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How Do You Use a Neti Pot?

If you suffer from chronic sinus problems, nasal congestion or postnasal drip, you may want to consider using a Neti pot. Originally from the Ayurvedic tradition, a Neti pot resembles a genie’s lamp and uses a saltwater solution to irrigate nasal passages and sinuses, making nasal mucus thinner and flushing out irritants. It’s fairly easy to use, but may take practice before it feels comfortable and is done correctly:

  1. Dissolve one-quarter teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water, and pour the solution into the pot.
  2. Over a sink, tilt your head about 45 degrees to the side, and place the spout into your higher nostril.
  3. Gently pour the saltwater solution into that nostril, letting the solution flow through to the lower nasal cavity. (If the solution runs into your throat, just spit it out.)
  4. Once the solution is gone, blow your nose to get rid of any remaining solution, and then repeat the process with the other nostril.

Be sure to clean and dry the Neti pot between uses. If you don’t want to buy a Neti pot, you can try a similar technique by pouring the solution into a cupped hand, pressing a finger from the opposite hand over one nostril, closing it and inhaling the liquid through the open nostril. You can inhale directly from a small cup or glass in the same way, or you can use a clean rubber bulb to gently squirt the solution into your nostrils.

More remedies for sinus problems.


My Favorite Christmas

Today, I’m moved to reflect on one of my favorite Christmas days. It was three years ago, at my second home on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada. Even in this remote location, my then 15-year-old daughter Diana and I were engaged in the usual bustle of phone calls, emails, music, cooking…when suddenly, the power failed.

It became extraordinarily quiet. The house also began to get colder as the central heating system shut down, so we found ourselves huddling ever closer to the fireplace. We cooked on our gas stove, so no one went hungry, but the lack of electricity for kitchen appliances made the fare somewhat simpler than planned.

Friends began dropping by, and they all seemed merrier than is usual, even for Christmas day, enchanted by the novelty of this hushed, primitive, stripped-down holiday experience. I recall the conversations that day as particularly warm and intimate, and remember how we all sighed rather sadly as the power came back on, and the various electronic paraphernalia throughout the house buzzed and beeped back to life.

It’s nothing new, of course, to decry the creeping busy-ness of the holiday season, but this experience taught me to take a slightly different approach. Rather than “fighting” the frenetic, hyper-commercial aspects of the season, Diana and I simply emphasize simple acts such as reading aloud to each other as holiday traditions. There is no better way to create the kind of Christmas - and the kind of life - that you want for yourself and your family than to create positive traditions that emphasize the values that you hold dear. If enough people do that, the excesses of Christmas that plague the planet will simply melt away like snow in springtime.


What Are Your Holiday Traditions? (Poll)

Here is a recent Q&A on my Healthy Holiday Traditions. What are your family holiday traditions? Please, share them below.


Potato Pancakes

I have made these at the house of a friend who gives a party featuring potato pancakes every year. He loves making them and gets really creative, tossing in hot sauce or different herbs. You can be as creative as you like with yours. Mine are a simple version, and I like to serve them with fresh applesauce.

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Doing Good: Donating Blood

According to the Red Cross, blood is traditionally in short supply during winter months. Holidays, poor weather conditions, vacation travel and illness often prevent people from donating blood during this season. A shortage of blood can mean - literally - lives lost, as thousands of units of blood are needed every day of the year in hospitals nationwide.  If you are interested in donating blood, visit for more information on donor requirements. Or, learn how set up a blood drive in your neighborhood or workplace. Help celebrate life, and consider giving blood.


4 Reasons to Eat Brussels Sprouts

While they may not have been your favorite as a child - especially if cooked to a mushy consistency - Brussels sprouts are worth another try. A natural source of dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene and several key antioxidants, Brussels sprouts:

  1. Support optimal functioning of the heart and immune system
  2. Reduce the risk of colon cancer and other cancers
  3. Promote healthy elimination
  4. Protect against birth defects

For the best taste (and most nutritional value) eat Brussels sprouts that are as fresh as possible. And to avoid the mush, try slicing them in half, brushing or tossing with some extra virgin olive oil and roasting at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, until just browned. Shake the pan once or twice during cooking for even browning.

Why not make some Roasted Root Vegetables as well?


Omega-3s May Prevent and Treat Gum Disease

This news comes from Harvard, where researchers found that people whose diets contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (like fish oil) are less likely to develop gum disease that can lead to tooth and bone loss. Gum disease is usually treated with cleaning and antibiotics, but the Harvard investigators suggested that including omega-3s in the diet might work as well. This strategy may also be less expensive and safer than traditional dental work. The researchers looked at data from more than 9,000 adults who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. Omega-3 intakes were estimated from 24-hour food recall interviews; the survey also collected data on the use of supplements, as well as ethnic, educational and socioeconomic information, all of which was factored into the analysis. Results showed that the prevalence of gum disease among the study participants overall was 8.2 percent and that those who consumed the highest amount of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, a component of omega-3s) had a 20 percent reduced prevalence of gum disease. Significantly reduced odds of gum disease were seen even when omega-3 intake was modest, the researchers reported.

More on Dental & Oral Health.


Breast Cancer - Foods to Eat

Diet and nutrition can play a significant role in the chances of developing breast cancer, especially if you have a family history of the disease. The following foods may help to prevent or lessen the risks - I encourage all women to give them a try:

  1. Use healthy fats: Monounsaturates such as a high quality, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground flaxseed and oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon and sardines (which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids) may help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
  2. Include whole soy products in your diet. Soy foods contain many cancer-protective substances, including isoflavones. Try to eat one to two servings of whole soy-based foods a day.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables! Especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower, which contain many different cancer-protective phytonutrients.