Three Natural Arthritis Treatments

by IVL Products

While medical science continues to search for an effective cure for arthritis, many sufferers are finding the relief they need in natural arthritis treatments. Three different substances are known to provide pain relief naturally for those suffering with joint pain and arthritis. Best of all, these all-natural substances reduce pain and inflammation without the nasty side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs such as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Three natural arthritis treatments hold the key to joint pain relief

White Willow Bark

White Willow Bark is an ancient natural remedy used for safe and effective pain relief. The active ingredient salicin in converted by the body into salicylic acid. It lowers inflammation and counters pain in a similar way to aspirin, but without the adverse side effects of stomach bleeding. White willow and bark hyaluronic acid are the main ingredients in natural arthritis treatments that offer safe relief from inflammation. 

Boswellia Serrate

Boswellia has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have found that formulas containing Boswellia Serrate can provide natural pain relief for arthritis. Extracted as a resin from Boswellia Serrata trees, it works by improving circulation and blocking the formation of leukotrienes which cause pain and inflammation in arthritic joints. It works particularly well in conjunction with white willow bark and cherry fruit extract, making it an excellent natural treatment for arthritis by trickling pain relief constantly.

Related: Boswellia Extract Is An Effective Therapy For Osteoarthritis

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid preparations are known to decrease arthritis pain and improve joint mobility, particularly in those suffering with osteoarthritis in the knee joint. It is thought to work as a natural arthritis treatment by changing the synovial fluid viscoelasticity and by lowering inflammation in the joint.

These three natural substances work together synergistically in scientifically balanced joint formulas. Natural treatments may combine these natural anti-inflammatory pain relievers with ginger root powder to create highly effective natural arthritis treatments.


RICE for Strains and Sprains Treatment

by Health News

Athletes, walkers and anyone enjoying exercise may suffer occasional strains or injury. The best strains and sprains treatment is RICE, but we don’t mean eating rice! RICE is an easy acronym to help you remember the four essential parts of any successful treatment for strains and sprains:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

RICE provides the best strains and sprains treatment possible

Rest for Recovery

For a severe sprain, the first 48 hours are a critical time for treatment. Rest is vitally important and any activities using the injured area, such as walking or carrying, should be avoided. You may find it helpful to immobilize the strained joint by using a splint, sling or crutches as part of the recommended rest treatment for strains and sprains.

How to Use Ice for Sprains and Strains Treatment

Use ice to help heal the injured area, reduce inflammation and prevent unnecessary swelling. Prepare an ice pack from a bag of frozen peas or vegetables which will mold gently around the injured area. Alternatively, use ice cubes in a pillow case, or freeze water in a paper cup and peel away the paper as the ice melts.

Related: The Bone-Blood Connection

Apply the ice pack to the injured area for 20 minutes maximum every 3-4 hours, refreezing those frozen peas for re-use. Tips for how to apply an ice pack can be helpful. Two important parts of the ice treatment for strains and sprains is to apply it as quickly as possible after the injury has occurred. Apply the ice directly to the skin if possible, moving the pack around.

Compression Bandage

Apply an elastic bandage to the injured area, overlapping each layer by 50% to provide firm compression without reducing the circulation. If the fingers or toes start to turn blue, it means the compression bandage is too tight and immediately should be re-wrapped less tightly. Compression helps control the swelling of the area as part of the strains and sprains treatment guidelines.

Elevate the Injured Area

To aid circulation, keep the injured area as high as possible. If the leg is affected, raise it on a cushion supported on a stool or chair. When sleeping, put a pillow under the affected limb and raise it above the level of the heart if possible.

If the injury and swelling do not improve after 24-48 hours of RICE treatment for strains and sprains, you need to seek professional medical help to check that no bones have been broken. The doctor may x-ray the injury, immobilize it with a plaster cast or may even recommend surgery. However, implementing the RICE technique from the outset means you have provided the very best strains and sprains treatment possible for a speedy recovery.


Dangers of Laxative Overuse for Chronic Constipation

by Cindy Gray

While laxatives can help increase stool frequency, overuse of laxatives often results in chronic constipation.While regular bowel movements are critical for good health, “forcing the issue” with chemically-laden laxatives can do more harm than good. The body can quickly become dependent on laxatives and once you stop taking them constipation symptoms return, sometimes even worse than before. Laxatives contain chemicals that help increase stool bulk and frequency, which provides temporary relief for constipation. But overuse often results in chronic constipation and so it becomes a vicious cycle. 

Laxative use is rampant in this country and millions of dollars each year are spent on products that claim to relieve symptoms. Since the colon is the largest organ in the immune system, keeping it working efficiently is critical to good health.

Related: The Best and Worst Foods for IBS

Instead of reaching for a laxative, consider some natural approaches to treat chronic constipation. Your first line of defense should be to add fiber your diet. Most American diets are woefully lacking in fiber due to our national obsession with over-processed foods. To increase you fiber intake, eat plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and whole grains. Keep fatty foods to a minimum.

Probiotics are also helpful in maintaining regularity and they are found in cultured dairy products such as yogurt. Many people take probiotic supplements that provide the “good bacteria” in the digestive tract that help our bodies break down foods into components that provide healthful nutrition. 

Talk to your health care provider about natural ways to manage chronic constipation and other digestive problems. Laxatives should be used only as a last resort and only under the supervision of your physician or holistic practitioner.  


How to Roll Out Lower Back Pain

by Cindy Gray

You may already understand that the cause of lower back pain is often how we sit hunched over our desk or slouch in a chair when watching TV. Easing that misalignment with foam rolling exercises can be a good way to help ease nagging lower back pain. However, the exercises must be done correctly to avoid inflicting further damage on a strained or unaligned body.

Foam rolling is the latest technique for easing lower back pain

What is a Foam Roller?

Foam rollers are the latest fitness aid and are excellent for stretching hunched shoulder muscles and realigning the body. Made from high density foam, these lightweight foam rollers are about 6 inches in diameter, up to 36 inches in length and cost less than $10.

You will find plenty of foam roller exercise ideas to try out using your foam roller to strengthen muscle, improve circulation, stretch the body and provide a self-acupressure massage. You will find foam rolling exercises relieve lower back pain, reduce stiffness and alleviate spinal compression.

How to Use a Foam Roller Safely for Lower Back Pain

Lie on the floor and place the roller under your lower back, then gently roll up and down on the device, feeling the muscles relax in response to the pressure applied to the acupressure points in the back. Roll over the foam roller slowly and steadily, allowing the body to eliminate adhesions as the muscles adapt to the compression.


Lower back pain is caused by poor posture and tension imbalances elsewhere in the body. Hunched shoulders, carrying heavy shoulder bags and using a keyboard with outstretched arms for hours can all cause lower back pain. It makes sense that to correct this imbalance, you should not use the foam roller where the pain is, but where the cause is. If you use the foam roller on an area that is already inflamed, it is only likely to make the pain worse. Instead, work on muscles surrounding the back pain. Do general stretching exercises to help those stretched muscles relax, and other shortened muscles expand, relieving the pressure that causes lower back pain.

Keep moving the foam roller from one spot to the next all over the upper back, applying the foam rolling technique for just 20 seconds, then move on. It’s a good idea to watch a YouTube video about foam rolling exercises to make sure you are holding your body in the correct posture during your lower back workout. Work in a class, or video yourself to check that your technique is correct; and don’t push through any area that causes more pain.


Get the True Strains and Sprains Facts

by IVL Products

The terms strains and sprains are often used interchangeably, but in medical jargon they actually refer to different injuries. In simple terms, a sprain is damage to ligaments while a strain refers to muscles. Both sprains and strains injuries are likely to occur during sports activities.

Sprains and strains relate to different parts of the body

What are Strains?

A strain is often referred to as a “pulled muscle.” It is caused by lifting heavy objects, overstretching during exercise or tearing as the muscle suddenly contracts. It is a very painful condition with sudden onset. As well as straining muscles in the hamstring (back of the thigh), other common strains occur in the neck or back muscles.

Strains also refer to damaged tendons and fasciae. Tendons, fasciae and ligaments are all made of collagen and are strong and stretchy. Their different names refer to which parts of the body they connect. Tendons (also called sinews) connect muscle to bone and withstand tension. Fasciae are fibrous tissues wrapped around a muscle or organ.

Strains fall into three categories in terms of severity:

  • Grade-1 strain causes some inflammation, swelling and mild discomfort
  • Grade-2 strain is characterized by swelling, severe inflammation and possibly discoloration or bruising due to hemorrhaging
  • Grade-3 strain is the most severe and may disguise a fracture or more serious injury, which may need surgery. A doctor should be consulted if you feel you have a Grade-3 strain

How do Strains and Sprains Differ?

Each year over 600,000 people reported ankle sprains in the U.S. alone. A sprain refers to damaged ligaments, which are fibrous bands of tissue connecting bones. Ligaments stabilize joints and help prevent excessive movement within the ankle, wrist, thumb and knee joints.

Related: Natural Relief for Chronic Joint Pain

A sprain occurs when a joint is stretched beyond its normal capacity and you may hear a “pop” as the joint is sprained. This usually occurs during exercise or sports activity. Ligaments in the joint are torn or over-stretched when you suddenly change direction, land awkwardly, receive a sudden blow or collide with a solid object. Ouch!

A Grade-1 sprain is when a ligament is painfully overstretched or torn but does not cause any instability within the joint itself. There may be bruising, pain and swelling but the joint will still bear weight

A Grade-2 sprain is more serious tearing of the ligament accompanied by moderate pain, swelling and bruising. It may be difficult to support a person’s weight. An x-ray is recommended to check whether a fracture also occurred.

A Grade-3 sprain is when there is a complete rupture of the ligament in the joint. It causes immediate loss of function and severe pain and swelling. The patient will not be able to apply any pressure or weight to the affected limb may require surgery.

How to Treat Strains and Sprains

If you suffer from strains and sprains, follow our advice for RICE therapy. This includes resting the injury, applying ice, using a compression bandage and elevating the injured limb.


Why You Cannot Rely on Sunscreen Alone

by Health News

For decades now, we’ve been told to apply sunscreen whenever we go outside. And it makes good sense. After all, skin cancer is a serious concern, as half of all cancer in the United States is some form of skin cancer, with melanoma being the most serious. 

Why You Cannot Rely on Sunscreen Alone

And that’s just the beginning of the issue when it comes to excess sun exposure. Too much time in the sun can also lead to heat stroke an heat rash, not to mention destroying the skin’s dermis, causing it to lose its resilience and become thin and weak, thus creating sags, creases, and wrinkles.

But, as we’ve been telling you time and again, sunscreen itself is not the end-all be-all it is purported to be. Not only does the majority of products on the market contain dangerous, toxic ingredients, but now a study from the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences finds that water-resistant sunscreens fail to protect against UVA rays.

Related Article: How to Apply Sunscreen Effectively

There are two main UV light rays from the sun: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are more prone to age the skin, while UVB rays are more likely to cause sunburn. 

In the study published in May 2015, the researcher tested water-resistant sunscreens’ ability to protect against both UVA and UVB rays in salt water, chlorinated water (i.e. a pool), and tap water. He found that most products worked well when they were immersed in water, but broke down when they had to perform in air/water. 

In other words, if you were under water, the sunscreen did it’s job, but if you were in and out of the water or even standing waist deep in water, coverage was questionable at best. This problem was even more pronounced when tested in salt water. (Bad news for all you ocean lovers!)

He concluded, “Globally, a higher loss of filters is observed in the UVA than the UVB, which is attributed to more UVA filter loss or degradation, and thus resulting in a decreased protection in the UVA.”

My advice is of course to continue to use sunscreen, but be sure to reapply frequently and to use a product that relies on zinc oxide (rather than man-made chemicals) as it primary source of sun protection.

Next, I strongly suggest arming yourself with internal sun protection as well in the form of antioxidants. My favorites include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), and lutein.

A 1998 study found that volunteers who took vitamin C and vitamin E every day for 50 days were able to protect themselves from sunburn more effectively than those volunteers taking one or no antioxidants. A similar study from the International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery looked at the effects of alpha lipoic acid (ALA), vitamins C and E, and lutein on women with sun damage.

Participants took 5 mg of ALA, 10 mg of vitamin E, 90 mg of vitamin C, and 6 mg of lutein or placebo. After two months, those women who took the antioxidants had lower levels of free radicals in their blood, as well as better skin hydration than women who took the placebo.

So up your antioxidants, slather on a zinc oxide sunscreen (and reapply frequently), and get out there and enjoy the sun safely!


A Devil of a Natural Arthritis Treatment

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Osteoarthritis is a disabling and painful condition that affects an estimated 27 million Americans. It is caused by joint cartilage wearing away and allowing the bones to rub together during natural movement. There are several supplements available that can provide a natural arthritis treatment to enhance the quality of life for those suffering from this debilitating condition. One that appears to be the most effective is the strangely named Devil’s Claw.

natural arthritis treatment devils claw

Devil’s Claw is the common name for the plant Harpagophytum Procumbens, also known as the Grapple Plant for its tenacious hooks or claws on the fruit. The tuberous root of this South African desert plant contains a beneficial substance, harpagoside, which that has been used for centuries for brewing into an herbal tea for medicinal purposes. Not only is it used as a natural arthritis treatment, it is also used to treat gastrointestinal conditions.

Research into Devil’s Claw has found it to be extremely effective as a natural arthritis treatment. A double-blind placebo-controlled study organized by Phytomedicine compared Devil’s Claw to the pharmaceutical drug Diacerhein. The drug was developed specifically to treat osteoarthritis of the hip.

Related: Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

After eight weeks, 50-70% of those taking Devil’s Claw reported less pain and improved mobility. The test showed that Devil’s Claw was more effective in treating the arthritis pain than the pharmaceutical drug and did not cause the unpleasant side effect of diarrhea that Diacerhein produced.

Recommended Dosage of Devil’s Claw as a Natural Arthritis Treatment

Devil’s Claw is available in capsules, powder, liquid and tincture. The adult dosage of Devil’s Claw for treating joint and arthritis pain, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, is 600 to 1200 mg three times a day. It is safe at these levels, but no studies have yet been conducted to confirm the effects of its use in the long term. However, it should be avoided by anyone with stomach problems such as ulcers, or those taking diabetic medications, as it can lower blood sugar levels.


Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

by Health News

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks the tissues in our joints.  In the U.S. alone, over 1.5 million people have RA, and it is three times more likely to occur in women than men. Knowing what rheumatoid arthritis symptoms feel like is critical so you can begin treatment immediately to slow down the progression of the disease in its earliest stages, and control the associated pain and limited mobility.

Learning about rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Where and Which RA Symptoms Appear First

People experience the early symptoms of RA differently but, in general the first signs of the disorder are:

Fatigue – feeling unusually tired can occur weeks or months before any other symptoms of RA surface. It often comes and goes and can feel like depression or general ill health

Joint Stiffness – the feeling of stiffness is usually followed by tenderness and then pain when moving the afflicted joint; or even while at rest.  People often experience joint stiffness first in their hands.

Joint Pain and Tenderness – the discomfort can be felt while using your joints or even while you are at rest. Many RA sufferers first feel the tenderness in their fingers, ankles or wrists.

Swelling and Warmth – the inflammation that is the source of pain for RA sufferers causes joints to swell and feel unusually warm to the touch.

Numbness and/or Tingling – the inflammation caused by RA can put pressure on nerves.  In addition to the numbness and tingling sensation, cracking or squeaking noises can be heard when moving the joints. This is damaged cartilage grinding against bone.

Because the early symptoms of RA can sometimes mimic those of other diseases, a correct diagnosis can often be delayed. The sooner you seek treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, the better.  By addressing the symptoms when they first appear, you can slow down the progression of the disease and preserve joint tissue and mobility.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Body

When the immune system begins to function improperly, it will often attack the synovial membrane, which is a thick swath of tissue covering the joints. It generally starts in the fingers, wrists, toes, ankles and knees; and if not treated right away, it can begin to damage surrounding joint tissue.

Related: Relieving Pain Without Drugs

As the tissue of the joints is destroyed, the body’s inflammatory response kicks in. Short bursts of inflammation are how the body rids itself of foreign agents and heals damaged tissue, but prolonged inflammation causes pain and swelling.

As the disease progresses, joints begin to thin; the cartilage, bone, ligaments and tendons begin to weaken, causing deformities, especially in the fingers.

Early Detection and Treatment

About one third of most cases of RA are diagnosed between 30 and 70 years of age, with the majority of those being diagnosed in their 40s.  Being aware of the earliest signs and symptoms, especially if you have a family history of the disease, is critical to begin treatment.   

The longer RA goes untreated, the more irreversible damage it does to the joints. By reducing inflammation with prescriptions, over the counter drugs and even natural remedies, you can keep flare ups at bay. A flare up is when the symptoms appear suddenly, they can last for days or even weeks, then they may dissipate and even disappear temporarily.

At the first sign of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, don’t wait! Seek medical attention quickly and begin treatment right away.


Are You Gluten Sensitive?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Do you love bread—but bread doesn’t love you? Do you find that the pleasure you get from eating several delicious, warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven rolls at your favorite restaurant is quickly followed by uncomfortable abdominal bloating and cramping, and/or headaches, stuffy sinuses and joint pain?  Then you might be one of the eighteen million Americans who are sensitive to gluten. 

Frequent abdominal bloating? You May Be Gluten Sensitive

What is Gluten?

The word gluten comes from Latin and means “glue.” Gluten is a protein that gives elasticity to dough and helps it to rise and keep its shape.  It is found in wheat, rye, barley, and any foods made from these grains. Avoiding gluten can be difficult because it is found in many common foods in the American diet: 

  • Pasta
  • Cakes
  • Beer
  • Croutons
  • Couscous
  • Muffins
  • Oats (commercially processed)
  • Bread
  • Pastries
  • Gravy
  • Soy sauce
  • Flour tortillas
  • Cereal
  • Salad dressings
  • Broth in soups

Despite this long no-no list, there are a variety of many gluten-free foods that you can enjoy, including the following:

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Cassava
  • Tapioca
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Arrowroot
  • Sorghum

The History of Gluten Intolerance

With the popularity of gluten-free foods—approaching $15 billion in annual sales—you might think gluten sensitivities have been well-recognized for quite some time. However, gluten-intolerance—also referred to as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (NCGS)—was first documented just a few years ago in 2011 by Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology in Monash University and director of the GI Unit at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. In a double-blinded, randomized, and placebo-controlled experiment, Dr. Gibson identified gluten, not only as the source for celiac disease—an autoimmune disorder—but also as the reason for gastrointestinal distress in patients without celiac disease. This study is credited for the spectacular rise in the gluten-free industry.

Related: The Benefits of Chlorella

However, two years later in 2013, Dr. Gibson surprisingly announced in a follow-up study that gluten actually causes no specific responses; and, therefore, is not responsible for causing adverse symptoms. Instead, his research team discovered that poorly absorbed short-chained carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols), are the real culprits. 

According to Stanford University, FODMAPs in the diet include:

  • Fructose, including fruits, honey and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Lactose found in dairy
  • Fructans, (a carbohydrate found in many types of plants) including wheat, garlic, onion and inulin
  • Galactans, including legumes such as beans, lentils and soybeans 
  • Polyols, found in sweeteners containing isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol
  • Stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums

Effects of FODMAPs

FODMAPs are osmotic, meaning they pull water into your intestinal tract. When eaten in excess, they may not be digested or absorbed well and the bacteria in your stomach can ferment them, causing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Bloating and/or cramping

More than 250 symptoms of “gluten sensitivity” or what is now thought to be “FODMAPs-sensitivity” have been reported. The most common include the four gastrointestinal issues mentioned above. Extra-intestinal symptoms also occur frequently including headaches, “brain fog,” tingling and/or numbness in the hands and feet, fatigue, muscular disturbances, and bone and joint pain. 

Probiotics May Counteract the Harmful Effects

A number of studies show that taking probiotics can help to counteract or prevent the negative effects of FODMAPs. For example, a study published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Immunology in 2008 found that live probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis inhibited the toxic effects on intestinal cells by wheat gliadin. In another study published in 2012, probiotics were found to prevent the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with gluten/FODMAPs intolerance. 

If you suffer frequently with bowel symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and/or cramping; or have any of the extra-intestinal symptoms discussed above, try eliminating the foods listed in the high FODMAPs chart for ten days and see if your symptoms go away. If they do, start taking probiotics daily and continue on the low FODMAPs diet. After several weeks on probiotics, you could try adding one of the foods with higher FODMAPs and see if your symptoms return, or not. If you don’t have any problems with that food, then add another food. One by one, try another food to see if you can tolerate it or not. If a low FODMAPs diet doesn’t resolve all of your issues, be sure to see your doctor for a thorough evaluation. 


Wear Sunglasses to Help Prevent Vision Problems

by Cindy Gray

Because UVB rays are directly related to vision problems, it is critical to make wearing sunglasses part of your sun protection routine.  People who wouldn’t dream of going out in the sun without lathering on sunscreen often venture outside without sunglasses or with eyewear that doesn’t provide adequate protection. Prolonged UV exposure can increase your chances of developing cataracts because light that enters the eye is mainly absorbed by the cornea and the lens.

Be sure to buy sunglasses with the maximum UV protection to help prevent vision problems.

Unsure about how to choose the right sunglasses? Follow these tips:

Get Maximum Protection:  Make sure the glasses you wear have lenses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Excessive exposure to these rays will significantly increase your chances of developing vision problems at some point in your life.

Expensive Doesn’t Mean “Better:” Don’t choose sunglasses based on the price. There are many affordable sunglasses that offer just as much UV protection as the more expensive, brand-name versions. The main thing to consider is the level of UV protection.

Related: Protect Your Self From Cataracts

Go For Comfort: Make sure the glasses fit comfortably and securely. If your sunglasses have a tendency to slide down your nose or feel too tight, you will be less likely to wear them for long periods of time.

Choose Impact-Resistant Lenses: All sunglasses have to meet certain impact standards that are mandated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but plastic glasses are more likely to break. Choose polycarbonate plastics but make sure they have a scratch-resistant coating.

In addition to sunglasses, increase your intake of antioxidants.  Studies have shown that antioxidant supplements can reduce your risk for cataracts and mitigate the disease-causing free radicals associated with excessive sun exposure and environmental toxins.  Because most people don’t get enough lutein and other vision-enhancing nutrients in their diets, millions of Americans take supplements to prevent and mitigate eye problems related to aging and sun exposure. Take care of your eyes so you won’t be blindsided by vision problems.  


Which laxative is best for constipation relief?

by Health News

Americans spend more than $700 million a year on prescription and over-the-counter laxatives in the quest for constipation relief. The bloating, abdominal pain, excessive gas and sluggishness associated with chronic constipation can be detrimental to your health as well as your quality of life. 

Which laxative is best for constipation relief?

Choosing the laxative for your constipation relief can be confusing. Laxatives come in pill, capsule, liquid and suppository form. Two of the most commonly used types of laxatives are stimulant laxatives and osmotic agents. Stimulant laxatives affect the lining of the intestine in a way that accelerates the stool’s passage through the colon. These types of laxatives are often used by people who experience uncomfortable symptoms related to prolonged gaps between bowel movements.

Related: Simple Tips for Relieving Common Digestive Issues

Osmotic agents, sometimes referred to as stool softeners, draw fluids into the intestine from surrounding tissues. This added hydration softens fecal matter, making stools easier to pass. 

Because many commercial laxatives come with unpleasant or even serious side effects, your best choice is to find natural ways to deal with occasional irregularity. Increasing fiber intake, drinking lots of pure water, getting regular exercise, choosing nutritious foods, and learning to effectively and calmly deal with life’s stressors can help your body maintain the balance it needs to stay regular.

Many people do quarterly colon cleanses to rid their body of toxins and improve the overall health of the digestive system. Regular cleanses flush out toxins and fecal matter in the intestinal walls to provide constipation relief and support regularity. Talk to your holistic practitioner to determine if a regular colon cleanse is right for you. 


Why Sulfur May Be the Answer for Chronic Back Pain

by IVL Products

It may smell a bit like rotten eggs, but sulphur is the eighth most common element in the human body, and is found in almost all of our tissues. Despite this fact, there is no recommended daily allowance of sulfur provided by the government or health agencies, which could be a contributing factor to chronic back pain.

Look to sulfur for relief from chronic back pain.

About 70% of American adults have reported experiencing lower back pain, according to national health surveys.  When the pain persists for 12 weeks or longer and is more than a dull ache that sticks around long after the initial incident, it’s diagnosed as chronic back pain. The symptoms can be milder one day, and more severe the next, but they are always present.  This has led some in the medical community to believe that a dietary deficiency could be contributing to the problem.

Sulfur’s Role in the Body

Many of our biological processes depend upon sulfur to work correctly. It helps maintain the integrity of the cell walls and produce collagen and essential protein that makes up the support bands beneath our skin. Sulfur is also needed to produce connective tissue, keratin (the key component in hair and the outer layer of our skin) glucosamine and chondroitin, which are part of our cartilage, the crucial cushioning tissue between the bones in our joints.

Sulfur also plays a critical role in keeping our metabolism humming along efficiently. When we become sulfur deficient, our metabolism becomes defective, damaging muscle and fat cells; this can lead to becoming glucose intolerant. When that happens, there is a number of muscular and skeletal disorders that can result, such as inflammation and chronic pain.

Upping Your Sulfur Consumption

Getting more sulfur in your diet is important, whether or not you are suffering from chronic back pain.   Adding the supplement MSM to your daily diet could help alleviate chronic pain. 

Related: White Willow Bark For Safe And Effective Pain Relief

MSM stands for methyl sulfonyl methane and is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in human, animals and plants. It can be made manufactured into pill form or even a topical gel to help provide the correct daily dosage.  To date, MSM has proven to be non-toxic.

How Sulfur Can Help Relieve Chronic Back Pain

MSM has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the pain of inflammation in joints and muscles.  For this reason, it is often used to treat a variety of discomforts such as:

  • Leg cramps
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Constipation

One of the ways MSM relieves chronic back pain and other disorders is by inhibiting the transmissions of pain impulses along nerve fibers.  This helps to reduce inflammation that could be compressing a nerve, and reduces muscle spasms, contributing to lower back pain.

Sulfur in MSM also has the ability to dilate blood vessels for improved circulation, bringing more nutrients to speed up the healing of damaged tissue. What’s more impressive is MSM’s potential to make cell membranes more permeable, letting the body’s own natural painkillers into damaged areas.

By reducing inflammation, enhancing blood flow to more flexible cells to allow for faster healing, MSM could play a big role in not only relieving chronic back pain, but also with the loss of joint mobility from arthritis.


Vitamins A, C and E Can Enhance Sunburn Protection

by IVL Products

When it comes to sunburn protection what you put in your body may be just as important as what you slather on your skin. Studies show that vitamins A (as beta carotene), C and E provide added protection to prevent skin inflammation and dryness related to UV ray exposure. This trio of vitamins is so effective that some have referred to it as “internal sunscreen.”

Vitamins A, C and E Can Enhance Sunburn Protection

Vitamins A, C and E are all potent sources of antioxidants which are the body’s first defense against inflammation caused by sun exposure and free radicals. Regular intake of these vitamins increases the skin’s resilience and ability to safely absorb UV rays. Fortunately, supplements containing all three of these vitamins are available online and in natural health stores.

Related: 5 Ways to Get Great Skin

Of course, the supplements are meant to be used in addition to topical sunscreen. Be sure to select sunscreens with all-natural ingredients such as plant oils, lavender, aloe vera and shea butter.

To maximize sunburn protection, try to schedule outdoor activities for early morning or late afternoon. Wear a wide-brimmed and sunglasses that provide the maximum UV protection for your eyes. Drink plenty of water, stay hydrated!

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, but in many cases it can be prevented by using adequate sunburn protection. Use your sunscreen, wear your sunglasses and make sure you take advantage of Mother Nature’s “internal sunburn protection” by taking supplements that contain vitamins A, C and E.  A little bit of sunshine is good for the body and soul, so get outside and enjoy the beauty that is so abundant this time of year. 


Can I Take Supplements with My Current Medications?

by Health News

There is no doubt that the Internet has made finding the answer to a vast array of questions easier than at any time in human history, but there is a very big "however," that must be addressed. Many people attempt to answer the question, "can I take supplements with my current medications?" on their own or by reading various websites. In short, tackling these issues on your own can be quite dangerous. In this article, we will look at why you should not attempt to determine for yourself which drugs you can and cannot take together. 

Related Article: Prescription Drugs Contain Chemicals That Accelerate The Aging Process

Supplements Can Be Very Powerful 
The word "supplement" can be applied to a wide variety of compounds. It is important to remember that many supplements are natural herbs and other compounds that are very, very powerful. In fact, many of today's most powerful drugs are actually just reverse engineered versions of natural compounds. Why? It is not possible to get a drug patent on a basic herb such as cinnamon that has been in use by humans for thousands of years. However, when a drug company makes their own version, there is a serious profit to be made.


Drug Interactions Can Be So Complex that Medical Professionals Miss Them 
The issue of drug interactions is so complex that even skilled pharmacists get the answers wrong on occasion. When they do get the answers wrong, the results can be deadly. In fact, every year thousands of people die from interactions between prescribed and legal drug medications. It is important to remember that many of today's prescribed drugs are very powerful and are designed to work in a very specific fashion. Introducing different prescription drugs together can have a lethal result.

Unfortunately, many do not understand the dangers of mixing prescription drugs. Even skilled and knowledgeable people in the industry, such as scientists, doctors, researchers and pharmacists, can make dangerous mistakes where prescription drug interaction is concerned.

Your Doctor Must Know of All the Drugs and Supplements You are Taking

Supplements and drugs are not the same thing; however, your doctor absolutely must know all the drugs and supplements that you are taking. There are drugs that can interact negatively with what seems to be the most basic and simple of supplements. 
As a result, you should "play it safe" and make certain that your doctor knows and understands all the supplements and other drugs you are taking. Above all, don't try and resolve this issue on your own, as this is what you are paying your doctor and other medical professionals to do. 

Supplements can be a great way to improve your health, but they must be used judiciously and in a sensible fashion. If you are on medication, it is important that you access all the factors that can impact the performance of those drugs.


Are Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

by theintituteforvibrantliving admin

Natural supplements are not governed like drugs, as they are not drugs at all. However, they can be just as potent and those taking daily supplements should understand what checks are in place to maintain standards and support good health. You should be particularly careful of starting a new regime of natural supplements if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have chronic medical conditions or are on medications. 

The FDA has rules concerning dietary supplements that allow manufacturers to claim a product supports health or addresses a deficiency. However, the manufacturer must make a disclaimer that the FDA has not evaluated the claim.

Related Article: 10 Tips for Purchasing High-Quality Nutritional Supplements

Herbal supplement companies must follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and meet quality standards. GMPs ensure the right ingredients are included to match the product label and ensure that dangerous substances, such as lead, are kept out. Once a product is on the market, the FDA monitors it for safety and has the power to remove it if deemed dangerous. 

The FDA requires natural supplement labels to show the name of the supplement, the name and address of the distributor or manufacturer, a complete list of ingredients and the serving size, amount and active ingredients. This makes it easy to compare similar products from different brands or research more information. 


The best protection is to buy natural supplements from a reputable supplier who has been in the market for many years and has a good reputation. Buy from a company that has good information available on its products, is willing to answer questions and backs up its products with a fair, money-back guarantee. 


Treating Rosacea: A Step-By-Step Guide

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Treating rosacea, an unsightly skin disorder that is characterized by red skin on the cheeks, chin, nose and forehead, requires careful monitoring of the condition.  Left untreated, the affected skin will thicken, become even ruddier with visible blood vessels and pimple-like bumps may form.  

Treating Rosacea

Rosacea is among the many different types of skin rashes.  It usually manifests itself after age 30 and is more prevalent in women and those with fair skin.  However, it can affect men and they often have the most severe symptoms, which includes the thickening skin and red, watery eyes.

While there is no cure for these skin rashes, carefully avoiding triggers that worsen the condition and taking simple precautions can lessen the symptoms of rosacea.

Following this step-by-step guide can be part of an effective rosacea treatment plan.

Step One: Diet

There is plenty of medical research to link diet and rosacea.  A 2003 National Rosacea Society study found that foods like hot sausage or peppers, black, red and white pepper, the spice paprika, garlic and vinegar are particularly virulent triggers that can cause a rosacea skin rash to worsen.

The best way to avoid a worsening of the condition when it comes to your diet is to keep a food journal carefully noting which foods seem to make worsen your symptoms, so you can more easily avoid them as much as possible.

Related: Using Hyaluronic Acid for Skin Care

In addition to spicy foods, highly acidic fruits, fried foods, sugar, caffeinated beverages, and alcoholic beverages have all been linked to an increase in rosacea symptoms.

Step Two: Cosmetic Products

The cosmetic products you use can definitely affect your rosacea.  It is critical that you consult with your dermatologist to formulate a skin-care plan immediately after a rosacea diagnosis.  There are companies that make cosmetics specifically for rosacea sufferers.

When cleansing your face, be particularly careful with the cleanser you choose.  Zinc containing soaps have shown to be a safe way to cleanse your skin and for treating rosacea.

Many facial cleansers have harsh ingredients that can worsen your condition.  Avoid those with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid.

Avoid scrubbing your face too hard and pat your skin dry with a fresh, soft cloth, rather than rub it with a towel.  If your skin is oily, use an oil-free moisturizer.  If you have particularly dry skin, a lightweight moisturizer is still best, while an oil ingredient may be okay.

Step Three: Sunscreen

Using sunscreen daily is critical to anyone treating rosacea.  Exposure to sun can quickly worsen the redness and irritation.  After you cleanse and moisturize your face, apply a layer of sunscreen of at least SPF 15 (SPF 30 is better) using a product, which contains zinc oxide, a physical sun blocker.


Once a day is not enough either.  You will need to reapply sunscreen at least once even if you are indoors and as frequently as every two hours if you are outside for long periods of time.  A hat and eye protection, like sunglasses, is also a good idea if you are outdoors for an extended period of time.  Again, take note of which sunscreens your skin can tolerate, as sunscreens too can aggravate skin conditions.

Step Four: Supplements

A high quality multivitamin is part of any effective rosacea treatment plan.  Find one that contains at least 25-100 milligrams of B-complex vitamins. 

B2 (also known as riboflavin) has been shown to be especially effective in lessening rosacea symptoms.  It helps the skin secret more mucous to aid in repair from damage due to rosacea.

Since many researchers believe rosacea sufferers have a disorder in the blood vessels just beneath the skin, vitamin C, zinc and copper supplements are often recommended.  These nutrients are essential for healthy blood vessels, capillaries and connective tissues.

Treating Rosacea

Just because there is no known cure for rosacea does not mean you must suffer with unsightly, irritated red skin.  Working with your dermatologist and following this checklist can help you keep rosacea symptoms in check.



How Do Doctors Define Constipation

by IVL Products

A healthy lifestyle is your best defense against constipationMedical professionals agree that healthy bowel function is essential to good health, but they don’t always agree on how healthy bowel function is defined. So how often should you “go?” According to the National Digestive Diseases Foundation, more than 2 million Americans visit their physicians each year seeking relief from constipation. More than $700 million is spent annually on over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat irregularity.

Mainstream doctors have varying opinions but most contend that a person is constipated when they have less than three bowel movements per week. Holistic practitioners, however, believe that a person should have one to three bowel movements per day to help ensure that toxins are being removed from the body. Some even narrow that down to one bowel movement per meal each day.

Related: How Vitamins and Supplement May Help Improve Your Liver Health

The liver filters toxins from our blood and sends them to the colon to be eliminated. When the toxins build up they become absorbed through the colon wall; and if not removed, our health can be adversely affected in a variety of ways. The toxins associated with constipation can cause bloating, sluggishness, abdominal pain and flatulence.

In a perfect world we would avoid toxins, but that is virtually impossible. We are exposed to toxins through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the chemicals we use to clean our clothes, wash our cars and disinfect our homes.

Holistic practitioners subscribe to the “more is better” theory of bowel function. If you are having less than one bowel movement daily, talk to your practitioner about natural ways to restore regularity.


Nine Nutty Options for an Arthritis Prevention Diet

by Health News

Millions of Americans suffer from arthritis. While there is no cure for the condition, following an arthritis prevention diet can go a long way toward helping to slow down the progression of the disease and ease symptoms. Simply by incorporating certain foods into your daily meals that contain vitamins, minerals and other compounds, has shown to greatly help to ease the pain and progression of arthritis.

Nuts are ideal for an arthritis prevention diet.

Delicious and Totally Nuts!

One group of foods in particular is showing to be a joint’s best friend and should be included in any dietary plan. What group of foods can help? Nuts!

There are two kinds of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) – the deterioration of cartilage in the joints
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – an immune disease that destroys the tissue lining joints

Fortunately there are some simple ways to help reduce the severity of OA and RA symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise and following an arthritis prevention diet are simple ways to improve your quality of life if you suffer from either type of arthritis.

Nuts and seeds are packed with the potent antioxidants, vitamin E and minerals like selenium, copper and magnesium, which have shown to be very beneficial in combating the stiffness, limited mobility, chronic inflammation and pain in joints ravaged by arthritis.

Related: How to Have More Energy & Improve Digestion with Pistachios

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men and women who consumed the most nuts over a 15-year period had a much lower risk of dying from inflammatory disorders like RA.

Other research found that many arthritis sufferers had poor bone density, a common condition linked to a lack of adequate magnesium in the diet. Nuts are loaded with magnesium.

The Nutty Nine

  1. Almonds – there are many good things for the body contained in one little nut, such as vitamin E and powerful antioxidants to help rebuild damaged tissue.
  2. Walnuts – one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids found in a plant-based food. These nuts are also a good source of protein.
  3. Hazelnuts – are full of PACs (proanthocyanidins), which are very potent antioxidants. They are also a rich source of vitamin E.
  4. Pecans – full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that fight inflammation.
  5. Pine nuts – are a good source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant; vitamin D for stronger bones; and pinoliec acid, which can help you to feel more full, and aid in managing weight, and a healthy weight is easier on sore joints.
  6. Flaxseeds – are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts.
  7. Pumpkin seeds – often tossed out in favor of the flesh of the pumpkin, these seeds should be in your diet for their high magnesium content and ability to act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
  8. Sesame seeds – one of the world’s oldest condiments, this tiny seed packs a powerful load of vitamin E, selenium and even contains calcium.
  9. Sunflower seeds – are rich source of selenium, magnesium and linoleic acid.

Consuming more nuts and seeds are a good idea for anyone looking for the optimal arthritis prevention diet to help preserve their joint tissue, reduce inflammation and manage their weight.  Because nuts are calorically dense and also concentrated sources of essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, a bite of nuts little goes a long way. 


Royal Jelly for Skin: Your Skin’s Best Friend

by Health News

What is royal jelly?  It sounds like something the queen of England would spread on her biscuits with tea.  Actually, royal jelly is a nutrient-packed bee product that can be taken as a nutritional supplement, but it also can take years off the appearance of aging skin.

Royal jelly transforms aging skin

Royal Jelly: The Who, What, Where, When, & Why

Honey bees produce the thick, milky substance known as royal jelly to feed their queen.  Royal jelly contains water, proteins, sugar, fats, vitamins, salts and amino acids.  Its composition varies depending on the geographical location and climate the bees live in.  It is the primary food source fed to female bees to greatly enhance their fertility and longevity, making them queen bees capable of sustaining the hive.

The pasty secretion of royal jelly is used for many different things in and on the body like:

  • Asthma and hay fever
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Insomnia or sleep disorders
  • Ulcers
  • Skin disorders
  • Bone fractures
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • High cholesterol

The existence of royal jelly and its potential for treating a number of health problems has been known for centuries, and became more popular in the U.S. since the 1960s.  Research conducted identified a potent neurochemical that could actually prolong the lives of fruit flies given the substance.  This has led to speculation that royal jelly could be a potent anti-aging substance.

Related: Alpha Hydroxl Acids Benefits Your Skin

More recent clinical studies have confirmed that royal jelly is in fact a good friend to aging skin.  Researchers at the Nihon University of Japan found that the anti-inflammatory properties in it shortened the healing period of skin lesions.  It also seems to stimulate collagen production, the essential protein that makes up the support bands beneath our skin keeping it smooth and wrinkle free.

The Yin and the Yang of Royal Jelly

The concept of yin and yang is at the core of Asian medical models dating back thousands of years.  Yin represents the skin, bodily fluids, tendons and bones, which are thought to become drier and hotter over time, especially in women of menopausal age.

Royal jelly is particularly helpful to “yin deficient” or aging skin thanks to the many essential nutrients it contains.  Traditional Asian medicine has been using royal jelly as a healing and skin renewing treatment to restore “yin” for thousands of years because it is highly effective with no known side effects.

The complex combination of fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and minerals have strong anti-bacterial properties combined with its high water content make royal jelly very hydrating and nourishing to aging skin. 

  • The silicon content is what boosts collagen production leading to a smoother tighter complexion.
  • Royal jelly also contains a lot B-vitamins, B3 especially, that are highly effective in preventing redness, irritation, and discoloring from lifestyle and environmental damage.
  • The Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology reported in 2013 that the collagen-boosting fatty acids in royal jelly also have sun-blocking properties that can shield the skin from ultraviolet ray damage.

Healthier Skin with Royal Jelly

With thousands of years of use in Asian medicine and significant clinical research showing its health benefits, using royal jelly for skin is a safe, effective and natural way to turn back the clock and restore a more youthful glow.


Indigestion Remedies: Why Slippery Elm Is Critical For GI Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Much of our health resides in the gut or gastrointestinal tract (GI).  If you are suffering from stomach troubles, the herb slippery elm can be one of the best indigestion remedies.  The slippery elm is a small tree that grows in several areas of North America. It has many other names like:

  • North America Elm
  • Red Elm
  • Moose Elm
  • Indian Elm

Its health benefits come from the inner bark, not the whole bark, which is tough yet very flexible.  It has a faint but distinct odor and is most commonly found in tablets, capsules or a very fine powder for oral ingestion.

Choose slippery elm for an effective indigestion remedy

Slippery Elm and a Healthy GI Tract

The inner bark of the North American elm has been used for centuries to treat a variety of disorders from the inside out of the body.  With no known negative side effects, it is a safe gentle indigestion remedy that can help keep your GI tract healthy.

Related: Foods the Health-Conscious Will Want to Avoid

Slippery elm (also known as ulmus fulva) forms a very thick, soothing gel and easy to digest complex carbohydrates when mixed with water. The mucilage, as it’s known, easily adheres to the lining of the digestive tract from the esophagus to the stomach and the large and small intestines.  It has a very soothing effect and can be used as an effective indigestion remedy for:

For Ulcer Symptoms – these painful breaks in the lining of the stomach and intestines can be treated with slippery elm.  The soothing mucilage coats the lining of the GI tract and helps heal the damaged tissue of ulcers.

Treating Diarrhea – slippery elm contains tannins that tighten and contract human tissue.  The resulting fluid retention helps halt loose stools and works as a diarrhea treatment.

Easing Heartburn – in the same way it coats and soothes the stomach and intestines, slippery elm can do the same for heartburn, caused by stomach acid that back washes through the stomach valve into the esophagus.  It also reduces inflammation and pain while it helps the damaged tissue repair itself.

Irritable or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS) - slippery elm can offer relief to those suffering from IBS because it is easily digestible and won’t worsen the symptoms of the disease like painful gas, bloating and diarrhea.  Its ability to reduce inflammation and coat damaged tissue helps prevent inflammatory bowel disease bouts and keep those suffering from it more regular.

There are no known, negative side effects to using slippery elm.  It has been used for centuries by people as indigestion remedy and topically to treat wounds to speed healing. 

Pregnant or nursing women should not use slippery elm simply because there is not enough data to determine if it might be harmful to a fetus or infant.  Otherwise, even small children can benefit from ingesting the herb to soothe upset tummies, or as a diarrhea treatment.

The herb can be found in many forms.  For ingestion, tablets, capsules or a fine powder are best.  The mild nutty flavor makes the powder and excellent additive to water forming a thick pasty beverage that you can drink.

If you are suffering from GI tract disorders and looking for safe natural indigestion remedies, give slippery elm a try.