Garden Inspiration

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Remember to give your plants Reiki.

Happy Friday!


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What You Need to Know About Probiotics, According to



What You Need to Know About Probiotics

Since there’s still not a lot of research on probiotics, the research team at recently spent months studying and testing 277 top-rated supplements on the market to determine which strains are most effective for various issues. Here are some of their findings.

Although the idea of beneficial bacteria has been around since the late 1800s, and probiotic supplements have been around since the 1930s, there haven’t been many human clinical trials. We do know that probiotics produce enzymes that help break down chemicals that the normal human gut has a hard time with, such as the oligosaccharides in legumes. That digestive assistance results in less gastrointestinal distress and better absorption of nutrients.

A small but growing body of research on our gut tenants suggests that hacking your microbiome can not only improve the digestive process, but also contribute to a laundry list of ancillary health benefits. We’re talking weight loss, lower cholesterol, decreased anxiety, improved immune function, fewer seasonal allergy symptoms, and relief from a host of gastrointestinal maladies, from irritable bowel syndrome to traveler’s diarrhea.


The Bottom Line

The science is still young, but we know a few things: Probiotics work better in a pack; prebiotics mixed in with probiotics are just a marketing ploy because there isn’t enough prebiotic to make a difference; and shelf life matters most. Look for multi-strain products and check for a “viability guarantee” through the expiration date to make sure your probiotics will be in full force when you take them.


Through the course of our research, we came across a number of studies that indicated some lesser-known benefits of taking probiotic supplements, like decreased anxiety. We put together our top picks based on which strains had solid evidence backing up a connection:


Anxiety and Allergies

Relevant strains: L. Casei, L. Rhamnosus, Paracasei


Weight Loss

Relevant strains: B. Brevis, B. Lactis, L. Acidophilus, L. Gasseri, L. Rhamnosus GG


Lactose Intolerance

Relevant strains: L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus


Lowering Cholesterol

Relevant strains: B. Lactis, E. Faecium, L. Acidophilus, L. Curvatus, L. Fermentum, L. Plantarum, L. Reuteri


Women’s Health

Relevant strains: Bacillus Coagulans, L. Fermentum, L. Rhamnosus GG


Take Action 

Start small. Generally, it’s best to start out with a lower CFU count and ramp up as needed. Starting out with the high-proof stuff can cause unpleasant physical side effects, like cramps and bloating, as well as monetary ones — higher potency supplements are almost universally more expensive. Of course, follow your doctor’s guidance. The verdict on ideal colony count is still out.


Take your probiotic with a meal. This raises the pH in your stomach, which means more bacteria will make it through to your gut, including the few non-acid-resistant strains like S. Thermophilus. And take them with plenty of water; that will further dilute the acidity of gastric juices.


Get your prebiotics in. There are tons of the simple carbs probiotics love in whole fruits and vegetables, including onions, garlic, bananas, asparagus, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, and artichokes. If you’re worried you might not be getting between five to 20 grams per day, consider taking a prebiotic supplement, usually a powder or drink mix.


Keep up your probiotic routine. Probiotics stick around for a while, though for how long isn’t precisely clear. You have to keep taking them to continue to reap the benefits.


To see the rest of their guide to probiotics, go to




Thank you for the time you spend with me!



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The Reiki Cafe’s Latest Healthy Habits Challenge Starts Today!

It’s time for our newest Healthy Habits Challenge! We will focus for the next 21 days on foods, drinks and activities which are known to improve your pH overall.

        Why would you want to increase your pH? To feel great!

     You’re savvy, so you may already know that the pH of your blood is automatically maintained by your body. We’re not trying to alkalize our blood. Some of you may see an improvement if you test your urine, however.

     What we’re doing is challenging and supporting one another to eat foods which are known to have a high alkaline-forming effect, choose drinks which are known to have a high alkaline-forming effect and to participate in activities which are known to have a high alkaline-forming effect.

     We will check in twice each week to share tips, progress and encouragement. The group is on Facebook. If you were in the last Healthy Habits Challenge then you should have received a notice today that we are starting a new challenge.

Questions? Feel free to ask!


As always, thank you for the time we spend together! I hope to see you challenge yourself!



Holistic Health Consultant, B.S. Holistic Nutrition


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Cleaning With Essential Oils


By Cyhndi Mora

As a newly pregnant mom I was on fire about everything natural. I had been vegetarian for over a year and loving it even though it wasn’t as easy to find viable options back then. It was the early 90’s and the vegetarian and “Green” products that are available easily in the grocery store today either hadn’t yet been invented or were really expensive and/or hard to find.

I was also allergic to a ridiculous number of things including dust and animal dander so it wasn’t a huge shock when, having watched me get completely winded from cleaning the living room in my second trimester, a friend suggested that I might be allergic to the cleaning products I was using. I stopped in my tracks, considering the implications. What was in this stuff, anyway? I was already avoiding bleach as much as possible and some laundry soaps due to the rashes I would get when I used them. So yes, I probably was allergic to the 409, Windex and other store-bought cleaners I was using, but what to do? I was already in full throttle nesting mode, our apartment was small and constantly full of people. Luckily another friend had come across a book called Clean & Green.

To my surprise and delight I found the recipes for homemade cleaners in the book super simple and easy to use. Needless to say, I shoved all the store-bought stuff to the back of the cupboard under the sink and started using these homemade cleaners right away.

Liberated by the absence of chemicals I could get back to nesting in earnest and feel prepared for the baby’s arrival knowing I could take on pretty much any mess with the simple ingredients in my cupboard. They smelled different but I was the only one who noticed, or in their wisdom no one else commented. After a couple minutes of using them, I even stopped noticing the vinegar smell.  Win/win!


Flash forward a couple years and I’m ready for the job market, looking for a helpful and ethical way to use my talents. I decide to offer my services as a housekeeper, advertising that I use only non toxic cleaners. Sadly, most folks didn’t really appreciate the idea that much. A frequent observation from my new clients was that while things looked clean when I left, it didn’t smell clean to them. Unfortunately they had been conditioned to the antiseptic smell of pine and formaldehyde and couldn’t accept anything else as being “really clean.” Again, what to do? I tried to accommodate them for a while and used the products they chose but eventually had to quit because I started wheezing and coughing again and was too tired at the end of the day to keep up with my very active toddler. Plus I wasn’t bringing in enough income to make ends meet, much less pay medical bills. Back to the drawing board I went, and back to the office. I kept using the homemade cleaners at home with a few store-bought augmentations.

Flash forward several years later: I had slowly reincorporated more of the commercial products and realized that I needed to get rid of them completely because cleaning for an hour felt like I’d run a marathon. My back was in terrible pain. Not to mention my doctors were telling me that I may have asthma, but probably lung cancer…

I turned my apartment upside down looking for my trusty green cleaning book but couldn’t find it. I did remember the author’s name, however, and looked for her on the internet. As luck would have it she was now authoring a Green Cleaning blog on Care2 and one of the first posts I noticed on her blog was a familiar cleaning recipe with one important addition: Lavender Essential Oil. Needless to say, this was a huge ‘aha’ moment for me. My sister Kathy, owner of, had gifted me some oils to help with my respiratory issues…the Oregano and Thyme I had been using on my feet never struck me as scents that would appeal to my former clients, but Lavender…hmmm. So I did some research, starting with Lavender Essential Oil.

As it turns out, Lavender essential oil not only smells great and is very relaxing, but it’s also (among many other things): antibacterial, antimicrobial, deodorant and decongestant. Talk about “wins” all over the place!


Eucalyptus was another that I had on hand. It had the benefits I listed above for Lavender, plus it is also antiviral and antibacterial!

I already knew that lemon juice had some germ-killing properties as well as being a preferred scent for cleaning. Turns out that Lemon Essential Oil is also antibacterial, antiviral, an immunostimulant, and antidepressant, as are most of the other citrus oils.

Peppermint was another one that I came across in my research. It is also antibacterial, antiviral, decongestant and an immunostimulant.

I was so excited by what I found that I started adding oils to my cleaners immediately and loved the results. I put the oils in all of my products, combining the four above in to my all-purpose cleaner and noticed results right from the get-go. Not only was I not tired after cleaning, but I was energized and breathing easier. I went back to the doctor weeks later and was told that my asthma was now in check. When I asked about the possibility of lung cancer I was told it was a false alarm and to continue with what I was doing. He was surprised to learn that I hadn’t even needed to use the inhaler since I started making my own products again. Whew!

With a more or less clean bill of health, it was time to head back to work. The studio I had been working for was going under so it was time to get creative again. Long story short(er), I ran across a woman who was also a Reiki practitioner working long hours in the entertainment industry. She needed help with looking after her house and her dogs, one of whom was recovering from surgery to remove a tumor from his leg. I explained that I’d love to help, but that I’d have to use my own cleaners…she was very excited and supportive of my process and I started working for her immediately. Her favorite scent blend was Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint, which became my standard mix. She referred me to a coworker who didn’t like lavender so we made a mix of citrus and eucalyptus for him. By the end of the year I had a steady clientele and no complaints about not smelling clean.


I highly recommend using essential oils in any cleaning products you might want to make at home. My aromatherapy instructor, Andrea at Aromahead, calls this reducing the toxic load and is incredibly important for setting the stage for good physical, mental and emotional health.Most essential oils can add both cleaning and health benefits to your mixes as long as you are using good quality oils. Young Living, and Doterra brands are a slam-dunk, but if you don’t have access to those brands there are a couple things you should look for to ensure that you’re getting the best quality.  Remember, you are inhaling them and putting them on your surfaces, so you really need them to be food grade.

Here’s some things to remember: Read those labels! Do they list any other ingredients besides the oil itself? They should not. You want an oil that is steam distilled or press extracted and free of additives. The label needs to have both the English and Latin names visible. Different Lavenders and Chamomiles, as an example, have different properties and if you don’t see the Latin name you can’t be sure of what you are getting. This is also a good way to know if what you’re buying is a true essential oil and not just a ‘flavored’ carrier oil, absolute or other. If the oil is $3 or less for an ounce or more, that’s also a dead giveaway that it’s an absolute, diluted with carrier oil or has been left to sit on the shelf too long. Essential oils, especially citrus oils, can go rancid so you want to avoid the “leftovers.” All this information should be clearly visible on the label if you are buying it in a store or somewhere in the product description if you are purchasing online.

And don’t forget to change it up occasionally. Sensitivities can develop if you use anything on a daily basis and this is very true with essential oils. So keep it fresh by changing up your mix every few months. As an example, I have one blend for each of the seasons.

For more information on Essential Oils and cleaning see my book Nontoxic Cleaning 101, due out at the end of March. To preorder, email Cyhndi at or, or ask when the next Nontoxic Cleaning 101 online class is being offered.

I’m always happy to answer questions and would love to hear from you. Do you have any non toxic cleaning tips you’d like to share?

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As always, we are honored for the time you spend with us,

Cyhndi and Gina

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Meditation Helps With Hot Flashes

Once you’ve started having hot flashes, you will learn to appreciate alternative medicine’s safe approaches to bringing you back into balance.  We found a great article to help you explore a variety of approaches:

Meditation is listed at number two!  I have meditations coming up that you can join, both here in Joshua Tree and from the comfort of your home.  Check out February’s offerings below or go to our Current Class Schedule to search for a date and time that works best for you.

Guided Meditation: February 27th from 10:00-11:30. Register by February 20th. Instructor: Gina Briganti. You may attend virtually or in person (Joshua Tree, baby!). Meditations are one hour long, with thirty minutes of discussion following the meditation. The fee for each meditation class is $20.

If you are new to Google + Hangouts, Gina will gladly schedule a brief meeting with you before your class or see the link above for a brief tutorial.

Cyhndi and Gina thank you gratefully for the time you spend with us, and wish you the best in all that you do!

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Animals As Teachers & Healers Buddy Read

Gina has had Susan Chernak McElroy’s book, Animals As Teachers & Healers (1997), on her TBR list for two years now, always trusting that the perfect timing would line up to read it.  That trust is always rewarded!  Animals As Teachers & Healers is heart-warming, life affirming, and a pure joy to read.


Would anyone like to buddy read the book along with us?  Comment to let us know if you’re going to join us.  We plan to read a few pages a day, though you are welcome to read faster if you like.  Maybe your library has a copy of it.  Mine did!  The book is a bit older and they haven’t published an electronic version yet.

Our buddy read has its own page, making it easy to come back and comment here on

Discussion welcomed!

Peace and love,

Gina and Cyhndi

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What Is Reiki?

There could be as many descriptions of what Reiki is, how it works, and even if it works, as there are people to talk about it. What I’m sharing here is my perception and experience with Reiki as a student, practitioner, and teacher. My Reiki experience began in 2005. In 2007 I became a master teacher. I have taught all four of the levels.

Reiki is a relaxing, stress relieving, technique. During a session a client can choose to have conversation, or silence, or something in between. My clients and I typically laugh because it feels so ridiculously good to let go of so many things that were weighing us down.

Reiki can be done anywhere. In health spas, for example, the client usually lies down on a massage table. However, Reiki is not a massage technique. It is a form of energy work, meaning that it works on the energy that makes up the mind, the body, and the spirit. That’s why Reiki is as effective on the phone, or at a distance without direct contact, as it is in person. Some clients feel better if you place a hand on them while they’re receiving Reiki in person. Others don’t like to be or need to be touched at all. It sounds mystical, doesn’t it?  Two of Gina’s long-term clients shared their experiences with distance Reiki.  Feel free to click on the link if you’d like to read what they said.

You can read about studies verifying the efficacy of Reiki here:
If you’d like to read a history of Reiki, follow this link:

What is Reiki good for? Literally anything. If you consider that stress is the cause of most problems, then the relief of the stress will leave you feeling better. I have to say that if I hadn’t experienced it for myself, I’d be a skeptic.

What happens during a Reiki session is this: your practitioner will help you into a comfortable position. Sessions typically last for one hour, though they can be shorter or longer. You may be touched on your head, hands, stomach, legs, knees, and feet. Or, as I mention above, not at all. Your practitioner may stay in one place and simply place their hands over you. What the client feels is anything from relaxation to a deep sleep.

Here’s a sample of a Reiki treatment by William Rand of the International Center for Reiki Training.

So, in summary, Reiki is a relaxation technique. Ideally the client goes into the session feeling heavy, upset, confused, etc. and comes out of it feeling refreshed, healthy, and energized.

We have openings for Reiki sessions and classes. See our Menu of Services post for more information about scheduling and costs.

Thank you for the time you shared with us today!



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