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Natural Relief for Springtime Allergies

Spring time has arrived and with it comes the pollen, grass, and other allergens that make our eyes itch, noses run, and causes us to have sneezing fits all throughout the day. If you are an allergy sufferer then you are likely familiar with antihistamines like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Benedryl. Those a good options but if you are looking for an herbal allergy buster, consider Nettle leaf! 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is strictly for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your physician and/or healthcare provider before beginning to use herbal products. 

Latin Name: Urtica dioca

Common Name: Nettle aka Stinging Nettles

Parts used: aerial, radix, seeds

Actions: antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, mild hypoglycemic, diureticanti-hemorrhagic, hemostaticdetoxifier, vasodilator, circulatory stimulant, hypotensive, nutritive, galactagogue, astringent, expectorant, anti-allergic, reduces BPH, anti-rheumatic

Medicinal Uses: Nettle works as a diuretic by helping your kidneys remove uric acid which can help with painful gout symptoms. The diuretic action of Nettle makes it useful in the treatment of edema (swelling), arthritis with swollen joints, and congestive heart disease. The Nettle root is indicated in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and uterine hemorrhages. It is specific for nervous eczema and will strengthen and support the whole body. Plays an important role in chronic and degenerative condition of the musculoskeletal system such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), gout, joint pain and muscle pain (myalgia).

Who should use this herb: The nettle leaves are great for anyone with musculoskeletal pain, arthritis, or gout. Nettle is also great for those suffering from seasonal allergies & chronic inflammation (i.e. autoimmune conditions like Lupus, Sjogren’s Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.).

Who should avoid this herb: While there are no known contraindications or interactions, some people may experience a hypersensitivity or allergy to Nettles.  The symptoms are throat tightness and aggravation of sinusitis and rhinitis (runny nose). The fresh leaves cause wheals & irritation from the nettle hairs.  This reaction is self-limited and may even be used therapeutically to produce a counter-irritant effect. Consult your physician. 

How to use Nettle: Nettle can be used as a tea, tincture, capsule, or tincture.

Tea: steep 2 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink 1 cup, three times a day for seasonal allergy relief. 

Tinctures/Capsules/Extracts: you can purchase a Nettle tincture at your local natural/health food store or online. Visit my Holistic Pharmacy for access to high-quality supplements & herbal products. 

As previously mentioned, please consult a naturopathic doctor before self-prescribing herbs.

References:

  1. Monographs on the medicinal uses of plant drugs. Exeter, UK: European Scientific Co-op Phytother, 1997.
  2. Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Trans. S. Klein. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council, 1998.
  3. Rayburn, K., Fleischbein, E., Song, J., Allen, B., Kundert, M., Leiter, C., and Bush, T. Stinging nettle cream for osteoarthritis. Altern.Ther.Health Med. 2009;15(4):60-61.
  4. Jacquet, A., Girodet, P. O., Pariente, A., Forest, K., Mallet, L., and Moore, N. Phytalgic, a food supplement, vs placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Arthritis Res.Ther. 2009;11(6):R192.

Featured

Key Nutrients To Support Work Stress Management

Technically “Burnout” is not classified as a specific condition, but it’s a major cause of stress for many people. The mental, emotional and physical effects of work stress can be crippling for many of us who are juggling lots of different responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many key nutrients that may help you cope with work-related stress and its effects on your health.

woman sitting in front of macbook

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Burnout was once called an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is described as “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”  Unfortunately, thanks to the pandemic, work and home life have become intertwined, leaving us with an impossibly long “to-do” list and no time to decompress from one stressor before we begin another.

Wondering if you are experiencing burnout?

Here are some common signs and symptoms of burnout:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Feeling unsuccessful at your work or that your talents are being wasted
  • Increased mental and emotional distance from your work

The mental, emotional and physical effects of work stress are well documented and include everything from GI distress to sleep concerns. Although many steps must be taken to conquer burnout, research shows there are some key nutrients that may also help you manage your stress while taking a holistic approach. 

A 2018 study published in the journal Nutrients described how a combination of certain nutrients helped burned out workers cope better with their stress. In this study the key nutrients included:

  • Taurine (an essential amino acid during times of illness and stress)
  • L-ornithine (an amino acid that may decrease fatigue during exercise & stress)
  • L-phenylalanine (an amino acid that plays a role in our mood, pain perception, and inflammation)
  • L-tyrosine (an amino acid that plays an important role in our moods like anxiety & depression)
  • Vitamin C (a potent antioxidant and immune booster)
  • Vitamin B1 (necessary for metabolism and nerve health)
  • Vitamin B2 (a critical vitamin for metabolism and breaking down proteins & carbs)
  • Vitamin B6 (a critical vitamin for the processing of proteins and hormones like serotonin, dopamine, & melatonin)
  • Niacin (a vitamin that regulates cholesterol levels)
  • Pantothenic acid (necessary for energy production and production of cholesterol)
  • Folic Acid (necessary for DNA health & prevents spinal birth defects)
  • Vitamin B12 (necessary for normal nerve cell activity)
  • Magnesium (an essential nutrient for several reactions in our body)
  • Zinc (involved in over 300 different enzymes for wound repair, fertility, etc.)
  • Selenium (an essential trace mineral)
    Molybdenum (an essential trace mineral)
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These nutrients are a combination of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), B vitamins, and minerals. All of which are designed to help us nourish our nervous systems, manage our stress response, and regain our energy & vitality.

In this study, all of the 59 participants were given a combination of supplements and at the end of the 12 week study they noted an improved sense of joy along with reduced overload, irritability, fatigue, and tension.

Workplace stress is a significant concern for many, especially as companies are operating with less employees (putting the majority of the burden on their current employees). Ready to say goodbye to burnout & exhaustion and hello to more joy & energy? Let’s chat…click below to book a FREE 30 minute wellness call. Let’s work together to reduce your stress!

What Exactly is Leaky Gut?

I promise I’m not exaggerating when I say that “It all starts with the gut”. Our gastrointestinal system influences the health of everything in the body & when it isn’t functioning at its optimal level, it can affect other body systems and lead to mood disturbances, systemic inflammation, & a host of other issues.

Truthfully, the gut is rather amazing. It is commonly known as our ”second brain”, has its own immune system, & makes nearly 90% of an important neurotransmitter, serotonin. Unfortunately, the food that we eat and even chronic inflammation can often result in a condition called ”Leaky gut syndrome”.

WHAT IS LEAKY GUT SYNDROME?

Leaky gut syndrome results from the lining of the gut being damaged – often by gluten, stress, illness, antacid drugs, and antibiotics. When the lining of our gut is damaged, things like undigested food particles and toxins can escape into the bloodstream and cause further inflammation. Our immune system attacks these ‘foreign invaders’ causing inflammation responses.

WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME?

The microbiome is developed from the time we are in our mother’s womb and is essential for human development, immunity and nutrition. Our gut is made up of trillions of good and bad bacteria that aid in protecting our health. A healthy microbiome can assist with immune regulation, metabolism, weight loss, mood and reducing inflammation.

COMMON SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE A LEAKY GUT

  • Constant hunger or cravings, especially for carbs and sugars
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Brain fog and diminished memory
  • Skin issues, including eczema, acne or rosacea
  • Depression  and/or anxiety
  • Hormonal imbalances

HOW CAN I NATURALLY IMPROVE MY GUT HEALTH?

  • Remove inflammatory foods from your diet. Limit refined grains, processed foods, sugars and soda
  • Eat fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir or kombucha that have beneficial bacteria
  • Limit gut-damaging medications such as NSAIDs and antibiotics
  • Exercise at least 20 minutes a day

FINAL THOUGHTS

Gut health is foundational when it comes to your overall health. When you heal your gut, you heal your body!

NEED MORE SUPPORT?

If you’d like a more hands on approach for improving your gut health, click here to book a free Welcome to Wellness visit.

Signs You May Have PCOS

I am one of the millions of American women with PCOS. Like you, I’ve had to struggle with weight gain, excess hair growth, and fertility challenges. When I was diagnosed in 2017, I was crushed. I had just gotten married and there was NOTHING I wanted more than to get pregnant and become a mother.

Many of you know the pain of being told that you will have difficulty conceiving (or may not be able to conceive at all). I honestly thought all hope was lost until I began working with a naturopathic doctor. She helped me clean up my diet (and my relationship with food as a whole), I started dedicated consistent time to exercise, and I started using powerful herbs to balance my hormones and improve my blood sugar levels. After 3 months of trying, I became pregnant with my son– we just celebrated his 3rd birthday last month!

The truth is the beginning of my story begins with KNOWING & recognizing the signs of PCOS. Too many of us think that these symptoms are normal because our mom, aunties, cousins, etc. have it too. Frankly, they may have PCOS too and just went their whole lives not knowing.

WHAT IS PCOS?

PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries and small cysts on the outer edges. It is the most common hormonal condition affecting women of childbearing age, about 8-13 out of 100 people. Many women don’t know they have PCOS until they experience difficulty getting pregnant. 

If you have PCOS, more testosterone and insulin is produced than is needed.

This excess hormone stops the release of eggs from your ovary, but it doesn’t stop them being produced. The eggs continue to build up in your ovaries, which is why the condition is referred to as polycystic ovaries (many cysts in your ovaries).

Testosterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries. If you have PCOS, your ovaries produce much more testosterone than they need to. This excess is what causes many of the symptoms of PCOS.

Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in your blood. If you have PCOS, your body may not be able to use the insulin as it should (this is known as insulin resistance(. As a result, the level of glucose in your blood becomes too high. To try to lower your blood glucose levels, your body produces even more insulin. High levels of insulin can lead to weight gain, irregular periods and fertility problems.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SIGNS OF PCOS?

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
  • Oil skin or acne
  • Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
  • Excess facial, chest, back or other body hair
  • Mood Swings

HOW CAN I TREAT PCOS SYMPTOMS NATURALLY?

Go whole: Whole foods are as close to their natural, unprocessed state as possible – free from artificial sugars, hormones, and preservatives. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are whole foods that you can add to your diet. Without hormones and preservatives, your endocrine system can better regulate your blood sugar.

Up your magnesium intake: Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals to help balance hormones. Almonds, cashews, spinach, and bananas are PCOS-friendly foods rich in magnesium.

Cut out coffee: I know this will be a hard one for all the coffee lovers out there! If you can’t go without a caffeine boost, reach for green tea instead. Green tea has been shown to improve insulin resistance and also assist with weight management. There are also caffeine free herbal coffees available such as Teecino

Probiotics: As well as helping with digestion and gut health, probiotics can also play an important role in treating PCOS. They can also reduce inflammation and regulate sex hormones like androgen and estrogen. Yogurt, kombucha and other fermented foods are a great source of probiotics. 

Adaptogen Herbs: When your body can’t regulate insulin, it can build up in your body and cause higher levels of male sex hormones called androgens. Adaptogen herbs can assist in balancing these hormones as well as ease other symptoms of PCOS, like irregular periods.My favorite adaptogen herbs include ashwagandha and siberian ginseng.

Reduce stress: This can be hard to do with the busy lives we live, but is oh so important! Reducing stress can regulate cortisol levels. Taking walks outside, yoga, getting enough sleep and creating space in your life for relaxation and self-care can help reduce how stressed you feel.

FINAL THOUGHTS

PCOS symptoms are not fun and being told your chances of fertility are super low or even non-existent, is one of the toughest things to hear. But, all hope is not lost! By making some changes to your diet and lifestyle, these symptoms can be managed and increasing your fertility chances is possible as well.  I was a success story and you can be too!

NEED MORE SUPPORT?

If you’d like a more hands on approach to managing PCOS, click here to book a free Welcome to Wellness visit.

The Six Common Signs of Estrogen Dominance

Many of my clients are so overwhelmed at the thought of “hormone balancing’’. 

They often ask me:

How do I know that my hormones are off?

What should I be looking for?

Aren’t these symptoms just a normal part of being a woman?

The answer to that last question is “No, sis…your intense PMS symptoms, heavy periods, and those annoying chin hairs are not normal parts of womanhood.”

Wait, what?!

I’ll explain below but first, let’s talk about estrogen!

WHAT IS IT?

Estrogen is a hormone that plays various roles in the body. While it is present in both men and women, women create more of it. In female bodies, estrogen helps develop and maintain both the reproductive system and female characteristics, such as breasts and pubic hair.

It also helps to promote the growth of the uterine lining and the development of an egg, contributes to ovulation, supports your metabolism, promotes a healthy libido, and overall helps you feel happy, energized, confident, mentally sharp, and productive!

WHAT DOES ”ESTROGEN DOMINANCE” MEAN?

Estrogen dominance occurs when we have too much estrogen in the body and less of the other sex hormones, such as little progesterone to balance it out. 

Progesterone is especially important during the childbearing years, if you don’t produce enough progesterone, you may have trouble getting or staying pregnant.

WHAT CAUSES ESTROGEN DOMINANCE?

Estrogen dominance can be caused by:

Stress and high cortisol levels: We all live busy lives and often feel burnt out at the end of each day.  Stress causes our adrenal glands to produce a lot of cortisol to keep us going, but when we’re under chronic stress,  this can lead to adrenal fatigue.  When our body uses up our cortisol, it begins to steal sex hormones, especially progesterone, to produce more. This leads to an estrogen-dominant state because there isn’t enough progesterone to balance it out. 

Poor liver function: Our liver is responsible for metabolizing estrogen and it needs certain vitamins, minerals and enzymes to do this effectively. Overexposure to environmental toxins, certain foods and chemicals can create a sluggish liver.  If the liver is not functioning optimally, estrogen levels can be high because your body is not breaking it down and getting rid of it as it should. Anything that impairs liver function will result in excess estrogen. 

Excess fat: Fat tissues absorb and store estrogen circulating in your bloodstream. Having high estrogen levels signals your body to make more fat cells, which then produce even more estrogen, creating a vicious cycle that can lead to estrogen dominance.

Contraceptive pill: A woman’s natural cycle is composed of rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. Birth Control Pills contain synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone (called progestin) which suppresses ovulation, tricking your body into thinking it is pregnant all month. This can contribute to the development or worsening of estrogen dominance. Depending on the dosage, they can be very strong and linger for a long period of time in the body.

Poor diet: Conventional meat and dairy products, excess alcohol consumption, high caffeine intake, refined sugar and processed soy products can all lead to estrogen dominance. 

SIX COMMON SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE ESTROGEN DOMINANCE:

We hear all the time about women experiencing the following symptoms, so we think they’re normal and all part of womanhood – but as I stated earlier,  no sis, this is not normal at all!

Some common symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

  • PMS
  • Fibroids
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Endometriosis
  • Mood swings
  • Heavy periods

AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS!

If you know you have estrogen dominance or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, don’t worry, you’re not doomed! Thankfully, by making small changes to our diet and lifestyle, we can naturally help balance out our hormones. 

TIPS TO HELP YOU BALANCE YOUR ESTROGEN LEVELS:

Stress Management: Manage your stress by identifying/removing any triggers, taking  deep diaphragmatic breaths, prioritizing rest time, avoiding caffeine and relying on your family/friend support network

Ditch the pill: The pill is a common band-aid used to manage the symptoms of many women’s health concerns (irregular periods, heavy bleeding, etc.). Fortunately, there are many ways to address these concerns without using birth control. It is important to not quit your birth control pills cold turkey. If you’d like support getting off of the pill, click here to book an appointment with me. 

Support Your Liver: Our liver does so for us so it’s important that we support it any way that we can. Two easy ways to do this is through nutrition & herbal support. Make sure that your diet is full of foods such as berries, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts), broccoli sprouts, etc. Liver supportive herbs include dandelion, milk thistle, & burdock root. 

Exercise: aerobics and moderate functional strength training can help improve muscle mass and lower estrogen levels…………

LOOKING FOR MORE SUPPORT?

  • Book a free welcome to wellness visit with me for custom hormone balancing support

10 Affirmations to Help You Survive the Two Week Wait (TWW)

Know one thing that trying to conceive (TTC) makes you realize? Two weeks is long AF. The two-week wait is the two weeks between ovulation and the onset of your period (or hopefully a positive pregnancy test). The dreaded two-week wait is enough to make the most sane, calm & collected woman lose her shit. And understandably so. We’ve worked so hard to track our cycle, pinpoint an estimated day of ovulation & have sex with hubby even when we’d rather just binge watch episodes of This Is Us. The deed is done, his little swimmers are marching to their destination and all we can do is wait and wonder wtf is going on in there. Then the wonder turns into worry…”what if we missed the egg?” “I wonder if we got enough sperm that time.” “should I have kept my legs up longer afterwards?” “omg, what if this was an anovulatory cycle and I just missed Grey’s Anatomy for nothing!”. 

HAHA..YEP I’VE BEEN THERE, GIRL.

I wish I could say that worrying was as bad as it gets but shortly thereafter that worry turns into symptom spotting. You know…when you’re in the shower and suddenly as your lathering up your boobs you feel a twinge and you immediately think “hmm my boobs feel kinda sore, could I be pregnant??” or you wake up and feel kinda nauseous “uh oh…this is it! morning sickness”.

Before long you’re on page 46 of a What to Expect or Baby Center forum looking for 5dpo bfp symptoms. If you’re a newbie and don’t know what that means let me first assure you that yes…what I just typed is indeed English, haha. That phrase actually means “5 days post ovulation big fat positive symptoms”. It’s a common phrase that women google to help them identify symptoms that other women had at a particular point in their cycle when they successfully conceived.

STRESS & FERTILITY DON’T MIX


Yes, you already know this but I’m going to say it anyway…stress & fertility do not mix. When you’re stressed out your body releases cortisol which lets your body know…

Your body then puts a hold on any unnecessary bodily function so that it can dedicate its energy to vital functions like eyesight (to see the bear for example) and your muscles (to run from the said bear). Do you ever notice that when you get super stressed out you end up with tummy troubles like indigestion, constipation, gas, etc.? Digestion is one of the bodily functions that’s put on pause because who needs to eat a PB & J when they’re getting chased by a bear? 


MY POINT IS STRESSING OUT OVER EVERY LITTLE SYMPTOM DURING THE TWW MAY ACTUALLY DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD.

But if you’re like me then you don’t care and while you’ll tell yourself that you won’t look up any symptoms this month, you’ll be back to combing through forums at 3 am because you’ve been really tired lately and surely you’re fatigued because duh…you’re preggers. You’re definitely not tired because you’ve been up at 3 am driving yourself nuts.  Since you are my soul sister and can’t help yourself, I’ve come up with 10 positive affirmations that I actually said to myself while I was TTC my son. These affirmations didn’t take away the worry and anxiety completely but they helped me rein in the crazy when I was obsessing over symptoms. I hope you enjoy them. Let me know in the comments below which one resonated with you the most.


If you’d like to have these readily available when you’re in the thick of the TWW and don’t want to have to find this post again then scroll down to get a FREE printable of these affirmations that you can keep on your desk/vanity or set as your wallpaper on your phone.


10 AFFIRMATIONS TO SURVIVE THE TWO WEEK WAIT WHILE TRYING TO CONCEIVE

  1. My body is not broken, she is designed to do this. My body is healthy & vibrant.
  2. Whether I get pregnant this month or not, I will show myself as much love, compassion, & grace as I need
  3. God hears my prayers and has not forgotten me. My time will come.
  4. I am grateful for all that I have and I welcome the things that I want for my life with open arms & a full heart
  5. My womb is open and ready to house new life
  6. I trust my body
  7. Everything is happening as it should. The universe supports me.
  8. I have access to everything I need to get pregnant and have a healthy baby
  9. I am in awe of what my body is capable of doing
  10. I am destined to be a mother
BONUS AFFIRMATION FOR THE START OF YOUR PERIOD: 

Today is CD-1 and marks another chance for my body to release the perfect egg that will be fertilized by the perfect sperm.

Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know About Fertility Trackers

Hey, beauties!! Today I wanted to chat about fertility trackers & how important they are in this fertility journey.

So, let’s jump right in!

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A FERTILITY TRACKER??:

  • It’s an app that keeps track of your cycle & lets you know when to expect your next period & the exact days when you are most fertile!
  • It generally takes 3 months for the algorithm to be it’s most accurate
  • Also, peak accuracy does require data entry so you will have to note your moods, symptoms, temperature, cervical mucus, etc.

WHY SHOULD I USE ONE?:

  • To get familiar with your body!
    • There’s nothing nasty or gross about your vagina, uterus, menstrual cycle, etc. A regular period is a sign of health & should be celebrated not dreaded (I know, I know…cramps suck! I won’t argue with you there)
  • The best part about using a fertility tracker is that it can be used as both birth control AND a way to help with conception!!
    • By knowing when your ovulation window is you can either resist temptation, use a form of barrier contraception (Hey, Trojan!), or find your hubby and get it in with the hopes of creating your little one! It all depends on what you want, girlfriend!
  • It can be used to help transition off of birth control.
    • It can be hard to anticipate when your period will return when you get off of birth control. By using your fertility tracker you can log your symptoms, spotting, etc. so that you can better pinpoint the start of your next cycle and ovulatory days. It can also be a great way to highlight symptoms that may indicate that there is an underlying issue with your hormones!

FERTILITY TRACKERS THAT I HAVE TRIED (& HATED)

FERTILITY FRIEND
  • Honestly, it’s rather analog looking. It’s like using a computer with Windows 95 on it. It’s ugly…there, I said it lol.
  • Not very intuitive
  • Great Cycle Analytics (average length of cycle, length of luteal phase, etc.)
KINDARA
  • It’s a bare-bones kind of app. It gives you the basics but you have to manually enter your individualized data. Ain’ nobody got time for that!
  • Again, you have manually enter all of your data including your symptoms, moods, temps, etc.
  • Not very intuitive or easy to use
  • Does a great job of tracking a sustained temperature rise which is VERY important if you are trying to conceive
  • The company has a custom thermometer that syncs with your phone so you don’t have to remember to log your temps
  • That thermometer is expensive AF!

MY CURRENT FAVORITE FERTILITY TRACKER

OVIA!!!
  • I freaking love this app!
  • It is GORGEOUS, fun to use, & easy to use
  • You can choose from an extensive list of symptoms, emotions, moods, etc.
  • Great cycle analytics
  • Ranks your daily fertility score from 1.0 to 10.0. 10.0 being the highest
  • No custom thermometer so manual temp logging is required

THE MUST-HAVE TRACKER FOR WOMEN WITH PCOS:

OVUSENSE- OvuCORE
  • The only Class II medical device used to track ovulation
  • Is 99% accurate
  • Can notify you of ovulation 24 hours IN ADVANCE!
  • Designed for women with PCOS
  • Comes with a vaginal sensor that takes your internal temperature overnight while you sleep (game changer!!!)

And, there you have it! My thoughts on fertility trackers, the ones I love & the ones I hate. Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these trackers that I have mentioned or if you have tried one that I haven’t mentioned. I’d love to hear from you.

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