Category Archives: health and fitness

Antibiotic Herbs

The issues of antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria have gotten a lot of attention lately. The concern is that bacteria, having been exposed to antibiotics for so long, have developed a resistance to the antibiotics, creating “superbugs.” The grim reality is that bacterial infections that used to succumb easily to antibiotics have turned more serious, even deadly.

Interestingly, though, herbs with antibiotic properties seem to elude the bacterial “learning process” and thus do not appear to produce resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic herbs can be used around the home for minor infections and as antiseptics to prevent infection. Here are some of the more useful antibiotic herbs.

  1. Garlic

This smelly but effective herb is an antibiotic powerhouse. It’s also widely available and inexpensive. You can even grow it yourself.

How do you use it?

Garlic works best when used internally. It can be made into ear drops and used to combat ear infections; simmered in broth or water, it makes a healing broth that works especially well for upper respiratory infections. Garlic can be minced and added to all sorts of foods, from pasta to salad. Many natural health practitioners believe that garlic is most effective when used raw – as juice, minced, or crushed.

  1. Echinacea

You’ve probably heard of this herb – it’s all over the place during cold and flu season, and for good reason. Echinacea is a powerful antibiotic and, in the case of colds and flu, anti-viral. It also works as an antiseptic on wounds and to treat sore throats.

How do you use it?

Tea made from Echinacea’s roots and aerial parts is not particularly tasty, but it can be drunk. Such tea can also be used as a wash for superficial cuts and scrapes. Echinacea tincture, diluted in warm water, makes a very good sore throat remedy.

  1. Goldenseal

The golden yellow color of Goldenseal’s roots give it its name, and these roots are the parts that are used medicinally. Goldenseal works well topically and internally; however, it is such an effective antibiotic that it can affect intestinal flora, and should not be taken internally for more than a few weeks at a time.

How do you use it?

Infused in boiling water and then cooled, Goldenseal has a reputation as a very effective eyewash for infections in and around the eye. Such an infusion also makes a very good wash for cuts and scrapes, and can even be used on surgical wounds, particularly on pets.

  1. Ginger

Did you know that ginger can work as an antibiotic? It is reputed to be effective against E. coli and Salmonella, both of which are food-borne bacteria that can cause significant illness in people. It has even been shown to treat and cure ulcers.

How do you use it?

Ginger can be made into a tea using the fresh root or the dried and ground root. The fresh root is inexpensive, and a decoction can easily be made by gently simmering ginger slices in water and drinking the result, sweetened with raw honey. You can also eat candied ginger to help treat ulcers and fight infection.

How to Maintain your Mental Health

Mental health is just as if not more important then physical health. Here I have provided some suggestions on how to keep up your mental health.

In recent years people have realized the importance of proper diet and exercise, and recent surveys show that over the last 20 years people are eating better and working out more often, resulting in people living longer, but people are still lacking in their understanding that their mental well being is just as important as their physical health.

Today most people get on average 4 to 6 hours of exercise every day and make sure that everything they put in their mouths is not filled with sugars or preservatives, but they pay no attention to their mental health, no vacations, not even the occasional long weekend, 60 hour weeks, taking work home with them and even working weekends. All of this for hopes of one day getting that big promotion. What good will it do you when your brain overloads and you have a breakdown in the office.

In the end, your physical health will suffer no matter how well you eat and how often you exercise. You will wind up with high blood pressure, stress, and tension all of which raise the chances of you having a stroke or heart attack.

In hopes of helping you avoid this, I am providing you with the things I do to keep my mental health in tip-top condition.

My absolute favorite thing to do to refocus myself is to go for a long ride on my Harley. Nothing brings the world back into focus like riding free like the wind, there are no better forms of therapy as far as I am concerned.

Another great way to relieve the stresses in your life and help put a sparkle in your mental health is a trip to the casinos. Most people go to the casinos and expect to go home a winner, I do not. I go to have a good time.

I enjoy the skill required in

Hay Fever and Allergies – A Natural Approach

Allergies can produce a great deal of suffering. In America alone, around 28 million people suffer from hay fever, and that does not include all the individuals who are allergic to pet dander, dust, foods, and bee stings.

Allergies are the result of an immune response gone overboard. Substances like dust, pollen, dust mites, and so forth are not harmful like pathogens. But in allergic individuals, these substances produce an extreme immune response. From debilitating to a mere annoyance, allergy symptoms are no fun.

Thankfully, there is a place for natural remedies in allergy management. Here are some natural approaches that may help reduce allergy symptoms. (Note: the natural remedies discussed below are not intended to be used to treat or prevent anaphylaxis, a deadly form of allergic response that is a medical emergency.)

  1. Ginkgo

Have you heard of Ginkgo for memory? Interestingly, Ginkgo contains some substances that inhibit a chemical produced by the body during an allergic response: platelet-activating factor, or PAF. When your body produces PAF in response to an allergen, the PAF sets off a chain of events that lead to allergic symptoms and inflammation. Inhibiting the PAF means that the allergic response does not get to complete its cycle. It’s like breaking the link in a chain.

Ginkgo is generally sold in a standardized extract form. Herbalists recommend 60 to 240 milligrams daily, but no more than that. Ginkgo is low in side effects but high ineffectiveness.

  1. Garlic

Garlic contains a substance called quercetin, which can actually be taken as a supplement (more on that below). Other foods contain quercetin, too, but garlic has high concentrations of this substance. Quercetin is reputed to slow down inflammatory reactions, such as those found in allergic reactions. Onions, too, contain a significant amount of quercetin.

  1. Enzymatic Therapy

Enzymes – or a lack of them – are implicated in the development of allergies. At their very basic level, allergens are proteins, and certain enzymes are able to break down proteins before they can incite an allergic reaction. Enzymes can be taken in supplement form, but they may have digestive effects. However, many allergy sufferers find that the side effects are greatly reduced when the enzymes are taken with food.

  1. Quercetin

Quercetin supplements are often suggested as a treatment for allergies. As noted above, certain foods contain quercetin, too. This is another argument for a healthy diet because the foods that contain the most quercetin are those foods that are some of the healthiest: garlic, onions, apples, red wine (in moderation!), and citrus fruits – to name a few.

Antiviral Herbs

The virus is a different creature than the bacteria. Some people find viruses “scarier” because antibiotics have no effect on them. The interesting (and good) thing is that certain herbs do have antiviral action, and many of these are widely available. Here are some of them.

  1. Lemon Balm

In Germany, the antiviral effects of lemon balm are well-documented, and creams made from the herb are prescribed for herpes outbreaks and cold sores. Lemon balm is very easy to grow in your garden – a little too easy, in fact, as it tends to take over if not contained.

Lemon balm makes a very good tea, and can be drunk to combat all sorts of viral infections, such as colds and flu. The tea or a cream can be applied to cold sores or other viral lesions, such as shingles or chickenpox.

  1. Astragalus

This lesser-known immune enhancing herb is known as huang qi in Chinese medicine. The root is sweet, not unlike licorice, to which it is related. It has been shown to be a very effective antiviral herb, particularly in the prevention of colds and flu, and may even be effective against the Coxsackie B virus (this virus can cause an inflammation of the heart).

You can simmer slices of the root in water to make a healing decoction, or you can use the commercially-available tincture. It is generally agreed that astragalus should be taken as a preventative rather than once the illness is in full swing, so if you think you’ve been exposed, or you experience the very first twinges of illness, you can start taking astragalus.

  1. Garlic

No discussion of antiviral herbs would be complete without mentioning garlic, an herb that is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. It’s not expensive, and you can use the whole herb or take capsules. However, many experts agree that “deodorized” garlic may not be as effective as the unaltered herb.

You can simmer minced garlic in chicken broth and sip it to stave off colds and flu. Raw, minced garlic can be sprinkled over salads and tossed with pasta. Be careful with consuming too much of it raw, though, as it can cause severe nausea when taken in this form.

  1. Ginger

Long ago, ginger was considered a “warming” herb that would prevent nausea from a “chilled stomach,” which was said to occur when large amounts of cold water were consumed in hot weather. We now know that ginger has powerful anti-nausea action, and it is also anti-viral.

Teas made from fresh ginger are palatable and spicy. You can sweeten them with raw honey for added germ-fighting benefits and flavor. When you feel the very first stages of a cold or flu, try drinking some of this tea several times a day. You can even drink it as a preventative if you think you may have been exposed to any viruses. Ginger is considered quite safe, although it is not recommended for pregnant women.

The Healing Power of Honey

When you go to the grocery store, you probably see an entire shelf or several shelves dedicated to various types of honey. When we’re talking about honey as a healing remedy, though, it’s important that raw honey is used. Raw honey has not been “sterilized” with high heat, and it has not has anything added to it.

Raw honey varies quite a bit, too. There’s wildflower honey, tupelo honey, organic honey, and clover honey. A good middle road is raw wildflower honey. It tends to contain the medicinal qualities of a variety of wildflowers, and when you’re trying to kill germs, the more germ-fighting constituents, the better.

How Is Honey Used?

One of the great things about honey is how good is tastes. Children (over 1 year of age) respond well to honey as a treatment. Here are some of honey’s healing uses.

Burns – Honey has been shown in various studies to be an extremely effective burn treatment. It has various antibacterial compounds that have yet to result in bacterial resistance, and its moist nature helps keep burned skin supple and reduces moisture loss. If you use honey to treat minor burns, simply spread honey over the burn and cover lightly with gauze. Honey does not need to be refrigerated, but it feels good on a burn if it’s chilled.

Coughs and colds – Studies have shown that regularly eating raw honey helps prevent colds. It also helps soothe coughs and sore throats. Its viscous texture coats the throat, and has a cough-suppressing effect. Its antibacterial properties help fight throat infections and upper respiratory infections. By gently heating raw honey and mixing in healing herbs such as sliced ginger, steeping for a few hours, and straining out the herbs, you can create a healing cough syrup.

Cosmetics – Honey is good for dry skin due to its high moisture content, and its antibacterial qualities may help with skin infections like acne. Plain yogurt mixed with honey makes a soothing cleanser or facial mask. Sugar mixed with raw honey and sweet almond oil makes a moisturizing exfoliant.

Allergies – Interestingly enough, regularly eating raw honey may prevent allergic symptoms, particularly those of hay fever. Because raw honey contains residual pollen and other plant components, the theory is that the low levels of exposure – such as occurs with allergy shots – may reduce sensitivity to common allergens.Wound healing – Some interesting studies have shown that honey is a remarkable wound healer, especially for diabetics who have trouble with minor wounds developing into ulcers. It may even reduce scarring and tends to be less painful than conventional antiseptics. 

HERBS FOR KIDS – ARE THEY SAFE?

When it comes to giving herbs to our children, many of us are uncertain and concerned. After all, children’s bodies are smaller than ours, so how do you know the right dosage? And aren’t there all kinds of horror stories about kids having terrible reactions to herbs? Added to these concerns are doctors and pediatricians who often discourage the use of herbs in children.

First, to answer the title question – are herbs safe for kids? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that it depends on the herb and the problem the child is having. Following are some brief guidelines on giving herbs to children.

When in Doubt, Give Less

If you are unsure of a dosage, give the smallest possible dose. You can adjust the dosage to fit your child’s weight – the adult dose is usually for a 150-pound adult, so a 25-pound child would receive 1/6th the dose. However, if you aren’t sure, err on the side of less. Remember, less is often more when it comes to herbal remedies.

Herbal Preparations Aimed at Kids May or May Not Be Effective

There are controversial studies regarding the effectiveness of herbs in many children’s remedies. However, remedies and blends sold specifically for children are generally safe.

There are herbs that are generally considered safe for children, and are still quite effective. Here is a list of some of those herbs.

Chamomile – Peter Rabbit’s mother was right – chamomile tea does help calm the nerves. As long as your child does not have a ragweed allergy (the chamomile flower is related to ragweed), this soothing tea can be taken at regular strength by young children. You can also brew up some chamomile tea and mix small amounts of it in the child’s regular drinks during the day to help calm nerves and anxiety. Many children enjoy chamomile sweetened with a little honey or stevia.

Mints – Peppermint and spearmint are safe herbs that are helpful for children. For one thing, peppermint and spearmint taste good and can help flavor other teas that may not taste as good. Mint teas can help soothe digestion and are quite safe for children. Again, honey and stevia make good sweeteners.

Lemon Balm – This lemony herb makes a delicious beverage, hot or iced. It is quite safe, but also quite effective – it’s antiviral and helps soothe and calm. It promotes sleep as well. This is an herb that can be brewed into a “lemon-balm-ade” and drunk through the day, or it can be brewed hot and enjoyed with honey.

Fennel – This time-honored remedy for colic in babies is considered a safe herb for children. Brewed into a tea, fennel seeds help digestion and soothe the stomach. It has been shown in studies to be as effective as commercial gas relief drops. It tastes a bit like licorice and makes a pleasant tea.

Alcohol: Health Benefit or Health Risk?

We’ve all heard the news about the potential heart-health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. It’s no wonder such stories grab headlines. They’re the nutritional equivalent of the classic media formula of “man bites dog.” As for the rest of us, we celebrate by raising a glass to our health.

But whenever I hear one of these reports, I wonder whether it actually ends up doing more harm than good. Most fail to mention the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption, which will do a body far more damage than moderate consumption will do it good. And they leave the impression that health benefits apply to men and women alike. Not so.

Most of the research regarding alcohol’s effects in raising good cholesterol, or HDL, levels looks at men and post-menopausal women. Very little, if any, evidence suggests that alcohol consumption in younger women is beneficial. Even worse, other studies associate younger women’s alcohol consumption with increased disease risk.

Up to 4 percent of breast cancers can be attributed to alcohol. According to a recent study in the British Journal of Cancer, every drink increases a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. In a recent summary of 63 published studies, 65 percent of the studies found an association between alcohol consumption and increased breast cancer risk.

It’s tempting to dismiss these health risks by pointing to more obvious ones, like excess weight and inactivity. In fact, 54.3 percent of women age 20 to 39 are obese or overweight. But if you’re one of them and you’re trying to lose weight and increase fitness, drinking alcohol will hardly help you achieve your goals.

Add that much-ballyhooed glass of red wine a day without making any other changes in your diet or exercise, and you’ll gain nearly 15 pounds per year. In four years, you’ll be 60 pounds heavier, which won’t do much to help your heart.

Counting calories from alcohol can be doubly difficult. Not only are these calories less satisfying than those from food, these days they’re likely to come in super-sized martini glasses the size of swimming pools. Alcohol sabotages your diet in other ways as well. Lowered inhibitions can lead to overeating, while even one drink can dampen your metabolism for up to 24 hours.

Bottom line: Be honest with yourself. Don’t use health claims about spirits as an excuse to justify excessive drinking which endangers your life, liver, looks and limbs. Keep in mind that plenty of other, better ways to improve heart health are out there. Start by getting and staying fit. Exercise at least five times each week. And eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whose antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing the oxidation of cholesterol in your arteries.

Most of all, remember that less is more. And get all the facts before you go looking for your health at the bottom of a glass of booze.

Natural Fungus Fighters

Fungal infections plague a good number of people, and they are not only uncomfortable; they can be stubborn to clear up, too. The subject of fungal infections in general and yeast infections in particular has gotten a lot of attention lately, and as fungal infections seem less and less responsive to conventional treatment, herbal remedies are being explored. Thankfully, there are some very effective herbs and natural treatments for fungal infections. Here are some of them.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar

While a bit smelly, apple cider vinegar is a powerful antifungal. For athlete’s foot, you can soak your feet in a diluted apple cider vinegar solution several times a day, and/or you can “paint” the affected area with a cotton ball or swab soaked in apple cider vinegar.

For internal infections, apple cider vinegar can be consumed several times a day. It’s strong stuff – you will probably want to dilute it with water and sweeten it with raw honey or stevia, but avoid sugar sweetening. Sugar is said to worsen yeast infections, since yeast thrive on it.

Sources also point out that diluted apple cider vinegar can also be used as a douche to cure vaginal yeast infections.

Look for raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, as it has the most active constituents.

  1. Garlic

Again with a smelly remedy! Garlic may be odorous, but it’s reputed to be a great fungus fighter. Taken internally, garlic can help cure yeast and fungal infections in the body. For vaginal yeast infections, a peeled garlic clove can be inserted into the vagina and left overnight, and the process repeated (with a fresh garlic clove) every night for about a week, or until symptoms subside.

Rub a cut garlic clove over athlete’s foot several times a day for topical treatment.

  1. Echinacea

For more than just colds and flu, a German study has shown that Echinacea is a powerful antifungal. Taken internally, Echinacea helps clear up yeast infections and prevents their recurrence, the study showed.

  1. Goldenseal

The yellow root of this plant contains berberine, which is not only an antibiotic but an antifungal as well. A diluted tea made from the roots could be used as a douche or foot-soak for athlete’s foot, or the diluted tincture could be used similarly. It can also be taken internally, but not for more than three weeks or so (after that, it might affect intestinal flora).

  1. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)

This somewhat controversial anti fungal remedy is alleged to be quite potent. It’s controversial because the active constituents have not been thoroughly identified, but it’s been shown to be quite effective at treating fungal infections, both topically and internally.

Have a health Problem? Yoga can solve it. (Part 3)

L is for lets do Yogajust kidding. But seriously, Yoga is more than just poses and meditation or stretching. It is healing as welland youll be on an unstoppable pace with a proper diet too. Here are the rest of the recommended poses for various health problems as applicable.

24. Laryngitis: Sun Salutations, the Shoulder stand and its counter pose. The Wheel pose.

25. Lethargy: Sun Salutations, Shoulder stand and its counter poses, the Wheel Pose and the Balancing Poses.

26. Menopause Disorders: Bow, Shoulder stand, Fish, Plough and Head to Knee Poses.

27. Menstrual disorders: Bow, Shoulder stand, Fish, Plough and Head to Knee Poses.

28. Nervousness: Shoulder stand and its counter-poses, Bow pose and Corpse pose

29. Ovarian Insufficiency: Inverted Poses, Bow Pose, Wheel Pose, Abdominal Isolation and the Head to Knee pose.

30. Premature ejaculations: Shoulder stand, Plough pose, Head to Knee Poses, Bow Pose and Peacock Pose. Abdominal Lifts.

31. Pubic Disorders: Sun Salutations, Inverted poses, Head to Knee Poses (sitting and standing)

32. Rheumatism: Sun Salutations (mildly 3-6 rounds), the Bow Pose and Triangle Poses. (Avoid Dairy, Wheat and Animal products and other processed and convenience foods!)

33. Sexual disorders: Inverted Poses, Head to knee poses sitting and standing, bow pose, Balancing Poses (Peacock and Crow variations)

34. Spinal Stiffness: Spinal Twist, Bow, Sun Salutations Twisted Crow Poses.

35. Stomach Sagging: Inverted Poses, Head to Knee Poses, Bow Pose, Wheel Pose, Balancing Exercises.

36. Thighs: Sun Salutations, Inverted poses, Diamond Pose, Bow and Wheel Pose, Head to knee Poses, Triangle Poses.

37. Thyroid Deficiency: Shoulder-Stand and Plough poses. (Include Celery and Green Leafy veggies in your diet and juices)

38. Uterine disorders: Inverted Poses and the bow pose

39. Varicose Veins: Inverted poses, Head to knee Poses and the Backward bending Exercises

40. Waistline-to reduce and firm: Sun Salutations, Inverted Poses, Spinal Twists, Triangle Poses, Balancing exercises

41. Wrinkles: inverted Poses, head to knee poses, Sun Salutations and the balancing exercises.

There you have it, the comprehensive list of what pose can help with any ailment you may have. Here is another tip, for any of these ailments listed above, incorporate what Philippus Paracelsus has named the greatest remedy–the physician within!” and that my friends is a Fast or as an alternative a restricted mono-diet of a juicy fruit.

Yoga, a proper diet and mental attunements combined can be a panacea (cure-all) for just about any disease, so target what you may be encumbered with and with dedicated practice, you should see a drastic improvement.

A Natural Approach to Headache Relief

Headaches can be debilitating at worst and a nagging inconvenience at best. They can affect work and school productivity, and a bad headache can simply put you out of commission, no matter what your vocation. Taking medications can help relieve pain, but some of these pain relievers have side effects (such as stomach pain) and, if taken over too long a period, pain relievers can cause a rebound effect (in the form of another headache) when you stop taking them.

Some of the common causes of headaches are muscle tension, dilation and constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, food sensitivities, and hormone fluctuations. Once you’ve seen your health care practitioner and have ruled out anything serious, there are some natural approaches to headache relief that you can try.

  1. Cramp Bark (Vibernum opulus)

As the name of the herb suggests, Cramp bark helps alleviate muscle tension and cramps. Vibernum prunifolium is also sold as “Cramp bark,” but it is generally used to relieve uterine cramping. Cramp bark (Vibernum opulus) is touted as a prevention and treatment for muscle tension headaches. It is generally taken in capsule form, but a tea made from the bark can also be taken.

  1. Massage

The relaxing effect of massage can help ease muscle tension and increase circulation, both of which might help a headache. There are massages you can do yourself in your own home or ask someone else to do them, or you can go to a professional for headache relief and prevention.

  1. Chiropractic

Muscle tension can cause bone and joint misalignment, say chiropractic practitioners, and then the misalignment exacerbates the muscle tension as muscles work to pull the bones back into alignment. Getting an adjustment at a chiropractor can bring almost instant headache relief, and seeing the chiropractor regularly (say once a month) can help stave off future headaches.

  1. Feverfew

This daisy-like little flower is considered by some herbalists to be a very effective remedy for headaches, particularly migraines. While there are many ways to take it, capsules are probably the easiest and have the fewest side effects. You can take feverfew regularly to prevent migraine attacks.

  1. Willow

You might have heard of white willow for pain relief; but actually, various willow (Salix) species can help relieve pain. The precursor to aspirin, the inner bark of the white willow can provide pain relief for headaches. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. White willow (and other willow bark) is usually taken in capsules.

  1. Stress Management

It’s generally understood that stress and headaches are interconnected. Engaging in regular stress relief may help prevent the onset of headaches. Stretching, meditation, Yoga, Pilates, and other methods can help align the body and reduce stress.