Brylans Feat Foundation

BrightLife Direct is excited to announce we are now sponsoring Brylan’s Feat Foundation! This amazing organization is a financial resource to children in need of lymphedema treatment. Brylan’s Feat Foundation aids these families in providing the garments necessary to manage lymphedema.

Meet Brylan

This young girl was the inspiration that started it all. Brylan was born with lymphedema in her leg and has been wearing compression garments since she was 11 months old. Since she is so young and has a lot of room to grow, that means a LOT of garments. The cost for custom garments is even more than ready-to-wear options, which can take a big toll financially. Knowing that other people are in the same situation, Brylan’s mother, Brittany, founded Brylan’s Feat Foundation to help families acquire the necessary compression garments and wraps for their kids.

About Lymphedema

Lymphedema is characterized by chronic swelling, which occurs most often in the arm or leg. Some people are born with lymphedema, and others develop it after removal or damage to the lymph nodes, such as undergoing breast cancer treatment. Lymphedema can be managed with regular use of compression garments, manual lymph drainage, or other techniques. Without wearing compression garments, the swelling can get worse, and there is an increased risk of infection.

Brylan’s Impact

This wonderful organization is helping to change the lives of so many children. We are honored to have a part in it. Many families struggle to afford compression garments and they are not often covered by insurance. We are happy to sponsor Brylan’s Feat to help change this. Please help get the word out about this fantastic financial resource to aid children with lymphedema!

Learn more or donate today: https://www.brylansfeat.org/

May is Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month!

For those of you who don’t know, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) affects the connective tissues such as the skin, joints, and blood vessel walls. EDS symptoms include joints that stretch farther than normal, or have stretchy or fragile skin. EDS symptoms and the severity can vary from person to person.

There are different types of EDS, some of which are genetically inherited. EDS can take decades to diagnose. Many people who are diagnosed were very flexible in their childhood and were often involved in gymnastics, cheerleading or dancing. Others bruise easily and may frequently dislocate something.

Some people with EDS find that compression can help. Compression garments increase blood flow and help speed up muscle recovery after overexertion. Braces can benefit people with the hypermobility EDS type by helping to stabilize the joints to relieve pain.

May is EDS Awareness Month and it is important to help spread the word. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Share your story online and connect with others
  • Create special events in your local community to educate people
  • Show your stripes! Rep zebra all month and make sure everyone knows why. You never know who you will inspire to advocate.

How are you getting involved for EDS Awareness Month? Comment below to share 🙂

Additional Resources

Types of EDS – Rare Diseases

Get involved for EDS Awareness Month!

23 Signs You Grew Up With EDS – The Mighty

Patient Support – The Ehlers-Danlos Society

 

Morning Cayenne? We tried it!

“Well, if the Kardashians are doing it – that’s one reason for me to NOT do it.” That was my coworker Scott’s reaction to my suggestion that we all try a new morning health drink routine in the office. I, personally, love everything Kardashian and want to drink what they’re drinking.

Like me, you’ve probably seen or heard hundreds of suggestions and opinions on how to start your day off right. If you do a quick google search, you’ll find thousands of recipes for morning smoothies and drink concoctions that promise a world of health benefits. And, if you pick up any health or celebrity magazine, you’ll find famous faces listing off the strange things they do to keep slim and healthy. Martha Stewart starts every morning off with a green juice, Jennifer Aniston drinks hot water with lemon, Marilyn Monroe drank two raw eggs whipped in warm milk, Beethoven counted out exactly 60 coffee beans for his morning cup of coffee, and Kourtney Kardashian apparently drinks apple cider vinegar every morning.

I wanted to give one of these morning drink routines a shot, so I did some research to find the best recipe and enlisted the help of my coworkers. I specifically looked for recipes that had ingredients shown to improve circulation and reduce inflammation (since that’s what BrightLife Direct is all about!). The recipe includes, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, honey, molasses and lemon.

What do these do?

  • Ginger – Anti-inflammatory super power! It has also been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and improve digestion and blood flow.
  • Turmeric – Another anti-inflammatory spice. It has also been shown to prevent and treat cancers, help with depression and lower risk of heart disease.
  • Cayenne – Great for circulation as it improves blood flow. This super spice can also improve digestion, lower blood pressure, boost your metabolism and reduce hunger.
  • Honey – Rich in antioxidants!
  • Molasses – Unlike sugar, molasses contains vitamins and nutrients, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium.
  • Lemon – Rich in Vitamin C and great for digestion. Lemons also  contain bioflavinoids which can strengthen blood vessels.

Personally – I found the drink PRETTY spicy and hard to get down every morning, but I wanted those health benefits so I chugged it quickly! I was fighting a cold during the week I drank this, and by the third day I felt so much better. I also found that I wasn’t hungry for my morning snack (usually around 10:30 a.m.) and that I didn’t need a second cup of coffee because the spice gave me a kick!

We drank it every morning for a week. Here’s what everyone else in our office said –

“It did help suppress my appetite if I had 2 glasses of it. It also felt like it gave me a better boost of energy than what coffee would do, and I lost 2 pounds from drinking it that week!” – David (was drinking in the morning and lunch time)

“I liked the taste, but I love Bloody Mary’s. I lost three pounds and they’ve stayed off, so I would do it again as a cleanse.” – Scott

“I think I had a bit more energy, not so much a boost, but throughout the day I felt more energized. Still needs vodka but otherwise very good :)” – Mark

“I liked it! The spiciness gave me an instant jolt of energy. I didn’t notice a difference in my appetite until 3 or 4 days in, but after not drinking it today I definitely noticed a difference. I’ve been super hungry! One thing I did not notice a change in is nausea/digestion.” – Catie

Bottoms up!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sparkling water or kombucha for topping

Directions:

  1. Combine the water, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, honey, molasses, and lemon juice. Shake or stir well to combine. Chill until ready to drink. Shake before serving.
  2. Add ice to 2 glasses, pour over the water and top with sparkling water.
  3. Drink up!

What is your morning routine? Would you try this?

NOTE: We’re not doctors. Please check that any medicine you’re taking does not interact with these spices before trying. Check with your medical professional or doctor if you’re uncertain.

Get Involved for Lymphedema Awareness Month + Giveaway

As many of you know, March is Lymphedema Awareness Month. Each year, BrightLife Direct supports the lymphedema community through advocacy, education, and giving back. This year, we are offering a $100 gift card to one lucky winner! You can find the rules and enter below.

What Is Lymphedema?

First, for those who are unfamiliar with lymphedema, here is some background information: Lymphedema is a chronic lymphatic disease that is characterized by swelling (edema), most commonly in the arms or legs. This condition affects over 100 million people worldwide, yet is still unknown to many doctors and patients. Some people are born with lymphedema, and others develop it after a surgical procedure, often following a breast cancer diagnosis.

Today, there is no cure for lymphedema. However, the lymphedema community has made great strides in awareness to bring this condition to light to find a cure. Award-winning actress, Kathy Bates, developed lymphedema after undergoing a mastectomy. She is now the face of the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), sharing her story with the world to help others.

How Do You Manage Lymphedema?

Without proper management, lymphedema can become a debilitating disease. However, with manual lymph drainage (MLD), exercising, staying hydrated, and the regular use of wearing compression garments, swelling can be minimized. Many people with lymphedema struggle with the idea of having to wear compression stockings or armsleeves for life, but compression companies are listening and are making garments that are as comfortable and pleasing as possible.

Well-known compression brands like Jobst, Mediven, and Juzo, all offer compression garments in a wide range of sizes and styles in both the upper and lower extremities. For fashionistas, don’t you worry! There are tons of stylish armsleeves and stockings out there waiting for you. If you want a fun patterned armsleeve with a matching glove or gauntlet, LympheDivas has you covered. Choose from their ever-expanding range of patterns and colors to add some pizazz to your wardrobe. (Check out LympheDudes for men!) Juzo is also hip to fun colors and patterns as well. The Juzo Dream Collection offers new colors for Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter in knee highs, thigh highs, pantyhose, leggings and armsleeves. The Dream Collection is available in 15-20, 20-30, 30-40, and 40-50 mmHg in sheer, tie-dye, and opaque styles.

If you struggle to put on traditional compression garments, we have you covered as well. Compression wraps are a great alternative and are easy to put on. More and more people with lymphedema are turning to wraps for their ability to adjust compression levels and are able to accommodate swelling fluctuations. Therapists love them for their ability to fit like a custom garment at a ready-to-wear price. BiaCare, CircAid, Solaris, and Juzo, all offer fantastic wraps for the legs and arms. If you would like to learn more about these wraps, check out our Compression Wrap Catalog for more information.

BrightLife Direct understands the difficulty in finding the right garment. Between finding the right fabric or size, it can be an overwhelming process. Give us a call at 1-877-545-8585 and talk to our team of certified fitters to find the perfect garment for you. We are always happy to help you.

How Can You Get Involved In Lymphedema Awareness Month?

  • Local Events: Get involved in upcoming events. LE&RN has a ton of opportunities to get involved in your local community and online. Check out their website to find a chapter near you.
  • Online Advocacy: The lymphedema community is growing everyday. Join a Facebook group or search on Twitter and Instagram to connect with fellow lymphies! People from all over the world are sharing their journeys through blogs and social media to support one another.
  • March 6th is World Lymphedema Day. Share posts online and include #WLD2018 to show your support. Many cities all over the world will be lighting up landmarks in blue in honor of World Lymphedema Day.
  • Follow us on social media! This month, BrightLife will be sharing tons of educational information and tips for managing lymphedema. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Enter To Win Our Giveaway!

There are many ways to enter to win a $100 gift card. Your options are listed below. You can tweet your entry and comment on this blog post daily to better your chances of winning. The winner will be announced on Friday, April 6th, so make sure you are following BrightLife Direct on social media! The deadline to enter is Sunday, April 1, 2018 at 12:00am EST. Good luck everyone!

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Where Can I Find Support And Other Resources?

Learn more about CDT and MLD

Check out some awesome lymphedema blogs and communities

Join LE&RN to keep up with the latest lymphedema news and events

Browse compression garments to manage lymphedema

Stay up to date with the National Lymphedema Network (NLN)

Compression vs Containment

Sheer stocking show thruWe are often asked if sheer stockings provides the same compression as thicker, surgical weight stockings.  And when one thinks about it, how does a fine sheer fabric give the same amount of support as a much thicker, opaque fabric?  This question can be answered by explaining the difference between compression and containment.

Compression is the force pushing in on an object.  For compression stockings, that object is your leg.  If you wrap a fine thread and a thick rope around your leg, and pull on the ends with the same amount of force, you will be applying the same amount of compression to the area under the thread and the rope.   But what happens if your leg swells, and starts pushing back against the thread and the rope?   This is when containment comes into play.  The thick rope will do a much better job of containing the swelling, than the thin thread.

Now let’s examine the two main reasons people wear compression stockings.  The first is venous insufficiency.  This is when the valves in your veins that keep the blood from flowing south, don’t work properly.  Blood pools in the veins and you develop varicose veins.  Compressing the leg helps the valves work more efficiently.   There isn’t a lot of force pushing back or swelling, so the amount of containment the fabric provides isn’t that important.

The second most common reason for wearing compression stockings is to treat edema or swelling.  Excess bodily fluids that would normally be removed by the venous or lymphatic system accumulate in the tissue, causing it to swell.  Edema can be caused by many conditions and medications.   Here both compression and containment are very important in controlling and reducing the swelling, so a heavier or thicker fabric is probably the best choice.

The amount of compression and/or containment you need will depend on the condition being treated and the severity.  Talk to your doctor.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct
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Compression Socks for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body. Most people who are diagnosed with MS are between the ages of 20 and 50 years old. Additionally, women are 2-3 times more likely than men to be diagnosed with MS.

Multiple sclerosis can affect your brain, spinal cord, muscle control, vision and your balance. Symptoms and their severity are different for everyone. MS occurs when your immune system attacks and damages myelin, a fatty material which protects your nerve fibers. This limits the brain’s ability to successfully send signals throughout your body. To diagnose MS, blood tests, physical exams or other tests can be performed.

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but symptoms can be managed through a variety of treatment options, depending on the severity of the symptoms. It is important to rest and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. When you feel up to it, exercise is important to help build strength and keep your body healthy. Be aware of what your body is feeling. Limit stress and be cautious of your body temperature rising, this can cause symptoms to get worse.

Compression socks can be used to help manage swelling in the ankles, feet, and legs. Compression stockings are designed to increase circulation, which helps to prevent fatigue, swelling, and pain. They also help to prevent and manage blood clots (DVT) and varicose veins. Ask your doctor what compression level will benefit you best.

Generally, 15-20 mmHg compression is ideal for mild swelling and fatigue. This level of compression is also recommended for travel, everyday wear and to help speed up muscle recovery after a long run or tough workout. 20-30 mmHg compression is often used to manage moderate swelling and fatigue. This moderate can also help manage dysautonomia symptoms.

Get Dirty

What does dirt have to do with compression…nothing specifically, but it turns out that like compression socks, it can be beneficial to everyone’s overall health.

I grew up in a small town, in central Wisconsin.  As soon as I got home from school, I changed into my play clothes and headed outside until dinner.  I’ve always been very fastidious about cleanliness, but that didn’t stop me from exploring the pond behind our house , the creek across the street, and all the dirt in between.  I played with frogs, bugs, and worms, ate vegetables right from the garden, and my dog loved to lick my face.  Now that I’m closing in on 60, I give a lot of credit for my good health to all of the germs I met as a kid.  Now science is confirming the importance of the microbes and bacteria we are exposed to at a very early age.

Dirt Is GoodIn their new book “Dirt is Good”, scientists Jack Gilbert, PHD and Rob Knight, PHD, along with Sandra Blakeslee explain the importance of germs in the development of our immune system at a very early age.  And, how growing up in an over sterilized environment can actually be detrimental to our health in the long term and cause a lot of the new allergies we’ve seen in the last few years. It’s not just playing in the mud, though. The authors encourage a lot of behaviors that might make parents squirm, like letting a dog lick their child’s face, or eating something that’s been on the floor.

So, if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where nature is easily accessible, don’t be afraid to let your kids go outside and get a little dirty.   It’s great fun for them in the moment, and offers the possibility of significant health benefits years later.  

And to those of a younger generation, when your parents or grandparents complain of aching legs, or you notice spider or varicose veins on their ankles, encourage them to try a pair of compression stockings.   A mild or moderate compression is typically all that’s needed to treat these symptoms.  Both are easy to put on, comfortable to wear, and like a little dirt, can provide health benefits that last into old age.

Compression Socks for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleeping problems, and tenderness. Other symptoms may include cramping, tingling or numbness in the feet or hands, headaches, anxiety, poor concentration, or depression. Although doctors have not been able to determine what causes fibromyalgia, your family history, trauma, or an infection may increase your risk. You are also more likely to develop fibromyalgia if you are a woman, or if you have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Wearing compression socks can help manage fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain and inflammation. Compression stockings help to improve circulation and provide relief for swelling and fatigue. You can even find stylish compression socks for men and women, that don’t even look like traditional compression stockings. If you are unsure about what compression level you need, ask your doctor, then give us a call at 1-877-545-8585 to find a great fit for you.

Shop fashionable compression socks

With fibromyalgia, there always seems to be a new symptom that arises that you finally realize has some connection to the disease.  Swollen ankles and leg pain are one of those symptoms. Support hosiery seemed to be a logical try for a solution. They worked wonders at making my legs less painful, and lessening the swelling. This is just one of the suggestions being offered to sufferers of this strange disease.
– Peggy Bright wears Mediven Comfort

 

National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12! If you or a loved one has fibromyalgia, please take some time to share an informative article or educate someone else about fibromyalgia. If you want to help make a difference, here are some ideas of how you can get involved for National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

How do you manage fibromyalgia? Comment to share your tips below!

Resources:

The National Fibromyalgia Association

Standford Medicine – Fibromyalgia

Questions and Answers about Fibromyalgia 

14 Gadgets To Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain

Benefits of Compression Socks For Fibromyalgia

Can Compression Socks Reduce Chronic Pain?

What is Fibromyalgia?

Promoting Lymphatic Research + Giveaway!

Lymphedema is a chronic lymphatic disease that affects 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide. Symptoms include swelling in one or more parts of the body. Although many people are affected by lymphedema, many patients go undiagnosed or untreated due to a lack of knowledge and resources. To change this, many organizations, companies, doctors and patients are coming together to promote awareness and find a cure for lymphedema.

LE&RN

The Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to promote research in the fields of lymphatic diseases, lymphedema, and related disorders. Through their industry outreach program, LE&RN has established partnerships with the biotech and pharmaceutical industries working to find improved treatments and cures.

The Lymphatic Education & Research Network offers support and provides resources to lymphedema patients, including a tool to find a local lymphedema therapist. LE&RN has established a patient registry and tissue bank to serve as a repository of information for current and future researchers. Several fellowship grants are awarded each year to doctors, scientists, and organizations working in the field of lymphatic research. The immediate goal is to expand our understanding of the lymphatic system.

Actress Kathy Bates partnered up with the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) to build awareness about lymphedema. Some people are born with it, others, like Kathy Bates develop lymphedema after a mastectomy. Lymphedema is commonly caused after the lymph nodes are damaged or removed from breast cancer treatment, or it may develop after injury or surgery.

Medi For Help

Mediven, a compression hosiery company, is making a difference in Haiti. Medi For Help was founded in 2010 after an earthquake struck the country leaving more than 300,000 men, women and children injured. This relief project provides amputees with lower limb prostheses and offers orthopedic, wound care and lymphedema treatment. Medi For Help has provided treatment to 4,500 Haitians and counting. The project provides support once the patient starts walking again. Medi For Help also now treats patients with diabetes or those recovering from a car accident.

Compression Garments To Manage Lymphedema

Although there’s no cure for lymphedema (yet!) the condition can be managed with the help of a lymphedema therapist, compression garments, Manual Lymph Drainage, and other techniques. Many compression companies are paving the way in wound care and lymphedema treatment to provide innovative, comfortable and effective high compression garments.

Strong & Durable Wraps

Compression wraps are a great alternative to high compression garments and are much easier to put on. Many brands like CircAid, BiaCare and Solaris offer durable and effective options to manage lymphedema. Browse our Wrap Catalog for a variety of ankle, thigh high and full leg wraps.

Everyday Compression For Lymphedema

Many brands offer compression knee highs, thigh highs, pantyhose and armsleeves in high compression levels to manage lymphedema. Choose from a variety of sizes, styles, fabrics and compression levels to find the perfect fit for you. Each brand offers different sizing, so make sure to check the size charts for an accurate fit. Save yourself some work and use our Size Machine to automatically calculate your size in all the biggest brands!

Stylish and Supportive Options

Say goodbye to boring old beige armsleeves and stockings. Introducing LympheDivas fashionable compression armsleeves, gloves and gauntlets in a variety of sizes, lengths and compression levels for the perfect look and feel. Looking for more patterned armsleeves? Try the Juzo Signature sleeves, available in three compression levels. Add some style to any outfit in the Juzo Dream Collection, available in a variety of knee highs, thigh highs, leggings, pantyhose and armsleeves in solid and tie-dye seasonal colors.

Lymphedema Awareness Month Giveaway!

In honor of the second annual World Lymphedema Day on Monday, March 6, 2017, BrightLife will be offering a $100 gift card for lymphedema compression garments. Through the month of March, enter to win below!

To enter, log in with your email address or Facebook information below. Then, choose how you would like to enter: You can answer a question, leave a comment about the blog post, follow us on Twitter, or tweet a message. Click here for more help. Good luck!! The contest ends Friday, March 31st at midnight.

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Pete@BrightLife Direct

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Cold Shower? Soak up the health benefits in 90 seconds!

Early last week, I saw a segment on the Today Show about a 90-second shower routine that will increase circulation and alertness in the morning. Since BrightLife Direct is all about healthy circulation, I thought it warranted an investigation.

The idea is simple. Follow your normal cleansing routine in the shower, but instead of jumping out after your final rinse, stay in for an extra 90 seconds and adjust your faucet to the following:

30 Seconds: COLD
30 Seconds: HOT
30 Seconds: COLD

Then get out of the shower!

Sound terrible? I have to admit the first time it was! A few of us in the office experimented with this showering technique and reported back about a screaming 30-second countdown, dancing in circles and screaming, or simply standing and screaming. The cold water is a real shock, but each of us reported feeling some immediate effects. Hearts were pounding, blood was flowing and we all reported feeling wide awake!

Personally, having lived in Russia, I know that hot-cold therapy is an ingrained part of many cultures including Nordic countries. Russians consider going to the bath house (or banya) an important part of their weekly routine. There they sit in a incredibly hot sauna, jump into a cold pool of water or snow, and then head back to the sauna.

So, why do they do it? A myriad of health benefits! Entrepreneur.com did a full analysis and found that cold showers can help reduce stress, burn fat and improve both the vascular and immune systems!

Not enough to convince you to get under the icy water?

A journalist at the New York Times also experimented with cold morning showers and found that it increased his productivity during the day. He says that turning the shower to COLD every morning is a real struggle for him, but that “…the point is that starting your morning by tackling challenges head-on will help encourage similar behavior throughout the day.” And there’s plenty of research to back that up as well! When people tackle difficult situations first thing in the morning, they’re less likely to procrastinate throughout the day.

Your last piece of trivia on cold showers? Kathryn Hepburn was a huge proponent of them!

After a week of showers, our company’s founder is a full convert! He says that the experiment is “life-changing.” While I’m not a morning shower person, I plan to keep it up on the weekends. How can I skip out on all of the potential health benefits? If you’re a bit nervous to go full throttle on the cold water, ease yourself into it by going a bit colder (in the same short spurts) every day. You can work your way up to ice cold after a few days.

Try it out and let us know what you think!

Disclaimer: Many of the articles I read warned that people with heart conditions should check with their physician before experimenting with cold water therapy! So, please check with your doctor if you have any concerns.