Category Archives: Health & Wellness


DIY Cleaning: Using Essential Oils

By Susan Hilton RN, MSN and Certified Aromatherapist

Nearly everyone has heard about the virtues of common items such as baking soda and vinegar for scouring and absorbing grease. Adding essential oils enhances a formula’s cleaning value and leaves behind a soothing, natural scent. It’s not just an advertising gimmick that many commercial products contain citrus oils such as lemon or lime—they are natural degreasers and have antimicrobial properties. Using natural products instead of chemical-laden commercial ones makes household tasks almost a pleasure to tackle. I know it’s hard to get excited about cleaning a bathroom, but when you realize that the surfaces are germ-and toxin-free, and the soothing aroma of cedar or lavender lingers, you won’t be able to suppress a smile of satisfaction. And that enthusiasm is contagious—even the kids will want to pitch in!

cleanersMaking your own natural cleaning recipes is not time-consuming or expensive. In fact, quite the opposite is true. It only takes a minute or two to fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water and add a few drops of essential oil. Bingo—instant glass and appliance cleaner! Having done that, there’s one less aisle to visit in the supermarket. Most commercial cleaners are quite expensive. You will save a lot making your own cleaners, plus it’s better for you and the environment. Other all-natural ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, water, and liquid soap are also inexpensive.

Let’s look at some easy recipes that you can make yourself to clean your home.

2 c. white vinegar
2 c. water
1 teaspoon natural dish soap (NOT castile soap)
30 drops lemon essential oil
20 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix all ingredients in a quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine. Spray and wipe on counters, cabinets, sinks, toilets, and anywhere else.

3 c. distilled water
1/4 c. rubbing alcohol or vodka
1/4 c. vinegar
20 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine, and then spray on mirrors, windows, or stainless steel. Wipe off with paper towels or old newspaper for streak-free shine.

1 c. baking soda
1/4 c. unscented liquid soap
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops lime essential oil
10 drops orange essential oil
Mix ingredients together to form a paste (add more liquid soap if needed). Apply with rag or sponge, and then rinse with clean water. I especially like to use this on my stovetop and on grimy sinks.

1/2 c. baking soda
1/3 c. liquid dishwashing soap
1/4 c. hydrogen peroxide
30 drops eucalyptus essential oil
3/4 c. water
Mix together in a squeeze-type bottle, and then squirt into toilet. Scrub and let stand 20 minutes.


½ c. baking soda

½ c. 3% hydrogen peroxide
10 drops tea tree essential oil
Combine all ingredients to make a paste. Use a cloth or sponge to scrub the tile and grout. Rinse thoroughly. You might leave it on the grout for 5 – 10 minutes if it needs extra attention.

It is easy and less expensive to make your own cleaning supplies. You’ll also have more room under your cabinets. I like what Sharon had to say about this, “I started making my own cleaning products recently. I love the money I save, and I love that I’m helping the planet by reusing containers instead of buying new ones. But most of all I love that I know what is in the cleaners and that I’m saving money on such an easy and fun task.”

You can find your essential oils for these products at The Nature Cottage at 21 S. Main Street in Lexington. Contact us if you have questions or need other supplies. 336-843-4297.


Clean Up Your Eating

By Regan Abele

The food you put in your body is fuel. The nutrients inside each thing we eat are on a mission to give our body something it needs. As we work on making sure our body is getting what it needs on a daily basis to keep us living, you might come across many different diet plans. Maybe you have even tried one or two plans yourself.

??There is a never-ending flow of fad diets and healthy eating tips swirling around our world today. High fat or low fat, carbs or no carbs, lots of protein or a little protein. How are you supposed to know what will work for you?

Clean eating is a term you may hear floating around with all these other ideas. When working with my clients, I find that clean eating can be the easiest place to start when making diet changes.

Clean eating is more of a guideline to help you make healthy food choices versus an elimination style program such as no carbs or low calories. With clean eating, the mission is to eat foods that have gone through the smallest amount of processing from their natural state to your plate.

Fruits like apples and oranges are easy to see as not processed and are, therefore, “clean.” Not all processing is equal or simple. Healthy foods like yogurt, frozen vegetables, tomato sauce, granola, and even veggie burgers have been processed at some level. Do not let this make you concerned that you won’t be able to tell good from bad. You can do this!

Commonly given advice is to look for words in the ingredients label that you cannot pronounce. When shopping for food, travel only along the outside aisles of a grocery store which is typically where foods are the freshest.

hen you are shopping for groceries, there are lots of other things to be on the lookout for. Phrases including words such as “less sodium,” “low-fat,” or even “vitamin enriched” should serve as warning flags. Often, food must be processed to make it contain less sodium or lower fat than it has in its natural state. Choose a whole grain product over a multigrain. Watch out for added sugars as they can appear in unexpected places.

Many people turn to clean eating for help losing weight. Clean eating can have a positive effect on your body in many ways. Clean eating often leads to more energy and even better mental health. A healthy diet of clean eating will help your cardiovascular health and has been tied to cancer prevention.

It makes sense that the eating of more natural foods, fruits and vegetables and limiting processed foods full of added sugar and salt is going to make you feel better. Who couldn’t use more energy, feeling better and lowering your risk of certain illnesses?

The important thing is finding a balanced diet that makes you feel the best. If you are eating minimally processed foods (natural whenever possible) with a balance of protein, fats, and carbs, you will be off to a great start to healthy eating!

Regan is a health and fitness enthusiast.  She is also an Herbalife Wellness Coach and the owner of BAM Nutrition in Lexington.


When is Sore Serious

By Stacy Vanzant

There are a lot of variables on how your body can respond when you push yourself to new fitness limits. Many of you may have experienced discomfort and soreness due to your new 2018 resolutions or fitness goals. Some of these reactions from your body can make you believe that you’ve suffered an injury by pushing yourself to new areas in the gym, but how do you know if your body is actually injured, or just extremely sore?

As fitness professionals, we are always looking for new ways to get our clients or group classes to enjoy new exercises. Sometimes, though, that new exercise can create sore muscles because you’re not used to working a specific muscle or working the muscle for longer periods of time than what you’re accustomed to. Often times, it can create doubt and make you question if the pain or discomfort you’re experiencing is just a sore or tender muscle or an actual injury.

fitnessI recently had a personal training client experience extreme soreness. We had been working together on both strength training and cardio for about seven months. We had incorporated a few new exercises on a different piece of exercise equipment. Her leg soreness was so severe that even lying on her stomach at night was painful. When she returned to work the day after we had our training session several of her co-workers asked if she would go to her next personal training session, or if she was going to quit. Her response was perfect, “I’m just sore! I’m not going to quit! How can I get stronger if I’m not pushing myself?” Not only was I proud of her response, but she was determined to push through the soreness, although it was extremely uncomfortable.

When you exercise a muscle you are creating small (safe) tears in the muscle fiber called Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS). The tenderness and soreness you feel can set in anywhere from 24-72 hours. DOMS can make you feel tight and achy and the area can be tender to touch. Movement can be uncomfortable, but continuing to move and gently stretch your muscles will help reduce soreness.

Discomfort from muscle soreness can increase in intensity by sitting still. The rule of thumb is “the more you move, the more you improve!” Being still because of the discomfort will only make it worse, causing the soreness to last longer. Although it might be uncomfortable for a short period of time, exercising again with some light cardio or easy exercises working the area of discomfort will actually help you feel better faster. If your legs are sore, try a good 30 minute walk to loosen the muscles and reduce the lactic acid build up.

waterbottlesIncreasing your water intake will also improve sore muscles. Giving your muscles plenty of fluids will help them heal faster, hydrate muscle mass, and remove impurities/lactic acid from the body.

On the contrary, if you’ve suffered an injury you will likely feel pain and discomfort immediately or up to 24 hours after the injury occurs. It typically does not improve with time and is painful when using the muscle or area of the body that has been injured. Ice and heat can be common ways to help lessen the pain and discomfort, but with severe injuries you should always see a medical professional if you don’t see improvement within 7-10 days.

Soreness is part of growing in fitness and improving your health. Although it can sometimes be unpleasant, just remember that soreness is a way of your body telling you good job and keep going!


“It helps us pick up small cancers” Do I need a 3-D mammogram? What you need to know.

by Arnold Koriakin, DO

3-D mammograms have been shown to detect more cancer cases than the standard mammogram, according to a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association*.

3D-mammogram-screeningsThis fall, Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center began offering 3-D mammography to patients in the surrounding communities. With the addition of these facilities, Novant Health now has 12 locations offering this new technology

Dr. Arnold Koriakin, a radiologist with Triad Radiology and medical director of mammography services at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center, provided insight about how 3-D mammography works.

What’s different?

The 3-D mammography technology allows a woman’s breast to be imaged from multiple angles. The angled images provide 1-millimeter-thin snapshots of the breast tissue that, collectively, provide radiologists a more detailed, three-dimensional view than standard two-dimensional mammograms.

Koriakin said the new technology allows providers to have better visibility and more accurately detect cases of breast cancer.

“In the past, a standard image would be two images of each breast,” Koriakin said. “With the 3-D mammogram, the procedure is the same, but the camera rotates and takes multiple photos so we get a seamless view of the breast.”

3d-digital-mammographyKoriakin said this technology allows radiologists to look through the breast and uncover little masses or areas of distortion.

“It helps us pick up small cancers that we otherwise would have missed,” he said. “It also reduces call backs and anxiety for patients.”

What to expect.

Most women wouldn’t notice much difference between a 3-D mammogram and a standard digital mammogram. “The examination itself is almost identical for patients,” Koriakin said. “It just takes about four seconds longer per view.”

During a 3-D mammogram, an X-ray tube moves in an arc over the patient and takes multiple low-dose images that are regenerated by a computer. After 3-D imaging is complete, the machine will move back to the center and take the regular two-dimensional, or standard, mammogram pictures.

Why you might need one.

Women who would most greatly benefit from tomosynthesis or 3-D mammography are those with dense breasts and those who have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Contrary to popular belief, what constitutes “dense breasts” has nothing to do with breast size. Breast tissue is made of both fatty tissue and glandular tissue, the latter of which causes the density.

“When you have dense breast tissue, it can be difficult to see little masses or things hiding within the dense tissue,” Koriakin said. “3-D mammography allows us to look through the entire breast and detect more cases of cancer.”

Visit to schedule your mammogram appointment. Same-day and walk-in appointments are available. If you think 3-D mammography is appropriate for you, simply request it when you call. Depending on your insurance plan, additional fees may apply.


*Friedewald SM, Rafferty EA, Rose SL, Durand MA, Plecha DM, Greenberg JS, Hayes MK, Copit DS, Carlson KL, Cink TM, Barke LD, Greer LN, Miller DP, Conant EF. Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis in Combination With Digital Mammography. JAMA. 2014;311(24):2499–2507. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.6095