Photo courtesy of Bruce Mars. Visit him at

This is a guest post by Monika Teixeira, owner of Stumptown Herbals, an alternative and holistic health service. Learn more by visiting Stumptown Herbals Facebook page.

Know your enemy. Unlike strep throat, the common colds you catch in winter are viral. It is why you cannot simply go to the doctor and get antibiotics to “treat” a cold. It just won’t work. As you can imagine, cells exploding with viruses is not so great for your health. Thankfully, your body has a well-tuned plan in the immune system to attack, destroy and clean up virus “machines.” It is helpful if the things you do help facilitate the immune system’s ability to 1.) Recognize and attack the right thing 2.) Destroy that thing 3.) Clean up that thing.
First you need a well-supported immune system. The irony of the Holidays is that though they are fun, they are also stressful. This long-term stress, called chronic stress, causes our immune system to become suppressed, decreasing our ability to fight off germs that we are exposed to. (Ref.) So, you need to be addressing that stress head on. Sometimes, it is unavoidable, but that does not mean that there is nothing you can do. Getting as much sleep as possible is your #1 biggest tool to support your immune system and decrease stress. Food is important too. Taking a moment and enjoying a simple cup of chamomile tea with a bit of raw honey and lemon would not only reduce your stress, it would improve your digestion, introduced bioflavonoids (powerful antioxidants that promote cellular health), increase wound healing speed (who hasn’t gotten at least one oven burn over the holidays?), give you a boost of B vitamins from the honey and much needed Vitamin C from the lemon.(ref) Speaking of Vitamin C, your immune system thrives in the presence of ample Vitamin C. It is also helpful in shortening the duration of a cold. More about that later. Turkey, blueberries, avocados, pomegranates, bananas, even oatmeal can also not only nourish your body, but actively reduce levels of stress in your body.
Helping your body recognize and destroy the viral targets begins by supporting a healthy immune response. Ginger is a super food that you need in your life! It has very powerful anti-inflammatory actions, is a digestive stimulant (making for easier digestion) and it is anti-viral. “Wait a minute” you might ask, “I’ve had plenty of gingerbread this winter and I still got a cold.” There is a reason for that. Dried ginger, such as what you would use in gingerbread, and FRESH ginger, meaning the actual root still full of juice, have very different actions. The drying process releases volatile oils that have specific anti-viral actions in ginger. So, when you use the dried herb, you are not getting the same thing as fresh ginger. You need to use fresh ginger root. You can easily find it in most grocery stores in the produce section. Wash it and thoroughly dry it before use. Begin by peeling away the outer dried skin. It will reveal a cream to yellow colored core underneath. The easiest way to prepare ginger is to simply grate it. For one person, about 1 inch of ginger, freshly grated works fine. Place the ginger in a tea ball, strainer, or directly in your mug if you are feeling bold. Add a dollop of fresh, raw honey, a squeeze of lemon and hot water. Let steep for 5-8 minutes then enjoy. You can eat the grated ginger directly and it is a WONDERFUL digestive stimulant as well as full of fiber. This simple tea is a powerful anti-viral and is safe enough to take daily to support a healthy immune response as well as to keep your digestion in top shape, another way to support your immune system. If you have an active cold, I encourage you to drink this tea at least 3-4 times a day while sick, or more if you like it. You will notice almost immediately after drinking the tea that you feel better. In order to keep this good feeling going strong, you need to periodically “reload” your immune system with the compounds found in fresh ginger, thus the need to drink more of it when sick.
Another important immune system supporter is Vitamin C. It not only supports a healthy “attack” on viral infections, it helps your body detox from the aftereffects of a cold or flu and to repair the damage that the viruses did to your cells. Things like lemons, red and green peppers, cantaloupe, kiwi, cranberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and pomegranates all contain both Vitamin C and beautiful, lovely bioflavonoids, other antioxidants, as well as complex molecules that your immune system thrives with. Unfortunately, oranges contain slightly inflammatory compounds in them, that can make a cold get worse. Ever have a stuffy nose and notice after drinking a glass of orange juice that it gets stuffier? Thankfully, lemons do not do this, and they are an ideal food to use in ample measure before, during and after a cold. Daily intake is a great idea!

The holidays are busy, and often getting enough Vitamin C is the last thing that you want to have to worry about. Thankfully, most Vitamin C supplements are absorbed just fine by your body. Did you know that when you are sick, your body uses considerably more Vitamin C than when you are healthy?(ref) So, supplementing extra Vitamin C when you think you may have been exposed to an illness and if you develop that illness is quite beneficial. Some studies have suggested that increased Vitamin C consumption leads to a shorter duration of illness. Since it is so important to immune health, it is no wonder why! Your body can handle larger doses of Vitamin C and puts it to good use.
You have by now heard me mention raw honey a few times, but I have not yet mentioned a BIG winner, Garlic. Garlic has demonstrated that it not only is great at preventing colds and flu infections from taking root, but it can help you fight one off faster, and helps the body detox after a cold or flu as well. Now, you could just peel and chew a clove of garlic and call it a day, and that works, but folks may not want to be lingering near you under the mistletoe if you do. A delicious way to prepare garlic for eating that uses raw honey is the following: 1. Peel 3-4 heads of garlic. 2. Place in a clean jar. 3. Cover with RAW honey. It is important that you use raw honey or this will not work. There should be about ¼-1/2 inch of extra honey on top. 4. Screw a jar lid loosely on the honey/garlic and put on the counter, away from sunlight. 5. Wait. 6. In about 4 weeks the garlic/ honey will be ready. You can eat the garlic and honey outright, (again, mistletoe time may not happen this way), smear it on a cracker with some jam or cheese, add it to stir fry, bruschetta, pizza, salad dressing, homemade stuffing, the sky is really the limit. Just make sure to have at least one clove a day. Here is a fun video of folks trying to make this for the first time! It shows what to do and demonstrates that you are not the only one who thinks that this could be a weird idea!
These are simple suggestions for enabling your body to use its immune powers to prevent or fight off a cold. There are plenty of other cool things you can do, such as eating elderberries, trying fire cider, or taking echinacea, but the things we have talked about here, use simple staples almost anyone can get their hands on. Here’s hoping these Holidays find you Merry and Bright!

One more thing…Did you know that chamomile tea is also an old-fashioned remedy for indigestion and upset stomach? Try it this holiday, brewed strong, if you stuff away a bit TOO much of granny’s pecan pie after the meal and begin to feel a bit ill. Chances are high it will calm your tummy down quickly.

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Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos

Imagine if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time which leads police to believe you did a serious crime you didn’t do. That is exactly what happens to Brody Trent in my novel, TWISTED FATE. Unfortunately, the victim cannot set the record straight because she is in a coma. The artsy community where he lives and works is shocked to find the easygoing artist charged with the brutal assault of a young woman. As each day goes by, Brody grows frustrated waiting for his day in court which is at least a year away.

By a fluke of Mother Nature, he escapes house arrest and goes after the person he thinks committed the crime. On the South Carolina coast near Charleston, he seeks the help of a pretty woman to clear his name. But doing so puts her at risk, something Brody doesn’t want, especially since he has fallen hard for her.
Like the title infers, there are many twists and turns along the way and many potential suspects. The Kindle edition of the book is available today and tomorrow (October 18-19) for FREE. Go to this link, to download. If you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. You can download to any e-reader app or Kindle Cloud. TWISTED FATE is now available as an Audiobook.
One more thing…You can sign up for Susan’s Blog by filling in your email address on the right side of this post. Happy reading!

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Food Choices for A Healthier You

If you think about it, everything you need for healthy eating can be found in the perimeter of the grocery store. In most cases, no need to go down the aisles.

Most nutritionists recommend a plant-based diet such as the Mediterranean. Since receiving my recent diagnosis of Stage One breast cancer, I have made a commitment to eat foods that are preventive for the return of the disease. Did you know 85% of cancer patients will experience a nutrition related health deficiency during their cancer treatment? I’ve learned it is more a lifestyle change than a diet which requires me to select the right foods to block the formation of cancer.

Here’s perhaps the biggest culprit and foe of cancer patients: Sugar. Based on the work of Nobel Prize-winning physician, Otto Warburg, we know that the average cancer cell needs up to eighteen times more sugar to grow and divide than normal cells. The average daily intake of fructose is 54.7 grams. That’s 14 teaspoons! Way more than the liver can metabolize. I have substituted sugar with Stevia; however, artificial sweeteners are not so great either. They make us crave sugar. I can’t stop thinking about ice cream after I consume it! Yikes! A better choice is a natural sugar like honey or maple syrup but only in a small amount.

Okay, so we know sugar is a bad guy. What is good for us especially in the formation of good cells versus bad cells? I won’t bore you with the scientific reasoning behind these choices. You’ll just have to rely on my research.

Here’s my A-list of good food options:
Garlic – at the top of the list in cancer prevention
Cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, kale
And don’t’ forget these guys: radishes, mushrooms, green beans, asparagus
Turmeric – the all-around best spice for your health
Walnuts or other tree nuts. Yummy and full of protein
Honorable mentions: green tea, berries, red grapes, olive oil, whole grains, fish (especially salmon), red kidney beans, pinto beans, banana, lemons, grapefruit, apples
Two you probably never heard of: (click on word for link)
Hemp protein powder: I use it in a green smoothie for lunch: 3 leaves romaine lettuce, ½ avocado, juice from 1/2 lemon, Stevia packet, ¼ cup hemp protein, water. Use blender to mix & chop
Ground flaxseed meal: I use it for a muffin in a mug for breakfast. Place in wide brim mug in this order: 1 Tbsp. olive oil, ¼ cup flaxseed meal, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 egg, 1 TBsp. maple syrup. Mix well, cook on high in microwave for 1 min. 20 seconds. Turn immediately onto plate

My typical meal plan looks like this:
Breakfast: Muffin in a mug, black coffee
Lunch: green smoothie, 5 almond crackers
Snack: ½ apple and ¼ cup walnuts
Dinner: Small portion of grilled or baked salmon, steamed broccoli, ¼ baked sweet potato with cinnamon
Nothing after dinner. It is best to fast for 10-13 hours

Research source: Chris Beat Cancer by Chris Wark, The Plant Paradox by Steven R. Gundry, MD, and Cancer

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What would possess a retired grandmother to take her first trip out of the country not to the Caribbean, or Paris, or London, but to Uganda. Why there? Out of the blue, my sister, Donna, called me to tell me her news. But to really get to the heart of the matter, I decided to conduct an interrogation, —huh, I mean, an interview. You might be surprised by Donna’s answers to my questions.

Why did you choose Uganda to visit?
I have felt for some time that everyone around me is traveling different places. Since I am single (a widow) my opportunities have been very limited. I also have suffered from Meniere’s Disease (a disease of the inner ear). I have lived in fear that an attack might happen as I get no warning when it does. Because of this, I have always stayed close to home. Recently, I seem to be in remission as it has been almost a year since my last attack. One Sunday, our pastor, Elizabeth Bumpas, announced in church that she was getting a group to go on a mission trip to Uganda. Elizabeth was a missionary there for 3 years. She said if you are looking for an adventure to think about going. Something told me right then that I should go. I mulled it over for several days, but once I decided to go, it was like a peace came over me. I firmly believe God is leading me to Uganda!
What is the mission of this trip?
Our church Saint James has been supporting a small theological college in the city of Gulu. It has about 40 students. The college prepares men and women for the ministry in the Anglican Church of Uganda. Many clergy and churches were lost during the 20-year civil war in N. Uganda. This is a critical time in Uganda to spread the gospel. Islam is systematically converting thousands of people in the region. We will visit the students and present each of them with a gift of a newly published African Study Bible. The main purpose is to encourage the ministerial students and pray with them. Also, to see how we can help meet their needs.
Going to a strange land with a different culture, language, economic status must give you some apprehension. What is your biggest concern about traveling there?
My biggest concern is the food difference from what I am accustomed to. Because of my Meniere’s Disease, I must watch sodium in my diet. I am not familiar with what they eat but I did hear it’s bland.
When do you leave, and how long will it take to arrive at your destination?
We are leaving on Oct. 17. I anticipate the travel being brutal. We fly out of Charleston to Washington, DC, then from Washington to Brussells and finally, to Entebbe, Uganda. The following day we will drive 4 hours to the city of Gulu.
I understand you are visiting a refugee camp while there. How did this camp come into existence? Who are the people there?
The people of Northern Uganda have suffered greatly over the last 50 years. In 1971 a brutal dictator, Idi Amin overthrew President Milton Obote and led a bloody terror in Uganda for 8 years. Amin was forced to flee Uganda in 1979 by the Tanzanian army and a group of Ugandan exiles. By this time, Amin had murdered tens of thousands and caused Uganda’s economy to collapse. The current President Yoweri K. Museveni came into power in 1986. There was opposition in the north. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was formed as a rebellion against Museveni’s rule. Warlord Joseph Kony took command of the rebel army in 1988. In order to strengthen his army, he abducted children and forced them to become child soldiers. Young girls were forced to become sex slaves. Villages were raided. Hundreds of thousands fled to camps in search of safety. In 2008, the North began to experience relative peace after the LRA migrated into the Congo, Sudan, and the Central African Republic with pressure from Ugandan government. The rebuilding began and the fragile church began to regroup and rebuild. The recovery has been slow but the Church continues in its efforts to help the people and bring hope to the war-torn lives of Uganda.
How are you preparing for this trip?
I have taken the necessary shots-Yellow fever and typhoid. I have malaria pills I take for 10 days. While there, the women must wear dresses or skirts. I had to buy a few items of clothing since I wear mostly shorts and jeans here.
Are you responsible for your own expenses?
The trip will cost approximately $2500 each. Each team member has reached out to family, friends and church members to help with contributions. To date, I have not reached my goal, but I know God will provide. This experience will be life changing. I want to share the love of God and my friendship with people less fortunate than myself.

If you would like to support Donna with a monetary gift or to the mission trip in general, click here to donate or send a check to Saint James Church, 1872 Camp Road, Charleston, SC 29412 and mark Donna Lewis Uganda Mission in the memo line. Donna says a big thank you!

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