Wellness Blog

HWNC strives to maintain information flow to those interested in improving health, needing special dietary information, and more. This page is dedicated to serving that need. Short articles on specific topics, emerging research results, recipes, wellness and stress management tips, and more will be found at this location.

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Essential Oil Basics

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Essential Oil Basics… What are essential oils?

An essential oil is an aromatic, volatile substance found within a plant. It is the most concentrated form of plant constituents. The oil is extracted from a particular part of the plant, like the flower, leaf, resin, bark, root, branch, seed or fruit. Within these oils, hundreds of organic constituents promote beneficial responses when applied or inhaled.

Essential oils come from all around the world. Plants are native to regions and require specific soil, climate, and season to produce the plant constituents in correct proportions. Some essential oil companies prefer “seed to finished product.” This requires growing and harvesting in numerous locations globally. Other companies form partnerships with growers in various regions and enlist step-by-step testing to ensure the final product is pure and meets specifications for the oil. Finally, companies may also enlist a combination of the two methods by owning some growing sites and partnering to others.

How do you use essential oils?

#1 Inhalation. Simply open the bottle or dispense a few drops and inhale. With each inhalation of an aroma, thousands of olfactory nerves in the nostrils send messages to the brain.

#2 Diffusion. Diffusion doesn’t deliver as concentrated an aroma as inhalation, but it does extend the aroma for longer periods of time. Diffusion includes the use of vaporizers, diffusers, candle lamps, air fresheners, room sprays and mists, and more. Many of these applications combine essential oils with water and may include one or more essential oils.

#3 Topical. Essential oils are readily absorbed through the skin, where they mingle with the skin’s natural emollients. There are many topical applications for essential oils, including massage oils, face creams, body moisturizers and lotions, foot scrubs, body mists, and more. Some essential oils may be applied “neat” or directly to skin. However, others are so concentrated they must be diluted with carrier oils, water, or other carriers before being applied directly to the skin.

#4 Internal. Use caution when considering taking essential oils internally. The quality of oil, type of oil, your potential interaction risks will all have bearing on the outcome. Some oils are safe for inhalation and/or topical use but toxic when taken internally. Internal use is best when guided by an experienced practitioner.

Here are a few oil uses to battle  allergies.

Peppermint, lemon and lavender are cleansing oils. Diffusing these oils in your home on a regular basis will help to reduce pollens and allergens.

Eucalyptus globulus is known for supporting the respiratory system by easing scratchy throats, relieving respiratory symptoms from seasonal allergies (and cold/flu), relieves asthma and clears the head. It is effective applied topically, and needs to be diluted prior to applying to skin. Mix eucalyptus with a carrier oil and apply to the neck, chest or bottoms of feet. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus to a hot shower will allow the aromatic properties of the blend to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Caution: for young children and elderly use Eucalyptus radiata instead.

Place a few drops of peppermint on your temples to release an allergy or sinus headache. For skin rashes, use a few drops of Roman Chamomile or lavender to stop the skin reaction.

Dianna Richardson, ND

Travel Mist

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Travel Mist: Essential Oil Blend

8 drops peppermint oil

8 drops tangerine oil

8 drops tea tree oil

2-ounce amber spray mist bottle (cobalt or aluminum also work)

2 fluid ounces distilled water


In bottle, combine essential oils. 

Top off with water, replace lid and shake until well blended. 

 To use, shake bottle and mist airspace.

Cardiovascular Health: Statins

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Cardiovascular health.

Statins are they beneficial or harmful? With heart disease being the second leading cause of death, a lot of attention is given to cardiovascular health. Early research mistakenly identifies cholesterol as the culprit in major contribution to heart disease. It is believed cholesterol was wrongly blamed for heart disease when scientists noticed high levels of cholesterol in a damaged blood vessel. This misconception led to the development and use of statins. However, the drugs developed to lower cholesterol have fallen short of their goals. More importantly, we now know statins also cause a host of other health related issues.

Research now shows statin are ineffective 80% of the time in reducing cholesterol…not effective in doing what they were created to do. Statins are supposed to lower your LDL or “bad cholesterol.” Instead we are discovering they are not effective and increase risks for serious health disorders. Recently links to increased blood sugar and risks for development of diabetes have been noted. In addition, implications for increased memory loss have been recognized.

Statins are also associated with myositis and rhabdomyolysis, which are conditions that cause inflammation of the muscles and can lead to muscle damage. Rhabdomyolysis can also cause damage to the kidneys that can result in kidney failure or even death. Several studies have also associated taking statins with a higher risk of cancer.

Thanks in part to continuing research we now look at cholesterol placement in the vascular system in a different light. Over the years some researchers have come to recognize that cholesterol was put there to fix a problem that was actually caused by inflammation. Why? Inflammation in vessels start a lesion. The body then sends cholesterol like a scab to cover over it to protect the blood system and the vessel wall from further damage.

This offers a possible answer for the 80% of people statins do not work to reduce cholesterol. If inflammation is not reduced, the cycle is not broken. Lesions continue to form and the body continues to send a “cholesterol patch.”

So what is the best way to control inflammation in the body? Choose anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These would include nuts, fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, eggs, and tofu. In addition, other anti-inflammatory food options include leafy greens, beets, broccoli, blueberries, pineapple, turmeric and ginger.

Improving cardiovascular health from a healthy lifestyle approach that includes anti-inflammatory foods and reducing a sedentary lifestyle offers a safer and more effective result. This also includes reducing inflammation causing foods and stress. At the top of the list of foods to avoid are refined sugars. Next, are deep fried foods and processed foods. Finally, manage daily stress by finding relaxation time. As you practice stress reduction you will also reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Dianna Richardson, ND October 6, 2016

Artificial Sweetners

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:55 PM

Some time ago I posted on the dangers and health hazards of using artificial sweeteners. Currently, there is a news flash circulating in this forum that aspartame has been renamed as AminoSweet®. In reality this and several other renaming options began many decades ago, after its entry into the food market.

As concerns about this product rose, several marketing changes took place to keep the substance viable in the food markets. In 1992, Monsanto’s patent on the product expired (ending a 20 year monopoly) thus opening it to competitor’s interest. Monsanto sold the aspartame portion of their business in 2000. Since then the product has undergone several more name and marketing changes.

NutraSweet®, Equal®, Spoonful®, Equal-Measure®, Canderel®, Pal Sweet Diet®, Ajinomoto, Aspartame, and AminoSweet® are all brand names for aspartame. Read labels carefully as some products do not list a brand name but rather the ingredient or warning surrounding phenylalanine. Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Both neurological and physical detriments have been associated with aspartame use.

Dianna Richardson, ND 11/16/2016

4-Thieves Spray

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:50 PM

4-Thieves Spray

2 oz. dark glass spray bottle

1 teaspoon organic witch hazel

10-15 drops of 4-Thieves essential oil blend

Almost 2 oz. of distilled water


In your clean spray bottle, add 10-15 drops of your Thieves oil. Next add 1 tsp. of witch hazel. Then pour distilled water into bottle until full. Put on your spray top and use as you see fit.

Desk Diffuser Salts

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:50 PM

Desk Diffusion Salts

1/2 cup Coarse Sea Salt

24 drops Frankincense Essential oil

24 drops Bergamot essential oil

4-ounce bottle

1 tablespoon Frankincense Tears


In jar, combine all ingredients and stir until well combined. 
 To use, open lid and allow to diffuse into the air. 
 Shake jar occasionally to redistribute oils. When scent fades, replenish with additional essential oils.

Folate or Folic Acid

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:40 PM

Folate or Folic Acid: Is there a difference? Dianna Richardson, ND

Each year the second week in January is set aside to emphasize the importance of folic acid in the diet. While many people use the terms folic acid and folate interchangeably, this is not correct. So, what is folate and why is it important?

Folate is an essential B-vitamin (B-9). There are several major roles folate plays in the body. Three of the most important are the following. First, folate is needed for red blood cell production. Red blood cells are needed for many functions in the body ranging from oxygen transportation to preventing anemia. Preventing anemia helps to keep energy levels higher.

Secondly, folate is needed to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. According to research, high levels of homocysteine can cause artery wall damage, increase risk of blood clots, and is associated with heart attacks and stroke. New studies have also suggested a link between low folate and development of some cancers and Alzheimer’s. For people with a genetic condition known as MTHFR it is extremely important to distinguish between synthetic folic acid and folate. Those with this condition should never use products containing added folic acid or supplements with folic acid. Only folate (naturally found in food) is safe with MTHFR.

The third, and best-known, use of folate, is to prevent birth defects. Young woman and women of child-bearing age are encouraged to eat a diet rich in folate to prevent neural tube defects. Unfortunately, unless you are planning a pregnancy, most women will not know they are pregnant until the first month of pregnancy. If the diet has not contained enough folate prior to conception, there is a high risk for birth defect.

So what foods are rich in folate? Black beans, lentils, nuts (peanuts, almonds), sunflower seeds, eggs, leafy greens, Romaine lettuce, rice, oranges, melons, and strawberries are good sources. One of the best sources is asparagus. Broccoli and avocado also provide needed folate. Summer and winter squash along with green peas will help make daily needs an ease.

Is it difficult to get all the folate you need from food? No. Most people eating a variety of plant foods will easily get the average 400 mcg daily recommended for adults. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 600 and 500 mcg. Children’s needs vary by age. Here is a tasty, quick and simple recipe packed with a daily allowance of folate (low calorie too)!

Salsa Lentil Soup—serves 8

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon garlic powder

5 cups water

1 (16 oz.) jar salsa

1 cup lentils, uncooked

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

½ cup instant brown rice, uncooked

1 cup shredded carrots

1 medium green pepper, finely chopped


In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add onions and garlic powder. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Add the water, salsa, lentils and tomato sauce; mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the rice. Turn the heat to medium-high until the mixture boils. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add carrots and green pepper. Let stand for five minutes.

MTHFR & Casein

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:35 PM

MTHFR…here is an interesting tidbit.

MTHFR or methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase is responsible for methylation in the cells of the body. Why is this important? Methylation is important for cellular repair, synthesis of nucleic acids, production & repair of DNA & mRNA. It is also needed for detoxification and neurotransmitter production. This enzyme is also needed for a healthy immune system. It affects formation & maturation of red blood cells, white blood cells & platelet production. Okay, that all sounds very technical. Basically, a genetic mutation affecting MTHFR can lead to a host of health issues. How much a person’s health is affected does depend on the severity of the mutation.

Glutathione is your body’s primary detoxifier and antioxidant. MTHFR gene mutation can make you susceptible to illness by lowering your ability to make glutathione. People with low glutathione will experience more stress and are less tolerant of toxins. Have you noticed some people seem to constantly be fighting to stay healthy? This may be an indicator of low glutathione. There are many very serious conditions also associated with MTHFR mutations. Good news on the glutathione front may have come from an unlikely source. A2 Beta Casein has been shown to increase glutathione levels. At a time when milk is blamed for everything from allergies to yeast, this information is quite interesting. The debates about raw milk continue, but the evidence shows a definite difference between how the body uses A1 and A2 types of Beta Casein (B-Casein). We know that A1 type is responsible for the gastric upset people experience with cow’s milk allergy.

However, it should be noted that older breeds of cows Jersey, Asian, African cows produced primarily A2 type B-Casein. Genetic mutations, cross breeding, and other influences has resulted in breeds such as Holsteins now producing primarily A1 type B-Casein. However, there are alternative sources of milk available. Goat, sheep, camel, buffalo, yak, and donkey milk all contain mostly, or only A2 B-casein. So people that have avoided cows milk and used these alternatives were in reality increasing the amount of glutathione available for their bodies!

People with MTHFR mutation now have a reason to consider alternative sources for milk. Besides the normal health benefits associated with some dairy consumption, there is now the important increase in glutathione. Just think, that glass of alternative milk may contain the ability to improve immunity, reduce migraines, improve gastrointestinal issues, reduce risk for many chronic diseases, and more!

Dianna Richardson, ND January 3, 2017


Deth R, et al. Clinical evaluation of glutathione concentrations after consumption of milk containing different subtypes of β-casein: results from a randomized, cross-over clinical trial.Nutr J. 2016 Sep 29;15(1):82.

Haq MR et al. Comparative evaluation of cow β-casein variants (A1/A2) consumption on Th2-mediated inflammatory response in mouse gut. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Oct 29.

Yang S,et al. Identification of Genetic Associations and Functional Polymorphisms of SAA1 Gene Affecting Milk Production Traits in Dairy Cattle. PLoS One. 2016 Sep 9;11(9):e0162195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162195. eCollection 2016.

Woodford K. Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and Politics: A1 and A2 Milk. Wellington New Zealand: Craig Potton Publishing 2007.

Avocado Hummus

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:35 PM

Avocado Hummus—serves 8

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

2 ripe avocados

¼ cup lemon juice (1 lemon, juiced)

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon paprika

Pita chips, raw veggies, or crackers for serving


Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender and blend or puree until very smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy with pita chips, raw veggies, crackers and/or use the hummus as a sandwich/wrap spread.

Calories: 188 Fat: 12.3g Saturated fat: 1.7g Carbohydrates: 17.2g Sugar: 2.7g Sodium: 425.8mg Fiber: 6.9g Protein: 4.9g Cholesterol: 0g

Lemon Chicken Stew

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Lemon Chicken Stew—serves 6-8

5 tablespoons cooking oil

½ cup all-purpose flour (gluten free if needed)

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound skinless and boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 carrots, sliced

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 sweet onion, diced

1 leek, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 cups chicken stock (chickenless stock if vegetarian)

1 cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup orzo pasta

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped


In large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat. Place flour to a shallow bowl and season with about 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shake off the excess and place half of the chicken in the stockpot but do not overcrowd. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side then transfer the chicken to a bowl. Brown the remaining chicken in 2 more tablespoons of the oil.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, carrots, celery and onion to the stockpot and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the sliced leek and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Add the orzo and chicken to the stockpot and cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until orzo is tender. Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with tarragon. Serve immediately.