Monday, September 9, 2013

Natural Remedy of the Week: the Relaxation Response

I've been working on a side project that is different but writing mysteries but also focuses on natural remedies. It's a new site (not up yet) called Natural Remedies for Chronic Pain and I hope to help those of you who have problems with pain and want alternative solutions. One of the most effective ways to ease pain and change your relationship to it is by practicing what is known as the Relaxation Response so that's what I'm writing about today.  

The relaxation response was pioneered by Herbert Benson, MD at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. This practice enhances the body’s own morphine like substances, like a runner’s high. It’s especially helpful for any type of pain where stress is a factor, like tension headaches or arthritis, for example. Research has proven it's many advantages for stress, anxiety and overall health and well-being. 

You can elicit the relaxation response in many different ways, including progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, repetitive prayer, visualization and guided imagery. In progressive muscle relaxation, you think of each body part, flex and then relax it. Just start with your face and move downward through your whole body, from your shoulders to your toes. Do it once or twice a day for 10-20 minutes on a regular basis for best results. 

My favorite way to elicit the relaxation response, the body's own healing state, is with Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic sleep. It's easier than other yoga practices, since all you need to do, is sit or lie down and listen for 15-45 minutes, several times each week. Believe me, there is no way to do it wrong!

You can either take a class or listen to a CD in the comfort of your own home like I do. My favorite Yoga Nidra teacher, and I've checked out many CD's, is Jennifer Reis of the Kriplau Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. She's done three so far: Deep Relaxation, Guided Relaxation, and her latest which you can do in segments or as one continuous session is Divine Sleep, Yoga Nidra. I hope you explore the Relaxation Response and try Yoga Nidra. You'll find it is refreshing and rejuvenating! 

You can find out more about Jennifer and Yoga Nidra by visiting her site: You can also buy her CD's there and on Amazon. For more information about the Relaxation Response visit the Benson Institute Mind-Body website at: See you next Monday! Chrystle 

In the meantime, here’s the scoop on my latest cozy Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery

“Scent to Kill is a well-crafted mystery…Devotees of natural medicine and aromatherapy will enjoy the tips that appear at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the text.” Publisher’s Weekly   

Willow McQuade, naturopathic doctor, along with her hunky ex-cop boyfriend Jackson Spade, attend a party for a psychic TV show that is filming on Long Island’s idyllic East End. However, Willow is much more interested in visiting the estate’s lavender farm, seeking inspiration for the new aromatherapy workshops she'll be holding at her store, Nature’s Way Market & Café.   

Before the party is over, Roger Bixby one of the producers is dead and the police suspect murder. Roger was working on the show, MJ’s Mind, with Carly Bixby, his ex-wife and the new girlfriend of Willow's ex from L.A., TV writer/producer Simon Lewis.   

After Willow leaves the party, she gets a frantic text from Simon asking for her help. Since Simon had a fight with Roger earlier in the evening, and because of his death is now the primary shareholder in Galaxy films, Willow's ex becomes the prime suspect. Simon begs her to crack the case and clear him of the murder. MJ McClellan, the psychic and star of the show also asks Willow for help. She hires Willow to provide natural remedies, including aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga to soothe the agitated crew of her show. 

To find the killer, Willow has to deal with ghosts in a haunted mansion, a truly dysfunctional family, death threats and “accidents,” while trying to untangle a homicide identical to one committed during prohibition. Thankfully, Jackson has been hired to provide security and is there to watch her back and help Willow solve this spooky mystery.

As a bonus, you’ll find dozens of natural aromatherapy cures throughout the book that can improve your health. I think you’ll be surprised as how much they can help you feel better in mind, body and spirit!

I'm the author of SCENT TO KILL, (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster) the second in the NATURAL REMEDIES MYSTERY series, DEATH DROPS: A Natural Remedies Mystery, the non-fiction title THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO NATURAL REMEDIES (Alpha, 2009), co-author of BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW! (Fairwinds Press, 2010), currently in its fourth printing, the BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW!COOKBOOK (Fairwinds Press, 2012) and THE COUNTRY ALMANAC OF HOME REMEDIES (Fairwinds, 2011). My magazine articles featuring natural remedies have appeared in many national publications including Natural Health, Vegetarian Times, Better Homes & Gardens and Remedy. Visit 


Betty Hechtman said...

I know what you mean about stress and pain. Last week in the process of hauling my suitcases up three flights of stairs I twisted something. I freaked out with worry. What was I going to do? I was away from home and alone. I had a conference to go to in a few days that involved lots of running around.

The first thing I did was to talk myself down. Then I reminded myself that most things heal on their own and put in a prayer that this would. By the next day, I recognized that the pain was not my back and was just on one side. I kept giving myself positive messages. I won't go into all the details, but by the time I went to the conference,the pain was almost gone and by the time I returned,forgotten. No pills,no treatments. Yay, relaxation!

Tracy Weber said...

Herbert Benson is one of my heroes. And his protégé, Joan Borysenko, is my all time meditation hero. I teach about this in my yoga teacher training. Meditation rocks!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Love the idea of getting rid of pain just by relaxing that way. It sounds almost like a form of self-hypnosis.