When in Doubt

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When one door is closed, don’t you know other is open?” – Bob Marley, Coming In From The Cold


Something that seems to effect most people, even those of us that consider ourselves positive people and that strive to think positively as much as possible is doubt. It seems to creep in on us most in times of stress, or when things are just not going right. This can have a ripple effect and affect our decision making and mood for the rest of the day, if not more even.

There can be many causes for doubt to enter our thinking, such as something not going your way, an expectation of something that does not come to pass, your body seemingly betraying you (getting sick for example), and there are of course others. Doubt can lead not only to further doubt that can pile up and weigh you down, but to even more ominouse things such as beating yourself up and depression if we let it take hold and take over.

One of the first things, that may seem counter-intuitive almost to combat doubt, is getting out of our own way. What I mean by this is first off remembering that you are human and this stuff can happen even to the best of us. Sometimes one of the most effective things we can do is to just lean back and not do anything in particular but observing what is happening.

From here, our higher Self can take over which is not caught up in emotion and we can see things more clearly.  Also we expend no energy doing this, so it is quite effortless and efficient. Doubt in a lot of cases, can be a reflection of what we think others may be thinking of us, or what we think the world is reflecting back on us. We may even start blaming things outside of our own power for our current doubtful situation. This is easy to do also, but counter-productive! water fall into pond

But if you can be aware of this, you can see the negativity you may be directing towards others or the outside world. The more you do this, the easier it is to be doubtful about yourself. Accepting responsibility that you are the only one who can make that change back to a healther mindset will come naturally if you can get out of your own way and see that you are not only the cause but also the solution.

You have to stick with yourself and believe in yourself, this is the only way. No matter how bad something may seem, if you can pull back a bit and take a deep breath, you’ll realize it’s most likely not the end of the world and there is a solution within although it may not be visible at the moment. Sometimes the answer may be not doing something as opposed to doing something. Be open to changing your way of thinking and even how you approach your lifestyle.

Talking to a friend can help as well, even if the conversation is not about the subject at hand weighing on your mind. Sometimes just stepping away from the matter mentally and discussing other totally unrelated things can open up new doorways to seeing things differently even if your friend doesn’t know it. You may also not notice it at first either… the universe works in strange ways like this sometimes.

Taking in to account also the good things you have in your life that you can be grateful for is also a powerful tool to not only help turn the tide on doubt, but will make you feel better and help refocus your energy and heal your mind/body. It may not seem easy at first, especially when in the midst of having doubt, but this is important and more powerful than you think because it will take you out of the vicious cycle that doubt can be.

Also, writing down your thoughts, especially the self-talk in how you talk to yourself in times of doubt can be eye-opening and powerful. Then Re-writing what you might be saying that is putting you in doubt in to a positive light of what great things you would rather see manifest in your life is the next thing you can do.

Undertand that your life, thoughts and mind-set ebbs and flows naturally just like the cycles of nature and doubt can be used as an opportunity for you to see things from a greater perspective in the grand scheme of things.

Taking Responsibility For Your Health

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When I speak with people on the topic of health the subject of ‘responsibility’ inevitably comes up. So I put some thought into why this might be, and a key point kept coming to mind. First, I noticed that most people that do not accept responsibility for their own health usually, and if this is the case are always blaming others and things outside of themselves for their ill bodily conditions.

Saying something like – ‘oh I always get sick this time of year, or that person made me sick’ is a perfect example of something I hear quite often. I believe that if you can change your lifestyle gradually to a healthier one, which includes having a healthier mindset, you don’t have to get sick every year if you really do not want to. Most of us mentally program ourselves to get sick and we don’t even realize we are doing it.

Another example is when we see a person sneezing and coughing, and our first thought is ‘uh oh, I hope I don’t catch what he has’, or we see ads on television that the so called ‘flu season’ is upon us and we think, ‘well I’ll probably catch the flu this year sooner or later’. Thinking in this way, like so many people do is disempowering to say the least. So in addition to acting healthier – exercising, eating healthier – eliminating junk food and fast food, we can be thinking healthier as well.  A good place to start is by taking responsibility for our health, whether we are sick or feeling great.

When was the last time you felt great and you said to yourself something along the lines of ‘gee I feel so good because of me, because of who I am and what I do.’ Well if you do say things like this to yourself then congratulations because most people do not give themselves enough credit for feeling good and doing their best to lead a healthier lifestyle. So what I am saying in effect is that it works both ways, you can create your own health circumstances in life or you can act as a victim and be a slave to them. shunan-bamboo-forest-02

Once we begin to actively and consciously take credit for the good, as well as the bad health circumstances we encounter in our lives, we will begin to notice that it’s up to us to how well we would like to feel and not so much on the outside world we once thought controls us. A great question to ask yourself everyday is: how did I bring this into my life? You examine your thought processes, correct your thinking and move on.

This is much more powerful than you may think, but of course prove it to yourself.

We can consciously choose to enhance our well-being and health through adding a healthy exercise regimen to our daily routine for example. This will give both your body and mind a boost and you can easily thank yourself and praise yourself for the high, glowing feeling you get after a great workout, whether it be with weights, calisthenics, yoga, pilates, martial arts, etc., you get my point.

Doing healthier activities compound over time and become cumulative. In the case that you do get sick even though you are taking supplements to enhance your immune system, exercising regularly and eating healthy… don’t beat yourself up. Accept that you allowed yourself to be sick and nothing else. Then make up your mind to get healthier and become better, faster than ever before. Don’t get negative, and you will see that over time you will stay healthier for longer and longer periods until you do not get sick anymore.

Yes it is possible to be healthy all year around, you just need to accept that it is possible.

I personally rarely, if ever get sick and I don’t remember the last time I went to see a doctor for that matter (besides my sports related injuries!). By accepting responsibility for my health and everything that happens to me in my life, I am able to stay healthy and feel great. Of course my daily activities, internal exercises, food and vitamin/supplement intake and mindset have everything to do with this.

What is DMSO?

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DMSO or Dimethyl Sulfoxide has an interesting history dating back to 1867 where it was first isolated by Russian chemist, Alexander Saytzeff. It is a byproduct of the paper making process and is a natural compound that comes from trees and has been used as an industrial solvent for over a century. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a strong odor.

When medical researchers started looking into this multi-faceted compound in the 1950’s, DMSO’s ability to protect cells from freezing damage was discovered. As research continued, other medical applications of possible use came to light. This is where things start to get really interesting. In the 1960’s, DMSO was hailed as a miracle drug by the press and more clinical trials of the compound began.

The Healing Properties of DMSO

DMSO was found to relieve pain, act as a diuretic and rapidly be able to penetrate human skin. This is where DMSO’s amazing ability to work as a transport agent come into play. It will transport other substances with it as it penetrates, including other pain relieving ingredients. DMSO can be taken orally mouth, used topically or intravenously. The most common use is topically though, where it is known to help speed up wound healing, decrease inflammation, pain and swelling.

Naturally, it can be used to treat medical problems such as arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and sports related injuries such as joint and muscle pain and inflammation. Furthermore, DMSO is said to also have potential to be effective in treating various types of cancer and aid in various cancer therapies, treat skin conditions such as scleroderma, as well as fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

DMSO-400Dr. Stanley Jacob, who pioneered much of the early and on-going research on DMSO has found that it also holds great promise in treating severe closed head trauma. He claims he has found it to reduce brain swelling and increase blood flow and oxygenation. Unfortunately, in 1965 clinical trials were stopped by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of questions of its safety. Many advocates and scientific researchers, including Dr. Jacob pressed the FDA to re-consider in light of the depth of research and data compiled regarding this amazing compound. Advocates and researchers pressed that the safety issues were unfounded and only minor in humans.

The vast treatment potential the compound has for such a wide range of conditions almost makes it seem to be too good to be true, but with clinical trials being cut short this could not be verified at the time.  Eventually the FDA approved the use of DMSO and lifted the temporary ban on human testing. The approval was only for one rare bladder condition though – interstitial cystitis, which causes inflammation in the bladder. Besides that, it has only been approved for use as an anti-inflammatory treatment in dogs and horses.

So Where Does DMSO Stand Now?

The FDA only approved DMSO for one human medical condition –  interstitial cystitis up until this writing. More research is needed to test its safety and effectiveness for other medical purposes. It is legal and easy to purchase, as well as inexpensive. It is available through some health food stores, mail order catalogs and readily available on the internet (I’ve seen it on Amazon.com even).

Since most people use it as a topical liniment for pain relief, it is most commonly sold as a cream, gel and liquid. In some cases it is mixed with other natural ingredients to enhance its pain relieving effect for muscle and joint pain. This is where I saw the value of what DMSO could do to help to relieve my muscle and joint pains from hard training in the martial arts.

When we created Warrior Rx Muscle & Joint Pain Relief, DMSO seemed like a perfect fit to tie all of the other powerful pain relieving ingredients in it together. Indeed that ended up being the case and we included it in our pain relief rub. You can learn more about the role DMSO plays in our topical rub on our store blog here.

Acupressure – Daily Self-Massage

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It was probably at least 15 years ago I walked into an oriental type outfitted booth at a large flea market that I found a very interesting green colored book by a Dr. Kuan Hin called Chinese Massage and Acupressure. It intrigued me right away and I picked it up. Being a martial artist and interested in health, massage, acupuncture and the like I started reading the first few pages.

The book delves in to the basics of Chinese Medicine, massage and acupressure, which is also called Inhoa. Inhoa means Silver Flower, and specifically is the name given by Dr. Hins’ ancestors to the method of preventing or healing that has been handed down from generation to generation.  What really got me interested is that this field is ideal for an introduction to self-treatment with regards to both preserving and restoring one’s health. I am a firm believer that we should take responsibility for all aspects of our lives and that especially includes our health.

In this respect I read that it required only rudimentary knowledge and no kind of equipment and is entirely safe… sounded good to me! The basis for using this healing art is the regulation of the energy flows that occur throughout the body.  Energy is life’s fuel and it nourishes us. So when damage is done, this can impede the flow leading to an energy imbalance which can set off disorders and ultimately cause disease.

Prevention, I found out is the very core of Chinese medicine. It is also effective in treating acute or chronic conditions as well. There is not enough room to go into much more detail here (and honestly I would be doing it a disservice if I did), but I started using the Inhoa acupressure massage techniques, or The eight wonders of Chinese massage as put forth in the book that first day I brought it home.

Inhoa book

What really intrigued me the most as I flipped through it, was that it gave a great introduction and background into this amazing healing art, how and why it works in theory, and was full of practical pictures and applications which I could use right away… and yet it was concise and not overwhelming. This was especially true of the primary acupunture points or the 12 points of Master Ma that are covered and the corresponding meridians and effects.

I to this day practice the self-massage (or dry baths as they are also called) every morning upon waking after I do my warm up exercises and stretches and also do a shorter session before I go to bed. The interesting thing I find is that it helps to wake my body up so to speak in the morning and at night it relaxes me and helps me fall to sleep. If I don’t do them which happens on occasion unfortunately, I actually feel the difference and not quite right.  It has become an enjoyable ritual for me.

These dry baths help boost the immune system because they stimulate the circulation of the blood and ensure proper irrigation of the organs.  I’ll massage various different acupoints through out the day as needed. I especially like to administer acupressure on myself to help relieve stress and generally to promote a sense of well-being.

This is done usually by pressing in and massaging with my fingers steadily in clock-wise and counter-clockwise motions. Acupressure is in a sense, acupunture with out the needles. It is not as precise and effective but a great tool nonetheless and can still have far reaching effects. I can actually feel the energetic difference in each specific area I press and with time you become better and more sensitive to it.

I will include here one of my favorite massages mentioned in the book – The Massage of the Gushing Spring or Yongquan. It is the name given to the first acupoint on the kidney-meridian running from the sole of the foot along the inner side of the leg over the belly to end under the shoulder blade. This point has many uses both preventative and therapeutic that extend far beyond the local area. It prevents nephitis and strengthens the liver and eyes. It relieves abdominal pains, combats coughing, hoarseness and sore throat and has a sedative effect in case of palpitations or distress.

For our massage purposes, we use the gushing spring to activate the circulation of the blood and prevent vascular disorders including cramps in the calves.  It is especially good to promote circulation for cold feet. After I massage this point I feel a release throughout my foot and a general sense of well-being. I highly recommend also massaging the entire bottom of the foot using an upward pressing motion up from the heel to the balls of the foot to enhance the massage. Here is the illustration from the book:

gushing spring2


We will touch more upon other acupressure and massage techniques in the future.  I encourage you to look further into using self-massage techniques and acupressure if you haven’t already done so.  Maybe you can add another healthy ritual in to your day like I did… it is truly a  great way to enhance your health and become more in tune with your body.

Warrior Rx Helps Me Recover (Again)

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Thought I would write a quick post about a recent injury I sustained playing soccer. Now because I am very active in a variety of sports and especially because of my martial arts training, getting hurt is common and part of the game so to speak. Two weeks ago I pulled a thigh muscle (which I never did before) & I was back 100% in just a few days.

I attributed this to not drinking enough water due to a recent job change. That was no big deal, I adapted in no time (I used some Warrior Rx pain rub as well) and am up to drinking about a gallon a day again which is a good amount to drink on a daily basis, especially if you are very active as it helps to hydrate the muscles. I stretch all the time so I know that not stretching was not the cause.

Unfortunately Accidents Happen 

So then last week, during yet another soccer game I hurt myself much worse, making my previous thigh muscle pull seem like a walk in the park. Basically what happened was I lost my balance (a slight push from behind didn’t help) and landed on the left side of my chest with my left arm outstretched, thus hyper-extending my left shoulder.

Once I hit the ground I knew it was bad. What kills me is after all these years of martial arts training, especially in the arts of Judo & Shuai Jiao (Chinese fast wrestling) where throwing and falling are the foundational aspects I couldn’t believe I fell this awkward & ungracefully.

But it happened, so I knew I was hurt pretty bad, I  just wasn’t sure of the extent of my injury. I massaged my shoulder using Warrior Rx when I got home to help lessen the pain. That night I felt okay, hoping it wasn’t too bad. The pain was so bad when I woke up the next day that I took myself to the emergency room and got checked out, including having x-rays done.

I knew I didn’t break anything, but this is standard procedure and it’s never a bad thing to be 100% sure no bones are broken. Really, I was just hoping I did not tear any ligaments.

The toughest part for me through all of this, is the inactivity and no exercise for days!  I was told it’s most likely just a bad sprain and would be back to normal in a week or two. I was in a sling for about 4 days, applied ice at the proper intervals and was given pain killers and anti-inflammatory pills which I took in the beginning but stopped shortly as I am not a big fan of pain pills (they didn’t seem to really help much anyway).

I did apply Warrior Rx pain rub daily with vigorous massage which did help a lot & I felt much better every time after I was done doing so. Now as a topical muscle & joint pain relief rub, it’s not going to completely knock out the pain of an injury of this extent, but it will help expedite the healing process, cut down on recovery time and lessen pain significantly.

Use Warrior Rx Instead of Dangerous Pain Pills

Like I said I avoid pain pills as much as possible because of the negative side effects and the tolerance one builds very quickly to drugs in general, so Warrior Rx is a great alternative. You get immediate relief to the area and there are no dangerous side effects… only natural ingredients (there are twelve) that actually help expedite the healing process which other topical rubs really don’t do.

I use it for injuries both large and small and will continue to do so. When I say Warrior Rx helped me recover again, I mean it because when I broke my ankle a few years back from a bad fall, I was using my fair share of this awesome topical muscle rub daily and that was the worst injury I ever sustained in my life. It really helped me through it all.

I am still not back to 100% yet with my shoulder injury, as it hasn’t even been a week yet, but I am recovering steadily with noticeable improvement. I will get an MRI done soon to make sure there are no tears so I am not out of the woods yet.  I am rehabbing it now with some Tai Chi and Chi Kung so I know I’ll be back better than ever in no time.



Best Natural Ingredients for Muscle & Joint Pain Relief

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Pain relief seems like a good topic to write my first blog post about, since it’s something we all deal with as humans and especially as athletes.

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties when I started training much harder in martial arts and pushing my strength training to a new level, did I look into what was available on the market for pain relief that was safe and natural.  When I was a kid and a teenager, I never bothered taking anything as I didn’t think much of pain because I just played through it and healed much quicker back then it seemed.

Once I started to have to deal with pain more often because of my increased training, sustained injuries and increasing age, I wanted only to use only natural ingredients that could help me and have no side effects. So naturally I looked into all kinds of natural ingredients and herbs that could help me to hasten recovery from bumps, bruises and strains in training and of course lessen the pain.

It’s not surprising that it turns out that some of the natural ingredients I used individually for topical pain relief I ended up using as part of our formulation of our Warrior Rx Muscle and Joint Pain Relief product.  One of the first that I researched and looked into was Arnica, a natural herb used in homeopathic medicines for pain relief since the 1500’s.  This herb grows in the mountains of Europe & Siberia and is used topically in a variety of forms to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation & heal wounds.  I remember using it when I started doing judo as the first few weeks I got some good sized bruises from training, it definitely helped reduce my pain and speed recovery.

Another all natural ingredient I heard about and began to use was Wintergreen Oil (also known as Methyl salicylate).  Wintergreen oil is used in many topical pain relieving products, as its chemical makeup is essentially that of liquid aspirin. It is very potent on it’s own and must be diluted if used as a topical standalone product. Blended with other essential oils, it can help relieve arthritis and reduce inflammation in joints and muscles dramatically.  At the time, I bought some popular topical products that had Methyl salicylate as the main ingredient in them (which is a safer bet than diluting or blending the oil yourself). I did buy Wintergreen oil eventually as a stand-alone product when I started looking deeper into pain relieving herbs and into this amazing oil.

I found that Menthol is used a lot in conjunction with Wintergreen oil in many pain relieving products and is another amazing natural ingredient I use and recommend.  Menthol is a compound primarily derived from peppermint or other mint oils.  It is similar to Wintergreen (methyl salicylate), as it is an anti-inflammatory and causes a cooling sensation when applied to topically.   An effective pain reliever, menthol has been shown in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology and the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity to be among the world’s most effective pain-relievers for osteoarthritis.

I’m sure you have heard of using Cayenne Pepper as an addition to flavor dishes to make them spicier and hotter. It also has a rich history of being used for medicinal purposes. Native Americans have used it for over 9,000 years for healing and ceremonial use. Cayenne acts to eliminate, or “burn up,” substance P – a compound that carries pain messages to your brain. Capsaicin is the principal active ingredient of cayenne pepper. Capsaicin has been shown to be effective for easing pain caused by arthritis and nerve conditions when applied topically as a liniment or taken internally as a supplement. When I learned about this, I started looking for topical ointments and creams that contained cayenne and even tried taking it internally as a capsule.

Another natural ingredient I started looking into and ultimately using was Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is a natural, safe and odorless sulfur compound found in the human body.  It has essential sulfur and methyl groups that are used in healing and repair processes such as supporting connective tissue repair and regeneration. MSM is known to speed relief from inflammation and promote lasting healing. It is also naturally cleanses and detoxifies and ultimately promotes healthy circulation by neutralizing free radical molecules. It is normally taken internally but can be used topically with DMSO which transports any other ingredients it is mixed with directly to the source of pain.

The last ingredient I will mention in this post is Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). DMSO is known to multiply chemical reactions in combination with other ingredients as it is a near perfect solvent and transporter. It is also used alone and is an organic, sulfur-rich substance found in the woody part of trees. I found out from a friend who recommended it to me and eventually gave me some pure DMSO that it is commonly used in veterinary medicine as a liniment for horses!  Well if they used it treat race horses for pain relief I figured it could help relieve my muscle and joint pain too!

It has an amazing range of uses (can be taken by mouth, used topically, or given intravenously even) but I will only mention here as it is related to topical treatment for pain relief.  I found that DMSO is used topically to decrease pain and speed the healing of wounds, burns, and muscle and skeletal injuries. DMSO is also used topically to treat painful conditions such as headache, inflammation, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis… truly an incredible natural compound.

That’s it for now, I will write about some other amazing natural ingredients that you could use to help relieve muscle and joint pain in future posts.  Of course, these super effective ingredients can be found in Warrior Rx Muscle & Joint Pain Relief Sports Rub.