Exercise a Solution
We've long known that workouts are good for the heart, but only now are researchers focusing on what exactly makes heart vessels narrow, leading to dangerous blood clots and heart attacks. One of the answers is inactivity. When 44 men and women over age 65 were placed on a thrice-weekly walking or jogging program for six months in a recent study, they were markedly less likely to suffer blood clots than those who only did flexibility exercises. Moreover, the blood of the walkers and joggers was found to be less likely to clot in the morning-the time of day when heart attacks are most likely to occur.
Note: These substantial benefits disappeared once the exercise routines were stopped.
BUILDING STRONG BONES
A recent change in federal guidelines calls for more calcium in our diets than was previously thought sufficient. Formerly, 800 mg was the standard recommendation for healthy bones for adults, even though most adults consume only 500 mg to 700 mg a day, researchers say. The new numbers:
Adults under 50 should get 1,000 mg daily
Adults over 50 should get 1,200 mg daily
Teenagers should get 1,300 mg daily
Translation: Adults should now have four servings a day of low-fat milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese or other calcium-rich food, including fortified orange juice. To ease the load, try splitting a cup of yogurt for breakfast and lunch (or dinner) as a sweet side dish.
CARING FOR MUSCLES
After a workout or activity that is too strenuous, homeopathic remedies made from the arnica plant can help reduce or stave off feelings or soreness that become more common as one ages. In addition to reducing the throbbing or stinging associated with sharp bruises (such as a black eye), arnica also works to reduce swelling around the locus of the pain. Suggested dilution is 30C taken orally once or twice a day, as needed. You can find arnica tablets are most health or natural food markets, and even in a few grocery stores. The arnica gels and ointments, which can be applied topically to reduce muscle pain, are also widely available.
Building Muscle After Age 40
Weight lifting is not just for the young. Gerontologist and others who study aging now know that muscles built when you are 40, 50 and 60 can help more than just your self esteem. Developed leg, trunk and arm muscles protect older bones from injuries related to frailty. These muscles help keep bones, which peak in density between ages 21 and 30, stronger longer.
Indirectly, new muscles also improve balance, reducing the chances of a dangerous fall late in life. Even lifting 5- or 10-pound dumbbells or using ankle weights four or five times each week can make a noticeable difference. For safety reasons, those over 60 should lift weights only under a doctor's supervision.
It is no secret that as we age, our bodies slowly lose muscle and tend to build pockets or layers of unwelcome fat. One way to combat this - in conjunction with a regular exercise program - is to start taking a supplement made from a Chinese root, ciwujia, that can help boost fat metabolism and training performance. It has been utilized by mountain climbers to good effect; in animal studies, it has been shown to boost endurance. Results of human trials in both China and the U.S. will soon tell us how effective the supplement may be. In the meantime, it can be found in health food stores under the trade name Endurox. As a fat fighter, the root is said to shift metabolism during exercise from burning carbohydrates to burning fat. Not a bad trade-off for most middle-agers.
Take it from Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World and The Art of Seeing: Eye exercises can be not only relaxing, but also necessary for healthy vision as you age. One simple workout is called "palming", which was first popularized by Huxley back in the 1940s. Although it never caught on a mainstream visual therapy, eye doctors today continue to give the practice high marks.
First close your eyes then cover them with your palms - with the lower palms resting on your cheekbones (this keeps the eyeballs from being rubbed inadvertently). To further the relaxation, try placing your elbows on a desk or table. Maintain this position for 30 - 60 seconds, and repeat whenever you feel tired. In addition to relieving eye strain and fatigue, your vision may improve for a time following the workout.
A Hint to Stave Off Presbyopia
The eyes, for better or worse, are true biomarkers. as such, the lens of the eye steadily hardens and thickens with age and usually begins to cause vision problems in a person's early 40s.
Close-up vision is the first to become fuzzy, as the lens has stiffened and is unable to respond fully to the muscles "tugging" at it to focus. This condition is known as presbyopia, sometimes called middle-age farsightedness.
In the field of behavioral optometry, however, some patients have been able to improve their eyesight in middle age through vision therapy and low-light visual exercises.
Not every optometrist is familiar with these exercises, and results are not yet guaranteed. But if you have the time, inclination and a disdain for corrective lenses, you may want to try working with a behavioral optometrist. Therapy sessions (some in darkened clinic rooms, where you practice tracking objects in flickering light) may last from a few weeks to a few months.
Why think about a blink? Because it may boost your vision, eye doctors say, especially if you do a lot of close-up, near-focus, eye-straining computer work or reading. Blinking lubricates the eyes naturally, with tears, and it also rests them by shutting out light, if only for a tenth of a second at a time.
Try this easy exercise: First, blink six or so quick, flickering blinks; then close your eyes for a few seconds. During a tough day at work, after long spells on the computer or after hundreds of pages or reading, repeat the blinking drill every 20 minutes or so. Sure, you blink automatically. But adding a few here and there, experts believe, may also slow the effects of aging upon the eyes.
The newest - and safest - way to protect your eyes from sports (and other) injuries, especially from such things as tennis balls and racquet balls that we don't react to as quickly in middle age, is to toughen up your glasses or goggles. Here's why: in recent tests, glasses made of high-index plastic shattered when hit by tennis balls flying at 40 mph; those made of glass shattered when hit by balls traveling at 89 mph. Meanwhile, polycarbonate lenses withstood tennis ball missiles fired at 130 mph!
While cataracts can strike in middle-age, they are much more commonly diagnosed after age 65. Explaining the condition to patients.. eye doctors sometimes compare the gradual clouding of the eye lens with adding drops of milk to a glass of clear water, one drop at a time, with each drop signifying a year's worth of aging. Eventually the clouding of the lens can lead to blindness, though it is easily treatable with surgery. To postpone the condition, however, it helps to develop sound sunglass habits starting in one's 20s and 30s.
In bright sunlight, try to always wear good sunglasses with dark lenses. Clinical research has shown that eyes suffering from years of overexposure to ultraviolet rays are more likely to develop cataracts.
Research has found that vitamin C may help combat a myriad of diseases, including cancer and heart disease. And limited evidence suggests it may even ward off blindness. A study of 247 women, ages 56 - 71, showed that those who took vitamin C supplements for 10 years or more had 80% fewer cases of early to moderate cataracts than women who did not take supplements. More studies are needed to corroborate the link. Until then, experts say the findings offer more reason to include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods and drinks in your daily diet.
Because hearing loss is often so gradual as to go unnoticed for decades, preventing age-related declines isn't commonly taught in medical schools. Nor is it practiced by most family doctors or internists. But audiologists - specialists in measuring hearing and fitting hearing aids - point out that lifestyles have made modern middle-aged men and women pay more attention to their ears.
Consider: Noise above 85 decibels can have negative effects, while personal stereos, construction jackhammers and rock concerts have all been measured at 110 decibels. Bottom line: Think seriously about using earplugs when mowing the lawn, attending concerts, or if, by chance, you work in a kennel filled with yelping dogs. Drugstore-bought earplugs will help; custom-fitted ones (from an audiologist) will be more comfortable, more expensive and more effective.
Long before oatmeal was promoted in television ad campaigns, doctors knew that that the fiber in oatmeal was good for the cardiovascular and and digestive systems. Now science has caught up with folklore. Research from Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago has shown that eating one large bowl of oatmeal daily can lower overall blood cholesterol readings by 6%.
Every bit as important, oatmeal as heart helper can raise one's HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol level by as much as 15%. What's more, these readings don't track any additional health benefits you might accrue by adding such extras a strawberries, bananas or other sweet, fibrous fruits to your bowl of oatmeal.
First, congratulate yourself for having started and stuck with an exercise program. Now keep in mind one often-ignored caveat, courtesy of exercise physiologists: A proper cooldown period after exertion is not only important, it could be lifesaving. Heart irregularities and heart attacks sometimes occur after exercise, for want of a smooth deceleration of the heart rate.
Critical Hints: Avoid standing still or sitting down immediately after you've exercised heavily - that includes post-workout sessions in the sauna or whirlpool. Instead, walk slowly for at least five minutes after a vigorous workout, especially if you are middle-aged or older or have known heart problems.
Most people realize that the better shape they're in, the less likely it is they'll get winded doing everyday things like walking up a flight of stairs. Therefore, exercising is probably the best way to keep yourself breathing freely. But if you find that you are still short of breath every time you run up a flight of stairs or go for a brisk walk, you might not be working out effectively. The best way to increase your cardiovascular health is gradually. If you are running a mile very quickly one day, and taking a leisurely stroll the next, you are not going to build endurance. Exercise physiologists (and cardiologists) recommend the following:
You should breathe easier after just a few weeks. If you are still gasping for breath, you might have exercise-induced asthma or a more serious condition. Note: Before you begin any exercise program, it's important to be evaluated by a physician.
In recent years, more and more doctors have begun recording and reporting patients' blood levels of triglycerides as well as their cholesterol levels. A wise move, since this fatty substance in the blood can, in high amounts, lead to coronary artery disease and heart attack. So be sure to ask about your level at your next checkup: 100 to 200 is thought to be the prime target level. and lower is better. Three ways to keep your "tri" level down:
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE PREVENTION
One of the simplest, most-often overlooked strategies to prevent high blood pressure is, literally, right under your nose-deep breathing exercises. Try the following technique, adapted from Chinese medicine:
The potential health benefits include lower blood pressure, increased relaxation and heightened immune defenses, according to practitioners of Chinese medicine.
It's true that we all have lower levels of certain hormones as we age. Women and doctors have known that for decades - as they've experimented with estrogen replacement. In recent years, there's been a big buzz about DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a hormone-like substance produced by the adrenal glands. Like estrogen, DHEA levels fall in middle age and later. And some studies have shown that people who took DHEA capsules "for replacement purposes" reported enhanced memory, improved energy, increased sex drive and reduced body fat. DHEA is now available in health food stores, being marketed as a "nutrient." That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that, like estrogen, DHEA can be powerful stuff, with little-known, long-term effects. Scientists are not even certain what DHEA does throughout the body-and at what ages. So appropriate replacement doses are, at best, anybody's educated guess. Too good to be true? In small doses (10 mg to 25 mg a day), under a doctor's care, maybe not. In larger doses (50-mg supplements daily), it is probably not safe. In all cases, consult your doctor before taking any amount of DHEA.
Although immune strength typically declines with age, there are many ways to prolong youthful responses of the immune system. One proven method is to take 60 to 200 IU of vitamin E daily, as a separate supplement, beginning in your 60s. That suggestion is based on exciting recent data from the federal government's nutrition research center at Tufts University, where two different measures of immunity were boosted after subjects took vitamin E over an eight-month period. Responses to skin tests and to a hepatitis virus were decidedly more vigorous among the E supplement group-which is one of the first times researchers have linked cellular responses with a vitamin supplement. Still, check with your doctor before taking the highest experimental amount, just to be safe.
Strengthening the pelvic muscles is a key strategy in controlling urination and involuntary leakage. One valuable-and fun-exercise is bouncing on a mini-trampoline or rebounder for 5 to 10 minutes daily. You will likely notice a difference within the week.
Many patients have had great success using biofeedback to control urinary and fecal incontinence. A trained practitioner can teach a patient to become more aware of breathing rates and bodily tension in order to control emotional responses to stress, which may contribute to incontinence. Learning the biofeedback techniques may take up to 15 sessions.
A new surgical procedure can solve an emotionally traumatic problem: Incontinence. Surgeons implant a pacemaker-like device in the abdomen. The device sends electrical impulses to the nerves at the base of the spine that control the bladder. regulating its function.If your doctor feels you would benefit from this expensive surgery, your insurance company may cover it because the procedure is FDA-approved.
Kegel exercises are praised by health practitioners as a means to prevent incontinence difficulties in both women and men. Male patients can use Kegels to strengthen pelvic muscles before prostate cancer surgery. (Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf swears that his daily Kegel routine allowed him to normalize within weeks of his radical prostatectomy.) Women can perform Kegels when experiencing any sign of symptoms.
Note: If your doctor is not familiar with phosphatidylserine, he or she may want to substitute L-acetyl carnitine, an amino acid, as a three-times-a-day supplement (500 to 1,000 mg in each dose).
When many people age, they may suffer nutritional deficiencies for the first time. Either their eating habits decline somewhat, or their bodies are less efficient at processing and absorbing nutrients. That is one reason why federal researchers advise everyone-but especially older men and women-to think more about zinc. Recent research has shown that zinc supplements can improve memory and clarity of thinking in cases of deficiency. Check with your doctor about side effects. Dosage: 15 mg a day has been tested as safe and effective.
Experts in aging like to remind us from time to time that often when we think we've forgotten something, we haven't. It's merely been "misplaced," or blocked by the interference from all the knowledge we've gained over a lifetime. That is one reason why gerontologists suggest a literal home remedy for boosting memory.
If you need to remember a list of 10 objects, say, pretend you are walking through your home. Visualize your walk and mentally stop and pick up each object from a familiar place in your house - for example, a can of paint in the hallway, a box of tissues from the top of the wine rack, and so on. The journey with occasional stops (in familiar surroundings) becomes easier to remember than an abstract list.
Researchers say that this linking of familiar and unfamiliar works especially well among the memory-impaired elderly, so you can just imagine the memory boost it can provide to those of us in need of only a little fine-tuning now and then.
Currently approved in Germany to treat memory loss and anxiety, among other conditions, the use of ginkgo biloba as medicine dates back at least 500 years, to the Ming dynasty. The leafy extract is said to enhance memory by boosting blood flow to, and through, the brain. Store-bought formulations of the extract are the most popular, herbalists report, since it takes bundles of leaves to make each small dose. Suggested dosage is 40 to 120 mg daily as a tonic.
Although ginkgo biloba has been shown to boost mental alertness and memory in many cases, it can sometimes be harmful. Usually, a 40 mg dose twice a day would be considered safe. But when taken by people who are also taking aspirin regularly, the combined blood thinning effects can cause blurred vision or other problems.So if you suffer from any recurring bleeding problems, such as an ulcer, or if you're taking aspirin, vitamin E or prescription blood thinners, consult your doctor before trying ginkgo.
It may be easier to take than to spell phosphatidylserine - and in the long run, it may be well worth taking. That's the belief of doctors who have studied age-related declines in memory. Phosphatidylserine is a nutritional supplement, not a drug; as such, it is more widely known in alternative than in conventional medicinal circles.
In short, it is a fatty substance that may halt memory declines and even bring memory improvements (at least among those who have already suffered some decline). You may see results over the course of two or three months.
It is too soon to tell whether this supplement, available at health food stores, can help prevent memory decline from occurring in the first place.
With age, the stomach doesn't shrink, or stretch, as much as it becomes sluggish. It's part of an overall slowdown that takes place in the digestive tract, and with metabolism. At age 50 or 60, you just don't burn calories as easily as you used to, which is why sly nutritionists and personal trainers offer this trick of the mind (and body) to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight in middle or old age: Start thinking about food consumption and physical exercise as one metabolic activity. Of course, they're intimately connected, but most people don't think of them that way.
If you do start to link up food and fitness thoughts throughout the day, week and year, you will notice a change in your behavior. You won't count calories or fat grams as much as overall energy, or energy you ought to expend on exercise. If you are sedentary all day and only work out once a week, rethink the heavy power lunches. Over time you'll be more comfortable with your body - and your weight as well.
It's a fact of aging: Eyesight deteriorates. And taste buds fade a bit, too, making food taste more bland. What most people don't know, however, is that our sense of smell, too, fades in our 50s, 60s and beyond.
The good news is, you can do something to preserve your sense of smell: Take zinc. Research has shown that zinc plays a significant role in preserving the sense of smell, and that people become deficient in zinc as they age. The suggested amount, for those thought to be slightly deficient, is 20 mg daily.
Not surprisingly, the mere thought of using any kind of acid on the skin is frightening to many people. But since the early 1990s, dermatologists and researchers have used alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) - naturally found in many fruits - quite safely and effectively to help slow the process of skin aging and to restore a more youthful appearance. In other procedures, known as peels, a solution of mild topical acid is applied to the skin, which in turn reddens and abrades the skin's top layers.
The use of these peels has branched out from the face to the neck. chest, arms and legs-anywhere that discoloration and wrinkles have taken hold. Dermatologists also say that the peels can remove precancerous spots on the skin, a helpful preventive measure.
Nonprescription forms of AHAs are found in many cosmetic creams, though their effectiveness in these formulations is not documented.
If you do not care to experiment with permanent fixes for age spots, stretch marks and other skin imperfections, but want a quick fix for a day at the beach, there are solutions. And. say some dermatologists, there is no need to buy the heavy·duty cover·ups that require a prescription.
A much more elegant inexpensive way to cover up imperfections is to buy a concealer from a cosmetics company.
Even after a facelift, many women and men continue to "look their age" because of the telltale wrinkles and lines below the face, on and about the neck. (Face-lifts don't always lift enough skin.) Recently, though, plastic surgeons and dermatologists have had success in improving the appearance of wrinkling skin on the neck by giving their clients injections of Botox, a toxin made by the bacteria that causes botulism, of all things.
It works by temporarily paralyzing certain muscles that cause wrinkles. in this case, platysma muscles of the neck. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons say tnat safety is not a problem when a well·versed and experienced physician does the treatment.
The doctor should be board-certified and have performed at least 50 of these procedures prior to yours.) For information or referrals, check with:
Many people get their first whiff of frankincense inside a dimly lit massage room at a spa. The scent is as mysterious as it is relaxing. And now aromatherapists and other skin care professionals say that essential oils from the frankincense tree have an added benefit: They help to reduce the fine lines of aging on the skin. Mixed with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil or cold-pressed olive oil (in a standard ratio of 2% essential oil to 98% carrier), and applied twice a day, frankincense is a fragrant alternative to other anti-aging potions for the skin.
While not a widely publicized benefit of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), much younger looking, less wrinkled skin appears to be one of the side effects. In fact, one recent study of 4,000 women showed that those who took estrogen were 30% less likely to have wrinkles and dry skin than women who did not take estrogen after menopause. (Some doctors believe estrogen supplements may build collagen, the connective tissue in skin that diminishes with age.) Caution: Check with your doctor about the possibility of other potentially harmful side effects of HRT.
Just when American women thought they were up to speed on alphahydroxy acid (AHA) cosmetics that help keep skin looking younger longer, a new skin formulation has jumped into the fray. Over the years, AHAs, or fruit acids, have been shown to slough the surface skin layers lightly while cleansing, providing a more youthful appearance. Now it appears that a form of concentrated vitamin C, mixed with a form of magnesium. helps maintain youthful skin as well as, or perhaps better than, AHAs.'
The new formula is called Mag C and it is patented by Japanese researchers. It doesn't irritate the skin, and actually penetrates the dermal layer to help undo sun damage. Mag C is applied twice each day to firm and smooth facial skin. Ask your dermatologist about this and other "cosmeceuticals," the hottest category of aging·related skin products.
Glycolic acid is a member of the alphahydroxy acid family and is a naturally occurring substance that most often comes from sugar cane. Glycolic acid helps reduce the appearance of tiny facial liines by sloughing away dead skin cells. One product known to reduce wrinkles, age spots and scars is a mixture of glycolic acid and hydroquinone. a depigmenting agent and antioxidant. You can mix your own formula easily. Although lotions containing alphahydroxy acids can be quite costly, both glycolic acid and hydroquinone are available inexpensively, over the counter.
To mix your own wrinkle-reducing cream, mix 98% glycolic acid with 2% hydroquinone.
Applied once a week, this mask will help smooth out fine lines and prevent the occurrence of new ones. Mix one tablespoon of honey and one half teaspoon of nutmeg and apply to the face. Leave on for 20 minutes, then lightly tap the face all over with your fingers to stimulate and improve circulation. Remove the mask with warm water and a washcloth. The grainy texture of the nutmeg sloughs off dead cells, while the honey, a natural humectant, draws moisture from the air and into the skin.
The property that allows the aloe plant to survive the dry desert is its ability to draw moisture from the air-so imagine what it can do for your skin. Mix equal parts of cosmetic-quality aloe (not burn gel) from the health food store with vegetable glycerin. Apply the mixture to your race and Ieave on for 20 minutes. The aloe will help reduce fine lines, pitting and scarring. After three months of daily use, your skin will look firmer, smoother and younger.
The sun, a major cause of aging, tends to k ave skin dried out and wrinkled. Naturally fatty dairy products can help plump up cells and moisturize depleted skin. Spread buttermilk or plain yogurt straight onto the skin. Leave it on for 20 minutes. then rinse well with warm water.
Next time you eat an avocado, don't throw away the pr.e\. A naturally fatty fruit, avocado is also rich in vitamins, and the green pulp left attached to the peel has the highest concentration. Scrape off the pulp, and apply it directly to the skin. The abundant oils lubricate and soften the skin-the most basic step in preventing wrinkles.
Herbalists. aromalherapisl's and more than a few dermatologists agree: Sometimes the natural essential oils do as good a job of arresting skin damage as the steeply-priced designer cosmetics. This combination facial oil is a favorite around Europe, and is gaining in popularity in the US.
Remember: Essential oils are strong stuff. The standard dilution guideline is 2% essential oil to 98% carrier oil, which may be hazelnut oil, cold-pressed sesame oil or another oil of your choice.
If your skin is irritated by alphahydroxy acids or standard moisturizers with preservatives or fragrance, try this natural skin softener. Mix one ounce of a light but moisturizing carrier oil (apricot kernel works well) and four drops of neroli, chamomile or geranium oil. This should help increase skin turnover without redness or irritation.
The natural aging process. sun exposure and smoking often cause skin 10 lose elasticity. Two essential oils are especially useful for restoring a youthful glow. Add a few drops of neroli, from flower of the orange plant, or geranium essential oils to your base oil or moisturizer to help slough away dead skin and generate new cells.
Tretinoin, more commonly known by its trade name, Retin-A. has long been a staple for teenagers suffering from acne. But many dermatologists prescribe the topical version of the drug Renova 10 older patients to diminish the appearance of such nuisances as stretch marks, wrinkles, age spots and even freckling. The FDA approved Renova in 1995 for use in improving the look of skin damaged by sun exposure. Renova works by regenerating collagen in the skin and sloughing off dead skin, essentially ridding the skin of sun-damaged cells and allowing the healthy cells underneath to mature normally. To determine whether Renova will work for you, it's best to consult your dermatologist.
Side effects include temporary peeling, redness, blistering and increased sensitivity to the sun. For general questions, check out the web site, www.tryrenova.com.
Few wrinkles are caused by aging alone. Usually, exposure to sun and pollution (such as cigarette smoke) speeds the otherwise natural aging process, adding wrinkles. Research now shows that topical vitamin C can help protect skin against wrinkles and reduce the appearance of existing lines. Topical vitamin C usually comes in the form of serums, gels or creams, which may contain anywhere from 5% to 10% of the vitamin. These solutions can help skin retain elasticity and firmness, making the skin appear smoother.
Call it a dermatologist's hunch that's been proven true: People with 50 or more normal· looking moles are three times as likely to develop melanoma skin cancer as are those with 25 or fewer moles. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association also pointed out that having just one abnormal-looking mole doubles a person's risk of developing melanoma, while having 10 or more such moles increases the odds by more than 10. Bottom line: Have a dermatologist examine, photograph and track any moles or age spots anywhere on your body at least once a year.
Back in the dark ages of skin care, the 1960s and 1970s, before sun protection factors (SPFs) became ubiquitous, tanning was the' name of the game. But even though SPFs now reach sky high, to 40 and above. They are still not used often enough. Typically, most people apply them only in summer, or in winter if they visit tropical locales. Meanwhile, across the US, skin cancer rates are rising. The point is that sun damage and related wrinkling accrue over years, not months - and spring, winter and fall account for three-quarters of every year. So get in the habit of moisturizing, with SPF 15 and above, beginning in young adulthood. And, as dermatologists remind us, it's never too late to start.
Research shows that sodium lauryl sulfate sulfate (SLS), the detergent commonly found in commercial toothpastes, may dry out the lining of the mouth and gums. Without this protective layer, foods and drinks that are highly acidic can attack sensitive gums and cheeks. To protect your teeth - and your mouth - switch to a toothpaste that doesn't contain SLS.
You can also use homemade toothpaste: Mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and dip your brush into the paste.
The coldest season brings on the highest number of cold and canker sores. Aromatherapists suggest applying tea tree oil at first outbreak, then three or four times each day. Some cold sufferers also claim zinc lozenges (commonly used to alleviate cold symptoms) have worked to calm down canker outbreaks.
Herbalists all over swear by highly astringent raspberry leaf gargle for soothing mouth sores. To prepare this beneficial rinse:
*Note: Keep the tea refrigerated between treatments, and make up a new cup for each day's use.
For speedy healing of mouth sores associated with a viral infection, supplement your diet with lysine tablets. Lysine is an amino acid that blocks arginine, another amino acid that fuels herpes virus. Lysine tablets are available in most health food stores and nutrition centers. Take a 500 mg dose three times a day until the sore disappears.
The herbal balm for healing a herpes outbreak? Lemon balm. It's rich in antiviral properties that battle herpes virus. Look for tea bags in your health food store. You may drink up to three cups a day. For an effective spot treatment, place a lemon balm tea bag that's been soaked in warm water directly onto the blisters for 15 minutes.
Rinse your mouth out with goldenseal tea. Goldenseal is a popular herb used to treat colds and boost the immune system. Why? It contains a natural antibiotic known as berberine, making it a great solution for sores and spots associated with infection and illness. Brew tea from a teaspoon of dried goldenseal and hot water, then strain and refrigerate the liquid. Use the chilled tea as a mouth rinse, three to four times a day until the area is healed.
If a skin irritation is driving you crazy, go to the produce store and buy some extremely ripe bananas. The bananas enzymes and high sugar content will kill bacteria, help draw out toxins and dry up any "weeping" or oozing associated with a sickly sore.
Mash up the fruit or scrape the inside of the peel, then apply it directly onto the sore. Cover the area with gauze and surgical tape. Leave the treatment on overnight - uncovering and cleaning the area in the morning - you'll see much improvement.
Tea tree oil, found in health food stores and in pharmacies, is an antidote to skin irritations. Its antimicrobial properties make it a powerful antidote to all sorts of abscessed areas. (It is also widely used in aromatherapy to lift moods) For abscesses, apply a drop directly to the area with a cotton swab in the morning, and again in the evening.
The material that makes up plaster casts for broken bones contains some valuable, often overlooked healing properties, according to homeopathic doctors. Plaster of paris, or calcium sulfate, is a tissue salt (in the medical sense) that acts as a blood cleanser and wound healer to treat abscesses and "weepy" sores.
*Note: This remedy may promote discharge at first, but that's normal in the healing process. Suggested dilution is 6C, or as labeled on the homeopathic product packaging.
If you or a family member notice outbreaks of allergy-like symptoms while housecleaning (or the day after), you may be suffering (rom a tough·to·diagnose environmental illness. Excess exposure to detergents and cleaning solutions may be contributing to the condition. A new. and highly controversial, medical specialty - clinical ecology - has developed over the past 20 years to provide additional experlise to patients, allergists and other doctors. P.dtients are advised to substitute organic foods for commercially prepared ones, and natural-based cleaning products and homemade scrubs for commercial cleaners.
For a list of alternative cleaning products.write or contact:
The Ecology Center, 117 N. Division St., Ann Arbor, M I 48104 (734-761-3186, www.ecoccnter.org)
Washington Toxics Coalition, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.,Suite 540. Seattle, WA 98103 (206-632-1545, www.watoxics.org).
If your allergy symptoms such as sinuses andcongestion are lingering, and you suspect tllatyour condition is bogged down by poor diet and/or an especially high pollen count, take a cue from Europeans who are similarly afflicted. Drs. Emil and Estrid Vodder developed lymph(or lymphatic) massage in the 19305 as a way to help detoxify the body. The light-touch. "feathery" massage technique is said to work on and in the body. between the surface of the skin and muscles, to help remove metabolic waste, toxins and allergens from tissues- quickly. You can request this type of massage from a growing number of massage therapists.
An especially powerful acupressure point that is used to help clear the sense organs sits just beyond the fleshy part of your hand between the forefinger and thumb. Simply press one thumb against this point on the opposite hand (for 15 to 30 seconds) to help open up your sinuses.
A more direct approach favored by acupressure therapists is to press clean fingertips to the sides of the nose, slightly above the nostrils, for about a minute at a time. Do the same to your sinuses, slightly above each eyebrow.
Besides its ability to boost energy, bee pollen is said to help prevent allergies. Naturopaths and others often recommend it. Try adding a teaspoon of the sweet granules (now widely available in health food stores) to your daily diet during allergy seasons. If you are especially sensitive to pollen, start with only a few granules. Caution: You should avoid bee products altogether if you are allergic to bees.
Many naturopaths and Ayurvedic doctors recommend fasting between seasons to cleanse the system and prepare for the changing weather and vegetation. Complete abstention from food is not practical for many people, so consider doing a cleanse instead. Some painless ways to help detoxify include eating a large salad or plate of steamed vegetables for dinner each night and drinking organic apple juice mixed with a scoop of psyllium seed husks in the morning and night. Psyllium seed husks are nondigeslible and are exceptionally effective in cleansing the walls of the intestinal tract. Another herb effective in cleansing the colon is cascara sagrada.
Paying special attention to your diet during allergy season could alleviate your symptoms. Try cutting back on mucus-producing foods like dairy products and orange juice. On the other hand, pour on the salsa: Spicy foods help thin mucus and aid breathing. Finally, take your eating cues from what's growing right now. Ayurvedics believe it is best, and most healthful, to eat with the seasons.
If you suffer from stopped-up sinuses and bronchial passages caused by the first signs of spring and late summer, consider a natural decongestant: Ma Huang. This traditional Chinese medicinal herb contains a similar stimulant to many over·the-counter allergy medications found in the West and acts much like adrenaline to stimulate circulation. Caution: Because Ma Huang is a powerful herb that can raise yo r blood pressure and heart rate. check with your physician before taking the treatment..For hay fever relief, take no more than 0.6 g three times a day. For a milder effect,many naturopaths and herbalists suggest using formulations that contain the whole plant, not just the root.
"I can't believe I ate the whole thing." That's what some are saying about an unusual allergy remedy that calls for consuming an entire orange - peel and all. The rind and pulp are loaded with vitamin C, essential oils and bioflavonoids, making a combination antihistamine and decongestant. Select organically grown oranges to ensure that the peels will be pesticide-free.
Feeling so stuffed up you can't even think straight? Take a break and drink to your health. Consuming extra fluids helps to thin mucus and drain sinuses. Water or herbal tea are your best bets. Experts suggest drinking at least eight cups a day during an allergy attack. Please note: coffee and caffeine-laden soft drinks can have a dehydrating effect on the body.
Whether from seasonal allergies or congestion from the common cold, a homeopathic remedy may relieve sinus stuffiness. The powerful prescription? Pulsatilla, a circulatory aid, gets the body's fluids moving to break up congestion in the sinuses. Take a 30C dilution three times a day. You should feel your sinuses becoming clearer after just a few doses.
It's the minty-fresh allergy remedy: the menthol in peppermint or spearmint helps to relax and open air passages. To maximize the healing power of mint:
A few minutes of this mint0based kitchen inhaler should provide marked relief.
Long before allergy shots became common, practitioners of Asian medicine prescribed natural ways to prevent, or minimize, allergy symptoms. This two-slep plan includes a tea and a digestive remedy, following the belief that many allergy symptoms go beyond the sinuses.
For the tea, combine one-eighth teaspoon each of cumin powder, coriander powder and fennel seed powder in one cup of water. Steep the herbs for five minutes into a tea and sip it after breakfast. (If you don't like the taste, you don't need to drink it hot: lukewarm is fine.)
The second part of the five-day plan is Xiao Yao Wan, a Chinese medicine herbal remedy that works to minimize symptoms of both sinus and hay fever, among others. Xiao Yao Wan is available at Chinese herb shops and pharmacies, and is becoming increasingly available at specialty health product stores.
When suffering from allergies, you need all the allergen free air you can get. That includes improving the air you breathe, courtesy of air conditioners. When using an air conditioner in the car, run it for at least a few minutes with the windows open. This is a quick-and-easy way to clean and improve the air quality you will be breathing in the enclosed space. At home, make certain you keep air conditioning filters clean, changing (or cleaning) them even more often than manufacturers suggest.
Based on the homeopathic principle that a minute dose of what causes symptoms can help to cure them, once the immune system is activated and targeted, homeopaths suggest swallowing allium cepa tablets derived from the all-time greatest eye irritant, onions. Take a 30C preparation once or twice a day, and you'll see the difference - clearly.
An herb from the figwort family, eyebright is also known as euphrasia. Homeopaths recommend this herb for the treatment of watery, red eyes associated with colds and allergies - even viral infections like conjunctivitis.
Note: Bacterial conjunctivitis should be treated with antibiotic eyedrops.
Eyebright is full of niacin, manganese, potassium and ascorbic acid, and is known to have astringent, antihistamine and antiviral properties. Take 35 drops of a tincture orally three times a day for relief, or a 30C tablet once or twice a day.
Although taking freeze dried stinging nettle may sound like it will cause sniffles and sneezes, herbalists swear by it. Stinging nettle provides relief not only for itchy, irritated eyes, but also for scratchy throats caused by seasonal allergies. (It is also rich in iron and trace minerals.) Take one 435 mg capsule every two to four hours as needed. Or, try drinking a few cups of stinging nettle tea, available from health food stores.
Caraway, an unlikely member of the parsley family distinguished by its familiar little black seeds, sometimes helps hikers and climbers deal with the harsh effects of altitude sickness. Chewing on caraway seeds can help to relieve the nausea caused by the low level of oxygen in the air at and above 10,000 feet.
One way caraway reportedly works is by helping to keep the lungs and bronchial passageways open and clear. In any event, it's worth chewing some caraway seeds if you're going to be hitting the high road.
Besides increasing one's intake of dark green leafy vegetables and small portions of (preferably organic) meat, those with iron-deficient anemia can look for what's called "food source"' liquid iron. This oflen overlooked supplement is available at better natural food stores. Follow package directions.
Needlepoint may relieve stress as well as meditation can. Researchers have found that needlepoint, knitting and other gently repetitive activities break the flow of rapidly changing conscious thought that normally fills our minds. This produces the same effect as meditation, involving lower blood pressure and heart rate, slower breathing and the feeling of calmness, a combination known as the relaxation response. Best: Choose an activity you enjoy, and spend at least 20 minutes a day on it.
Scientific research shows that different scents work directly on the brain to stir memories, moods and emotions. In fact. some odors actually sIow brain wave activity to the alpha range - the same frequency induced during meditation. A few scents to soothe and quiet: Vanilla, geranium and bergamot Just place two or three drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and take a whiff when you're feeling out of sorts.
Sweet-smelling lavender is a favorite of aromatherapists to ease nervous tension and soothe stressed-out senses. How can you get the benefits? For a relaxing do-it-yourself rubdown, mix two to three drops of essential oil of lavender into a cup of almond oil and massage the solution into your temples and feet. Add a few drops of essential oil to a hot, steamy bath after a day of being hassled at the office. Or take a few deep breaths from a bowl filled with lavender potpourri. Place it on your desk to infuse your office with the relaxing aroma of lavender Ihroughout the day.
According to nutritionists, anxiety disorders and susceptibility to emotional upset may be the result of a magnesium deficiency. A simple blood test, administered by your doctor. can diagnose this condition. The prescription? A 400-mg magnesium supplement daily, available at drugstores and health food stores. Also, add some extra servings of foods rich in magnesium to your diet, such as fish, nuts, dried apricots and whole grains.
Through the centuries from the mountain villages of Asia to the bustling cities of Germany, valerian has been used as a sedative for all sorts of anxiety-producing conditions. Commonly taken in liquid form (as an extract obtained by boiling or as tea), valerian has a strong taste and odor, which has led modern fans of the herb to try taking it in prepackaged doses available in health food stores.
Be patient: You may need to increase your dosage after starting with the lowest recommended dose. And as with any medicine related to anxiety, don't rely on it for extended periods of time without talking with a doctor or health professional. There may be more to the anxiety than simple nerves.
Is excess anxiety draining your energy? Just blow it away using this simple technique. When you inhale, let the breath travel to a point of tension. Imagine that the breath absorbs the pressure and stress you're feeling. When you exhale, picture the tension getting carried away along with the breath. Continue breathing deeply for a few minutes, letting the air travel to tension trouble spots and whisking them away.
Relaxation... ahh, the smell of it. Studies show that scent works directly on the brain and can significantly alter mood-at times almost instantly. The following essential oils are known particularly for their calming and relaxing properties:
Put a few drops of any of the oils on a cotton ball and store in an old pill bottle. Whenever you need to destress in a hurry, open the bottle and breathe in the scent.
Your heart is hammering, your mouth is very dry and all you can think of is a way to escape - right now. While you may not be able to make a clean getaway, you could take a needed rest by using visualization exercises to calm the body and take your mind off the situation that's causing the excessive stress.
Let your mind truly wander for 10 minutes while you calm down and regain composure. The secret, say experts, is visualizing something that you find relaxing and soothing. An afternoon all the beach, after all, is not everyone's idea of paradise.
Golden white light, according to the holistic healing experts, is the-universal image of relaxation and healing. When your world starts spinning out of control, try visualization:
Here is one often overlooked way to help switch of the panic button: yoga-type breath-work. It turns out that shallow, short breathing is one of the main signs of a panic attack. However, by consciously breathing deeply, you can calm your body and mind. Try this helpful technique:
Concentrate on your breathing an block out everything else for a peaceful and meditative moment.
Ephedra has caused a lot of controversy in modern-day America. As a stimulant, it has been used as a weight-loss aid in products that claim to boost metabolic rates. But it is also raising blood pressure and heart rates, which poses a danger to those with health problems. In 2003 the FDA banned dietary supplements containing ephedra.
Still, for centuries, the Chinese have used the herb in its natural state (Ma Huang) to heal respiratory ailments like asthma, as it opens airways for easier breathing. Before you try Ma Huang, however, talk with your doctor. Also, check with your doctor to make sure that any preexisting health conditions will not be exacerbated by this powerful herb.
Try black tea. That's what many asthma sufferers turn to for relief from tightening in the chest. Black tea contains chemicals related to the stimulant theophylline, which is also the basis of many modern medicinal asthma remedies. Three or four cups of black tea can open airways and ease breathing.
Although herbalists and doctors won't go so far as to claim that gingko tea (from gingko biloba leaves) can cure asthma outright, when used regularly it has been shown to help patients cut down on prescribed medication. Aside from its purported effects in boosting blood flow, ginkgo taken three times a day for weeks or months at a time (ask your doctor how long would be best for you), relaxes the lungs and helps keep the breathing passageways clear.
When it comes to asthma, your own home may play a major role in triggering attacks. Here are six ways you can clean up, clear out and create a healthier home.
FeeI a twinge or crick from overdoing it in the gym or in the garden? Follow these osteopathic rules for overcoming minor back pain:
According to experts on back pain, many lower-back injuries result from weak abdominal muscles. The lack of strength in the abs makes the back do more work than it's supposed to - leading to mild pain and posture problems that can develop into an injury. Abdominal crunches (sit-ups performed slowly - hands crossed on chest, knees bent - 25 per day minimum) will work the set of muscles that should be bearing the brunt of the work, instead of your lumbar spine. Also tr y pelvic tilts to loosen and strengthen lower abs:
Try to complete 15 repetitions, building up to three sets as you become stronger.
Here is a do-it-yourself physical therapy regimen: Stand up straight, put your hands on the small of your back for support and lean back. This easy movement neutralizes stress on lower back muscles and gives quick relief for minor aches and pains. It can (and should) be performed at least three times a day, according to physical therapists.
To ice or not to ice, that is the question. According to some experts, you can successfully ease muscle pain by doing both at the same time. Wet a T-shirt with hot water. Wring it out and place it on your back. Now put an ice pack on top of the warm T-shirt. This technique keeps the skin and muscles from being frozen. Keep the hot/cold pack on the area for 20 minutes, then remove it for 40 minutes before beginning the treatment again if necessary.
Pulled your back muscles straining to hit that overhead net shot on the tennis court? Well, put away that racquet for a while, but hang on to the tennis balls for a therapeutic self-massage:
You can also lie on your back on the floor, placing the balls beneath a pressure point, such as the lower back or the upper shoulders. Then, use your weight to work the point.
After a long day sitting at a desk, your back can feel cramped, tired and pinched. A good upper-body stretch can alleviate some of the muscle tension and provide relief.
Hold the pose for 10 seconds, and repeat three to four times.
You don't have to take yoga classes at the health club to benefit from back stretches. The first, the Cobra, is done while lying face down, palms at shoulder level:
The second stretch is done while lying on your back, with arms at your sides:
Doing these stretches just a few minutes a day can relieve stiffness. Note: These yoga stretches are good preventive moves, but may be too much if you are already suffering from acute back pain.
When back pain is caused by stress or tightened muscles, and not from bulging disks or bone disease, some naturopaths and other alternative health practitioners recommend to patients a (temporarily) lighter diet or a juice fast. Both back pain and tightness can be a result of congestion in the lower torso-from the intestines or other organs pressing toward the back.
A three-day fast, medically supervised and supplemented with glasses of fresh fruit juice, vegetable juices or spring water four or five times a day, has been shown to bring marked pain relief. According to naturopaths, fasting prods the release of toxins from the kidneys, colon, bladder, skin, sinuses and lungs.
One solution to moderate bouts of back pain, often overlooked because it is so simple, is a 15-minute walk. Physical therapists at Kaiser Permanente Health Care point out that after sitting in one spot for hours, all the upper body weight has been pressing down on the vulnerable lower back muscles. It's not enough to walk to the water cooler, microwave or espresso cart. A 15-minute walk (25 minutes is even better) promotes healing by encouraging blood to circulate all through the vertebrae and lower torso, nourishing tired, fatigued muscles and tissues. You need blood pumped through the area to outsmart "office backache." If you're worried about the boss missing you, take a memo recorder with you and do some work as you stroll.
Now that commuting often means lugging around a briefcase and a la-pound computer case (with accessories), many people put undue stress on their backs. One way to counteract the lower-back strain and pressure of carrying too much weight is to hold the handles of the cases with just your thumb and last three fingers. This physical therapists' trick leaves the index finger "floating," but, more important, it usually results in better, more erect posture while lugging a load. Why? Because there's less compression on the lower vertebrae.
Caution: This is not advised if the load is truly weighty, as with heavy luggage, because you'll be sacrificing too much strength by not using the index finger.
As we age, maintaining the back becomes ever more important, and words such as "ergonomic chairs" begin to take on greater meaning. The fact is, sitting is not good for the spine. So if you have a choice, at certain times during the workday or at home, stand rather than sit. If you must sit, do it correctly:
Finally, get up and move around at least once an hour, stretching a bit here and there.
In recent years you probably have seen more and more workers wearing flexible, lightweight back-support belts. Do they really work to prevent injury? The answer appears to be good news for those interested in sound midlife back care.
A six-year study of 36,000 Home Depot employees (men and women) showed that those who wore fabric back belts for support had one-third fewer injuries to their backs than those who did not wear the belts. The study also found that the belts helped both men and women who perform any kind of lifting on the job. The belts cost from $20 to $40 and can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.
Both serious and weekend athletes have known for years that strong abdominal muscles can help prevent backache. The reasoning is simple: The more stress and weight your stomach muscles can handle, the less pressure is exerted on the lumbar spine. But less common is the knowledge, gleaned from athletic trainers and physical therapists, that flexible hamstrings and hip flexor muscles can also prevent back pain and injury.
To work the hamstring muscles (back of the thighs), perform a skier's stretch:
To work the hip flexors:
After performing these helpful exercises three to four times a week for a few weeks, you'll be at a lower risk for serious back injury.
Acupressure, like its ancient Chinese relative, acupuncture, promotes healing throughout the body by stimulating channels of energy known as meridian points. But where acupuncture uses thin, sterile needles, acupressure relies on the fingertips to do the probing.
Sometimes you can even provide your own massage relief. For lower back pain:
A few minutes of acupressure should be sufficient to trigger better blood flow and the body's release of painkilling endorphins.
Note: Such acupressure is not suited for certain back injuries, including herniated disks. Discuss this treatment with your doctor.
Is your desk job exacerbating existing lower back pain? Physical therapists suggest sitting with a support, like a small pillow, in the curvature of your lower back. This simple lumbar support trick helps to maintain the correct curvature of the spine and to take pressure off the lower back, alleviating tension and pain. Specialty stores such as The Better Back Stores, Relax the Back and medical supply stores sell lumbar supports in a wide variety of sizes and prices.
Get a leg up on lower back problems. Tight hamstring muscles can pull on your pelvic bone, resulting in abnormal movement patterns that put stress and strain on the lower back. To prevent lower back strain, try the following stretch:
While baseball catchers might squat so frequently during a season that it puts a strain on the lumbar section of the back, some Chinese medicine practitioners and chiropractors recommend five minutes of squatting per day for people with nagging lower back pain. Place your feet about hip-width apart and slowly drop to a full squat, resting your weight on your heels. Rest your arms on your knees, though you might have to use them to keep your balance until you become accustomed to the position. Gradually work your way up to five minutes per day.
Take it from rain forest healers of Central America: Much in nature can help relax the back and, in particular, back spasms. One of the better botanical medicines is a plant known as pheasant tail, plentiful in Belize and found in ethnic or other herb shops in the US.
Mix boiled pheasant tail leaves and water into a leafy compress. Apply directly to the skin to help relieve sore back muscles.
Make a mash from the center vein of the leaf, and apply it directly over tight muscles.
When your back or shoulders hurt from too much computer work, try this stretch to loosen up, once every couple of hours:
Hold the position for five seconds, relax and repeat a few times.
This move is embarrassingly easy to perform, but tough to do in front of an audience, such as a dozen office mates. Start by standing, then dropping your hands to your sides. Relax and take a few deep breaths. Then shake your arms and shoulders for five (what seem like extremely long) seconds. Relax and repeat a few more times, until your shoulders and arms get a little bit rubbery. If you simply can't do this exercise at your work space, do "the shake" during a bathroom break.
Anise, or aniseed, belongs to the parsley family but tastes like licorice. Like parsley, anise is a little-known but effective breath freshener. But unlike parsley, the breath-cleansing power of anise is contained in the flowering seeds, not in the leaf. Often, Indian restaurants offer anise seeds to diners after a meal instead of mints.
Chew a pinch or two after particularly pungent meals. It will aid your digestion a bit, too, at no extra charge. Aniseed is available at the spice counter of many supermarkets.
A potent, pleasing, aromatic herb often used by cooks, clove has many valuable properties, from stimulant to antiseptic to breath freshener. Herbalists suggest that one leaf put into your mouth after a garlic-laden lunch or dinner freshens breath for hours. Pick up some cloves at your local herbal shop.
You already know about brushing and flossing the teeth to reduce bad breath. If you're brushing to no avail, try brushing your tongue. Or if you're a purist, try "tongue scraping". What apparently began as a West Coast fad has caught on among many dental hygienists, dentists and, of course, cosmetic companies. Tongue scrapers have made their way into chain drugstores and health food stores nationwide. The scrapers may help gel rid of bad breath - and help prevent it as well. Scrapers cleanse tongues of millions of tiny bacteria that most people miss when they freshen up their mouth, morning and evening. What the cosmetics companies don't t.ell you is that a spoon will work nearly as well.
For fresh breath, mix together baking soda and ground cinnamon. Scoop the mixture onto your toothbrush and brush away lunchtime bad breath, or your morning coffee breath.
Do your dates flinch when you whisper sweet nothings in their ears? It may be your breath, not your choice of words, that's turning them off. Try this concoction for a fresher approach: In a one-sixth-ounce bottle, mix equal parts of pure essential oils of peppermint, spearmint, star anise and lemon. Shake well. Then add two to three drops of the mixture to a glass of water. Take a healthy swig, gargle and rinse well.
Take a hint from India: Twigs from the native neem tree and the oils within call help fight infections associated with gingivitis or other periodontal problems. It's a low-tech, highly effective dental tool. People from India often chew on the tree's twigs for on-the-spot relief. In the West you can sample the extract in an imported toothpaste known as Auromere. Health food stores and Indian·American markets carry the paste.
A homemade or natural deodorant may be the key to sweet-smelling success. The following all-natural solutions can keep you smelling swell as they kill the bacteria that cause body odor. Dab any of the following under your arms at least once a day for the best results:
Of course you call try to snuff out excessive body odor with deodorants from the drugstore, but did you ever consider that both the problem and solution may live inside the body? Some nutritionists suggest a food-based remedy that has mostly to do with fats and oil. Eating excess fats in food, especially saturated fat. in dairy foods and meats, can cause body odor. Make a conscious effort to replace those fats with olive oil or sunflower seed oil. As for margarine, make sure that it is polyunsaturated.
Time to tone down the wetness of excess perspiration? One exceedingly simple remedy worth trying is to take 20 to 30 mg of zinc supplement daily. It is believed that zinc deficiency can cause people to sweat excessively. Chelated zinc tablets are better absorbed by the body.
One wise use of the essential oils is to fight body odor produced by underarm bacteria. Using a clean glass bowl or beaker-shaped glass, mix together 2 tablespoons witch hazel, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (the vinegar scent fades quickly!), 12 drops grapefruit seed extract, 3 drops tea tree oil, 2 drops essential oil of lemon, and 2 drops essential juniper oil. Use a cotton ball to apply this deodorant mixture, or pour it into an atomizer bottle.
Note: It's best to test this mixture first on your wrist to check for skin sensitivity. If you are sensitive, or if you prefer a different scent, consider using lavender or rosemary essential oil.
Distance runners, gymnasts and other athletes involved in intense weight-bearing activity and prolonged pressure on the bones risk sustaining stress fracture. These injuries can sideline an athlete for many months. But now, a device that relies on sonic healing can help them get back into action much more quickly.
The Exogen Bone Healing System utilizes low-intensity ultrasound waves to boost the body's natural bone-repair process. The ultrasound works as a mechanical force that helps fuse bone. The patient places the head of the small battery-powered device on the skin over the fractured area, and then turns it on for about 20 minutes a day until the fracture is healed - usually in about two to three months.
One study found that stress fractures in patients using this therapy healed up 38% faster than those in patients using dummy devices. By speeding up healing. experts say.this sonic therapy may help prevent the need for extensive rehabilitation, bone grafts and other costly procedures.
Arnica and calendula both help to speed the healing of bruises and act as anti-inflammatories, though arnica is a more popular alternative. The chemicals in the herbs will increase your circulation, washing away blood and damaged skin cells that collect under the surface of the skin.
Massage a dab of arnica or calendula cream or ointment (sold at health food stores and many pharmacies) onto the bruised area three times a day. Don't use arnica on open wounds or broken skin; it interferes with healing.
An unusual and effective treatment for a bruise can be found in your pantry: Onions, it seems that the same chemicals that cause eyes to water can be absorbed through the skin. A slice of yellow onion placed on a fresh bruise for 15 minutes can help stimulate the lymphatic flow, flushing away excess blood. Apply the onion immediately after the bump or impact to increase the efficacy of this treatment.
Did you run into the sharp edge of your desk or coffee table again? Take a seat, relax and have a tall, cool glass of pineapple juice. Comaining bromelain, an enzyme that has anti-inflammatory properties. the juice will help to reduce swelling and the redness of a fresh bruise.
Sprigs of parsley don't often get the chance to star at the dinner table. More likely, they are an afterthought, a punctuation mark of the meal. But the next lime you have an unsightly, painful bruise, crush and chop a handful of chilled parsley sprigs and apply them straight to the bruise. In the same unspectacular but efficient fashion in which it attacks bad breath, parsley goes to work taking the color out of the bruise, often within 24 hours.
For those who have bruises that they would like to fade quickly, comfrey can provide two-pronged assistance. An ancient remedy for a variety of skin ailments (it contains allantoin, which encourages skin repair), more recently comfrey has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, Commission E, Germany's version of the FDA. now says comfrey is useful for treating bruises as well as sprains. While applying ice to the bruise, brew some comfrey tea and soak sterile gauze in it. After icing for a while (a few 20-minute sessions should help), apply your comfrey compress.
Chinese herbalists recommend covering scalds and burns with Ching Wan Hung ointment. Apply the ointment, available at many natural foods stores (and at Chinese pharmacies), directly to a clean burn. The ingredients are a secret, but according to herbalists, the ointment heals burns quickly.
Not quite. but raw potatoes that are washed,cut and pressed on a burn can bring soothing relief almost instantly. Thin slices work best to cover the burn in a compress, but this remedy should be reserved for small burns. Any burn larger than a couple of inches across should be treated by a doctor or other health professional.
In addition to gel from the leaf of an aloe vera plant, lavender oil will also help to keep a burn from blistering. For small burns - on a finger, for example - apply two or three drops of lavender oil directly lo the area.
For larger burns, including sunburn, dilute the oil before applying,or it may dry out your skin. Dilute lavender oil by mixing one ounce of essential lavender oil with one ounce of aloe vera juice. Then, apply the diluted oil to the affected area.
With a minor burn, such as the ones you get in the kitchen or from hot engines in the garage, hold the ice water and turn to the milk jug instead. While both will soothe the irritated skin, the fat in the milk provides a much-needed liquid coating at the site of the burn. Cloths dipped in cold milk will provide quick relief for minor burns. For more serious burns. keep the woundl oosely covered with sheets or clothing en route to the doctor or hospital.
If a wrist is sore from too many hours at the computer, using a hand grip or squeeze ball is just the thing not to do. Most practitioners discourage such "stress-busters" because the motion only aggravates already pained ligaments and muscles in the overused wrist and hand. Instead, take frequent breaks from continuous typing or mouse maneuvering (stopping for a few minutes every half hour or a full 15 minutes every two hours), and perform one of two stretches:
Pineapple contains bromelain, a protein-dissolving enzyme that has been credited with joint-pain relief because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a potential remedy for carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers. A daily therapeutic dose is 250 to 1,000 mg in supplement form between meals.
Vitamin B6 is important for fat and protein metabolism, plus the formation of new blood cells. Some patients with carpal tunnel pain have a B6 deficiency. If this deficiency is contributing to your pain, studies have shown that daily supplementation of 100 mg of B6 for three months, plus 50 mg of vitamin B2, can reduce symptoms. (If the carpal tunnel patient has normal B6 readings, the supplementation won't make a difference.)
Technically, it's known as spanning. But informally, this simple exercise is known as instant PT-physical therapy. Pianists, other musicians and keyboard jockeys all have benefited from it - so what are you waiting for?
Spanning is simply reaching your arms straight out in front of you, keeping them at shoulder level, and spreading your fingers as far apart as possible. Relax the digits, and do it again, five times in all. The goal is to counteract the cramping your hands and fingers have silently endured all day, week or year.
When you spend too many hours at the keyboard or on the assembly line and your wrists feel locked up with aching pain, you may be able to rub it away. Here's an acupressure treatment worth trying, adjusted for self-treatment. In addition to pain, it may reduce associated swelling and inflammation as well, if practiced daily.
Using the uninjured (or less painful) hand, press and rub two spots in the middle of the other wrist, above and below, that are located two-and-a-half finger widths from the wrist joint. One spot is just about where your watch face rests (feel for the "valley" of tendons); the other spot is on the inner forearm (on the arteries). Press both spots simultaneously, using thumb and fingers; then release. Repeat as needed. Most important, keep it up every day until the pain lessens or vanishes.
Instead of automatically settling for a lipstick-type protector for chapped lips, try vitamin E oil when you get home from a day in the great out.doors. Or apply it to your lips before you brave the elements. Note from the skin pros: Vitamin E-enriched lotions don't contain nearly as much vitamin E as the oil.
You can find the oil in health food stores, herb shops and some well-stocked pharmacies. For treatment, rub the oil in softly and slowly, and remember to fully cover the lower lip line.
Qhen chapped lips pass the point of dry, when they start to flake, peel and hurt, regular lip balm will no longer do, especially during the winter months. Here's a three-step method from skin experts.
Most people don't realize that, unlike the rest of the face, the thin skin of the lips produces no oil of its own, so it can use your help.
Though the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are still elusive, researchers recently made a surprising finding about cognitive behavioral (talk) therapy: It works as well or better than some standard treatments for CFS. A recent British study showed that, over a yearlong period, the CFS patients who engaged in talk therapy in order to reverse negative thinking showed higher activity levels and better sleep patterns than patients who received standard relaxation therapy or other standard medical treatment. It is not a cure, experts remind patients, but cognitive therapy can ease the burden of CFS.
For a winter warmer, try drinking ginger tea before going outside in those coldest winter months, or take a 500-mg ginger capsule in the morning. Benefits to circulation accrue over time, not right away, so ginger is a good habit to get into. In addition to taking supplements, try using it as a seasoning in vegetables and soups - or stir a slice into your tea.
Borrowing a tip from Ayurvedic healers of India, you can give your circulation (and possibly your immune system) a boost with self-massage, using sesame oil. This self-massage is said to promote energy flow by stimulating certain points on the body that are similar to acupuncture points. Using sesame oil adds an antioxidant boost.
Here's how to perform the self-massage:
Let oil sink into skin for at least 10 minutes before showering off. Many practitioners apply some graham flour (found in health food stores) to aid in the rinsing. If time allows, top off the treatment with a 15-minute soak in an Epsom-salted bath.
Chase away the winter chills with a well-seasoned bath. Stir a teaspoon or two of cayenne pepper or spicy ginger powder into your bathwater and soak.
One warning: The oils in cayenne and ginger will generate heat in the water which could make the bath too hot to handle if mixed with very warm water.
To help fight the viral infection that causes the common cold, goldenseal is a natural choice because it's loaded with berberine, a botanical antibiotic. Make an infusion from a teaspoonful of dried goldenseal and hot water. Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes before straining. Drink three cups a day until you bounce back.
As an alternative, take one-half to one teaspoonful of goldenseal tincture twice a day. Simpler still, goldenseal capsules are available at health food stores-and increasingly at drugstores as well.
At the first sign of the sniffles or a stuffy feeling in your head, crack open the echinacea. This popular herbal cold remedy stimulates the immune system to fight an infection before it causes congestion,chills and the need to pull the covers over your head. Take one to three capsules every two hours for best results as soon as symptoms start. Waiting too long can render the treatmen tineffective, as can taking echinacea for long periods of time-it is most effective with short-term use .
According to herbalists, goldenseal and echinacea are the dynamic cold-fighting duo.But beware of the formulations on the market that combine the two herbs: Sometimes taking two "anti-cold" herbs offers no more cold-fighting ammunition than a single one. Echinacea must be taken much more frequently than goldenseal to really "do in" a cold. And in high quantities, goldenseal can be toxic and leach vitamin B from the body. To get the most from both herbal remedies, take them in separate doses according to a physician's advice or package instructions.
The jury is still out on whether garlic can ward off evil spirits and vampires, but some alternative practitioners believe that garlic can help fight the common cold. Chew or swallow a whole clove every couple of hours. The goal when you have a bad cold? You want to have garlic breath.
Can't smell? Can't taste? Sprinkle a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil onto a cotton ball and store in an old pill bottle. When you begin to feel congested, uncap the bottle and take a few deep breaths of the mentholated oil. You'll feel your passages open, and your senses will quickly return.
Stuffy nose? It might be the right time to try nasal irrigation (sometimes called nasal douching). Don't be frightened; it's simple, say holistic physicians who recommend it. It will cleanse sinus passages, soothe inflammation and reduce congestion. In your kitchen or bathroom:
Repeat once daily until congestion subsides.
What is the often-invoked but too-often ignored rule for overcoming the common cold? Drink lots of fluids. In fact, doing so actually does a lot of good to stimulate the body's ability to drain the lungs and sinuses. The prescription: At least eight glasses a day of such liquids as herbal tea, water or fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
Sick and tired. Tired and sick. To stave off the sluggish feelings that surface with even the mildest cold or viral illness, it may help to take three 500-mg doses of ginseng daily. And although there are four main types of ginseng, it is American ginseng that stimulates the immune system and is purported to give the body the energy boost it needs while battling infection.
Heat and wind. Can you feel them when you're fighting a cold? According to Chinese medical principles, when the body is overcome by these elements, the imbalance causes a cold. To achieve a more healthful harmony, you might try Yin Chiao Chieh Tu Pien, a cold formula made from forsythia and honeysuckle that is believed to push heat and wind from the lungs and respiratory tract. When you first feel a cold coming on, take six tablets every three hours. This treatment should keep the cold virus from taking hold in your system. It's easy enough to find in the Chinatowns of major cities and in well-stocked herb shops.
Do you have a cold? Then feel the burn of cayenne pepper. This scorching seasoning in its rawest forms-gets the body's fluids flowing, which in turn works to drain stuffy sinuses. Even tiny airways leading in and out of the lungs will open up a 'bit in answer to cayenne's call. Sprinkle powdered cayenne or a drop or two of liquid extract into your favorite soup for super spicy therapy.
As a natural replacement for over-the-counter cold concoctions, swallow a tablespoon of sambucol extract every few hours. Sambucol, from brightly colored elderberries, is loaded with bioflavonoids and vitamin C-a powerful pair that herbalists believe work in concert to knock out the viral infections that cause colds. Find sambucol at your local health food store.
With all the talk over the years about vitamin C and the common cold, those who have studied the vitamin's effect mostly suggest taking the vitamin once a cold sets in.
There are two things to remember about vitamin C therapy for colds.
Note: At high levels of vitamin C intake, up to 3,000 mg a day or more, diarrhea becomes a frequently cited side effect.
When it comes to colds and deep-down congestion, some steam is better than others-in this case, with eucalyptus, made from the gum tree (and a popular essential oil). Boil one quart of water, preferably distilled, and remove from heat. Add 5 to 10 drops of eucalyptus oil, stir and pour into a large pot. Test the heat with your hand before placing your face over the pot. Once the water has cooled to a comfortable temperature, drape a towel over your head to trap the steam as you breathe in the decongesting vapors. Bonus: Your face will get a minidetoxification treatment in the process.
If you've ever prevented a sneeze by pressing inward on the mustache area of your upper lip with your index finger, you're aware that pressure applied to the skin can affect the sinuses and nasal passages. The same theory underlies the idea of self-administered acupressure for the common cold, in which both hands are used. Here's how to perform it:
The goal is to reduce both congestion and pain related to the sinuses. You should feel immediate relief, but this depends on how congested you are. (The technique is more effective at the onset of a cold than three days into one.) Likewise, the number of repetitions needed depends on the severity of congestion.
Trade in your bottle of ginger ale for a steaming hot cup of ginger tea. Ginger is known to boost immune system activity and may well help your body beat a cold. Stir two teaspoons of grated ginger root into a cup of boiling water and allow the mixture to steep. Strain and sip. For extra soothing and sweetness, add a teaspoon of honey.
At the first sign of a scratchy throat or spike of a fever, a dose of gelsemium may put you on the road to a quick recovery. This homeopathic remedy treats many cold and flu symptoms that strike when defenses are down. Take a 30C preparation three times a day until you're back on your feet.
For the watery eyes that sometimes accompany colds, homeopaths recommend allium cepa tablets. Derived from onions, this treatment works on the homeopathic principle that "like cures like" -that a trace amount of what causes a condition can cure it. The theory in brief involves stimulating one's immune system, then directing it toward a specific organ, condition or system. The prescription: A 30C preparation once or twice a day.
When you feel a sneeze coming on, don't hold your breath. Instead, work the acupressure point in the fold between your forefinger and thumb to alleviate sniffles and other cold symptoms. Use your right hand to apply pressure to the fold on your left hand for at least a minute. Then repeat the technique, switching hands. Also, try pressing on your face beside each nostril for relief of similar symptoms.
If you or a family member suffers a minor concussion, or a wicked tennis ball to the head or similar sports injury, you might try a flower based medicine known as Rescue Remedy. Developed by Edward Bach about 100 years ago, flower remedies are not quite herbal and not quite homeopathic. Yet they combine the flower essences and pure water into medicine.
Rescue Remedy is a combination of five such flower remedies, and it is one of the most commonly cited treatments in the first-aid kits of herbalists and naturopaths. It has even been known to help people who have suffered shock. Follow directions on the eye-dropper bottle. The remedy is available at most health food and natural food stores, as well as herb shops.
Note: Neurologists believe there's no such thing as a "slight" concussion. Head injuries are serious and should be diagnosed appropriately.
Much more advanced in Japan than in the US, magnetic therapy - using small magnets to effect changes in energy in the body - has been shown to offer relief to patients who have suffered concussions and other forms of serious head trauma. The common treatment requires the patient to sleep on a mattress that has wafer-like magnets stitched into the fabric.
Often used in combination with "far infrared"light, the two modalities purportedly complement one another to change the flow of lymph and other bodily fluids to speed healing. Healing magnets are available in many health food stores and back care specialty stores.
Among its myriad uses, the humble aloe plant can help end bouts of constipation fairly quickly. Instead of the gel, you want dried aloe latex, which can be found at health food stores, herb shops and some grocery stores. Take orally. it works by stimulating the muscles of colon to contract, and should be used only on occasion. (For repeated use, it is safer to take fiber products like psyllium.) Typical dosage of aloe powder is 250 mg to 500 mg, starting with the lowest dose and working upward.
A warming ginger compress can help stimulate sluggish bowels . To make one, set two gallons of water on the stove to boil. While the water boils, grate four tablespoons of fresh ginger root into a cheesecloth pouch. Dip the ginger pouch in the hot water, then wring the juice out of the pouch back into your pot. Remove from heat and return the pouch to the pot to steep. Dunk a thick towel into the water, wring out and place over abdomen until it cools. Reheat water and repeat the process four times.
Here's a hands-on way to relieve the pressure and gas of constipation, and to keep the bowels moving. It's an acupressure exercise, performed on the floor.
Beyond the prune juice and commercial preparations, one simple method of relieving constipation starts at the kitchen sink. As soon as you get up in the morning, add two teaspoons of table salt to a quart of water, then drink up. Follow this up with a mini fast, until the intestines empty out-usually within a few hours.
Note: This remedy is not for regular bouts of constipation. Caution: People with congestive heart failure, kidney disease or high blood pressure may not tolerate the additional salt.
Strengthening of the abdominal, pelvic and lower back muscles can help relieve irregularity. Asian doctors recommend this simple waist-turning exercise to clear up constipation problems.
Beginners should try 10 turns in each of the four moves, twice per day. Some devotees work up to 200 daily turns.
For recurrent bouts of constipation, before you reach for the over-the-counter drugstore treatments, and after you've eaten more fiber for a day or two, why not try to stimulate and normalize bowel function with a natural product? Herbalists and naturopaths often recommend tinctures (extracts) of any of the following herbs:
Each of these should be taken as a 20-to 30-drop dose in a small cup of water, three times a day. If one doesn't work for you, try another but don't combine them.
Try this three-step reflexology method to relieve occasional constipation.
Instead of a few spoonfuls of cough medicine, how about a cup of hot chicken soup? Yes, your mother was right: Chicken soup will cure what ails you. The protein in chicken contains cystine, an amino acid similar to acetylcysteine, a drug that thins mucus and clears lungs. A bowl of steaming hot chicken soup helps release fluids within the body that will drain your chest of fluid and make mucus less likely to settle in lungs and become infected.
Finely chop one onion, place it in a pot and cover it with honey. Put the lid on the pot and warm the mixture on low heat for 40 minutes. Take as needed, one spoonful at a time, until the cough feels better. Onions are high in resins that have expectorant and antimicrobial properties. When taken warm, they increase blood flow to the chest and throat.
Osha root stimulates the circulatory system, causing perspiration, chasing away chills and breaking up mucus in sinuses and lungs. Plus, this herb soothes sore tissues. Take a teaspoon of osha root tincture two to three times a day to remedy coughs, sore throats, congestion and other cold symptoms.
More than a mere spice or entree seasoning, thyme has antiseptic properties that often are overlooked. (Next time you're in a pharmacy, check the ingredients label on a Listerine bottle for thyme.) Thyme may help prevent infection and worsening of nagging coughs. Although you probably have dried thyme in your spice rack, herbalists suggest brewing fresh or dried leaves into a tea and sipping it throughout the day until the cough is tamed.
If you're looking for a cough remedy that is powerful enough to work quickly and yet is gentle enough for children, herbalists recommend anise, or aniseed, Taken in tea form, it adds a little anesthetic quality to the remedy. Simply heat the seeds or leaves in water, let steep for several minutes, then strain the leaves and sip.
Although the herb is safe when taken in tea medicinally for up to a week, chronic use of anise can be toxic. (In stronger, essential oil form, two or three drops taken orally are safe, but 30 or 40 drops are not.) Check with your doctor if you have a persistent cough, as it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
Fancy yourself a chef? Cook up your own herbal cough-and-cold syrup. Follow this recipe:
Take two teaspoons every few hours during a coughing spell.
Used by Native Americans during purification rituals, white sage is also one of the best natural antibiotics to rub out infection. Make an all-purpose white sage solution using 30 to 60 drops of tincture mixed in a cup of warm water. Either drink the brew as it tea or gargle with it.
Tangerine rinds - and other citrus fruits like oranges and lemons - contain essential oils, bioflavonoids and vitamin C that naturally clear out stuffy sinuses and respiratory tracts. Grind or grate each of the peels (they can be combined if you wish), then add a teaspoonful of the zest to a cup of herbal tea. Or combine with wild cherry bark syrup for a fruity cough formula.
The herb oregano can be a powerful cough soother. Make a tea with a teaspoon of dried oregano steeped in a cup of hot water. Strain before sipping. You may drink up to three cups a day during a cold or coughing spell.
To help break up congestion in the lungs, thinly slice an onion and cook it in a little bit of water until very soft. Wrap the cooked onion in thin dishtowels, then apply to the chest for 20 minutes.
Are you ready to try a centuries-old Chinese herbal remedy for coughs and colds? Ground apricot seeds contain potent chemicals that can help suppress dry, hacking coughs. You need only a little - a third of a gram - mixed into a cup of boiled water to make a therapeutic tea. Visit a Chinese herbalist to find ground aplicot seeds if you are unable to find them in a general health food store. Otherwise, buy some apricots, break open the pit and grind the seeds on your own in a sturdy blender.
How do herbalists spell relief for the spasms caused by a serious bronchial infection? Skunk cabbage - it's one of the best remedies for relaxing the muscles in the airways and the bronchial tree. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find. Contact an herbal pharmacy for assistance in tracking down a tincture of skunk cabbage.
Isatis root boasts natural antibacterial and antiviral properties for knocking out respiratory rattles caused by an infection. Take 35 drops of the tincture every few hours for a severe bronchial infection. Helpful hint: Since the isatis root tincture tastes very bitter, drop a little on your tongue and quickly chase the herbal remedy with a glass of juice to make the medicine go down easier.
The best condiment for bronchitis is mustard. Whip up the following recipe for a deep-heat, decongesting treatment.
A few warnings: Do not put the mixture directly on your skin as it call burn. Avoid applying the mixture near nipples, because it's too harsh for the sensitive area. And finally, if this treatment doesn't give relief after two applications, it's not going to do it.
A few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus or thyme in a bowl of hot water produce medicinal vapors that clear congestion and help calm bronchial coughs. Plus, herbalists and naturopaths say that both eucalyptus and thyme (which are widely available) have antimicrobial qualities that will help fight an infection. Even 5 to 10 minutes of breathing the vapors will bring results.
If you've got a hacking cough and the drugstore or herbal aids are letting you down, perhaps taming your muscles can help out. Try this two-thumb acupressure treatment, with a partner's help.
First, find the bump in the spine where the neck and shoulders meet. Apply pressure to points directly on either side of the bump with the amount of time dependent upon the severity of the cough. This treatment can be repeated throughout the day.
Like standard drug therapy, homeopathic drugs often won't work if taken incorrectly - or inconsistently. For instance, when you have a dry cough that seems to take your breath away when you move too fast, make sure you stay with the medication for more than a day or two. For this type of cough, homeopaths suggest Bryonia (6C) twice a day for four clays.
When you have a hacking cough that robs you of breath several times a day, try this suggestion from a sage herbalist - simply place a few drops of essential oil of frankincense on a handkerchief (or tissue) and inhale every hour or so, or as needed.
Note: Shortness of breath associated with coughing could be a sign of asthma or other serious illnesses. See your doctor to be sure that you're okay.
Wild cherry bark provides sweet relief for a scratchy throat and nagging cough. The syrup call be purchased at health food stores. Or look for herbal cough remedies containing wild cherry bark syrup. Naturopaths and others say taking a teaspoonful every few hours may help persistent cough. They add, though, that simply flavoring a cough drop with the essence of cherry and sugar won't do the trick.
Is a severe cough rattling your bones? Gumweed will work to get rid of the choking and painful spasms of a dry cough - and acts as an expectorant. The prescription: 10 drops of the tincture, or one to to three capsules, three times a day until symptoms improve.
Look for gumweed tincture at a local health food store, or contact an herbalist for assistance in finding the uncommon remedy. Gumweed can be sipped in water or taken as an elixir blended with honey.
Hoarse? Hacking? lt's horehound to the rescue. This herbal expectorant thins mucus in the lungs. Make a tea from 10 to 15 drops of horehound tincture in a cup of hot water. Drink up to three cups a day during an illness. Horehound lozenges are also available in health food stores.
Not all coughs are alike - you knew that. So why do most people take the same medication for relief, when the symptoms are so varied? One of the more frustrating kinds of coughs occurs when you're going to bed. Something about going horizontal kick-starts the cough - and you think you'll never get to sleep.
Homeopathic medicine offers a specific remedy for the "horizontal hack": Drosera (6C). Take it once an hour for up to five hours, when your symptoms have just started. Then, stay with it twice a day for four days.
Slippery elm bark is the herbal prescription for taking a tickle out of your throat. Known for its soothing qualities, the herb, taken as a tea or lozenge, coats the throat and quiets coughing. Look for the lozenge at your local health food store. Or stir one teaspoon of powdered bark into hot water for cough relief.
The BRATT diet - bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea - provides surefire relief for a detestable case of diarrhea. Why? Bananas replenish depleted supplies of potassium and sodium the body depends on for normal functioning. Rice and toast contain fiber. Applesauce provides pectin, a common ingredient in over·the-counter diarrhea remedies, which works with "good" intestinal bacteria to coat and soothe the irritated lining of the intestines. And the tannin found in tea reduces intestinal inflammation resulting from an infection. Physicians advise staying on the BRATT diet until diarrhea symptoms subside.
Failing to drink water and clear liquids during a bout of diarrhea can worsen the condition. Since you lose a lot of water as a result of the intestinal infection, limiting fluid consumption can cause serious dehydration. Try to drink as much water, broth or herbal tea (at least eight cups a day) to replenish fluids and restore your immune system so it can fight the infection.
First, some bad news. Physicians often tell patients that no matter how bad diarrhea may feel, it should not be treated for the first 12 hours or so. The body is actually trying to cleanse itself of the offending bacteria, virus or toxins - it needs to do its job before you bring in reinforcements.
After the 12-hour waiting period, activated charcoal capsules may be the best option. Taking two capsules each hour should bring, quick relief, along with the temporary side effect of darkened stools.
Note: Charcoal is a wonderfully efficient absorbent - which means that it also will sop up other medications that have been taken recently. So, to be safe, if you have taken any other medication, wait at least one hour before taking charcoal capsules.
Macrobiotic practitioners often recommend brewing up a cup of Japanese kuzo-pickled plum paste tea for those suffering from painful stomach aches and/or diarrhea. Kuzo is a thickening ingredient, much like arrowroot, and acts as a binding agent. To make the tea, dissolve a teaspoon of kuzo in water to make a paste, then add a teaspoon of the plum paste to boiling water.
When colltis strikes, it can be it localized inflammation of the lower part of the large intestine or colon, or it may be more universal, causing inflammation and sores throughout the colon (ulcerative colitis). Although the cause of a colitis attack may be unknown, once food sensitivity and infections are ruled out, acupuncturists and naturopaths sometimes prescribe a course of acupuncture to calm the inflammation and hyperactive immune system that is in large part responsible for the condition. Acupuncture can bring considerable relief to symptoms of pain, diarrhea and cramping.
Treatments may continue for weeks or even months, depending upon the various imbalances identified.
For those who have inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, who are being treated with standard allopathic medicines (e.g. prednisone and/or sulfa drugs), slippery elm bark may help ease some symptoms during flare-ups of the conditions. It may also help soothe the digestive tracts of patients during remission. To take this remedy in liquid (decoction) form:
Some cinnamon or sugar may help the taste. Try drinking two or three cups daily.
The soothing, cooling properties of the aloe vera plant are not limited to sunburn, scrapes and abrasions. For some patients who have intermittent bouts of colitis, or inflammation of the colon, drinking one teaspoon of pure aloe juice (found in larger health food stores) after meals can have a lasting effect. They notice a lessening of intestinal upset. and diarrhea.
Warning: At higher dosages, aloe vera juice can have a laxative effect - the last thing that colitis patients need.
When diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulceralive colitis, patients often are advised to take steroids and other drugs to help reduce inflammation of the intestines, the hallmark of both diseases. But these medications don't always effect a remission. Patients may continue to suffer from chronic intestinal cramping, diarrhea and sometimes fever.
In such stubborn cases, patients can try to soothe some of the symptoms with herbal remedies as adjunct therapy. One combination therapy your doctor may approve calls for a mixture of three herbs into a tea: Chamomile, meadowsweet and licorice, taken two or three times a day. An alternative is to mix or purchase the herbs in tincture form and take sequentially. These remedies contain soothing, anti-inflammatory essences that target the digestive tract.
The research may be preliminary, but it is great news for those afflicted with chronic, inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis: Fish oil may help keep the disorders at bay. A study from Italy published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that those who took nine fish oil capsules a day were far less likely to suffer relapses of Crohn's than subjects who didn't. Experts suspect that omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil aid the body's synthesis of helpful prostaglandins.
File this item under those that don't often gel discussed at the health club. Long-term, moderate weight training can speed up digestion by cutting the transit time of food as it moves through the intestine. That makes for healthier colons. Long transit times (28 hours, say, versus a more average 18) are associated with increased risk of diverticulitis, a kind of inflammation that results in intestinal-colon blockages. Weight training also builds the smooth muscles that guide the intestines along their daily missions, according to research at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Taken together in tea, three herbs can go a long way toward shortening your next bout of indigestion. Try this homemade anti-indigestion tea mixture:
This fragrant, soothing blend may be sipped as frequently as you need it.
To help digest a large meal, lie dlown on your left side for a few minutes. This will increase the blood flow to your stomach, which is situated more toward the left side of the body. Not moving for a few minutes also ensures that blood isn't speeding to other organs and muscles while your stomach is busily processing food .
Enzymes from this sweet tropical fruit have been used in meat tenderizers for years for a reason. Start your day with half a papaya, or drink a glass of papaya juice, to give your digestive system a boost - or drink some any time you know you will be eating rich foods.
Self-massage of the abdomen has been prescribed for chronic gastritis and constipation since the 1600s. Work any combination of five points from the top of the abdomen (below the ribs) to the lowest spot, about two inches below the navel. Two key middle points are the navel and halfway between the navel and sternum.
The basic technique is as follows:
The top point should be kneaded for 36 clockwise circles, while the middle two points are massaged together for 18 circles each, before switching to 18 counterclockwise circles. The lowest point also calls for 18 circles in each direction.
The spasms of a cranky digestive tract can be soothed with the essential oils of tarragon, rosemary and marjoram. Take one drop of each with a spoonful of honey. You can also try adding these common herbs (fresh or dried) to chicken, breads, fish, pasta and salads to help you digest dinner.
Ayurvedic medicine, a body/mind discipline with roots in India, recognizes several body personality types with their own tendencies. But there are some Ayurvedic remedies for stomach upset that work across the three main body types:
Most of us associate charcoal with the outdoor grilling season, but natural healers like its active ingredients to quell digestion problems. To make your own charcoal liquid remedy:
If you have no activated charcoal, you can get by with scrapings from burnt toast.
Some health practitioners swear by onion juice as a digestive aid. Here is perhaps a more palatable drink. Juice the following ingredients together:
Taken twice daily, this concoction helps relieve chronic gas.
If you have overdone it at your own dinner party, here's a digestion remedy that can be made even while you are cleaning up. Add one teaspoon of lemon juice and one·half teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of cool water. Drink the mixture quickly.
For indigestion, here is a fast-acting remedy: three drops of peppermint oil added to a cup of warm water with a spoonful of honey. You can dab this potion onto your wrists or under the nostrils or add to a bath or vaporizer. It is also great for quelling nausea during pregnancy. A holistic pharmacy or health store will be well stocked with all kinds of essential oils.
A healthy dose of oregano not only adds flavor to your favorite dishes but also stimulates the digestive system. Of course, oregano is not the seasoning to go with every meal, so when you're not feasting-on Italian food, sip some oregano tea after your meal to kick-start digestion. Put a teaspoon of crushed dried oregano in a cup of hot water and let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes. Some may find oregano tea an acquired taste, but it's worth a try.
Irritable bowel syndrome can cause gas, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea and constipation. A restricted diet and increasing dietary fiber can help ease all of these symptoms. Ground flaxseed, in particular, helps soothe inflamed intestinal walls. Add two tablespoons of ground flaxseed to eight ounces of juice or water, or stir them into your rice cereal.
Avoid beef and all cereal except rice and use soy-based products rather than milk or other dairy products.
Massaging your abdomen with peppermint oil feels refreshing and can help case intestinal discomfort. Add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil to one ounce of almond oil, then place one-half to one teaspoonful of the oil mixture onto the abdomen and massage in a clockwise direction. Repeat two or three times daily.
The misery of irritable bowel syndrome is curtailed for some people' by a simple regimen: Three capsules of essence of peppermint oil per day, plus several cups of mint tea. The key is consistent dosing and making sure the peppermint oil is pure.
A three-herb combination tea has worked effectively to calm some cases of constipation and irritable bowel that don't respond to simple nutritional, calm-the-intestines approaches. The nutritional tea combines the familiar herb chamomile with marshmallow (the herb. not the candy) and yellow dock root, which is often recommended to relieve constipation. Mix the herbs in equal proportions.
Research indicates that the relaxed state achieved by clinical hypnosis can neutralize irritable bowel syndrome in patients under 50. Most of us can fall into a deep calm through a guided imagery session using word-pictures suggesting such venues as placid lakes and serene mountaintops. Once learned. we can use these techniques at home. About 10% of the population needs more directed hypnosis to reach the relaxed state.
Strange but true: Research shows that antidepressants can help control the pain that some feel from irritable bowel syndrome. Plus, the drug therapy may battle the root cause of IBS, since physicians believe that the disorder may result in part from psychological problems, such as depression and severe anxiety.
If you have gas, cramping and diarrhea, and suspect that milk or milk products may be contributing to the condition, try a thee-day "milk fast." Eliminate yogurt, cheese and even foods that may have dry milk solids in their ingredients, such as prepared baked goods (check ingredient labels carefully). If symptoms lessen or disappear, there's a good chance that you are lactose intolerant - a common condition in which your body cannot process the sugars in milk effectively. This is especially true if your symptoms recur when you reintroduce dairy products into your diet.
As a way to control the condition and still eat or drink milk products occasionally, enlist the aid of enzymes: Lactase tablets taken before you eat dairy products should calm your intestines. Also, consider switching to soy milk and soy-based products when possible.
While not a well-known plant throughout the US, jaborandi, or Pilocarpus pennatiflius, is used in other parts of the world, notably Central America (Belize), to treat the various causes of dry mouth. The leaves of jaborandi turn dry mouths moist after just a few minutes of chewing. Compounds in the plant seem to activate the salivary glands. How? Another secret of the rain forest apparently. Check your herb shop for supplies
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