Friday, February 26, 2010

3 Safe and Simple Health Tests You Can Do At Home

The February 24 issue of The Oregonian featured an article by Joe Rojas-Burke, "Safe, simple health tests you can do at home," which stated that one of the most informative tests has proved "to be the cheapest: blood pressure measurements, taken lying down and then standing." Though low-tech approaches aren't flashy, researchers have developed some simple tests that have "proven accurate at predicting future health problems. The advanced warning can provide time to avoid illness by making changes in diet, exercise, sleep and other habits, and if necessary, taking medications to stay healthy."

Each test is simple and safe to try at home. If, however, you have any questions or concerns or experience any negative results, contact your primary care physician immediately.

Resting Heart Rate
Resting heart rate is an early warning for heart attack. To test yourself, you should first sit quietly for five minutes, then use your fingertips to find your pulse at your throat or wrist. Then "count the beats in 30 seconds and multiply by two. If your rate is above 75, consider talking to a medical caregiver about whether you need to make changes to lower your heart attack rick."

Waist Size
Waist size is an early warning for diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. To test yourself, first measure your bare waist across the belly button. Don't compress your skin. If your measurement is greater than 35 inches (woman) or 40 inches (men), it may " signal high risk for diabetes and heart disease. In children, the measures are less certain, says Dr. Sudhir Ken Mehta, a pediatric cardiologist at Case Western Reserve University and Fairview Hospital in Cleveland, whose research has linked waist size to heart problems in children. Mehta says its worth talking to a doctor if by age 5 your child's waist size exceeds 24 inches; by age 10 years it's more than about 30 inches; or by age 15 it's more than 35 inches."

Sit-Up Capacity
Sit-up capacity is an early warning for premature death. To test yourself, lie on your back, place your hands behind your head, and bend your knees at a right angle. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Then curl at the waist, toward your knees, and return to your starting position. Count the number of repetitions you can complete in one minute: " If your performance is below average, more strength training would do you good. Average is 14 sit-ups for women in their 40s, nine in their 50s, and six in their 60s. For men, it's 23 sit-ups in their 40s, 18 in their 50s, and 12 in their 60s."

>> For more try-at-home health tests, and to read the original research, download the full-length article from The Oregonian here:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ACHS adopts TopSchool as their SLM system, increasing efficiency for prospective and current students

The American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) has adopted TopSchool as its student lifecycle management (SLM) system. By adopting TopSchool, prospective and current ACHS students will gain greater access to real-time information through dynamic, customized self-help portals.

ACHS’s new portals increase efficiency by allowing students to complete their own automatic degree audit to determine which courses have been completed, which are required to complete their program or degree, and which electives are currently available. Prospective and current students will also be able to apply and enroll at ACHS online; register for courses online; view grades and order transcripts online; securely view financial account information online; and directly manage their accounts online.

“We like the fact that TopSchool’s system is built solely for higher education,” says Dorene Petersen, President of ACHS. “The CRM, SIS, and reporting tools are all integrated, allowing us to automate many of our processes. The system is also easy to use—its flexibility will allow us to configure it on our own as our needs evolve.”

>>Read the full-length article from the American College of Healthcare Sciences here:

Essential Oil of Vitex May Help with Symptoms of PMS and Menopause

ACHS President Dorene Petersen harvests vitex berries for essential oil distillation in the American College of Healthcare Sciences Botanical Teaching Garden on February 17, 2010

Vitex Vitex agnus-castus, also called chaste tree and monk's pepper, is from the family Verbenaceae. A perennial, deciduous shrub, vitex grows to about 6-18 feet high and can spread to about 15 feet. The leaves are dark green, the flowers are small and lilac, and the berries are red-black with a spicy, aromatic flavor and aroma.

Historically, vitex is said to have been chewed by monks to help preserve their celibacy. There are also reports mentioning its use in Greek rituals, as well as the practice of carrying twigs for protection against dangers and to signify chastity.

Vitex essential oil is a pale to dark-yellow color and has a strong aroma, but is not traditionally used in perfumery. The fruit, or berries, are used to produce the oil, which includes the active constituents limonene, 1,8-cineol, pinene, carophyllene, and sabinene.

Therapeutically, vitex essential oil is thought to have hormonal effects, such as support for the relief of common menopausal symptoms[1] and PMS[2], and may have antibacterial and antifungal effects.

>> To learn more about the medicinal benefits of vitex, check out this free education video from the American College of Healthcare Sciences with College President Dorene Petersen:

Sign up to follow ACHS on YouTube, ACHStv, to receive automatic updates the moment new videos are posted:

>> For your vitex essential oil, stop by the Apothecary Shoppe:

[1] Lucks, B. 2003. Vitex agnus castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a research update. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery Vol 9, Issue 3 148-154.
[2] 2009. The premenstrual syndrome: effectiveness of Vitex agnus castus.
Med Monatsschr Pharm. May; 32(5): 186-91.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aromatherapy for the Home: ACHS Featured on Better Living Show Blog

ACHS is gearing up for the Better Living Show taking place at the Portland Expo Center March 26-28. ACHS will be exhibiting at this fun and accessible sustainability show for the second year, and will have interactive holistic health presentations and lifestyle displays, as well as holistic health experts and ACHS faculty and staff on hand for attendees to speak with.

Here is a link to more information about ACHS at the Better Living Show @ booth #811, including show times and directions:

Take a moment to check out the Better Living Show website, where we have a great aromatherapy article,
"Aromatherapy at Home," featured on the Show's blog. Here is a sneak peek of the article, which includes information about aromatherapy, including tips for how to use essential oils in your home to create a clean environment and to create sanctuary:

You may have seen the term “aromatherapy” on product labels, or even as part of spa services or in advertising. But perhaps you’re wondering, “What does aromatherapy really mean?” Translated literally, aromatherapy is the use of aromas for their healing properties. It is “the controlled use of essential oils to promote the health and vitality of the body, mind and spirit,” as Shirley Price, a noted clinical aromatherapist, further explains in her book Aromatherapy for Health Professionals.

So what does essential mean? Essential oils are the distilled or expressed product of volatile components synthesized by various plant tissues of a single plant species (the healing components). Simply, essential means that these distilled or expressed oils contain the essence or the fragrant part of the plant."

To read the full-length aromatherapy article, go to the Better Living Show website here:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ACHS President Dorene Petersen Featured in Article Series "The Business of Aromatherapy"

Check out this new Q & A with American College of Healthcare Sciences President Dorene Petersen published on the Essential U blog. Learn more about how Dorene became interested in aromatherapy, what she is passionate about, the business of aromatherapy, and what makes the ACHS Apothecary Shoppe College Store products so unique!

Kayla Fioravanti says on her blog Essential U: "Dorene Petersen is the President of The College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) which keeps her busy enough, but Dorene is passionate and manages to fit a lot onto her plate. I had the privilege of coming to ACHS to work with her and a panel of registered aromatherapists to review exam questions for the ARC registration test. Dorene is not only surrounded by books, but she is exceptionally familiar with their content. She was able to quickly double check facts from her vast library of books on any topic. I drooled over her library of books and added a few books to my library from the Apothecary Shoppe at the College before I left. "

Read more of the article, "The Business of Aromatherapy: American College of Healthcare Sciences," here:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Aspirin Use Associated with Decreased Risk of Breast Cancer Death

Studies with aspirin have shown it can inhibit growth and decrease the invasiveness of breast cancer. In specific, a February 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology examined whether aspirin use among women with breast cancer would decrease their risk of death from breast cancer. The study included over 4,000 registered nurses in the Nurses' Health Study who were diagnosed with stages I, II, or III breast cancer between 1976 and 2002 and were observed until death or June 2006. Results found that 2-7 days of aspirin use per week was associated with both a decrease in breast cancer metastasis and death from breast cancer.

For more information about this study, link to the Journal of Clinical Oncology here:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

University of Illinois Botanical Symposium in Chicago March 23

The American Botanical Council (ABC) just let us know about a botanical symposium taking place next month in Chicago. The Developments in Botanical Dietary Supplements Research from 1994 to Today symposium will be held March 23 at the Holiday Inn, Mart Plaza, in Chicago.

The day-long botanical dietary supplements research symposium is being offered by the University of Illinois at Chicago Botanical Center (UIC), and will feature the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) head Dr. Paul Coates, as well as representation from NCCAM.

The symposium will feature scientists from the U.S. and abroad, who will talk about their botanical research. A full agenda is available from UIC. For more information, check out their website at:

For more information about supplements, check out Dr. Arianna Staruch's blog post "The How and Why of the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 Proposed by Senator McCain."

>> If you're interested in learning more about botanicals and nutrition, check out the ACHS website at!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The How and Why of the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 Proposed by Senator McCain

BY Dr. Arianna Staruch, ACHS Academic Dean

In Jan 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report suggesting that the FDA should take further actions to improve oversight and consumer understanding of dietary supplements. This report was triggered by the three-fold increase in adverse event reports received by the FDA since mandatory reporting went into effect on December 22, 2007.

The GAO wanted to know if the FDA was able to “identify and act on concerns about the safety of dietary supplements, and foods with added dietary ingredients, and to ensure that consumers have useful information about the safety and efficacy of supplements.”[1] What it found was that the FDA “has limited information on the number and location of dietary supplement firms, the types of products currently available in the marketplace, and information about moderate and mild adverse events reported to industry.” In addition the FDA “is hindered by a lack of mandatory recall authority and the difficult process of demonstrating significant or unreasonable risk for specific ingredients.”[2]

There is also concern that some food products could be marketed as dietary supplements to circumvent the safety standard required for food additives.

In response to this GAO report, Senator McCain proposed the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010.[3]

To address the lack of information about dietary supplement firms, the bill proposes the registration of “dietary supplement facilities” which would be required to file annually a list of all dietary supplements “manufactured, packaged, held, distributed, labeled, or licensed by the facility,” including the names and address of each facility and all trade names. This will most likely create record maintenance obligations for downstream manufactures and retailers, who will be obliged to obtain written confirmation, from ingredient suppliers or from supplement brand marketers. According to Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), this “places new burdens on dietary supplements that are not required for any other class of food.”

In addition, the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 bill would change the “grandfather” status of dietary supplement products marketed in the U.S. prior to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), before October 15, 1994. It instead establishes a list of “‘Accepted Dietary Ingredients’, to be prepared, published, and maintained by the Secretary,” and defines a new dietary ingredient as any ingredient not included on such list. Any substance not on the list would have to be submitted to the FDA 75 days before being used in a supplement with data supporting its history of use and safety.

The Government Accountability Office wants to extend the mandatory reporting of adverse event from the current serious adverse events to mild and moderate adverse events, with the manufacturer keeping records on all of them for a minimum of three years. The AHPA notes, “Marketers of conventional foods have no adverse event reporting requirements, even for serious adverse events.”

In addition, the GAO wants the FDA to have recall authority over supplement products, to order the cessation of distribution, notification of distributers, importers, retailers and consumers, of any product that is determined to cause serious, adverse health consequences or death, or is adulterated or misbranded. The problem here is that products could be considered adulterated if it has an ingredient not on the established list, or if the formula was changed or reformulated and the change was not registered or updated, even if this change does not present any hazard to the public. Herbs can vary in availability and quality and sometimes formulas are changed to maintain the overall effectiveness of the product. McCain’s bill includes monetary penalties for non-compliance with these regulations

What is of particular interest is the loss of supporters reported by Senator McCain’s office: Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, the United States Olympic Committee, the American College of Sports Medicine, National College Athletic Association, and the PGA Tour.

This gives the impression that what McCain is really trying to do is to curb the use of herbs and supplements that might have anabolic or performance enhancing effects and are currently “getting around” regulations.


[1] GAO-09-250 January 29, 2009

[1] GAO-09-250 January 29, 2009


Monday, February 15, 2010

Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) is Looking for Presenters

The Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) is looking for qualified aromatherapists who want to present at a future AIA event and/or teleconference.

If you would like to present, or know someone who may be interested in giving a presentation or leading a workshop for AIA, you can download an application here:

Length and topics of consideration are yet to be determined. To email your application, download the form, and then click the Submit by Email button located on the top right. Or, you can save the form and email it to To mail the form, use the address printed on the form, and to fax, send to (303) 979-7135.

For more information, contact AIA at:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Aromatherapy Insight Cards: A Practical Tool for Everyday Health

Have you tried these Aromatherapy Insight Cards before? If not, you may want to. Not only do these cards and accompanying text provide great background information about essential oils, they also provide an interactive, hands-on tool to start incorporating essential oils into your everyday health and wellness routine.

As the book jacket outlines, "we need to rebalance our lives and regain all that we are searching for. [...] The Aromatherapy Insight Cards are a practical tool to help you tap into your intuition, develop your emotional awareness, and increase your knowledge base as you learn the subtle uses for aromatherapy."

For more information on this text by Jennifer Jefferies, ND, check it out on the Apothecary Shoppe website:

Here's the oil we selected for today, Tuesday, February 9, 2010: Cinnamon, Cinnamomum seylanicum. According to the text, cinnamon is a tool to help you "regain that passion for life." It has the physical benefit of "a valuable antiseptic and it warms, giving relief to arthritic aches and pains. It also alleviates coughs and colds, nervous tension and exhaustion."

Jefferies, Jennifer ND. Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy: Australia. 2005.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is Changing Directions

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is "expected to focus less on the large human clinical trials common in the past and more on fundamental research," according to an article released by the American Botanical Council (ABC).

The Center, which is entering its second decade of operations, will continue to dedicate more than 50% of its research to human studies, but will move towards a more "patient-centered approach," focusing on "effectiveness-based studies emphasizing interventions in real-world settings."

Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, NCCAM Director, told ABC that "All of us recognize that assessing how modalities work in real world settings is critical,” and she noted a study that "uses existing data, including 5 years of insurance claims, to compare outcomes, quality of care, and costs of patients who use CAM providers for back pain treatment with those who do not."

You can read more about potential areas of focus for NCCAM research, as well as how these changes may influence CAM modalities and the general healthcare system, from Herbal Gram:

Friday, February 5, 2010

ACHS Apothecary Shoppe College Store Donates to Mercy Corps’s Work in Haiti

ACHS President Dorene Petersen (left) and Communications Manager Lauren Shapiro (far right), both dressed in red for National Wear Red Day, hand the College's $1,000 donation to Megan McMorran, head of Programming and Operations for Mercy Corps's Action Center.

The ACHS Apothecary Shoppe College Store selected Mercy Corps as their partnership organization to raise awareness and funds for relief work in Haiti. The Apothecary Shoppe, which pledged on their website 20% of sales made between January 15-31, 2010, to Mercy Corps raised $1,000, which will help Mercy Corps’s work to bring clean water and improved sanitation to post-quake Haiti.

The American College of Healthcare Sciences founded the Apothecary Shoppe as a health resource for their students and community, and to support the mission of the College: “To provide leadership in holistic health education through comprehensive professional online and on-campus education and high quality natural products with a commitment to sustainable practices and principles.” The Shoppe sources holistic health products and supplies, including organic and sustainably wildcrafted herbs and essential oils, and works to preserve and share knowledge in natural medicine by hosting monthly community wellness events.

The Apothecary Shoppe, housed in Portland, Oregon, launched their donation campaign as an opportunity to help Mercy Corps, also Portland-based, and to promote awareness about the importance of basic healthcare for sustainable health.

“The reports were heartbreaking,” said ACHS President Dorene Petersen, “continue to be heartbreaking. I mean, we were hearing about people looting toothpaste for basic sanitation, but also to help mask the smell of wounded and dying people. We’re a holistic health college; we know that good nutrition, including clean water, stress intervention, and basic sanitation are essential for health and wellness. So we felt that donating to Mercy Corps’s work would have immediate and long-term impact for the post-recovery health of Haiti.”

The Apothecary Shoppe offers a distinguished selection of holistic health products, including certified organic herbs, organic essential oils, flower essences, homeobotanical remedies, and reference materials.

To learn more about the Apothecary Shoppe’s mission and products, visit

Thursday, February 4, 2010

ACHS Invited to Participate in the AeX-Institution Scholarship

Great news! The American College has been invited to participate in the new AeX-Institution Scholarship offered through the Education and Career Campus Foundation.

To be eligible for this $1,000 scholarship, applicants must be active duty military, retired military, or an immediate family member. For the 2009-2010 academic year, this scholarship will be limited to members of the Unites States Marine Corps or their family members.

For ACHS applicants, the application deadline has been extended to April 30, 2010, and will be awarded May 2010.

If you have friends or family who are affiliated with the Marine Corps and interested in studying with ACHS, please let them know about this funding opportunity. Tell them to call ACHS Admissions for more information at (503) 244-0726 or email

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Sweetheart of a Deal. New Apothecary Shoppe Pricing and Free Valentine's Goodies.

Thank you for your continued support of the ACHS Apothecary Shoppe College Store! Our mission is to provide leadership in holistic health education, which we accomplish in part through our commitment to high-quality natural products and sustainable practices and principles.

We work hard to source the best holistic health products and supplies available, and to offer them to you at the best prices we can. It has been a year or so since our last price adjustments. There have been some fluctuations in the pricing of carrier oils, so we have (happily!) reduced the pricing of all Apothecary Shoppe carrier oils.

Our new pricing reflects current market value only. The high quality you rely on is the same. We will never sacrifice quality and thoroughly investigate the harvesting, manufacturing, and product practices of our suppliers to ensure adherence to our mission.

We know Valentine's Day is around the corner, and what could be more loving and romantic than a custom massage oil blend with therapeutic-grade essential oils and carrier oils. (Nothing we can think of!) All essential oil orders placed by February 14, 2010, will receive 1 oz of sweet almond oil free. Spend $50 or more, and we'll send you a complimentary link to AromaMassage, a 60-minute DVD with easy-to-follow instruction for using essential oils with an at-home massage.

Did you know...
Rose essential oil, discovered between 1582 and 1612, is used to excite low libido and lends an aphrodisiac-riddled aroma to perfume, bodycare, and massage oils. Rose also creates a romantic atmosphere when diffused into the air. To learn more about aromatherapy for Valentine's Day, including do-it-yourself recipes, create your Apothecary Shoppe account and download our article "Aromatherapy for Valentine's Day."

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