Is thyme good for me?

by Brooke Strickland

The herb Thyme (a member of the mint family) is one that has been around for hundreds of years and has been used for a variety of purposes.  There are more than 350 species of this herb and in ancient times, the plant was known to pass on courage, strength, and stamina, and was even used as a cure for being melancholy. 

The most common use nowadays is to cook with it.  Fresh or dried thyme leaves have a wonderful fragrance and flavor that adds to a variety of dishes and cultural cuisine. It’s popular for use in soups, sautéed veggies, casseroles, stews, stuffing, and even custards.   There are also some medicinal uses for thyme.  Using thyme essential oil can help calm stress and when using it in bathing can be used to ease sore joints or muscles and in infants, has even shown to help ease colic.  It is rich in thymol, which is a strong antiseptic and antibiotic.  It’s commonly used in mouthwashes and cough drops and has been used to treat acute and chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, or other upper respiratory tract infections.  Other ways it has been used is for anti-fungal use that can help treat lice, scabies, or crabs.  The herbs in the mint family, including thyme, have also been known to have anti-cancer properties to them.

Wondering how you can introduce thyme into your regular routines?  Try making a tea out of crushed thyme leaves.  Crush the leaves, let it steep, and then strain.   When cooking meat – especially lamb, poultry, or pork – you can use whole stems of thyme to help season the meat.  Or, if you’re looking for a healthy side dish idea, sauté asparagus or green beans with lemon and fresh thyme.  It’s also great when used in soup or when added to a stock for stew. 


1.   Thyme-Health Benefits. Vegetarianism & Vegetarian Nutrition.   Accessed August 5, 2012.

2.   “Medicinal Uses of Thyme.” Off the Grid May 26, 2011. Accessed August 5, 2012

Too much night at light linked to depression

By Brooke Strickland

A recent study published by Ohio State University Medical Center showed that hamsters with chronic exposure to dim light at night showed signs of depression in a matter of weeks, which included decreased physical activity, disinterest in sugar water (a hamster luxury), and changes in the brain's hippocampus.  The changes closely mimic what the brain of a depressed individual looks like.   This isn’t the only study that showed negative effects of lighting before bedtime.  The American Medical Association also recently published a study that showed that light at night can disrupt the natural rhythm of the body and change regular hormone responses in the body.  Researchers say that these effects have been seen even more in the last 50 years, mainly because of more exposure to televisions, computers, cell phones, Kindles, iPads, and more. 

It’s important to unplug at least an hour before bed.  If you’re used to a routine of reading your Kindle in bed or catching up with the latest episode of your favorite sitcom as you lay in bed, it’s time to break the habit.  Shut off the TV and close your laptop and instead, do some other relaxing activities, such as taking a bath, enjoying a glass of tea with the newspaper or book (not on your Kindle or iPad), or taking some time to talk with your spouse, children, or a friend.   These activities are more important than staying connected to your mobile device and can truly prove beneficial to your overall health.

If you find yourself connected to your mobile device during the wee hours of the night, your physical, as well as mental health may be in danger.  Technology, gaming, and Internet addiction is real.  If you or someone you know is suffering from this addiction, visit for more information on getting help.


1.   Blue, Laura. “Unplug! Too much light at night may cause depression.”  July 25, 2012.  Accessed August 5, 2012.

What is sleep apnea?

By Brooke Strickland

Sleep apnea is a common condition that means that there is a pause in breathing during sleep, either a few seconds or minutes at a time.  Once breathing resumes, it’s usually with a loud snort or a choking sound. These pauses can happen up to 30 times or more in any given hour, and can be very disrupting to regular sleep, thus making sleepiness during the day a huge problem for those that live with sleep apnea. 

How do I know if I have it?

You likely won’t know that you have it, because you’re asleep when it occurs.  If you sleep next to someone regularly, they are most likely the person that will recognize the symptoms.   There are two types of the disorder and they include obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and means that the breathing airway collapses or becomes blocked, which means you’ll have shallow breathing or actual pauses in breathing.   It can occur in anyone, but it is most commonly seen in people that are overweight.   Central sleep apnea isn’t as common and means that the area of your brain that controls breathing isn’t firing the right signals to your breathing muscles.  This type of apnea is seen more often in people who are taking specific medications or have certain medical conditions. 

What does it mean if I have sleep apnea?

If sleep apnea isn’t treated, there are several risk factors, which include high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, increased irregular heartbeats, and increased sleepiness during the day.  If you’re diagnosed with it, your doctor will work to help bring back regular breathing during your sleep.  Mouth pieces or breathing devices worn during sleep, lifestyle changes, certain medications, or even surgery may be options for helping reduce the presence of sleep apnea.   Talking to your doctor about the best treatment option for you is important. 

Are you addicted to your cell phone?

By Brooke Strickland

After years of being in the “dark ages”, last month I finally got a Smartphone.  I’ve always thought I didn’t really need one…that I could get along without all the fanciness that comes with these types of phones.  But now that I have one, I see the draw.  I can see why so many people appear attached to the phone in their hands.  We use these cell phones every day, but for some people, connecting with the online world via their phone has become not only a convenience, but a necessity, and ultimately an obsession.  It’s been called “Nomophobia” – “No mobile phone phobia.”  And according to a study conducted by SecurEnvoy, more than 66% of people surveyed said they have a fear of losing their cell phone or being separated from it in some manner, up from only 53% last year. In fact, even 75% of people admit to using their phones in the bathroom.[1]  

Instead of the phone being a tool to use as needed, or for emergency situations, they have become a source of addiction, giving people the tools to be online at a second’s notice, allowing them to interact with whoever they want, whenever they want.  Because of this, real life relationships are suffering, because people have lost the ability to effectively communicate with people face to face.  Instead, they prefer to talk through Facebook, e-mail, or text.  While this can be a good thing, many people have taken it to the extreme and rely solely on this method of communication, thus jeopardizing what’s happening in their everyday life. 

Do you have nomophobia?  You might have it if you are obsessive about checking your phone for text messages or emails, if you sleep with it, you feel anxious if you can’t find it, or you simply never turn it off for fear of missing out on some sort of communication.  

Addiction to technology is real and can be potentially hazardous to your relationships.  If you or someone you know is addicted to the Internet, cell phone, online gaming, or technology as a whole, visit for more information.

[1] “Addicted to your cell phone?  Nomophobia is on the rise.” May 8, 2012.  Accessed August 5, 2012.

Am I dehydrated?

By Brooke Strickland

In the summer heat, it’s easy to get busy with all the fun activities to do outside and forget to replenish your body with lots of water.  Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water to operate on throughout the day.  Your system becomes like a desert – it simply starts drying out.  It can occur for a lot of reasons, not only just forgetting to drink enough.  Dehydration can also happen if you’ve been sick with excessive vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.  In addition, excessive sweating in hot or humid weather or increased urination with some diseases such as diabetes can increase the amount of fluid you’re losing. 

So, how do you know if you’re dehydrated? 

Mild to moderate dehydration can cause:

-Dry and sticky mouth
-Sleepiness or tiredness
-Decreased urine output
-Few or no tears when crying
-Dry skin
-Dizziness or feeling lightheaded 

However, when you’ve gone without fluids for a significant period of time, serious dehydration can occur, which is truly a medical emergency, and one that may require hospitalization.  Symptoms include lack of sweating, extreme thirst, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat or breathing, fever, little or no urination, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness can occur.   If not treated, swelling of the brain, seizures, low blood volume shock, kidney failure, or coma can all happen. 

Basically, a good way to gauge if you’re dehydrated is to watch the color of your urine.  If it is light-colored or clear, then you’re fully hydrated.  If it’s dark yellow or amber, it’s time to start drinking more fluid.  The best drink of course, is water, but other drinks like Gatorade or Powerade can help get you hydrated fast.

If you’re a parent, and you suspect your child is dehydrated, make sure to get them to drink as much as possible, whether it be water, juice, or Pedialyte.  If your children develops diarrhea, can’t keep down fluids or has a severe lack of urination, call your doctor immediately.  These can be signs of serious dehydration and medical attention is needed.