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5 Tips for a Healthy Digestive System

by Health News

While it might seem simple to grab a bite to eat, the digestive process is actually quite complicated. The food must travel through the intestines and then various processes work together to eliminate it from the body. If you have been having digestive issues like gas, cramps, constipation or acid reflux, there is really no reason to start taking medications before trying some simple cures. The truth is that there are a variety of natural cures, which should result in a healthy digestive system.

Probiotics
One simple remedy is yoghurt or kefir. Both these foods have beneficial bacteria that are essential to a healthy digestive system. If you don’t eat dairy, the good news is that yoghurt or kefir are both available in soy and coconut. Feel free to opt for the supplement option instead, as you can buy probiotics and take a capsule a day for the same effect. Plus, people who take probiotics are far less likely to get sick.

Pineapple
If you love pineapple, you are in luck. This fruit relieves gas through its powerful digestive enzymes. This fruit contains bromelain, which helps with digestion and breaks down proteins. Pineapple is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and can reduce any swelling that might be taking place in your intestines.

Chamomile
Chamomile is not only a calming tea; it also helps to sooth digestive ailments. It relaxes more than just your mind, and can relieve bloating, gas, diarrhea and more. Incidentally, ginger tea can also help with digestive problems including nausea, and cramps.

Turmeric
Turmeric is the yellow spice that is often used in Indian foods. It is related to ginger. It is another anti-inflammatory and aids fats to breakdown in the body due to the fact that it stimulates bile. Turmeric can also protect the liver and prevent ulcers. While you are taking turmeric for your digestive issues, you may get other benefits as well, as the spice could help with fever, infections and heart disease. Studies also show it may fight cancer. In addition to being used for Indian meals, turmeric is also available as a supplement. As you can see, even if you weren’t having digestive issues, there is no reason not to add a powerhouse spice like turmeric into your diet.

Water
Due to the hectic nature of day-to-day life, people often neglect to get enough water. However, water is crucial to a healthy digestive system. The number one reason for constipation is lack of water. When the body is constipated, the intestinal lining becomes inflamed and the balance of bacteria in the gut gets out of whack.

Often part of the reason that people have digestive problems is that they quickly consume their meals and don’t give enough attention to chewing and taking small bites. If you are looking to relieve your digestive issues, be sure to eat slowly and pay attention to the flavor of your meal. This will not only help you have a healthy digestive system, but you'll enjoy your food as well.

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What Does The Term Biodynamic or Organic Mean?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Everywhere you turn, you read seemingly healthy claims on foods, ranging from all-natural to organic and biodynamic. But what, exactly, do these terms mean?

What Does The Term Biodynamic or Organic Mean?

While the term “natural” or “all-natural” implies that the food or product has had little to no processing, there is no legal definition for either of these terms in the United States. In fact, most would agree that placing these terms on packaging is a marketing ploy more than claim of pure ingredients.

To bear the “organic” label, a food must be grown, stored, and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals. Plus, organic farmers have to adhere to a strict set of standards and must undergo regular inspections to ensure that they meet these standards—including no hormone use in animals, and no genetically engineered seed or stock. So, you can rest assured that foods labeled “biodynamic” or “certified organic” are free of any and all genetically modified ingredients.

Finally, “biodynamic” foods are farmed according to even stricter standards than organic farming and pre-date the organic movement by 20 years. Developed by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in 1924, biodynamics is a method of agriculture that seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature. Biodynamic methods recognize the development of a farm as a balanced and sustainable unit. In addition to common organic practices such as crop rotation, recycling through composts and liquid manures, and increasing plant and animal bio-processes in the soil, biodynamics also includes homeopathic-like preparations to heal the soil and guarantee that such healthy soil will provide the best quality of nutrients.

Additionally, biodynamics relies on the rhythmic influences of the sun, moon, planets, and stars to determine the best times to plant, cultivate, and harvest. It is the combination of organic farming practices, along with the homeopathic remedies and planetary influences that define the essence of biodynamics.

 

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Regulate Digestive System: How Common Medications May Cause Digestive Problems

by Nancy Maneely

Regulate Digestive SystemIf you suffer from occasional digestive upsets – and who doesn’t? – do you reach for the contents of your medicine cabinet? If so, you may be doing more harm than good.

The best way to eliminate digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, excessive gas, or bloating, is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This we can do by drinking lots of water; eating smaller, more frequent meals; avoiding sugary sweets and drinks (the body has trouble processing sugar overloads); and making sure to replenish the “good” bacteria of the gut with probiotics (either in foods or a daily supplement).

In fact, many medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – can ramp up digestive problems. And ironically, some of the drugs we look to for digestive relief can be the worst offenders. Here are some medications to avoid when you are experiencing digestive upset:

  1. Antacids – The powerful acid blockers on the market today are effective at reducing stomach acid. The problem is, you need that acid to help digest and absorb the nutrients in food. And you also need it to destroy bad bacteria that invade your system. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, Oct. 4, 2007) found that people who took antacids had four times more pneumonia, because they didn’t have enough stomach acid to protect them against bacteria and viruses.
  2. Laxatives – These may seem to work at first, but there are two downsides: Many people experience irritation of the bowel as a result of the harsh ingredients in most products, and the relief is temporary which can lead to dependence.
  3. NSAIDS and aspirin – These can upset and even damage your intestinal lining.
  4. Antibiotics – There’s no question that antibiotics can be necessary and effective at destroying harmful bacteria, but they also kill off the friendly flora that live in your digestive tract. Antibiotics encourage the overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans, which can damage the lining of the small intestine and lead to digestive problems.
  5. Other drugs – Some medications tend to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to back up into the esophagus. These include antihistamines, beta-2 agonists for asthma, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, nitrates for angina, and tricyclic antidepressants.

Most of us know our bodies well enough to predict which foods cause the most trouble internally. In general, it is best to avoid the worst offenders like trans fats, processed meats, sodas, and low-fiber foods such as white bread and pasta). Many people are lactose intolerant and need to avoid dairy products, which can bring on painful bloating and gas. Other common food allergies include soy, peanuts, eggs and wheat. The best way to test for food sensitivities is to eliminate the suspected foods completely from your diet for several weeks and then add them back in. Keep a daily food journal while you are doing this.

Try incorporating foods that are good for digestion into your daily diet. These include: yogurt or kefir, sweet potato, winter squash, banana, apples, berries, whole grains, sauerkraut, peas, beets, and celery.

What’s your favorite natural remedy for problems related to digestive upset?

Read More:
EverydayHealth.com: Digestive Health

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Natural Joint Pain Relief: Boswellia Extract Is An Effective Therapy For Osteoarthritis

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that the Biblical-era incense frankincense was most likely an extract from the resin of the tree known as Natural Joint Pain Relief: Boswellia Extract Boswellia?

Four species of Boswellia trees - found mainly in Africa and Asia - are known for their fragrant resin. They are also well-known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic properties.

However, Boswellia is more than just an ancient herbal remedy.

A recent review of studies on the effects of Boswellia extract on osteoarthritis concluded that it provided clinically effective natural joint pain relief, with no serious safety issues. The review authors noted that evidence for the effectiveness of Boswellia extracts was ‘encouraging’.

Further evidence comes from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of Boswellia extract on 30 patients from India with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic, progressive, degenerative disorder which typically affects the knee joint.

In the study, two groups of 15 patients were given either Boswellia extract or placebo for eight weeks. After the initial eight weeks, each group was ‘crossed over’ to receive the opposite therapy for eight weeks.

All patients receiving drug treatment reported a significant decrease in knee pain, improved knee flexibility and increased walking distance. Not only that, the frequency of swelling in the knee joint was reduced.

It’s worth noting that every one of the patients treated with Boswellia extract found relief from their pain and suffering.

The authors noted that “observed differences between drug treated and placebo being statistically significant, are clinically relevant”. Boswellia extract was well tolerated except for minor gut disturbances.

The study authors recommend Boswellia extract as a therapy for natural joint pain relief in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, with possible uses in other forms of arthritis as well.

If you too suffer from pain and stiffness in your knee, back and hips, try adding in natural supplements that contiain Boswellia extract as a natural and effective way to help ease your pain and suffering.

 

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Dangers of Hospitalization and Patients With Dementia

by Health News

Dangers of Hospitalization and Patients With DementiaAccording to a recent study, more than 50% of all patients with pre-existing dementia will experience delirium while hospitalized. Failing to detect and treat their delirium early can be deadly, leading to a faster decline of their physical and mental health.

Delirium - a deadly, costly disease that significantly impacts people’s lives - is often overlooked, especially in people with dementia.

This study followed 139 hospitalized adults aged 65 and older with dementia. Study authors noted that patients who developed delirium had a 25% greater chance of dying within 30 days.

Dementia is an irreversible, progressive condition that affects cognitive and physical function. Symptoms usually occur over months to years and can include memory loss, inability to solve simple problems, difficulties with language and thinking, personality and behavior changes and other mental problems.

Delirium is a reversible condition that comes on quickly - if caught and treated early, it can be cured. Many symptoms of delirium may appear similar to dementia, but signs such as inattention and sleepiness or hyperactivity can help to differentiate delirium from dementia.

Study authors focused on a combination of disorders known as delirium superimposed on dementia (DSD). They found a 32% incidence of new delirium in the hospitalized patients with dementia - who stayed in hospital about four days longer than patients without delirium.

They also had a reduced level of physical and mental ability when they left the hospital and at follow-up visits one month later. Additionally, patients with DSD were more likely to have died a month after their hospital stay.

Common causes of delirium are infections, dehydration and changes in medication. One-third of the patients in this study arrived at the hospital dehydrated.

Preventing delirium is important because hospitals and health caregivers don’t want their patients to go home worse than when they came into the hospital.

The researchers say that their goal is to help practitioners recognize and treat delirium in patients with DSD as early as possible, helping to improve his or her overall quality of life along with reducing mortality rates.

Source

Read related blog posts:

Alzheimer's Disease: Early Signs And Risk Factors

Early Detection Of Alzheimer's Disease

Natural Remedies Resveratrol: Alzheimer’s Breakthrough

Aging and Alzheimer's

 

 

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What are the Benefits of Avocado Oil?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that avocado oil is not only edible…but it is also very healthy for your skin?

Pressed from the fruit of the avocado, avocado oil is used for cooking as well as a salad dressing and garnish. With an unusually high smoke point, extra virgin avocado oil has a characteristic flavor and is excellent in almost any high heat cooking application - including baking, stir-fries, barbecue, roasts and sauté.

What are the Benefits of Avocado Oil?

In fact, extra virgin avocado oil has a similar monounsaturated fat profile to extra virgin olive oil, which protects it from breakdown during heating. 

‘Hass' cold-pressed avocado oil is a brilliant emerald green when extracted; the color is attributed to high levels of chlorophylls and carotenoids extracted into the oil, which add to its nutritious qualities.

Avocado oil is also extracted for cosmetic use. Valued for its regenerative and moisturizing properties, it easily penetrates skin and is rapidly absorbed. In fact, slicing open an avocado and applying its flesh directly on to skin is a very effective and natural approach to achieving a healthy facial glow or dealing with acne and dry skin. Simply apply the yellow pulp to soothe, protect and moisturize.

  • Avocados have very high vitamin E content. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals along with slowing signs of aging.  
  • Avocado oil has a natural hydrating ability, because of which it makes skin soft and supple. So if you’re suffering from itchy and/or dry skin, you can use cosmetics and lotions with avocado oil to remedy the situation.
  • Avocado oil contains sterolins. These are natural compounds which help to properly absorb fat and boost your immune system, along with making more skin collagen and reducing the incidence of age spots.
  • Avocado oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to be highly effective in protecting skin from UV radiation, along with lowering sunburn and skin cancer risk. Not only that, foods with omega-3 fats such as salmon, nuts, flax seed and avocados should be consumed regularly for good heart and brain health.

Avocado oil can be obtained either cold pressed in liquid for or directly from the fruit.

Source: Benefits of Avocado Oil for Skin and Health

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Artificial Livers for Transplants

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that your liver can regenerate itself if a part of it is removed?

Researchers today are trying to exploit that ability in hopes of producing artificial liver tissue for transplantation.

Artificial Livers However, they keep running into the same problem - mature liver cells quickly lose their normal function when removed from the body. In other words, liver cells can regenerate themselves inside the body, but they don’t like to grow outside the body.

In a new breakthrough study, researchers have identified roughly a dozen chemical compounds that help liver cells maintain their normal function when grown in laboratory conditions - and also multiply themselves to produce new tissue. They believe liver cells grown in this way could help to treat many of the 500 million people suffering from chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis C.

The research team performed large-scale, rapid studies on how 12,500 different chemicals affect liver cell growth and function. After screening thousands of liver cells from eight different tissue donors, the researchers identified 12 compounds that helped liver cells maintain those functions, triggered liver cell division or did both.

The study authors are currently investigating whether these compounds can help to influence other types of cells into growing artificially as well. In future studies, they plan to implant treated liver cells in mice to test whether they can be used as replacement liver tissue. They are also developing the 12 compounds they discovered as drugs to help regenerate patients' own liver tissue in case of damage.

This research team has also recently made progress toward solving another challenge of engineering liver tissue, which is getting the recipient's body to grow blood vessels to supply the new tissue with oxygen and nutrients.

Together, these 2 studies may finally offer an exciting solution to two longstanding challenges in artificial liver tissue engineering - first, growing liver cells outside the human body and second, getting them to graft successfully to transplant recipients.

Other blog posts about liver health:

What the heck is natural herbal support for your liver and why would I want it?

How to Achieve Natural Protection for Your Liver

Natural Remedies: A New Weapon Against Hepatitis C?

Source:

A Step Closer to Artificial Livers.

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Boost the Immune System with Infection-Fighting Foods

by Health News

Boost the Immune System with Infection-Fighting Foods.  Take advantage of the following natural foods when battling a cold or flu:

Try the BRAT Diet.  Immediately following stomach flu, it is best to consume fluids and broths.  On day two, try BRAT.  Commonly used for children with upset stomachs, this natural remedy of bananas, rice, applesauce and dry toast really works! 

Eat garlic, which has powerful antibacterial compounds that help the body fight infection.    A close relative with similar antibacterial agents is onion.  Cook with onions and leeks when you or family members have a cold.

Blueberries help to curb diarrhea, and they have aspirin-like properties, which may help to reduce fever and soothe aches and pains.

Try eating cranberries to prevent bacteria from invading the bladder and urinary tract.

Chili peppers help to open sinuses and clear the buildup of mucus in the lungs.  Other helpful foods for reducing nasal congestion and  mucus are mustard and horseradish.

Try a cup of tea as a natural cold and flu remedy.  Catechin, a phytochemical found in black and green teas is said to have antibiotic and anti-diarrheal properties.    

Steer clear of processed foods and sugar when battling illness as junk foods take a toll on the digestive system.

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You Give Me Fever

by Health News

For people of all ages, a normal temperature is 98.6° F (some people fluctuate a few degrees higher or lower). But when the thermometer reaches 100.4° F or higher, you have yourself a bona fide fever. Even without the thermometer, we can recognize those all-too familiar signs: flushed skin, a slight sweat, increased thirst, maybe even a low-grade headache.

While high heat, overdressing or overexerting, and certain medications and/or vaccinations can trigger a fever, the most common cause for the onset of increased body temperature is disease or infection. Most experts agree that the onset of a fever usually means that your body is “burning off” a virus or unwanted bacteria.

Sometimes the cause of a fever can be as benign as an earache, stress, or common cold or flu. Other times, it can signal a much more serious condition, including cancer, Lyme disease, staph infection, or pneumonia. And just as a fever can signal a variety of problems, it also calls for a variety of treatments—especially when it comes to children.

Fevers and children can be a tricky combination. The best rule of thumb to use is the age rule. If the child is three months or younger, a temperature of just 100.4° F can signal a serious problem and calls for immediate medical attention. For an older infant and toddler, they can often tolerate a temperature between 100° F and 103° F. In these cases, you have several natural options, including a cool bath, lots of fluids, and elderberry syrup.

One way to help your child be a bit more comfortable is to place them in a lukewarm bath. Just be sure it’s not too cold, or they can begin to shiver, which will only prolong the problem.

Because fevers often leads to sweating, you’ll want to be sure your child drinks lots of fluids, preferably water, soup, and diluted juice to avoid dehydration. One great fever-reducing cocktail for you child is antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice mixed with purified water and two tablespoons of elderberry syrup. Elderberries are an excellent antiviral remedy and have long been used to treat fevers and congestion.

These natural remedies are a great way to fight a low-grade fever in children and adults alike. However, a fever is not to be taken lightly. If these remedies don’t work within 24 hours, or if your child’s temperature climbs above 103.5° F, call your pediatrician. Additionally, under no circumstances should you give the child aspirin, as it can cause a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome, which affects all body organs, especially the brain and liver.

Finally, you should seek immediate medical attention if:

  • A child three months of age or younger has a temperature of 100.4° F or higher.
  • A child between six months and four years has a temperature of 103.5° F or higher.
  • An adult has a temperature of 104° F or higher.
  • The fever has lasted more than five days.
  • If the fever is accompanied by a severe headache and stiff neck or blood in the stool or urine.
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Natural Remedies: A New Weapon Against Hepatitis C?

by Health News

Hepatitis C is an infectious virus that attacks the liver and can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer and death. Hepatitis C the disease most commonly implicated in liver-transplant cases. While Hepatitis C is treatable, and in some cases curable, treatments are very difficult, expensive and outcomes are unpredictable; the disease often returns once treatment is stopped. Currently, standard medical treatments can cure 50-80% of patients.

But here is some welcome news: There might be a safer, much less expensive natural remedies against Hepatitis C: Vitamin B-12. The results of a recent study* published in the journal Gut suggest that adding Vitamin B-12 to the standard treatment improves cure rates. The researchers found that the addition of Vitamin B-12 strengthened the rate of sustained viral response 34%.

For the study, 94 patients with Hepatitis C infection were randomly selected to receive standard treatment or standard treatment plus Vitamin B-12 (5000 mcg every 4 weeks) for between 24 (for virus genotypes 2 and 3) and 48 weeks (for virus genotype 1—which is typically harder to treat).

While there was no difference between the two treatment regimens at 4 weeks, there were significant differences in response at all the other time points, particularly at 24 weeks after stopping treatment. 24 weeks after stopping treatment, the Vitamin B-12 group showed a significantly higher response rate than the standard treatment group. The goal of treatment is to cure the disease, and such a strong response at 24 weeks with the Vitamin B-12 group suggests the vitamin might be instrumental in curing the disease.

The effects were also significantly greater among those who carried the notoriously-difficult-to-treat type 1 strain and in those with high levels of infection (high viral load) to begin with.

The researchers believe that until better treatments are available, B-12 supplementation might be an effective and viable addition to current treatments. It might also be an easy, inexpensive alternative for people who can’t afford treatment or live in places where treatment isn’t available.

*http://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2012/06/28/gutjnl-2012-302344.abstract?sid=d08938d2-323d-450a-9833-d323f99078d6

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Expert Tips For Healthy Skin, Hair And Nails

by Nancy Maneely

Healthy Skin, Hair and NailsThe hair, nails and skin are the body’s protection against damaging effects of harsh environmental elements – the sun’s ultraviolet rays, heat, cold, dirt, and abrasive surfaces. Together, they present your physical self to the world, which is why most of us want to keep them in good working order and healthy, vibrant appearance.

Here is a list of daily habits that will keep your skin, nails and hair glowing and prevent signs of premature aging, from the nation’s top dermatologists:

  1. Don’t smoke – It’s certainly bad for your insides, but it’s also terrible for your outsides. Smoking causes deep wrinkles around the mouth and dulls the appearance of skin. Studies suggest that tobacco smoke exposure decreases capillary and arteriolar blood flow, damaging connective tissues that help maintain healthy skin. There is also evidence that tobacco smoke is phototoxic: It becomes more toxic in the presence of ultraviolet light (UV), and causes more damage to skin cells than either smoke or UV would cause on their own.
  2. Wear sunscreen – Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday on your face and exposed areas. It should have a Sun Protection Factor of at least 15 (30 for the face).  Anyone over the age of 6 months should use a sunscreen daily, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Even those who work inside are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for brief periods throughout the day, especially if they work near windows, which generally filter out UVB (the rays that cause sunburn) but not UVA rays.
  3. Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, K and antioxidants – Colorful veggies and fruits are your skin’s best friends. They will give your skin a healthy glow, and help to strengthen hair and nails.
  4.  Do as little as possible to the hair – You may think that coloring, perming, hot-curling, etc., will improve your appearance, but in the long run it will lead to breakage and cause the hair to lose its natural luster.
  5.  Use soap sparingly – Many dermatologists advise avoiding soap unless you are a teenager or have excessively oily skin. The exception is for certain parts of the body – use a mild soap to clean face, underarms, and groin area. For the rest of your body, pure water will do the job.
  6. Avoid tanning – Whether it’s under the sun or a tanning lamp, this practice will expose the skin to harmful UV rays that can bring on premature aging, uneven complexion, age spots or even skin cancer.
  7. Use moisturizer and lip balm – They help to trap water in the skin and protect against drying, scaling and cracking. Wind, cold temperatures and heated houses in the winter can all dehydrate the skin, which can cause eczema to flare up and make the skin itchy and dry. Prevention of this dryness by moisturizing is the single most important factor in protecting the skin from the elements.
  8. Use skin products with care – Avoid any products that sting or burn unless directed by your dermatologist. Use as directed and avoid applying too much, which can clog pores. And test products, even those labeled hypoallergenic. Dab a small amount on your inner forearm and check for a reaction before applying to larger areas. Don’t use too many different products at once, especially the “anti-aging” remedies. This can irritate the skin.

What is your favorite anti-aging tip for the care of skin, hair and nails?

Sources:
Dermatologists' Tips to Reduce the Signs of Aging, Science Daily
Dermatologists Share Their Secrets For Maintaining Healthy Skin, Hair And Nails, Science Daily
About Sunscreen, Skin Cancer Foundation
5 Myths and Truths About Moisturizers, Best Health

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Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

by Nancy Maneely

Many people will experience balance problems as they age. Common symptoms of balance problems include:

  • Occasional feelings of unsteadiness or dizziness are not uncommon
  • Vertigo, the feeling that you or the things around you are spinning, is another often-reported symptom
  • Disturbances of the inner ear are a common cause of these events

Falls and fall-related injuries, such as hip fracture, can have a serious impact on an older person's life. If you fall, it could limit your activities or make it impossible to live independently. And in many instances, people become more isolated after a fall.

More than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths. More commonly, falls can lead to a prolonged period of rehabilitation, diminished function, depression and declining health.

Here are some of the more common types of balance disorders:

Natural Remedies for Balance Problems
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – In BPPV, you experience a brief, intense feeling of vertigo when you change the position of your head, such as when rolling over to the left or right, upon getting out of bed, or when looking for an object on a high or low shelf.  In BPPV, small calcium particles in the inner ear become displaced and hit the inner ear balance sensors, causing dizziness. A doctor or specialist can treat BPPV by carefully moving the head and torso to dislodge these particles. For some people, one session will be all that is needed. Others might need to repeat the procedure several times at home to relieve their dizziness.
  • Labyrinthitis – Inflammation of the vestibular system, the part of the inner ear responsible for balance. To maintain your body's position, the labyrinth interacts with other systems in the body, such as the eyes, bones and joints. The cause is usually a viral infection, or less often, a bacterial infection.
  • Ménière's disease – This is a balance disorder that causes a person to experience vertigo, hearing loss that comes and goes, tinnitus (a ringing or roaring in the ears), and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Ménière's disease is caused by changes in fluid volumes in the inner ear. People with Ménière's disease can help reduce its dizzying effects by lowering the amount of sodium in their diets. Limiting alcohol and caffeine also may be helpful.

Certain specific exercises help make up for a balance disorder by moving the head and body in certain ways. These exercises are developed especially for a patient by a professional who understands the balance system and its relationship with other systems in the body.

Specific nutrients that may be beneficial are:

  • Magnesium (Grain, nuts, beans, green vegetables and bananas)
  • Calcium (Yogurt, milk and cheese, green leafy vegetables)
  • Potassium (Fresh fruits and vegetables)

Herbals to help vertigo:

  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Blessed thistle
  • Hawthorn
  • Gotu Kola
  • Cocculus compositum (Vertigoheel)

Natural anti-inflammatory supplements:

  • Omega-3 (fish oil)
  • Ginger root extract
  • Turmeric
  • Boswellia
  • Cat’s Claw

Other natural practices that may help:

  • Yoga
  • T’ai Chi
  • Qi Gong

Have you or a loved one ever experienced balance problems?

SOURCES:
NIH Senior Health: Balance Problems
The Health Benefits of T’ai Chi: Harvard Women’s Health Watch
Mayo Clinic Slide Show: Balance Exercises

 

 

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Naturally Boost Energy with American Ginseng

by Health News

Naturally Boost Energy with American Ginseng Fatigue…It may well be the most common medical complaint of the modern world. We have all experienced it to varying degrees. However, it is an even more widespread and difficult problem for cancer patients. Not only is the fatigue associated with cancer particularly severe, it is also difficult, if not impossible to treat. Is it possible, that Panax quinquefolius (American Ginseng) an herbal remedy used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, could be an effective treatment for cancer-related fatigue? Debra Barton, PhD from the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center believes that indeed, it could.

Dr. Barton presented the results of a recent study* at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting held in Chicago in June, 2012. The results of this study suggest that high doses of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) help reduce some of the fatigue experienced by up to 90 percent of people with cancer.

For the study, Dr. Barton and her associates administered capsules containing 2,000 milligrams of American ginseng or a placebo daily for two months to 340 patients who were undergoing or had recently completed treatment for cancer.

The results? While little improvement was seen at four weeks, those who received the ginseng capsules had less general and physical fatigue than the placebo group by the end of the study. After the full 8 weeks, the researchers noted a 20-point improvement in fatigue in the cancer patients, as measured on a 100-point, standardized fatigue scale. No difference in self-reported side effects was observed between the two groups.

So what is it about Panax quinquefolius that makes it so effective against cancer-related fatigue? The answer may lie in some compounds in ginseng known as ginsenosides. These compounds help regulate cortisol, a hormone released during stress. Because cancer is a very stressful experience, it naturally follows that cancer patients would produce higher-than-normal levels of this hormone. Ginsenosides also reduce cytokines, which are involved in inflammation.

Future research conducted by Dr Barton will examine the effect of ginseng on fatigue-related biomarkers.

*http://www.asco.org/ASCOv2/Meetings/Abstracts?&vmview=abst_detail_view&confID=114&abstractID=94721

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Natural Health Product Curcumin Acknowledged with U.S. Patent

by Health News

Curcumin is the deliciously warm, earthy spice that gives Indian curry its distinct flavor. It is also the ingredient that gives curry and mustard their bright, yellow color. It also has incredible healing powers, according to one Dr. Chawnshang Chang, Ph.D., director of the George Whipple Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Dr. Chang is one of many researchers around the world investigating the potential health benefits of compounds related to curcumin. Two dozen patents, dating, back to 2004, have been issued to the University for Chang’s work with these compounds. Patents related to curcumin have also been issued in China, Europe, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia, as well as the United States.

This latest patent focuses on the potential for curcumin compounds to fight prostate, bladder, liver and other forms of cancer related to male hormones, as well as other androgen-related conditions like acne, baldness, enlarged prostate, and excessive growth of body hair. Those conditions and others involve the androgen receptor, which is best known as the molecule through which the hormone testosterone acts in both men and women.

So how do curcumin compounds help these conditions? Chang recalls as a child growing up in China that ginger, a family of spices that includes curcumin was widely used as a folk remedy for male-pattern baldness. He later became an expert on the androgen receptor. Today he and other scientists have shown that compounds related to curcumin exert powerful healing effects through this receptor.

Chang is developing curcumin related-molecules known as “androgen receptor degradation enhancers” that would degrade the androgen receptor. He hopes to develop compounds that treat conditions like prostate cancer and acne more effectively, with fewer side effects, than current therapies.

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Natural Remedies Resveratrol: Alzheimer’s Breakthrough

by Health News

Natural Remedies Resveratrol: Alzheimer’s BreakthroughYou’ve no doubt heard about the many natural health benefits of the  resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant phenol found in red wine and grape juice. But could it be a new natural health solution for Alzheimer’s-related dementia? Researchers from more than two dozen U.S. academic institutions plan to find out! A phase II clinical trial will investigate the effects of resveratrol on people with mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. At the time of this writing, researchers are recruiting volunteers. R. Scott Turner, M.D., Ph.D., director of Georgetown University Medical Center’s Memory Disorders Program, is the lead investigator for the national study.

Early research studies suggest that resveratrol may prevent diabetes, act as a natural cancer fighter, ward off cardiovascular disease, and prevent memory loss, but there has been no large definitive study of its effects in humans.

According to the researchers, past resveratrol studies showing any health benefits have been conducted in animal models, such as mice, and with doses that far exceed intake from sipping wine or nibbling on chocolate. With this clinical trial, they will determine if daily doses of pure resveratrol can delay or alter memory deterioration and daily functioning in people with mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s.

For this study, they will also test whether resveratrol improves glucose and insulin metabolism in older individuals, although those who already have diabetes will not be included in this study.

The study will apply the “Gold Standard” for conduction clinical studies, double-blind, placebo controlled. Half of the participants will receive a placebo (a sugar pill made to look like the resveratrol pill) to allow researchers to more objectively test the benefits of resveratrol. Neither the patient nor the clinical staff will know if the study participant is receiving the placebo or resveratrol until the end of the study.

The research is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), through a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA). The lead rearchers report no personal financial interests related to the study.

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Health benefits of apple cider vinegar

by Nancy Maneely

Apple cider vinegar is one of those ancient foods which is experiencing a huge wave of popularity due to its purported natural health benefits. In fact, there is strong evidence that some of these health benefits are very real. Others … not so much. In any case, there is no doubt apple cider vinegar is a worthwhile product to keep on hand in the kitchen (and maybe also the bathroom) cabinet.

Vinegar is a fermented food that is a concentrated little package of amino acids, vitamins and mineral salts. It has a long tradition of use as a folk remedy, said to accomplish wonders that range from soothing jellyfish stings to curing cancer.  Apple cider vinegar is the result of apples being fermented into hard cider, than a second fermentation process is added. It is this two-step process which is believed to create the extra acids and enzymes responsible for the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. 

Some recent studies have shown some intriguing medical uses for apple cider vinegar. They include:

  • Weight loss: The enzymes in vinegar can help detoxify the body, give you a natural energy boost, and help you feel full when dieting.
  • Blood glucose: Several studies have shown vinegar can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Cholesterol: Animal studies have indicated vinegar could help lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Blood pressure: Observational studies show that people who regularly eat vinegar on salads tend to have lower blood pressure.
  • Cancer: There is some evidence that vinegar can slow the growth of cancer cells.

These studies are promising, but preliminary. Meanwhile, apple cider vinegar may be a great addition to your diet, but it’s probably not advisable to invest it with “magic bullet” properties.

Most of us have consumed apple cider vinegar as a flavoring on salads. As a daily health regimen, you’ll need more than a few drops from a cruet. Many people take a couple of teaspoons daily, mixed with water. You can also buy supplements, usually in the form of 285 mg tablets. Be careful to drink water with it to avoid acid erosion of the esophagus and stomach.

If you have diabetes, you should check with your doctor before incorporating apple cider vinegar into your health routine. It contains chromium, which has the potential to interfere with insulin regulation.

Here are some of the most common household uses for apple cider vinegar:

  • It has disinfectant properties and so can be useful as a cleaning agent.
  • It can soothe sunburn. Mix a few cups into a warm bath.
  • Some people swear it helps clear the complexion. It can set the pH level of the skin in balance, while its antiseptic properties help kill the bacteria that leads to acne.
  • Rinsing your mouth with it will help whiten teeth. Don’t go overboard, however. Any acidic substance can weaken tooth enamel when overused.
  • Adds a shine to your hair when used as a rinse after shampooing.

What is your favorite use for apple cider vinegar?

 

Sources:
WebMD: Apple Cider Vinegar
Natural Society: Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

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Can poor sleep habits make you fat?

by Nancy Maneely

Sweet Dreams Sleep Weight GainA newly published meta-analysis of sleep studies found a link between inadequate sleep and obesity.

The research, published in a special issue of The American Journal of Human Biology, explores how lack of sleep can impact appetite regulation, impair glucose metabolism and increase blood pressure.

The analysis reinforces the new thinking among experts that poor sleep habits have negative health consequences that range far beyond the occasional grumpy morning-after. In fact, improving the quality of your sleep may be the simplest way to boost your immune system, among other benefits.

When you experience that occasional sleeplessness, it’s very important to nip it in the bud before one night becomes two, then seven, and eventually – a chronic condition requiring medical intervention.

There are some simple things you can do to establish what the experts call “good sleep hygiene.” The National Sleep Foundation recommends these fundamentals for sleeping smart:

  1. Establish a regular bed and wake time.
  2. Avoid nicotine altogether, and avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  3. Exercise regularly, but complete the workout at least three hours before bedtime.
  4. Establish a consistent, relaxing “wind-down” bedtime routine.
  5. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and comfortable.
  6. Discuss the appropriate way to take any sleep aid with your health-care professional.

Once you’ve established the basics, any of the following nighttime rituals may help:

  • Soft, relaxing music or relaxation CD
  • Non-stimulating reading material (in other words – a boring book!)
  • Aromatherapy eye pillow – this works to block light as well as soothe tired eyes
  • Warm aromatherapy bath with relaxing essential oil such as lavender.

Additionally, there are some herbal remedies for sleep which are time-tested and safe. These can be taken in the form of teas available at your natural health retailer … or even grown in your backyard! Valerian, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile are some examples.

Finally, you may wish to try a natural, non-prescription sleep aid. Look for these ingredients in your all natural supplement: Melatonin, GABA, L-Glycine, and 5-Hydroxytryptophan.

Sources:
Science Daily, April 17, 2012
National Sleep Foundation

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Natural remedies for seasonal sinus health

by Nancy Maneely

Natural Allergy Relief IVL ProductsThose of us who experience seasonal allergies and sinus troubles are suffering the unpleasant side effects of a mild winter and early spring as the blossoms burst forth with their gift of windblown pollens. Toss in the annual spring cleaning ritual in which we’re beating rugs, dusting blinds and turning mattresses – and we’re wheezing and sneezing a virtual symphony of sinus misery, day in and day out.

Want to try some natural remedies for sinus health support? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sniff a pinch ginger to relieve the pain of swollen sinuses, says David Frawley, director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, N.M. He says to do this whenever you have sinus congestion. However, do not use this remedy if you develop or are prone to bloody noses.
  • Both apple and dark grape juices may be beneficial to those with sinus problems, says Dr. John Peterson, an Ayurvedic practitioner in Muncie, Indiana. He recommends drinking the juice at room temperature and apart from meals. You can dilute either juice with water if it seems too strong.
  • David Edelberg, M.D., an internist and medical director of the American Holistic Center in Chicago, recommends steam inhalation with eucalyptus oil added to the water. And he says a person with sinus problems may want to try the following regimen of dietary supplements for sinus health, to be taken twice daily: 400 international units of Vitamin E; 2,000 milligrams of vitamin of Vitamin C; and 500 milligrams of n-acetyl cysteine.
  • Keeping your nostrils moisturized is the key to sinus health, recommends Dr. Vasant Lad, director of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, N.M. Using an eyedropper, put five drops of warm ghee (clarified butter) in each nostril once in the morning and again at night.
  • Air that is overly dry, especially in houses with forced air heat, can contribute to sinus problems. A humidifier can add moisture to the house, which may help to prevent sinusitis. The humidifier should be cleaned regularly to keep it clear of mold.
  • A lukewarm saltwater solution may help restore easy breathing, according to Dr. Lad. To make the solution, he says to mix ½ teaspoon of salt in ½ cup of warm water. Then, he says, hold the salt water in the palm of your hand and sniff a bit into each nostril to help drain the sinuses.
  • A variant of this method is to use a neti pot to flush irritants from the sinuses. The neti method is also known as a “yoga nasal wash.” People who practice this as a daily habit swear it offers blessed relief from chronically congested sinuses. It takes a bit of getting used to, but after a few attempts it will be easy and it can become part of your daily personal hygiene, along with brushing your teeth and flossing. Here is an instructional video from the Himalayan Institute on how to properly use a neti pot.

Do you have a favorite remedy for seasonal sinus relief?

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Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Eyesight

by Nancy Maneely

Many of us end a typical day with blurred vision, pounding headache, eyes that burn and feel gritty ... or any combination of the above. And no wonder! On top of irritants such as air pollution, household chemicals and allergens from pets and seasonal vegetation, consider what we’re doing most of the day:

  • Sitting for long hours at a computer workstation
  • Social networking after work/school
  • Watching TV
  • Playing videogames
  • Texting and using smartphone apps.

Yikes! When you think about it, we’re heaping constant abuse on a very precious gift – our eyesight.

March is Save Your Vision Month, and the American Optometric Association is issuing a special appeal to computer users, asking us to take some simple steps to protect our eye health.

Those of us who sit in front of a computer for long periods of time often encounter a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. Headaches, neck strain, backaches and wrist pain are common, but, sadly, the most prevalent symptoms of prolonged computer use – eye strain, blurred vision and dry eye – are often overlooked. In fact, eye and vision problems are the most frequently reported health-care problems among computer users.

Computer Vision Syndrome

These symptoms contribute to computer vision syndrome, which the American Optometric Association defines as "the complex of eye and vision problems related to near work that are experienced during or related to computer use."

Sitting at a computer generally causes a person to look straight ahead for long stretches, work in a dry office or home environment, and to blink less often. These factors can lead to vision problems.

To prevent developing symptoms – or to alleviate further damage to eyes from strain, it is important to follow good ergonomic practices for your desk setup.

Make sure the computer screen top is below your eye level by about 15 to 20 degrees, and have any reference materials you need between the keyboard and the computer screen level, so you don’t need to move your head to view documents. Other tips include using anti-glare screens and improving lighting, seating position and height.

In general, safeguarding your eyesight means taking care of your overall health with good sleep habits, a balanced diet and regular exercise.

  • Your eyes need time to rest and replenish the nutrient-rich fluids necessary for clear, sharp vision. That means getting good quality sleep – 8 hours if possible – every night.
  • If you suffer from dry eye, use eye drops throughout the day and an over-the-counter nighttime eye gel or ointment. If the problem is severe, consult your health-care practitioner.
  • A balanced diet containing lots of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits will help to ensure a healthy blood flow to eyes and brain. Be sure to get plenty of omega 3 fats (walnuts, olive oil, flaxseeds, avocados) and include at least two servings of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) in your weekly menu.
  • A daily eye health supplement can help you strengthen your eyesight naturally. Look for these ingredients: vitamins A, C, E, B6 and B12; astaxanthin, Alpha Lipoic Acid, lutein, lycopene, vinpocetine, and zeaxanthin.

What is your favorite remedy for soothing tired, overstressed eyes?

Learn More: American Optometric Association, Computer Vision Syndrome Fact Sheet (PDF)

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Boost Immune System Naturally

by Health News

Boost Immune System NaturallyA complex network of cells, glands, tissues and organs - this immune system support works to shield the body from disease. One quarter to one half of all body cells are committed to strengthen the immune system with important organs being the thymus and the spleen.

Certain white blood cells are important to boost your immune system and some herbs and spices work to stimulate these cells and occasionally boost the amount of white blood cells present in an infected body. Many of these herbs and spices have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine.

Astragalus – This is a perennial plant native to China, Korea and Mongolia which is harvested for its root and dried for medicinal purposes. Astragalus is labeled an adaptogen which is a medicine thought to help shield the body from physical, mental or emotional stress.

Many studies have found that astragalus can boost specific and non-specific immunity. It has been linked to increased white blood cells, and it works with prescribed drugs to enhance effectiveness of treatment for cancer and diabetes. As it contains powerful antioxidants, astragalus may also be helpful in the prevention of colds and upper respiratory infections.

Garlic – This plant contains several antioxidants that fortify the immune system and some think of it as the “herbal antibiotic.”   Garlic has been used to combat intestinal parasites, as an external antiseptic and it is said to strengthen the immune system.   It is also said to be an effective agent against H. pylori, a bacteria that has been linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.  To maximize the medicinal properties of garlic in meal preparation, peel and chop the cloves, and let sit for 15 minutes before cooking.

Ginger – This is a warming herb that helps the body sweat out a fever.   Ginger also soothes an upset stomach and is said to boost immunity. A cup of hot water, honey, lemon and steeped, fresh ginger root is a recommended folk remedy for the onset of a cold.

Goldenseal - This is a bitter root that contains a powerful compound called berberine which has been found to destroy many types of bacteria in test tubes. It can also destroy germs responsible for candida (yeast) infections, and it combats various parasites in the body. Berberine may also stimulate white blood cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.

Herbs and spices are generally a safe way to strengthen the immune system. You should always discuss any type of alternative medicine with your health care provider, however to check for contraindications. Medicinal herbs and spices come in many forms - capsules, powders, teas and tinctures – which can commonly be found at your local whole foods store or through natural supplement websites.

 

Sources: 

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-immune-foods

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2000/mar/03chen.html

http://www.mscd.edu/student/resources/health/healthymoves/Herbs%20to%20Support%20the%20Immune%20System%201~27~09.pdf

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/goldenseal-000252.htm