In issues 1-3, we reviewed four core elements of the Positive psychology paradigm, Happiness, Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Self-care. In this issue, we will focus on the other two - Self-compassion and Life Purpose. Just like the rest, they are fundamentally important for your health, well-being, and quality of life.
Self-compassion, or positive self-talk, has been researched for over fifteen years by Dr. Kristin Neff and her colleagues at the University of Austin, Texas and other labs. It is a powerful tool for triggering the relaxation response of the body and putting it into rest, digest, and repair mode. Self-compassion practices are easy to learn and implement and take only a few minutes of your day.
Life Purpose, or having a strong sense of meaning, has also been extensively researched, primarily at George Mason University. Harvard Medical School acknowledged life purpose as one of the main predictors of physical health, emotional well-being, and longevity. Researchers have provided short, evidence-based exercises for developing, as well as for maintaining, a strong sense of purpose.
In addition, this issue reviews the benefits of Clove Bud oil, one of the most powerful anti-oxidants (400 times higher ORAC value than berries), as well as TENS/EMS units, popular medical devices for pain management and muscle relaxation.
1. Read the articles on Self-compassion and Life Purpose on the main page.
2. Open the Mind-Body Exercises module in the Members area and you will find a variety of Self-compassion and Life Purpose practices that you can try (scroll down). You can choose just one or two that fit your needs best.
3. Read the sections (pp. 29-35) on Self-compassion and Life Purpose in the Positive Psychology Harvard Medical School Special Health Report (emailed).
4. Read the article on Clove bud oil below.
5. Read the article on TENS/EMS units below.
Clove Bud Oil
Clove or Laung is a store house of health benefits. Apart from adding flavor and aroma to various dishes, people use its oil, leaves, stems and dried buds for various medicinal and health purposes. Clove oil is one of the richest sources of antioxidants. It is also used as a household antiseptic and pain reliever especially for toothaches and stomach pain. Those who have troubled sleep can apply some warm clove oil along with sesame oil on the forehead to feel calm and relaxed.
Clove oil is known for its antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Eugenol, the main constituent of clove oil exhibits broad antimicrobial activities against various bacteria and fungi. Cloves are well known also for their antiemetic (relieves nausea and vomiting) and carminative properties.
I've been using the organic Clove bud essential oil by Plant Therapy and really like it. I mix it with my facial creams for anti-aging effects. In addition, I apply it directly when my skin breaks out or mixed with coconut or olive oil when I get a fungal/yeast infection. I also use it with my aromatherapy diffuser. I researched Plant Therapy and they seem to be the best option in terms of quality-price ratio.
14 amazing benefits of clove
Good for your teeth. Clove oil has strong germicidal properties and fights dental pain, toothaches, sore gums and mouth ulcers very effectively. Just add four drops of clove oil in a glass of lukewarm water and gargle at least twice a day for effective results.
Antibacterial and antifungal – studies show that clove oil dispersed in a concentrated solution has a marked germicidal effect against various bacteria and Candida albicans (including Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Clostridium perfringens, and Escherichia coli).
Stronger immunity. Clove oil may be looked upon as a champion of all known antioxidants and it can work wonders in boosting your immunity. The ORAC score, of clove is over 10 million. A drop of it is 400 times more powerful as an anti-oxidant than wolf berries or blueberries. The antioxidant property present in the oil acts as a scavenger against the free radicals that can cause various diseases like cancer and heart ailments.
Fights infections. Blessed with a multitude of antiseptic properties, clove oil can be used to treat cuts, wounds, fungal infections, insect bites and even stings. However, direct application of clove oil may prove harmful. If the wound is too sore, it is advisable to dilute clove oil by adding almond or coconut oil. These carrier oils will prevent your sensitive skin from burns that can be caused by direct application of clove oil.
Fights sore throat, cough and cold. For its high anti-inflammatory properties, clove oil can come handy during times of sore throat, cough, cold and sinusitis. Consuming the excellent expectorant clove oil can clear the nasal passage and gives you respite from respiratory problems.
Eases headaches. Suffering from chronic headache? Mix four drops of clove oil with salt and apply it on your forehead for instant relief. The flavonoids in clove oil have anti-inflammatory agents that will help ease the inflammation and also have a cooling effect. Clove oil can be used to reduce as an excellent pain reliever for muscle pain and joints.
Good for your skin. Clove oil is often found in soaps, lotions and even in perfumes. Its antibacterial properties make it effective in curing acne, reducing swelling and killing infectious bacteria at the same time. Just mix 2 to 3 drops of pure clove oil with your skin cream and apply gently. Clove oil can help fight signs of anti-ageing too, just dab few drops on clove oil on to a piece of cotton and apply it on to your face at least twice a day. You would see a marked change as far as wrinkles, and sagging skin is concerned. Clove oil’s stimulating properties exfoliates dead skin, and increases blood flow which helps revive the youthfulness of your skin.
For great hair. Applying clove oil on your scalp boosts blood circulation which reduces hair fall and also promotes hair growth. It also lends the much needed shine to dry and dull hair. A small amount of clove oil mixed with olive oil can also work as a great conditioner. For best results, apply the mix on damp hair, and wrap a warm towel around it. Let it stay for twenty minutes and rinse with cold water.
Ear-aches. Clove oil is an effective remedy for nasty ear-aches. Take a warm mixture of 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and 3-4 drops of pure clove oil and slowly apply this mixture inside your ears. Leave it for sometime. The mixture will ease the pain and you will feel relaxed.
Stress and anxiety. Due to its stimulating properties, clove oil helps to reduce fatigue, mental exhaustion, anxiety and stress.
Detox. Clove oil can act as a blood purifier and also boost blood circulation. It helps eliminate toxins from the blood. Aroma extracts can reduce toxin levels in your blood and rouse the antioxidant levels in the body.
Good for diabetics. Helps in maintaining good insulin levels.
Insect repellent. Apply a few drops of clove oil around the room and the sleeping area to keep the mosquitoes away.
Gastric issues. The eugenol in clove oil works well for treating gastric problems like indigestion and flatulence. It can also come in handy for treating hiccups and motion sickness.
This is an amazing research-based article written by doctors. It covers all you need to know in a short format. I reviewed the scientific literature and the claims are backed.
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation. Although similar,
the two technologies utilize different electrical frequencies with TENS
being used for pain management and EMS for muscle relaxation/
stimulation. Most units nowadays combine the two.
A TENS/EMS unit is a portable battery-operated device that that can be used conveniently on the go, especially while driving/flying, in the office, and even while walking around. It is great for people suffering from chronic pain (sciatica, arthritis, tendinitis, joint pain, headaches/migraines, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, herniated disc) or those who get stiff on a regular basis due to the nature of their work (desk jobs, driving, nursing patients, job-related stress).
TENS/EMS units work by delivering small electrical impulses through electrodes that have adhesive pads to attach them to the skin. These electrical impulses flood the nervous system, reducing its ability to transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. The same electrical impulses also stimulate the body to produce natural pain relievers called endorphins. In addition, the impulses contract the muscles to break down muscle knots, alleviate cramps and muscle spasms, and relieve muscle tension cause by stress or sitting/standing too long.
A TENS/EMS unit has controls that allow people to administer an appropriate level of pain/muscle relief. People can achieve this by altering the intensity, frequency, and duration of the electrical current or by selecting among pre-set modes (quality models have between 12 and 24 modes).
TENS/EMS units have been used since the early 70s and are usually prescribes after surgery (for recovery) and car accidents (for pain management). Chiropractors and physical therapists use them extensively and osteopaths recommend them as a natural alternative to painkillers.
A 1997 study of EMS specifically for treating muscle knots found positive results. Several studies found TENS to significantly reduce acute chronic pain. However, research findings are mixed due to the multiple frequencies and modes of use, with several studies revealing no significant effects. Anecdotally, many healthcare professionals have reported that it seems to help some people, although how well it works depends on the individual and the condition being treated. It seems that the technology works well for most but not for everyone, depending on individual differences such as tolerance for electricity, body type, and duration/intensity of use. The positioning of electrodes is another important determinant of effects.
You can find a detailed explanation of the benefits and a systematic review of the existing research here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4186747/
I've been using several models for more than 15 years and the technology works really well for me. I always keep my unit in my pocket or backpack and put it on during long drives/flights which is quite often. As someone who works out with heavy weights, I've had multiple injuries such as pulled muscles, pinched nerves, disjointed discs, soreness and muscle pain. My experience is that the TENS/EMS unit reduces pain and improves recovery. In addition, it relaxes my muscles during stressful periods when my neck and shoulders get extremely stiff. Finally, it helps me relax my feet before bedtime and get rid of the restless legs twitching that frequently wakes me up.
I first started my business selling only TENS/EMS units. With thousands of units sold, I've had many customers reaching back to thank me because the technology helped them get rid of severe chronic pain, most commonly sciatica and knee issues.
BENEFITS AND EASE OF USE
TENS/EMS is a noninvasive method for relieving pain and muscle tension. People who experience pain relief from TENS may be able to reduce their intake of pain medications, some of which can be addictive or cause adverse side effects.
TENS/EMS units are also convenient because they are small, portable, and relatively discrete. People can carry a TENS unit in their pocket or clip it onto a belt to ensure that they have immediate access to pain relief throughout the day.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
TENS units have been extensively researched and are generally safe. However, some people may dislike the sensation and find it uncomfortable. Those with very sensitive skin or allergy to the adhesive pads may experience redness.
One medical report states: "Although there is a tiny risk of mild shock from faulty devices, consumer TENS/EMS units are just too weak to be dangerous."
AVOID TENS/EMS IF: You are pregnant, have cancer, have a pacemaker, have epilepsy or a heart condition.
POSITIONING OF PADS
Make sure the machine is switched off before you attach the pads to your skin. Position the pads either side of the painful area, at least 2.5cm (1 inch) apart.
Never place the pads over:
the front or sides of your neck
your chest and upper back at the same time
irritated, infected or broken skin
TENS may be more effective if people place the electrodes on
acupuncture points (see pic on the right).
Acupuncture is a practice that uses needles to stimulate the nerves beneath the skin at specific locations known as acupuncture points. Experts believe that this assists the body in producing endorphins.
One study found some evidence that people who receive TENS through acupuncture points may experience a reduction in pain.
DURATION OF EFFECTS
The duration of pain relief after using a TENS/EMS unit can vary. Some people report that their pain returns as soon as they switch off the device. Others continue to experience an adequate level of pain relief for up to 24 hours.
A 2012 review suggests that the duration of pain relief increases after repeated TENS treatments. However, this repetition can also increase the likelihood of a person building up a tolerance to the treatment.
CHOICE OF BRAND
You can purchase a low-cost TENS/EMS unit ($40-50) from CVS or Amazon but the quality varies dramatically. The battery makes a huge difference with 9-volt batteries being too weak to deliver the desired effect. Additionally, they have to be replaced frequently. Lithium battery units are the best. Consider the quality of the lithium battery as well. The charge should be 20+ hours and the life expectancy 5+ years.
After extensive research of the brands on the market, I chose to work with Hidow International, an American company based in Saint Louis that provides excellent quality and customer service. The difference between their units and most other brands is like the one between a dial phone and a smart phone.
Generally, cheap TENS/EMS units (under $100) either break a lot or do not provide
the required quality of electrical current to achieve the desired effects. Many of them
are not FDA cleared and do not provide the proper electrical frequency that has been
tested to produce positive effects. Basically, you get what you pay for.
Hidow International has been on the market close to 20 years and sponsor the LA Kings
hockey team. Their units are FDA cleared class 2 medical devices covered by HSA/FSA.
I can still get their products at a reduced price and offer the AcuXPD-S model (to me the best
bang for your buck) to clients for $150 instead of $400, including a lifetime warranty.
You can compare with Amazon here.