould you want to use, with a little coconut oil and spoon the mix in pressing down firmly.

Leave to dry for at least 8 hours then gently unmould and store in airtight container. Best used within a few weeks.

Now go find a book, light a candle and have a good soak on me.

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The lowdown on cortisol …

stressless

Most of us know that there is a link between stress and cortisol levels but there’s a lot more to this little steroid hormone than you may think.

Cortisol is produced in two ways – in response to stress and as part of our natural sleep and wake cycle. It peaks at about 8am to help us rise and shine and get active for the day.The levels drop throughout the day with the low point happening at around 4am before it ramps up again for our daily wake up call.

Cortisol plays a big role in our stress response. Cortisol helps us deal with stress by shutting down some  functions to allow the body to direct all its energy to dealing with the stress. This cortisol reaction is supposed to be short term and just long enough to deal with the source of stress. Unfortunately our lives can be anything but stress free and when stress is chronic this becomes a problem.

How does cortisol affect us ?

  • It stimulates glucose production and slows insulin meaning you end up with lots of sugar in your blood. Thats great if you actually have something you’re trying to run away from but not so good when you’re just sitting around feeling stressed about how to pay your bills.
  • Cortisol hinders the immune system when levels are high making your body more susceptible to infections and bacteria. Have you noticed how you always get sick when your stressed ?
  • It also slows bone formation and decreases calcium absorption so when its too high there’s no bone growth and no muscle growth.
  • It causes high blood pressure and decreased blood flow to organs
  • Too much or too little cortisol messes up thyroid hormones
  • Leads to increased stomach acid and reflux
  • Makes us less fertile and more likely to miscarry
  • Changes our metabolism and makes us hungry and less able to realise when we are satisfied

Our body has a system that is meant to regulate cortisol levels by shutting down production when things get too high. Unfortunately when we are stressed all the time the system gets mucked up and can’t regulate properly  – kind of like insulin resistance when we flood our bodies daily with sugar. The result is that our cortisol levels become unhealthy and high or  low at the wrong time of day leaving us feeling out of kilter.

Ways to lower cortisol

  • Regular exercise – not marathon running – try yoga, pilates, walking, stretching
  • Meditation, relaxation, breathing exercises
  • Get enough sleep
  • Listen to music you love
  • Drink black tea – about 3 cups per day
  • Get a massage
  • Learn some stress management techniques
  • Avoid all alcohol
  • Eat nutrient dense food – especially those high in magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins.
  • See a naturopath for help doing all of the above ! There are some great herbal medicines and supplements that can support you back to healthy cortisol levels.