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Brilliant Foliage, Autumn Harvest, and Cozy Fires

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Autumn has always been my very favorite time of the year. That first nip in the air, the smell of roasting chilies almost everywhere you go, the bountiful harvest of cool weather crops, the smell of burning pinion and cedar and the spectacular oranges, browns and golds of the fading cottonwood trees make one pause to take in all of its glory. Yes, the days are getting shorter, but fear not, our easily available vitamin D3, is just a reach away at your favorite store and it is your main hedge against a multitude of winter’s ailments from depression  to the flu. If you’re either curious or concerned about a health issue, ask you primary care provider to test your level. Primary care docs like to use the D2 form, but why take something that needs to be converted to the more bio available form when the preferred product is so handy. If your doc insists you get a vitamin D2 prescription, tell him or her that you won’t need any refills because you plan to buy it over the counter and start taking it every day.

When we first started testing our patients for vitamin D levels, our depressed patients came back with non-detectible levels.  I now tell my depressed patients that taking vitamin D3 is one of the easiest, cheapest fixes for the prevention of depression that has ever come along.  How nice is that? Even those on a strained budget can afford this mighty warrior vitamin and all that it does in our bodies. I routinely put my patients on vitamin D3, especially as we head into the winter months. Some still have not received the important information on vitamin D, so don’t assume your patients know about its value.

Stocking up on and storing our supplements for the winter ahead is a good idea. In the case of a power outage, It is reassuring to know that you have an extra stash of your favorite supplements. That brings to mind the value of having an alternative source of heat for those times when a heavy, wet snow brings down power lines and suddenly you are without power. This is a game changer and could be potentially life threatening for anyone, be they young children, adults in their prime or the elderly. Recently I decided to buy a wood burning stove after mulling it over for the last five years. There’s a lot to be said for the magic of a fire: watching the flames dance, feeling its warmth on a cold winter’s night and even being able to boil a pot of water or stew on top of the stove.  Aside from the ambience of a nice glowing fire, an alternative source of heat could potentially save the lives of those you love. There is a lot to consider, from cost of installation to the maintenance of the stove. The first fire can produce fumes that are unpleasant, if not dangerous, as the heat of the flames melts the paint into the metal of the chimney. Proper ventilation is necessary during this process and those with breathing disorders should not be exposed.  Learning how to manipulate the damper, the air flow control and interpreting the temperature gauge are all important pieces of information. Placing the stove in a safe space is also important. In my particular case, the stove was going into a corner and I was concerned about the placement of the chimney as it entered the upper crawl space of the ceiling. Would the trusses be in the way of the chimney? In my home, the trusses were right where the chimney would have gone through, had it gone straight up. So my chimney needed an elbow to circumvent the truss. Later, after all had been successfully completed, the installers told me they had dreaded my job when they first came to inspect the site and had anticipated the problems with a corner installation.  If you’ve ever babysat a fire in a fireplace, you know how much attention you need to give it in order for it to perform well. A wood burning stove is a whole new species and a much easier one for us to manage. Once you have your bed of coals after the first burn, you stuff the stove as full as you can and then following the instructions for your particular stove, close the door and forget it for the rest of the night. In the morning, the coals will still be hot and you can readily start up a new fire! Talk about efficiency!

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