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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Expert-Tested Shortcuts to Relieve Tension

I think everyone needs these kinds of symbolic tokens (a Gumby to represent flexibility, a kaleidoscope to represent new vision, even a beautiful postcard) to remind us of all we dream of, and to take us to a calmer place. If collecting stones, shells or tchotchkes doesn't sound appealing, why not try these expert-tested shortcuts to serenity:

Get repetitive
Doing simple movements again and again—I like doing leg stretches—can help distract you and lull you into a calmer state.

Say cheese
When you're feeling frazzled, inspire a smile by holding a pen between your teeth, which tricks your brain into grinning mode. You'll instantly feel happier and more relaxed. (Sometimes it's OK to fake it till you make it.)

Picture this
Vividly imagine a soothing object or scene, including sounds, images and aromas. The more pleasant your picture, the more your tension will dissipate. (I like to imagine the view of the bay in front of my little house in Long Island.)

Stretch it out
I like to do this stress-relieving stretch after I've been hunched over my keyboard, furiously answering e-mail. Extend your arms forward at chest level, rotating your right arm to the left (so your palm faces out). Use your left hand to bend right fingers back. Hold for 10 seconds; switch hands and repeat.

Bad habits can age you by 12 years

Four common bad habits combined — smoking, drinking too much, inactivity and poor diet — can age you by 12 years, sobering new research suggests. The findings are from a study that tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years, and they highlight yet another reason to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Overall, 314 people studied had all four unhealthy behaviors. Among them, 91 died during the study, or 29 percent. Among the 387 healthiest people with none of the four habits, only 32 died, or about 8 percent.

The risky behaviors were: smoking tobacco; downing more than three alcoholic drinks per day for men and more than two daily for women; getting less than two hours of physical activity per week; and eating fruits and vegetables fewer than three times daily.

These habits combined substantially increased the risk of death and made people who engaged in them seem 12 years older than people in the healthiest group, said lead researcher Elisabeth Kvaavik of the University of Oslo.

The study appears in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

The healthiest group included never-smokers and those who had quit; teetotalers, women who had fewer than two drinks daily and men who had fewer than three; those who got at least two hours of physical activity weekly; and those who ate fruits and vegetables at least three times daily.

"You don't need to be extreme" to be in the healthy category, Kvaavik said. "These behaviors add up, so together it's quite good. It should be possible for most people to manage to do it."

For example, one carrot, one apple and a glass of orange juice would suffice for the fruit and vegetable cutoffs in the study, Kvaavik said, noting that the amounts are pretty modest and less strict than many guidelines.

The U.S. government generally recommends at least 4 cups of fruits or vegetables daily for adults, depending on age and activity level; and about 2 1/2 hours of exercise weekly.

Study participants were 4,886 British adults aged 18 and older, or 44 years old on average. They were randomly selected from participants in a separate nationwide British health survey. Study subjects were asked about various lifestyle habits only once, a potential limitation, but Kvaavik said those habits tend to be fairly stable in adulthood.

Death certificates were checked for the next 20 years. The most common causes of death included heart disease and cancer, both related to unhealthy lifestyles.

Kvaavik said her results are applicable to other westernized nations including the United States.

June Stevens, a University of North Carolina public health researcher, said the results are in line with previous studies that examined the combined effects of health-related habits on longevity.

The findings don't mean that everyone who maintains a healthy lifestyle will live longer than those who don't, but it will increase the odds, Stevens said.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Heal and Soothe Stomach Ulcers without Drugs

(NaturalNews) Stomach ulcers are small holes or sores in the gastrointestinal tract which affect millions of Americans every year. The most common major symptom of an ulcer is a burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach area that lasts from half an hour up to three hours. Usually, the pain occurs in the upper abdomen, but may sometimes occur below the breastbone. Fortunately, there are several natural remedies which can heal and soothe stomach ulcers without the risk of mainstream drugs.

Appetite and weight loss are also common symptoms of ulcers. Other symptoms which may occur include recurrent vomiting, black stool, blood in the stool and anemia. Often ulcer pain is misinterpreted as heartburn, indigestion or hunger. A person with duodenal ulcers may experience weight gain due to eating more to ease discomfort.

Also known as peptic ulcers, stomach ulcers are caused by the destruction of the gastric or intestinal mucosal lining of the stomach by hydrochloric acid, an acid normally present in the digestive juices of the stomach. Infection from the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is thought to play an important role in causing both gastric and duodenal ulcers. H. pylori may be transmitted from one person to another through contaminated food and water.

Chronic use of anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, is another major cause of ulcer. Cigarette smoking is also an important cause of ulcer formation and can contribute to ulcer treatment failure.

Following are some of the best natural remedies for healing and soothing stomach ulcers:

* One of the very best home remedies for ulcers is eating raw cabbage. Juicing the raw cabbage will make it easier to take and mixing it with carrots in the juicer will make it better tasting. Drink half a cup before each meal and at bed time and make sure that it is fresh. Your ulcer may be gone in only a few weeks.

* Eat at least three bananas a day. These fruits contain an antibacterial substance that inhibits the growth of ulcer-causing H. pylori. Studies show that animals fed bananas have a thicker stomach wall and greater mucus production in the stomach, which helps build a barrier between digestive acids and the lining of the stomach. Eating plantains is also helpful.

* Cayenne pepper is wonderful for healing ulcers as well as dulling the pain. It is a bit strong and may take some getting used to at the outset. Start with one-eighth teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of water twice a day and work up to a quarter-teaspoon. You can also take cayenne capsules that you can get at the health food store. Take three a day immediately after meals.

* The bark of slippery elm soothes the mucous membranes that line the stomach and duodenum. It is often taken in powdered form. Some herbalists recommend taking a teaspoon of powdered slippery elm bark added to one cup of warm water three times a day.

* Colloidal silver helps kill the H. pylori bacteria and helps heal injured stomach tissues.

* Raw honey soothes and reduces inflammation of the lining of the stomach and is good for healing as well.

* Garlic's antibacterial properties include fighting H. pylori. Take two small crushed cloves a day.

* Plums and other red and purple colored foods such as berries inhibit the growth of H. pylori.

* Coconut oil kills the bacteria that cause ulcers and gas, but it's mostly a long-term remedy.

A few other good ulcer remedies are: raw goats' milk, barley water, aloe juice, propolis capsules, licorice root or marshmallow root.

Sources included:

http://www.mamashealth.com/Stomach.asp
http://www.treelight.com/health/nut...
http://health.howstuffworks.com/hom...
http://www.tbyil.com/Ulcers.htm

Cholesterol drugs raise diabetes risk

(NaturalNews) A recent report out of the University of Glasgow has revealed that popular cholesterol drugs like Crestor and Lipitor are responsible for increasing user risk of developing diabetes. Published in the journal Lancet, the report quantifies the severity of the side effect for which doctors and researchers have only recently become aware.

The report analyzed 13 different studies about statin drugs, one of which showed a 25 percent increased risk in developing diabetes in those who take AstraZeneca's Crestor. That company funded study and others were aggregated together to arrive at the 9 percent statistic for the entire pool of statin drugs. Over 90,000 patients were evaluated in the various studies.

According to David Preiss, lead researcher of the Lancet study, the benefits gained from taking statin drugs far outweigh their risks. For every 1,000 patients that take a statin drug for a year, one of them develops diabetes while five other avoid heart attack and death. He believes such a statistic validates the safety and effectiveness of statin drugs.

"Even though there is a slight risk more than what we knew before, it's still a reassuring message," he stated in a phone interview with BusinessWeek. "We're not talking a huge risk at all, and what we don't want people to do is take this as a sign to stop taking statin therapy."

In a follow-up editorial to the study, Chris Cannon, a cardiologist from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, suggested that patients taking statin drugs might benefit from using blood-sugar monitoring devices throughout their course of therapy. He believes patients should regularly be evaluated by their doctors to verify that statin drugs are benefitting them and encourages patients to continue using what he called "this life-saving class of drugs".

Despite all their reassurances about the safety of statin drugs, the alleged "life-saving class of drugs" can cause a host of serious negative side effects. In addition to things like nausea, diarrhea, and irritability, statins lead to much more serious problems like liver and kidney failure, nerve damage, amnesia, and the destruction of CoQ10 in the body.

Drug companies rake in more than $34 billion a year from statin drugs so it is no wonder that the damage control brigade is out in full force to defend statins against studies that paint them in a not-so-good light. Educated individuals will continue to supplement with things like cod liver oil that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, non-irradiated cinnamon, and other nutrients that naturally keep cholesterol levels in check.

Sources for this story include:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/20...

http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-ma...

Bananas, Raisins and Bran: Let Your Diet Lower Your Blood Pressure

(NaturalNews) High blood pressure afflicts over 74 million Americans. The cause of high blood pressure, or HBP, is not known in many cases, but diet and exercise have been shown to help reduce blood pressure and improve quality of life. Raw fruits and vegetables can help alleviate many of the symptoms of high blood pressure, and specific foods have been shown to have a more dramatic action on reducing blood pressure. Daily exercise is also an important tool in maintaining a healthy heart.

Bananas Lower Blood Pressure
Research has shown that two bananas a day can lower blood pressure. A study conducted in 1997 concluded that 5 bananas a day had the same effect as blood pressure lowering drugs. Research conducted in India in 1999 showed that two bananas a day lowered blood pressure by 10%. Study subjects at the Kasturba Medical College in Manipal ate two bananas a day for one week to achieve this level blood pressure lowering action from the bananas.

Salt Raises Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association suggests a diet with less than 1,500 mg of salt a day. Raw fruits and vegetables contain very low amounts of salt compared to processed or canned foods. When eating canned foods, rinsing the foods can help eliminate some of the salt added in food processing.

Potassium
Foods containing potassium can offset salt intake, as sodium and potassium work together in the body to help lower blood pressure. The daily recommended intake of potassium is 4,700 mg a day. This averages out to about 5 servings of vegetables or fruits each day.

Raisins Lower Blood Pressure
Raisins are a good source of potassium, as well as iron, and provide a nutritious way to lower blood pressure. Raisins contain a quarter of the daily requirement of potassium and low amounts of salt. A serving of raisins has 1,400 mg of potassium and only 50 mg of sodium.

Wheat Bran Contains Fiber and Lowers Blood Pressure
Wheat bran is another excellent source of potassium and a good food to help lower blood pressure. Wheat bran has over 1,100 mg of potassium per serving. Bran also contains fiber and research has shown that fiber lowers blood pressure. Adding fiber to the diet also helps improve digestion, aids elimination, and reduces high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Alcohol Raises Blood Pressure
Research has shown that drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure. A study published in the "Journal of Human Hypertension" showed that alcohol consumption raises blood pressure and damages the blood vessel walls as well.

http://www.naturalnews.com/028206_b...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2...
http://www.weightlossforall.com/pot...
http://www.glycemic-index.org/high-...

Milk thistle herb protects liver from damage caused by chemotherapy

(NaturalNews) The herbal supplement milk thistle may prevent liver damage in people undergoing chemotherapy, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center and published in the journal Cancer.

Researchers conducted the study on 50 children undergoing a "maintenance" round of chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer. Approximately two-thirds of all children undergoing treatment for ALL usually develop liver toxicity during their treatment, presenting doctors with the choice between scaling back the treatment and risking a resurgence of the cancer, or continuing with treatment unaltered and risking permanent liver damage and lifelong health complications. There is currently no known way of preventing liver toxicity in chemotherapy patients.

Study participants were assigned to take either a milk thistle pill or a placebo capsule for one month. At the start of the study, all 50 children were suffering from liver inflammation due to prior rounds of chemotherapy. By the end, children taking milk thistle had significantly lower levels of two liver inflammation markers than children taking a placebo.

Milk thistle has been used for more than 2,000 years as an herbal treatment for liver and gallbladder problems. Although researchers have looked for evidence that the herb might help prevent or even treat liver damage in people with hepatitis or cirrhosis, results have been inconclusive.

However, recent studies suggest that milk thistle contains an active antioxidant known as silybin that might help block toxins from breaching cell walls.

Milk thistle supplements are already sold over the counter. Striking a cautionary note, however, senior researcher Kara M. Kelley noted that further research is needed before the plant can be recommended as a treatment. She advised against patients self-medicating with milk thistle, noting that all patients undergoing treatment for cancer should always check with their doctors before taking any new kinds of supplements.

Sources for this story include: abcnews.go.com.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

listen to your body's informative symptoms

listen to your body and understand what it's really trying to tell you.

In medicine, the word "symptoms" is thrown around as if it were something bad. Doctors talk about the "symptoms of disease" and then they prescribe chemicals to suppress those symptoms. If you have pain, they prescribe painkillers. If you have high blood pressure, they prescribe chemicals to artificially lower blood pressure.

This practice of detecting and then suppressing symptoms is called "mainstream medicine."

But what if that entire approach were wrong? What if symptoms were gifts rather than curses? What if the messages they were sending actually contained important information about your health?

That's exactly what you're about to learn here (if you don't already know this, that is): Symptoms are messengers... cries for help from your body. And learning how to listen to those messages rather than suppressing them may be the key to unlocking your greatest health potential.

Medications dull your body and mind

Conventional medical doctors have been trained that symptoms are things to be suppressed, negated or destroyed. These doctors don't consider symptoms to be a holistic part of your healing experience, but that's in fact exactly what they are.

If you sprain your ankle playing frisbee, for example, your body sends you a pain message. This message contains important information: "This tissue is injured. Do not use it until it is repaired." If you heed the message, you will allow your ankle time to heal. Once it's healed and safe to use again, the pain will disappear. It is now safe to put weight on your ankle again.

In this context, pain is an intelligent regulator of your activities. It can direct you to avoid further injury. But pain killers dull the pain and artificially block the pain messages. They allow you to keep playing on an injured ankle to the point where you are likely to cause further injury, resulting in even more suffering and perhaps permanent damage that cannot be healed.

That's why pain is something to be listened to, not ignored. But pain isn't the only messenger you'll want to pay attention to...

What your skin and nails are telling you

Your skin is also a messenger. What's happening with your skin is a reflection of what's happening with your internal organs. If you have acne on your face, for example, you have much the same thing happening in your digestive tract. Facial acne is a sign to clean up your diet, eliminate all animal products for a while (dairy, meat, etc.) and detox with a plant-based diet.

If your skin is dry, itchy or flaky, it's a sure sign that you're deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and possibly some other key vitamins or nutrients. Increase your intake of omega-3s through fish oils, marine oils or plant-based sources like chia seeds, and add superfoods to your diet to cover any vitamin deficiencies you may have.

Your fingernails can tell a lot about your health, too: Misshapen or discolored fingernails point to chronic nutritional deficiencies in minerals and certain vitamins. If your fingernails have ridges, cracking, discoloration or any other symptoms, get yourself to a naturopathic physician right away. Fingernails, you see, indicate what's going on with the rest of your body because your nails are, of course, grown out of your body. If you have nutritional deficiencies or chronic organ problems, they will be revealed in your nails.

Your tongue can tell a wealth about your health, too. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use tongue diagnosis (and pulse diagnosis) to assess symptoms and clues about what's happening with your internal organ health. Tongue diagnosis is remarkably accurate: A tongue that's discolored, has a layer of mucous, has deep ridges on the sides or other non-healthy characteristics directly indicates problems with your liver, kidneys, heart, lungs or digestive tract.
If you're curious about this, seek out a TCM practitioner for a tongue and pulse diagnosis. Sadly, American TCM practitioners have a watered-down approach where they are afraid to offer any medical diagnosis for fear of being arrested by state medical authorities, but in China, an experienced TCM practitioner can tell you more about your health from a simple diagnosis than you would typically learn from an MRI.

What goes in must come out

To pay even closer attention to your body's symptoms, observe what's coming out of your body:

• Do you have body odor? If so, your diet is unclean. Too much milk, butter and meat.

• Does your breath smell bad? Same problem: Unclean diet or poor digestive health.

• Are your stools too hard, too soft or not healthy looking? Check with a naturopath -- the health of your stools indicates the health of your digestion.

• Does your urine smell strange? It will after eating asparagus, of course, but normally your urine should not have an offensive odor. If it does, go visit a naturopathic physician for some advice.

• Are you hyperventilating at times? It may be a sign of consuming a diet that's too acidic. Or could also mean pre-diabetes. Check with a naturopath.

What comes out of your body, you see, is a very accurate indication of what's going on inside your body. Did you know that physicians actually used to taste the urine of patients? They could diagnose disease just from tasting the urine.

Of course, these days mainstream doctors don't taste your urine anymore. Instead, they give you expensive urine by pumping you full of HRT drugs, psych meds and other expensive pharmaceuticals that you pee down the drain while you're literally flushing your money away.

Listen to your cravings

Your body will also tell you what it wants through cravings. These are little subconscious messengers that direct you to eat something your body needs. Most people, however, misinterpret those cravings and end up eating something bad for their health instead of what the body actually craves.

For example, if your body craves salt -- real salt, not the processed sodium found in junk foods -- you may feel an urge to eat a salty snack food. But that urge is often just a craving for full-spectrum salt. Try eating some fresh nuts dusted with full-spectrum sea salt and see if that takes care of your craving.

Cravings for chocolate may often be just your body crying out for magnesium. Your body sends you the message, "Eat more magnesium!" but your conscious mind mistakenly thinks you just need more chocolate. The problem is that most of the processed, store-bought chocolate on the market today is overly processed and has little or no magnesium left in it. Buy real chocolate if you want it to contain the minerals it's supposed to.

Is your body crying out for water?

Dehydration can cause all sorts of symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as other diseases. Chronic dehydration can appear as all the following symptoms or diseases: Asthma, high blood pressure, hunger, kidney disorders, heart problems and constipation.

Drinking more water on a regular basis (and avoiding dehydrating beverages such as sodas) can solve these underlying problems, and you may actually see many of those symptoms vanish within a few days, weeks or months.

What's beneath the symptom?

If you do go see a regular mainstream doctor, you may in fact receive a quite useful diagnosis of specific symptoms. Western doctors are quite good at determining what's wrong with you on a superficial level even if they have no idea about underlying causes.

So if you receive a diagnosis from a western doctor, you can often take that diagnosis home and do something useful with it. For example, if your doctor says you have high blood pressure and recommends you start taking toxic blood pressure drugs, the best thing you can do for your health is tear up the prescription, go seek a naturopathic physician and ask what you can do to resolve the underlying causes of high blood pressure rather than trying to artificially medicate yourself with chemicals.

Chances are, you have various nutritional deficiencies (lack of omega-3s, often), combined with dehydration and poor dietary choices. Correcting those three things will often resolve blood pressure symptoms. Of course, your specific case may be different, so be sure to check with your naturopathic physician about what's best for you.

Use the symptom as information

Never be tricked into taking a medication that masks the symptom. Use the symptom as a clue to look for root causes that can be corrected through more holistic, natural means. This is how you can listen to your body and interpret its messages in useful ways that lead you in the direction of health.

It takes no intelligence whatsoever to mask symptoms with medications. Any fool can accomplish that by popping pills, much to the delight of pharmacies and drug companies. But an intelligent, mature person will listen to their body's many messages (symptoms) and learn from them to discover what's really going on with their health.

Masking symptoms, in other words, is a childish, adolescent approach to medicine. But listening and learning from symptoms in order to take a more holistic approach to health is characteristic of an intelligent adult. Which approach will you decide to take?