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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sleep Solutions for the Family

Your husband is on his third cup of coffee -- and it's not yet 8 AM. Your teen is so bleary-eyed and grumpy that you want to run in the other direction. And you're so tired you can barely remember your middle name.

If your family is like most, everyone is seriously sleep deprived. A study from the CDC found that only one out of three Americans gets enough sleep all month long. And 16 percent of adults get less than six hours per night, says the National Sleep Foundation. That's well short of the seven to eight hours needed to ward off obesity, high blood pressure, and other ills. To complicate matters, each family member deals with unique sleep sappers, says Susan Zafarlotfi, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Sleep-Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Follow these simple strategies to help every member of your family sleep longer and better every night.

Help Kids Nod Off
Late-night gadget time can cut into sleep.

Artificial light from computer and television screens tells the brain that it's not time to wind down. "Your body thinks artificial light is daylight -- which prevents the release of melatonin, a sleep-inducing chemical," says Zafarlotfi. A study from Wayne State University found that talking on a cell phone before snoozing causes a 13 percent drop in deep sleep -- the type that helps people recover from daily wear and tear.

Try these three solutions to get your kids to log off:

1. Set a tech curfew
Shut off the TV and have your children stop using phones and computers at least an hour before bed, advises Zafarlotfi.

2. Use the dimmer switch
Turn down the lights in your kids' rooms a half hour before bedtime to allow melatonin to kick in, says Zafarlotfi. Or try switching the bulbs in their rooms to 60 watts or less.

3. Do morning prep at night
Teens, whose biological clocks tend to be on a later sleep cycle, often struggle with early start times at school. Encourage your kids to shower and get clothes and homework ready in the evening and choose fast breakfasts (like cereal) so they can sleep in as much as possible.

Find Your Stress-Free Sleep Zone
Calm your mind for sounder slumber.

Anxiety and other frazzled states cause your body to release adrenaline, a brain chemical that triggers alertness, says sleep specialist Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at New York University. Adds Zafarlotfi: "Stress seems to keep more women awake than men -- which explains why 90 percent of my patients are female."

Try these three solutions to ease worries and get the rest you need:

1. Shower an hour before bed
The warm water is relaxing. Plus, your body temperature will dip afterward, mimicking the physiological changes that naturally occur before you sleep.

2. Write away worries
During the day, scribble down your concerns and how you plan to handle them, advises Walsleben. For example, if you're panicked about bills, you might write that you'll go through them and come up with a payment schedule for those you can't tackle right away. Then, if you start to ruminate before lights-out, tell yourself firmly, I've already dealt with this. It's time to go to sleep.

3. Make exercise a habit
Getting your heart rate up for 20 minutes every day -- by walking, gardening, or cleaning the house -- can lower anxiety by as much as 40 percent according to a study of about 20,000 adults at University College in London.

Push Your Husband's Snooze Button
Snoring can be more serious than you think.

By age 50, half of men snore, says Michael Thorpy, M.D., director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "The noise can actually wake him up," he says -- or prevent him from getting into deeper, more restorative sleep stages.

Try these four solutions to stop the noise:

1. Measure his neck
"A big neck increases the odds that breathing during sleep will be interrupted," says Charles Bae, MD, a neurologist and sleep specialist with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. One reason: If his neck is bigger than 17 inches, it may indicate excess weight -- which puts pressure on the airways and can lead to snoring.

2. Skip wine with dinner
If he likes to wind down with a drink, make sure his cocktail is at least three hours before bed. Alcohol relaxes the throat, which makes snoring worse, says Thorpy.

3. Get help
If he has tried everything and still feels exhausted during the day or is falling asleep during work (or while driving!), have your husband checked for sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is blocked for seconds at a time. The disorder prevents the body from getting enough oxygen during sleep and raises the risk of heart attack and strokes. Your husband is also more likely to have high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction if he has sleep apnea.

4. Don't banish him to the couch
It's tempting, but even if he has severe snoring or apnea, try to nod off next to him. (Use earplugs or a white-noise machine to muffle the din.) A man is more likely to stick with sleep treatment if his wife shares his bed, finds a study from Rush University.

Best Rest for Your Parents
Changing circadian rhythms can play havoc with sleep patterns.
As people get older, hormonal and brain changes cause a shift in the body's internal clock, so they might find themselves sleepy very early in the evening. "This starts a vicious cycle," says Zafarlofti. "If your parents go to bed at eight, they may rise at three or four in the morning. Then they take long naps. So when bedtime rolls around, they're not tired enough to doze off, which deprives them of deep sleep."
Try these three solutions to help your parents snooze on schedule:

1. Skip catnaps
Your parents should try to get all eight hours of sleep at one time -- or, if they must take a nap, have them set an alarm so they sleep no more than 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Stick to light fare
Recent animal studies suggest that a high-fat diet can disrupt circadian rhythms. Though further research is needed, "greasy, heavy dinners and desserts may disrupt digestion, so you toss and turn," says Bae.

3. Turn up the light
Unlike teens, seniors may benefit from bright light exposure in the evening -- it keeps them from falling asleep too early, explains Bae. Look for full-spectrum bulbs, which mimic natural daylight.

6 Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp

A study published almost a year ago in the journal Neurology held some surprising facts about age-related brain disorders, Dr. Mehmet Oz explained during a luncheon and discussion held last month in New York City called "Beautiful Minds: An Assessment of the Nation's Brain Health."

Called the Nun Study, researchers gathered long-term data on more than 600 nuns in Minnesota and found that 21 percent of study participants that had lesions and plaques in their brains -- key markings of memory disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's -- and yet lived their lives with no outward signs of disease.

The nuns that had signs of Alzheimer's but no symptoms of the disease had happier and more positive outlooks on life, were better linguistics and had better dietary and exercise habits.

"What this shows is that we can change our brains," Dr. Oz said. "It's not genetically programmed. ... The brain is plastic. We can do an awful lot to change how our brain functions."

Dr. Oz gave the following tips for keeping your brain sharp:

-- Do brain boosters.
-- Daydream.
-- Be optimistic.
-- Get lost on purpose.
-- Hit your threshold -- do the Sunday crossword, followed by intervals of intense exercise.
-- Take Algal DHA -- a vegetarian form of omega 3 fatty acids that is sold in over-the-counter in drug and health food stores.

Dr. Majid Fotuhi, the director of the Center for Memory and Brain Health, LifeBridge Health Brain and Spine Institute, Department of Neurology, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, said certain people have mastered how to tap into their brains' ability to rejuvenate, thwarting the aging process.

"The hippocampus shrinks with aging," said Fotuhi, who spoke at the luncheon with Dr. Oz. "There is a lot of plasticity and things like diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, stroke and Alzheimer's really shrink the hippocampus."

But there are ways to keep the brain healthy even if someone is genetically predisposed to diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia. The secret, said Fotuhi, is "tickling" the hippocampus, which plays an important role in long-term memory and is one of the first region's of the brain to suffer damage such as memory loss and disorientation due to Alzheimer's disease.

Fotuhi, who is a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, recommends the following activities to "tickle" and grow the hippocampus:

-- Tease and challenge your memory by memorizing phone and credit card numbers, and learning the names of people, as well as exotic fruits and plants.
-- Be creative.
-- Strengthen your heart by exercising and moving your body.
-- Laugh more often.
-- Eat smart. Fotuhi suggests lots of vegetables and a "Mediterranean-style" diet.

To test your brain health, click here.

How to Fix Your Broken Brain

Most of us have experienced conditions such as depression, anxiety, memory problems and trouble focusing or just plain brain fog. We think these problems are all in our heads. However, in his pioneering new book, "The UltraMind Solution," Mark Hyman, M.D., explains how the real causes of these problems are in your body, not your head. By simply addressing the underlying causes of mood, memory and behavior problems you can boost your brain power and have a calm, confident, focused and happy mind.

The three-pound organ in your head is very sensitive. So if you want to feel happy, alert and focused, start being sensitive to its needs. Ditch the high fructose corn syrup and sugars, transfats, processed and packaged foods (which contain up to 3,500 food additives and chemicals). Choose organic foods and grass-fed animal products to avoid hormones, antibiotics and the gallon of neurotoxic pesticides each of us consume every year. Filter your water. Wear a helmet when doing sports that put your head at risk. Stop or reduce brain-damaging medications (acid blockers, statins and acetaminophen).

If you fix your body you will fix your brain, automatically. The seven basic systems of the body must be optimized for your body (and brain) to function properly. Here's all you need to do: optimize nutrition; cool off inflammation; balance your hormones; fix your digestion; enhance detoxification; boost your energy metabolism; calm your mind. And optimizing the seven keys to an UltraMind is simple. Follow this roadmap that automatically balances the seven keys: eat right for your brain; tune up your brain chemistry with supplements; sleep, rest and exercise for your brain; live clean and green.

Step 1: Eating Right for Your Brain

To boost your brain power, you need the right nutrition. Eat real, whole, organic, ideally local food. Become a fat head (60 percent of your brain is made up of omega 3 fats) by eating sardines, wild salmon, herring, omega 3 eggs, flax seeds and walnuts. Eat protein for brain power every morning and with every meal. Include foods such as eggs, nut butters, protein shakes, beans, nuts and seeds and lean animal protein. Eat brain food, otherwise known as the right carbs: whole fresh vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. And eat colorful fruits and vegetables with phytonutrients -- hidden brain protectors with healing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying compounds.

Step 2: Tune Up Your Brain Chemistry with Supplements

We need nutritional supplements because we don't hunt for or gather wild foods anymore, and we live in a toxic world under a lot of stress. Our depleted diets cause 92 percent of us to be deficient in the minimum amount of nutrients needed for optimal brain function. Vitamins and minerals run the chemical reactions in your body and brain that make happy-mood chemicals, cool inflammation, help you detoxify, make energy and more. So take a daily multivitamin, omega 3 fats (1,000 mg of fish oil), vitamin D3 (2,000 IU), calcium (600 mg), magnesium (400 mg) and the special brain-boosting B vitamins folic acid, B6 and B12. And take probiotics to keep your gut healthy -- a happy gut is a happy brain.

Step 3: Get a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep is one of those things we take for granted -- until we can't. If you are having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or getting enough sleep, try to change your relationship to sleep. Think of it as a sacred, precious, healing part of your day and prepare for it carefully. Avoid substances that interfere with sleep, like caffeine, cold medications, alcohol and sugar. Get back in rhythm by going to bed before 11 p.m. and sleeping eight hours. And create a peaceful, sleepy environment, clear your mind, write down all your worries and tasks before bed and relax by taking a hot bath.

Step 4: Find Your Pause Button: Relax

Finding our pause button is something we never learn. Healing, repair, renewal and regeneration all occur in a state of relaxation. So how do we find the pause button and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the "relaxation response"? Try my two favorite ways: First, take five breaths into your belly to the count of five, then breathe out for five. Do this five times daily. Or second, take a bath -- draw a hot bath, add two cups of Epsom salts, one cup of baking soda, 10 drops of lavender oil -- and one stressed human. Soak for 20 minutes just before bed.

Step 5: Exercise

While most of us accept the benefits of exercise on our bodies, perhaps its most powerful effect is on our brains. It helps rewire our circuits and improve learning, memory, concentration, and focus. And it is the best antidepressant and anti-anxiety therapy available. So all I ask you to commit to is this: Walk vigorously for 30 minutes every day. That is the only exercise you need to do for an UltraMind.

Step 6: Live Clean and Green

Our brains are exquisitely sensitive to environmental toxins and stresses. There is an intimate connection between the sustainability of our own health and the health of the planet. Small everyday choices lead to big changes over time for our communities, our planet and ourselves. Living clean and green involves four steps:

1. Drink clean water (use a reverse-osmosis filter).
2. Limit your exposure to chemicals and metals by eating organic and using green household products.
3. Keep your body fluids moving by drinking plenty of clean water, eating fiber to move your bowels daily and sweating to get rid of toxins through the skin.
4. Reduce your exposure to electro-pollution or electromagnetic radiation.

Make the Changes Permanent

To keep these changes permanent, you'll want to continue eating fresh, whole, real foods, and avoid processed foods, high-fructose corn syrup, transfats and other toxins. You should also keep tuning up your brain chemistry with supplements, and make a habit out of getting good sleep, finding the pause button daily, moving your body, and living clean and green.

The UltraMind Solution

Once you have followed The UltraMind Solution for six weeks, you'll likely find the results include a happier mood, better memory and less brain fog, as well as renewed energy, weight loss, improved health, clearer skin, improved sleep and more. To find out more details of this plan based on "The UltraMind Solution," by Mark Hyman, M.D., you can download a free sneak preview of the book here.

Improve Your Memory

Have you ever found yourself in mid-sentence when suddenly you've forgotten the point you were trying to make? Do birth dates or simple tasks (like DVRing one of your must-see TV shows) sometimes slip your mind? You're not alone -- these random acts of absentmindedness are normal and can be due to tiredness, anxiety and stress (along with age, of course). But here's the good news: Research shows there are simple strategies that can boost your brainpower -- no matter how many candles will be on your birthday cake this year.

Sniff This
Next time you're looking for some extra brainpower, go mow the lawn. After years of research, neuroscientists at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, discovered that the scent of fresh-cut grass triggers two sections of the brain -- the amygdala (which deals with emotions) and the hippocampus (which deals with memory). As a result, taking a whiff of this outdoorsy aroma can help relieve stress and boost memory. But Australian scientists weren't completely surprised that these reactions occurred simultaneously, since chronic stress is directly associated with forgetfulness. Don't feel like doing yard work? Lighting a scented candle or fragrant oil that smells like fresh-cut grass should also do the trick.

Chew Gum
And to think most teachers made us spit out our gum during class. Research conducted by the Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston shows that chewing gum can improve alertness. Teenagers who chomped away for 14 weeks during math class and while doing math homework scored higher on tests and in their final grades compared to the teens who weren't given gum. A similar study conducted a few years ago at the University of Northumbria in Newscastle found that people who chewed gum during long-term and short-term memory tests scored better than nonchewers. While experts haven't pinpointed the link between chewing gum and memory, Japanese researchers believe it may stem from an increased heart rate (thanks to the chewing) that leads to extra oxygen being delivered to the brain.

Cut Back on Calories
Talk about a two-for-one deal: According to a German study that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, healthy women between the ages of 50 and 80 who reduced their calorie intake by 30 percent for three months showed a 20 percent improvement on verbal memory tests (not to mention dropped a few pounds).

"According to the researchers, the women who cut calories became more sensitive to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin and had a drop in blood levels of C-reactive protein -- and both have been linked to an improvement in brain function," said nutritionist Cynthia Sass, co-author of "The Ultimate Diet Log." To reduce calories without feeling like you're eating less, Sass suggests cutting ground beef recipes in half and substituting the meat with chopped mushrooms or replacing half of the rice or pasta in a dish with diced onions and peppers, shredded carrots, zucchini or cabbage.

Force Yourself to Be in a Bad Mood
As odd (and slightly depressing) as this may sound, a recent Australian study, which was published in the journal Australian Science, has concluded that thinking negatively can actually give the brain a healthy jolt. Study author Joseph Forgas, psychology professor at the University of New South Wales, showed participants movies, as well as asked them to recall happy and sad memories, in order to stir up both positive and negative emotions. As a result, those in a "bad place" were less likely to make mistakes when recounting events and were more articulate communicators.

"Whereas positive moods seem to promote creativity, flexibility, cooperation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking -- paying greater attention to the external world," wrote Forgas.

Take a Power Nap
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that a one-hour nap can dramatically restore brainpower by as much as 40 percent. During the study, 39 young adults were divided into two groups -- those who napped and those who didn't -- and were given tasks to tap into the hippocampus, the region of the brain that stores fact-based memories. After a midday sleep session, the nappers showed an improvement in their capacity to learn, while the nonnappers' ability to learn declined.

"Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap," said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and the lead study investigator.

Listen to Sounds While Sleeping
Need to make a presentation at work? Record your bullet points on tape and replay it as you snooze. Neuroscientists at Northwestern University have concluded that the brain can continue learning while it's resting. In a study published in the journal Science, researchers asked participants to memorize the locations of 50 objects accompanied by a sound (e.g., a photo of a cat and a "meow" noise) and displayed on a computer screen. Participants then napped while researchers played 25 of the sounds. When tested after the nap, volunteers recalled the locations of the 25 objects played during sleep better than the objects not heard during naptime. While further research is necessary, many scientists believe that while the brain rests, it naturally reboots itself, making factual memories even stronger.

Add a Little Fat to Your Diet
While you don't want to overdo it, a tad of fat can do wonders for the brain. Scientists at the University of California, Irvine, have found that a hormone (oleoylethanolamide) released during the digestion of certain fatty foods can trigger the formation of long-term memories. Here's why: While previous studies concluded that higher levels of OEA brought on by oleic acids from monounsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil and avocados) can reduce appetite, this compound can also activate memory-enhancing signals in the amygdala, the part of the brain that handles emotional memories. And even though the study involved rats, researchers believe these effects hold true for humans, as well. And keep in mind that according to the American Heart Association, the good fats in your diet should not total more than 25 to 35 percent of the calories you consume in a day.

Take a Magnesium Supplement
Could it really be this easy? Researchers at the Center for Learning and Memory at Tsinghua University in Beijing have found that increased levels of magnesium improved learning and memory in rats, both young and old.

"Our findings suggest that elevating brain magnesium content via increasing magnesium intake might be a useful new strategy to enhance cognitive abilities," stated study author Guosong Liu.

He further explained that memory impairment may be on the rise, especially with the elderly, since most diets are low in magnesium. Aside from taking a supplement (the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg a day for men and 320 mg a day for women), good sources of magnesium are fish, apples, bananas and whole-grain cereals.

Drinking Milk While on Diet Boosts Weight Loss, Study Finds

That milky mustache may do the body good in more ways than the dairy industry suggests. Drinking milk could actually help you lose weight, new research finds.

In the two-year weight loss study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adults who drank the most milk -- at least two glasses a day -- lost an average of 12 pounds more than those who drank little to no milk.

Each additional 6-ounce serving of milk or milk products, equivalent to about three-quarters of a glass, translated into 10 pounds of weight loss after six months, the Israeli researchers said.

Drinking milk may help stop dieters from feeling hungry, which could explain the findings.

"It may fill people up so they feel satisfied and won't pig out on more sugary foods," northern California nutritionist Dr. Douglas Husbands told AOL Health.

In addition, those who reach for a glass of milk may be doing it instead of grabbing an over-sweetened soft drink or sugary juice.

"Drinking milk could also be helpful for weight loss because people may offset sodas and other things known to be bad," Husbands said. "Having a glass of milk is certainly better than having a soda."

The researchers found that the dieters' vitamin D levels had a positive impact on their weight loss, and those who drank the most milk had the highest levels of D in their systems.

The study followed more than 300 overweight or at-risk women and men ages 40 to 65. Participants followed diets that were low-fat, low-carb or Mediterranean for two years.

No matter what they were eating, the dieters with the highest dairy calcium intake after six months -- an average of 580 milligrams a day or two glasses of milk -- lost about 12 pounds at the end of the two years, the findings showed. Those with the lowest daily calcium intake, about 150 milligrams or half a glass a day, lost about seven pounds over the course of the study.

Husbands said the proteins in milk can boost energy levels, which is useful for someone trying to shed pounds.

"The proteins in milk are beneficial," he said. "Proteins generally tend to be utilized effectively for energy production and repair, and that can be helpful."

But there are downsides to downing so much milk.

"There's the lactose in milk that many people do have a problem with, particularly Asians and African Americans," Husbands said. "And obviously the fat in the milk could be a concern and how the cows are raised could make a difference in the nutrient content."

The researchers said that despite the drink's health benefits, most Americans still aren't getting the recommended daily dose of vitamin D -- 400 international units -- which is the amount in four glasses of low-fat or skim milk.

More on Milk:
Babies With Low Vitamin D More Likely to Be Schizophrenic
Substance Found in Coconut Oil, Breast Milk Can Fight Acne

Moms: Guilty of Driving Their Daughters to Early Puberty?

As if mom were not to blame for enough already, new research is showing a link between early puberty in girls and a lack of maternal-infant bonding.
That puberty is transforming girls into women at increasingly earlier ages is hardly new; just last month, a study in Pediatrics showed that some girls are starting to show signs of puberty by age 7. Why it's happening, though, is apparently up for debate. It's often attributed to environmental toxins, estrogens in plastics, other chemicals and food and to poor diet, which can lead to obesity.
But in a rather unusual way of looking at things, researcher Jay Belsky of Birkbeck University in London hypothesized that precocious puberty may be a result of a risky, unstable environment — for example, one typified by weak infant-parent bonds. According to evolution, a girl's perception of such an unstable environment could compel her to want to reproduce before she'd die. You following this so far? (More on Another Cause of Early Puberty in Girls: Absent Dads)
"An evolutionary biology perspective says, 'look, the thing that nature most cares about — with respect to all living things, humans included — is dispersing genes in future generations,'" says Belsky, whose research is published in Psychological Science. "Thus, under those conditions in which the future appears precarious, where I might not even survive long enough to breed tomorrow, then I should mature earlier so I can mate earlier before that precarious future might get me."
To test his hunch that early puberty tracks insecure attachment between mom and baby, Belsky crunched numbers on 373 girls who were followed from birth until their 15th birthday as part of a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study on early child development. Researchers assessed how attached the babies were to their mothers at 15 months by separating and reuniting them. Babies who smiled, cooed and otherwise seemed super-happy to see their moms were deemed secure; those who cringed or didn't take comfort in their return were labeled insecure.
To detect when puberty took root, medical professionals evaluated the girls annually starting at age 9½. They found that formerly insecure babies hit puberty two to four months sooner than secure babies and got their periods earlier too.
But is it really a matter of security vs. insecurity? Or might the underlying culprit actually be stress? “If there's a lot of family stress, it could lead to impaired bonding, or maybe impaired bonding is leading to family stress,” says Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and author of a recent study in Pediatrics that found that some girls are starting to show signs of puberty by age 7. “We know that higher degrees of family stress can lead to early puberty.” (More on Better-Nourished Babies Grow Up to Be Haler, Heartier Don Juans)
In any case, moms, you can relax: Your inattentiveness to your daughters when they were teeny-tiny is not the only thing that makes them sprout breasts early. Environmental chemicals and genetics can't be ignored, acknowledge the researchers. Better nutrition may play a role. Oh, and there's a documented 150-year-old trend of girls maturing earlier.

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The Cure-All Properties of Ginger

Ginger is a well-known home remedy for pregnant women, patients undergoing chemotherapy, and travelers with weak stomachs, who all use the root to curb nausea. But now a new study in The Journal of Pain finds that two types of chemical compounds found in ginger — gingerols and phenols — can be used as an analgesic as well.
To treat muscle pain, 74 healthy adults regularly took 2 g of either cooked or raw ginger, or a placebo each day for 11 days. They all participated in the same series of exercises, which were aimed at creating inflammation and muscle pain in and around the elbow, and were then evaluated by researchers from the department of kinesiology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Ga. (More on Got Fish Oil?)
The researchers found that the raw ginger group reduced their muscle pain by 25% more than the placebo takers 24 hours after intentionally hurting their elbows, while the cooked ginger group dropped their pain levels by 23% compared with the placebo group.
Largely considered a homeopathic treatment, the mainstream medical community has begun to conduct research on why ginger root has been used medicinally for so many centuries. Aside from curbing nausea and reducing inflammation, thus lessening muscle pain, ginger has also been used to prevent ulcers, treat heartburn and aid digestion. Some research even suggests it might reduce cholesterol levels, though so far only in mice.

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