If you get nothing else from this article, get that it is wise to add cinnamon to your sweet and savoury foods and drinks! If you dont enjoy reading about the science, whip to the bottom where there are suggestions of how to eat more cinnamon daily!
I first came across the science about cinnamon while I was researching natural methods to balance blood sugars in people living with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). I was looking for helpful things to share with my Grandad. I likely found the information in a book called “Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal” (Rosemary Stanton).
Since then, I have discovered cinnamon can help with:
Cinnamon for blood sugars and insulin
A pivotal 2003 study published in the Journal of American Diabetes Care (Khan et al., 2003), showed that when people living with T2D were given capsules of 1g-6g of cinnamon a day for 40 days, glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol all reduced!
These are all things that your doctor keeps an eye on because they are associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and ‘premature death’…Yikes!! You will be given medication if they go too far out of ‘healthy’ range!
Twenty days after the experiment and cinnamon had stopped, levels had started to rise again. This tells us that for everyday benefits, cinnamon should be used on a daily basis. Whether or not you have any problems with blood sugar, use it daily now (in food and drinks) to help prevent future problems. In fact, the scientists said: “intake of less than 1 g daily is likely to be beneficial in controlling blood glucose and lipid levels” (p. 3218).
Cinnamon for Mood
A recent study (Parisa et al., 2020) gave mice either :
I'm not saying cinnamon is a cure for depression – humans are way too complex for anything to be that simple! But I am suggesting that anybody could start adding cinnamon to their foods and drinks today to support healthy levels of serotonin and lower inflammation.
Cinnamon for Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome
A recent review into the benefits of cinnamon for women living with PCOS (an insulin and sex hormone imbalance), found that can help reduce a measure called "HOMA-IR" (Heshmati et al., 2021) HOMA-IR is fasting glucose multiplied by fasting insulin; lower is better. Why does this matter? Insulin imbalance in PCOS is associated with weight gain; women with PCOS have a hard time losing weight, so the use of cinnamon could contribute to achieving a healthy weight. Women with PCOS are also more prone to depressive symptoms, so cinnamon may help mood too.
Experience of Pain
I wont list all the studies here, but there is science to show that cinnamon helps with arthritic pain and inflammation (2g a day; Shishehbor et al., 2018), post-surgical procedure pain (4ml of ointment a day; Mohammadi et al., 2014), migraine (1.8g a day; Zareie et al. 2020), and period pain (1.26g a day).
The graph below (Jaafarpour et al., 2015) shows that whilst 1.26g a day of cinnamon is not quite as effective as 1200mg of ibuprofen at relieving period pain, it does work better than placebo. This makes me wonder if a higher dose of cinnamon would have been as effective as ibuprofen?
Remember, omega 3 fish oils also help to lower pain and inflammation. If pain is a feature in your life (whether its back, arthritic, period pain, or something else) then regular consumption of cinnamon and omega 3, either as food sources or supplementation, could help you. (Do not get me started on turmeric!).
Ways to get more Cinnamon in your life!
30g of organic cinnamon costs $3NZD ; non-organic $2.00. 30g of cinnamon could last one person 1-2 months. When continued year in, year out, cinnamon could buffer feelings of low mood, pain, inflammation, and help to control blood sugars and cholesterol.
For me, it’s a no-brainer! Here’s where I use it:
That's all folks! Have I convinced you?
Articles like this take a half a day to research, write, and publish; so If you found this helpful, please like the Awakening Wellbeing FB page, like some posts, and leave a comment about how you already use cinnamon or will do in the future
Disclaimer: Too much of any good thing can go bad. I am recommending you add cinnamon daily to foods and drinks. If you are considering therapeutic dose supplementation, then check in with an experienced health practitioner for guidance.
I got my first period when I was 13 (I think?). I can remember seeing some blood on my sheets one morning and bundling them up to hide it! This would indicate some embarrassment on my part. My Mum found the sheets of course and gave me a little ‘beginners’ pack, with pads and a booklet about periods in it. I have no conscious memory of the conversations around it. I was not made to feel shame, but it just wasn’t something that got acknowledged any month after that - it happened quietly. You carried on as normal, maybe took a feminax for pain, and maybe used it as an excuse to get out of sports, but that was it.
My Mum cannot remember my first flow at all. I can talk openly with her about my childhood, my birth, her menstrual cycles, and she tells me everything she can recall. So in respect of all those Mums and Daughters out there who may let the event pass by unnoticed (or even with embarrassment or shame) here I shed some new light on just how amazing it is to be a woman, and how you can learn to love your monthly cycle!
1 - Girls experience 4 seasons in a month
Contrary to popular belief, the monthly cycle does not consist of just PMS, bleeding and then those okay few weeks. There are four parts to it, like having 4 seasons in one month, and they are:
2. It’s okay to have ever-changing moods
We are living in a masculine structured society; there is the expectation to be the same mood, energy levels and study capacity every day of the month. HOWEVER!, we are not men and have fluctuating hormone levels that change slightly (sometimes lots) EVERY DAY. It is completely natural and normal to have moods and emotions, one day be brilliant at problem solving in class, the next feeling very quiet. Your experience of the world and how you interact with it is in a constant monthly cycle. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Once you get to know your cycle you can plan to e.g., quieter activities at certain times (late autumn and winter) and more confident and outgoing at others (spring and summer).
3. It’s not normal to have heavy painful periods
Listen up lassies of all ages! It is not normal for your bleeding phase to be super heavy and painful. Nor is it normal for it to be two days and light. If you are having super heavy and painful, or light scanty bleeds, then there could be a hormonal imbalance of progesterone to estrogen. Keep an eye on it by tracking your cycle (see 6.), eat well (cycles need nutrients), manage stress, get enough sleep, and rest when you feel tired. If you are in a lot of pain every month then see your doctor and insist on some help!!
4. The Pill is not a stand-alone solution for PMS or painful irregular cycles
When we go to a medical doctor with painful periods, raging PMS, anxiety, uncontrollable mood swings, weight gain and even acne, we get prescribed Birth Control Pills (BCPs). At the root of all these disturbances is a hormonal imbalance; the pills cover up the hormonal imbalance but only until you come off it. It’s can be more helpful in the long run to get on track with the addition of helpful nutrition, lifestyle, and supplementation.
5. Some girls naturally follow the 29 day cycle of the moon
Before BCP’s, late night lighting, 24h lifestyles and bright computer/device screens, more women were in Sync with the moon. Consider how the sunlight effects your moods and energy levels. The more sun, the more energy, the more gets done, the more robust your mind and emotions. It’s the same with the moon. The full moon provides more light and energy, coinciding with women’s summer (ovulatory phase) and the new moon with the lower energy of a woman’s winter (bleed phase). Modern life has night-time light disturbances and medications, and we are more likely to be out of Sync. (PS, this is a general rule, I personally am the opposite way around!).
6. Journaling your cycle will change your life!! Don’t believe me?
ALL girls and women can benefit by keeping a daily journal to track their cycle, noting changes in mood, mental and physical energy and more. This way, you see your patterns and they no longer take you by surprise! When you know what's coming, you can better plan life to suit you, rather than pushing yourself into something you're not enjoying. Here you can note things like:
7. Flowing women have deep intuition and wisdom. That’s ALL OF US!
The term ‘a woman’s intuition’ exists for a very good reason and you don't have to have special powers to access it. In societies gone by, and other non-western cultures today, the bleeding woman is highly respected. Girls and women experience their deepest intuition at this time, and this wisdom is used to guide the activities of the community. So listen out for any heart felt felt guidance that could influence your personal life, family, or study. You can trust yourself!
8. You are not a crazy b***h if you have PMS
If during your autumn (the 10-14 days before your period), PMS irritability arises, it’s because this is your most sensitive time. Things that usually breeze off you can really get to you. THIS IS NORMAL! If you get irritated about the same thing every month, then listen to your female wisdom. Does something in your life need to change?
9. PMS can be a big problem
If you feel unbearably down, angry, or anxious during the Autumn phase….huge rages where something gets damaged, suicidal thoughts, or unable to function because of headaches etc., then THIS IS NOT NORMAL PMS! You probably have too little progesterone in relation to estrogens and you can make yourself better. So stop blaming yourself, know it’s your hormones contributing and then start looking for solutions - a hormonal imbalance that can be healed with the right lifestyle choices and medical assistance. Getting enough sleep, having a decent poop every day (yes you read right!), eating broccoli and talking to people you trust about what is and isn't working in your life, all help to balance your hormones. ASK FOR HELP if you need it!! Whether it be from a holistic health specialist or your doctor. There is no need to suffer alone.
10.GIRL POWER ROCKS!
Gah, it sounds like a cliché now!! The Spice Girls were so long ago, but really onto something. Discover or create a close group of girlfriends that you can communicate honestly with and show them how to journal their cycles. Even if you’re not having your period yet, you can still journal every day, noting the position of the moon. Connect with your Mum and Grandma. It can feel scary to ask them about their periods but go ahead and do it anyway! If they’re embarrassed then let them know you’re asking because some things about periods are passed down through the generations; If they had problems then you want to be aware of them.
All in all, I want to let you know that having a menstrual cycle AKA SHE-FLOW, doesnt have to be miserable!! Once you start journaling, know yourself, look after yourself, and have some great chats with other girls and women, you'll come to see SHE-FLOWS as an interesting, inescapable, and very manageable part of daily life :)
Have you learnt anything from this article? Will you start journaling?
Is there anything else you need to know? What can you share to guide others? Drop me a message via the contact page, or FB page to chat more :)
For instant updates about workshops and resources that help girls and women navigate the hormonal life stages, like the FB and follow.
Eating omega 3's is one of the simplest ways to reduce your monthly pain. Better than that – if you have other pain, such as back or joint, it will likely help that too!
What are Omega 3’s?
Omega 3’s are a type of fat. They are part of the PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids). There are also Omega 6, Omega 7 and Omega 9.
Why are Omega 3 important for pain relief?
It’s not so much about how many Omega 3 you eat, it’s more about how many you eat compared to omega 6!
What am I eating with Omega 6 in it?
Most people eat these foods on a daily basis:
Meat, vegetable oils (olive, canola, palm, rapeseed, sunflower), most ready made snack/dip/baking foods in the supermarket (crisps, cakes, breads, sauces, check the label) takeouts, fried foods, margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable fat, nuts, seeds, evening primrose oil.
Where can I find Omega 3’s?
Food sources include: Walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed (linseed), hemp seed, borage, oily fish, spinach, spirulina and mustard greens.
Additional vegetarian food sources include: turnips, zucchini, squash, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, dandelion greens.
Supplements are called: Omega 3 Fish Oils. If you buy any then make sure they are low mercury tested. Vegetarians use Flaxseed Oil Capsules.
Whats the problem with eating more Omega 6 than Omega 3?
All of your cells are walled with fat. The type of fat you eat will make up your cell walls. When cells degenerate, their cell walls get broken down and release molecules. Omega 3 breakdown encourages cause anti-pain, reduced swelling and less heat. Omega 6 breakdown causes pain, swelling, redness and heat. So you want to eat more of the Omega 3’s, and less Omega 6, to get your cell walls built of the good stuff!
Ideally we would have a 1:1 ratio of O3:O6, or at least under 1:4. Most people eat more like 1:17.
If you cannot get enough Omega 3 by food, you can suffer pain on a monthly basis, or in other ways like in your joints – then that is when you start supplementing with between 1000mg-4000mg fish oils a day.
Now you’ve named everything I eat as an Omega 6! Will I starve?
Omega 6 are not bad , it’s the ratio that counts.
The most important thing is to be aware of what has Omega3 and Omega6 in it.
Make a list and stick it on your fridge. Over time check in with it, and you will become familiar.
Focus on buying and eating the Omega 3 foods that you enjoy.
How can I track my O3:O6 ratio?
I recommend an app called Cronometer for nutrition tracking. Initially track your consumption and youll likely be surprised at how many 06 you are having (more than you imagined!). Be mindful to set up your own ideal O3:06 ratio, to max out at 1:4 (ideally 1:2 or 1:1).
Easy ways to get more Omega 3 to help relieve pain
What are some other oily fish?
The ones you will find easily in your supermarket are: Pink and Atlantic Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel.
The best Omega 3 fish are: Anchovies, Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Bluefish, Cobo Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Pink Salmon, Sablefish, Sardines, Sockeye Salmon, Spiny Dogfish, Whitefish.
If you buy fish then do your best to get it from a fresh fish market. Easy alternatives are canned fish and the supermarket fish counter.
How long will this take to work?
Give it 3 months. I’ve seen some women get a rapid effect from Omega 3 capsules – in days . These healthy lifestyle additions can be used alongside painkillers, birth control pills and any other medical intervention you are using. The effects will build up over time. Let your doctor/specialist know what you are taking, especially if you are going in for surgery.
Do you need some help fixing painful periods? Contact Claire, certified Women's Integrative Health Coach at Awakening Wellbeing for personalized and group programs, available in person and online.
This is a non-exhaustive list of science backed ways to control rising blood pressure.
What simple sound relieves stress, anxiety, poor sleep, raised blood pressure, and increases Wellbeing?!
Aum is a sound that can be sung out loud or mentally/silently. Aum is often heard at the beginning or end of yoga classes. Whilst it is a really simple sound to make, people often feel embarrassed at the prospect of chanting it, even whilst alone. Perhaps if we all better understood the direct benefits for health and wellbeing, it would not feel like an uncomfortable thing to do, and we would gladly give a few minutes each day to reap the rewards!
There is a lot of science on the benefits of Aum-ing! Here I picked four lots of research that show vast benefits for a wide range of people; whilst these asked people to Aum for 20 minutes or more a day, which sounds unachievable to all but the most dedicated of Aum-ers, you can experience instant benefits from chanting Aum just nine times! Try it and find out!
Note that if your faith or culture has sacred sounds, you can use those sounds instead of Aum, Whilst I do not have the science here, I would bet that they have similar effects!
Aun chanting follows a full inhale through the nose, the exhale making the sounds Aaaa-Uuuu-Mmmmmmm. The A is with the mouth fully open, the U with lips in more of a whistling position, and the M with the lips closed, creating a humming sound. Aum can be taught in different ways; if you have been taught a particular way, then stick with it or ask for clarification!
2. Blood pressure reduction and better sleep in 60 year old women with insomnia
20 minutes a day of “Aum” for 30 days may sound like a lot, but it was worth it for this group of ladies who did their Aum Chanting at just after 5.30pm. Their average blood pressure reduced from 130/78 to 119/76.
A “healthy” blood pressure is 120/80 or below; these ladies went from raised blood pressure to healthy, yay 😊 !!
It is known that blood pressure above the healthy range continues to rise over time. It eventually results in blood pressure that can be damaging to the heart, brain, and organs, and must be treated with medication. For people who prefer to catch blood pressure before it needs medicating, or to help manage blood pressure alongside medication, Aum-ing could help. If you have raised blood pressure, check out the program that Awakening Wellbeing offers to help you.
3. Aum chanting reduces anxiety in the work force!
50 bus drivers aged 25-40 years chanted Aum for 20 minutes a day, six days a week. After four weeks, their anxiety levels dropped significantly, unlike 50 other bus drivers who did not Aum.
Because I’m trained to read science, I notice what others may not. Whilst anxiety did reduce in the Aum-ers, it was mild to start with and mild afterwards. It would be great to see science on people with moderate/high anxiety. Science can be confusing: If you are trying supplements, therapies, or diets based on ‘scientific’ claims, it could be that the science has been purposefully misinterpreted. For instance, a claim could be that weight loss was double in a group that took a supplement compared to a group that did not. Closer inspection of the science reveals that the supplement group lost 1kg over 3 months and the non-supplement group lost 0.5kg. The claim is ‘true’ but are the benefits of 0.5kg worth $60 a month on supplements? Ask for help if you are not sure about scientific claims that are costing you money.
4. Increased sense of wellbeing!!
Thirty people over 60 years of age, chanted Aum for 20 minutes a day. Before Aum-ing, none of them reported a good sense of wellbeing ☹. After Aum-ing for 3 weeks, more than a quarter felt GOOD in their wellbeing! Plus, two thirds of people previously reporting the worst ‘ill’ sense of wellbeing, had shifted into ‘moderate’ or ‘good’ sense of wellbeing! 😊 Aum-ing works!
In the above research, 30 other people did not chant Aum for three weeks! Their wellbeing scores did not change. None of them felt a good sense of wellbeing, one third felt moderate wellbeing and two thirds felt ‘ill’ in their wellbeing. Aum-ing works for wellbeing!!!
If you are looking for a simple way to increase calm and wellbeing today, then give Aum a go!
The benefits of Aum are partly due to breathing with a long exhale while you Aaauuummmmmm. This is known to increase the soothing part of the nervous system, increasing the sense of harmony and wellbeing. You can access more benefits of breathing in Awakening Wellbeing’s Breathing for A Better Life mini-program and Stretch, Breathe, Meditate classes. Contact us Now to find out more.
The short answer is Yes!
The 2018 research, "Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes", reviewed the numerous benefits for people living with this chronic condition. They found that the many perks of yoga worked by affecting psychology (thoughts and emotions), neurology (brain and nervous system), immunity, and hormones.
If you are a Type2 reading this and thinking "I cant go to a yoga class; I'm not flexible; I'm not a pretzel!", it is worth knowing that yoga is not just postures. Yoga can include mindfulness, proper breathing, gentle mobility and stretching movements, intentional visualisation, relaxation, and making sounds (even humming produces a beneficial change to the nervous system and blood pressure!). You just seek out the right teacher for you; they will be teaching a gentle class (called gentle, yin, or restorative), offer purely breathing/mindfulness classes, or when you contact them to ask, they will will be able to offer you something appropriate or refer you elsewhere.
Here are the benefits of yoga for people living with T2 diabetes (and those diagnosed with 'pre-diabetes').
The image below is from the published research and shows even more benefits, including better mood :)
Raveendran, A. V., Deshpandae, A., & Joshi, S. R. (2018). Therapeutic role of yoga in type 2 diabetes. Endocrinology and Metabolism, 33(3), 307. https://doi.org/10.3803/EnM.2018.33.3.307
Never Mind Fight & Flight!! Who is Talking About Tend and Befriend, the Unsung Female Stress Response?!
The year is not over yet! There are whole seasons of serenity and vitality to discover! This article gives you a refreshing and fun new way to thrive for the rest of this year. An unmissable, yet little talked about key to natural healing. It includes your friends and family, and will last for a lifetime! Can it really be this simple? YES!
Most women are searching for peace - but most women are burned out. Most women, including those with supportive partners and healthy kids, are feeling like they need to shut down. Tired, sick and anxious. One after another of emotional meltdowns, painful and irregular periods, tummy upsets, sore joints, migraines, recurrent infections, allergies and sleep deprivation; whilst they simultaneously attempt to work, care for family and support friendships! Can you relate? These are the same women making every effort to enjoy their life, take 'me-time', improve their healthy habitus, and personally grow - everyone is doing their best.
It doesn’t matter whether you have money in the bank or not, a healthy partnership or not, eat seven serves of vegies a day or not; if you’re missing out on this one vital component that is central to our wellbeing, then it all falls down like a stack of elephants. And you very tired. Tired of trying to figure it all out. Where is that elusive ‘Optimised Me!’ that all the magazine covers declare you can have in a week (if you only follow this eating or exercise or meditation program?). It's easy to become jaded by expecting yourself to do or be it all.
The Importance of Accepting Connections
When a woman feels stress, she gets a rise in cortisol and also oxytocin. This 'bonding' hormone as it's commonly known, propels women to seek positive connections she can share with. After you have had a chat with your ever-loving Mum, non-judgmental bestie, or understanding colleague, your cortisol dips and oxytocin continues to rise - you feel calm and relaxed as stress hormones are set back to zero.
Find out more about oxytocin, social interactions and happiness here:
7 minute video at Huffington Post
Unfortunately seeking your begrudging ex, unavailable sister, or stale friendship just wont cut it! When met with antagonism, dismissive attitudes or judgement, stress hormones continue to rise. You need more than practical support or an obligatory listener- a woman also needs to know and feel, that the back up is coming from a willing and loving source. Once you fully utilise your web of support (read on for that), a lot of tension can drop away and you will feel revitalized by interacting with other great and kind people (leave behind the soul suckers).
What if the key to your wellbeing was as simple as a spider’s web?
What if making your own web of support could provide you with the emotional and physical resilience of spiders silk (which is greater than steel!)? If we all had a web, would we feel at breaking point as often or easy?
The great news is you don’t have to start finding 13 more hours in a day to make a web! No, all you need is a piece of paper and pen, a cup of tea, and even better would be to gather a friend (or 4!) to do this together! Ready? Let’s go!
Your web of support
This is where you capture all of your people resources – family, partners, kids, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, employees, and more. This includes; who you can call when your car breaks down and the kids need picking up from school?; who can you reach out to when you have a whole afternoon for yourself and want to go to the beach or the movies? ; who are those besties who you know will accept you in your deepest emotional turmoil?; who cleans the house when business is thriving and you don’t get a chance?; who cooks you dinner when you are laid up with she-flow (period) pains? This simple little web of support can really help you identify how supported you are - and if those supports are healthy.
HINT: If a web doesn’t appeal to you, how about drawing a brightly colored flower, with you in the center and petals as your supports.
How Many Supports Is Enough?
Use the image below as a guide. Don’t worry if you have some boxes empty. When I first did this, 50% of my supports were empty, 25% were filled by long-term friends and the remainder were all my ex!!
It’s okay to have the same person in a number of support roles, just be aware that is the case. It could be that spaces are filled by paid professionals and that is okay too. After all, should you expect your friends to be your psychologist for anything more than life's usual ups and downs? Over time, as your healing journey continues, you may find more healthy relationships entering your life.
Other areas of life to include will vary for each woman but could be:
Do your very best to consider people you know can provide positive reinforcement and enjoy the tasks. For instance, don’t ask your fitness guru friend who has never shown an interest in cooking to help you prepare a five course meal; don’t ask your child-avoiding little-sister to babysit.
Your New Mantra: "Let Me Disappoint You!"
If you are supporting friends and family, can you stop volunteering for tasks you don’t like? Why make cakes for the school fair when you despise baking and 20 other mums love it?
The web of support can take some time to develop so keep chipping away at it this year. Once you open up to the reality of some friendly reinforcement, you’ll be surprised at what can happen!
PLUS - Here's a fun video from John Gray about the right(feminine) and left (masculine) sides of the brain, male and female stress responses, and how they affect your relationship!
Moving the body is so much more than keeping the body trim! Watch and be motivated to dance, surf, cycle, or whatever you find FUN!
Your brain works better on movement – exercise can increase the number of dopamine pleasure receptors in your brain, improve attention & memory, and make you feel great! We all want to feel great….am I right?!
If the video bores you and you have some agitation, then try putting some music on instead and having a dance, or go for a brisk walk. Ten minutes is mush better than nothing and it all counts!
Movement, healthy brain, stress, memory, disease prevention, vibrancy, relieve depression and anxiety.