Tuesday, 21 June 2016 00:00

How Awesome Is Ashwagandha?

By Dr. Mercola

Very quickly gaining in popularity in the U.S. as an “incredibly healthy” herb with centuries-old medicinal qualities, ashwagandha has a long list of attributes to its credit. One of the best known is its use as an adaptogen, meaning that it helps you manage stress.

Ashwagandha is translated in Sanskrit as “smell of the horse,” possibly as a double meaning: the herb exudes the peculiar odor of a horse, and it’s also known for its ability to increase strength and promote health when used regularly.

Other names include winter cherry and Indian ginseng, along with its botanical moniker Withania somnifera. Originating in the region of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, ashwagandha has been used by East Indian cultures for thousands of years, based on the 3,000-year-old alternative East Indian medicine known as Ayurveda.

It’s only been in the last 50 years that this member of the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae) has emerged in the West as a potent healing herb, with growing popularity.

Actual Asian ginseng (botanical name Panax ginseng), also an adaptagenic herb, is one of the most sought-after herbal supplements in the U.S. and has several things in common with ashwagandha.

Besides easing fatigue in cancer patients and improving Alzheimer’s, they share a similar effect on infertility and emotional disorders.

Perhaps less well known and not quite as powerful as ginseng, ashwagandha currently sells for $12 to $15 per pound, while ginseng can sometimes go for $100 for the same amount. Nevertheless, ashwagandha has its following of people who value it for its many health advantages.

Originating in India and Northern Africa, the ashwagandha plant is a small shrub bearing small yellow flowers and teardrop-shaped leaves. It’s the leaves that hold the key to the health benefits. Dried and reduced to a powder, compounds called withanolides are possibly the most active ingredients.

Ashwagandha Shown to Fight Many Types of Cancer

Ashwagandha trials have demonstrated numerous and dramatic healing properties for many diseases and presented encouraging prospects in others. Possibly, its most zealously tested benefits are in regard to its ability to combat inflammation and tumor growth.

In one animal study “using chemically induced and oncogene-driven rodent cancer models,” new cancer cell growth was inhibited:

“The plants used in Ayurvedic medicine, which has been practiced in India for thousands of years for the treatment of a variety of disorders, are rich in chemicals potentially useful for prevention and treatment of cancer.

Withania somnifera (commonly known as ashwagandha in Ayurvedic medicine) is one such medicinal plant whose anticancer value was realized over four decades ago after isolation of a crystalline steroidal compound (withaferin A) from the leaves of this shrub.”

Cancer cell apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is one of the ways ashwagandha is thought to exert cancer-resistant effects. It may also have an ability to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) to kill cancer cells without harming normal cells.3

Researchers concluded after trials that ashwagandha may be valuable for combating lung,4 breast,5 colon,6 and a particularly aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM.

In another study, mice with ovarian tumors were treated with ashwagandha in combination with an anticancer drug. Besides reporting a 70 percent to 80 percent decrease in tumor growth, metastasis, or the spread of tumor cell growth, was also obstructed.

Ashwagandha Affects Insulin, Blood Sugar Levels and Inflammation

One valuable use for this herb is in relation to lowering blood sugar levels, as evidenced by a study showing its dual actions of increasing insulin secretion along with muscle cell sensitivity.

In trials on people with schizophrenia, scientists found subjects to have reduced fasting blood sugar after four weeks.10 Similar results were recorded in another assessment, which showed effectiveness comparable to an oral diabetes drug.

Chronic inflammation threatens individuals suffering from diabetes, as well as heart disease, obesity and cancer. The best defense against inflammation and the pain associated with it is in your diet, as multiple studies have demonstrated.

Ashwagandha can be added to the many healing herbs and spices shown to improve this condition.

Oxidative stress has been described as “an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.”

Ashwagandha has exhibited reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in multiple studies and may be helpful for arthritis symptoms, as well.

Ashwagandha Can Help Decrease Depression, Stress, Anxiety and Insomnia

There’s no denying that the rest of your body reacts to stress. One of the attributes of ashwagandha is its ability to induce calmness and clarity by regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and the stress hormone cortisol.

Your adrenal glands release cortisol when your blood sugar level drops too low and also when you’re stressed. When cortisol levels get too high, it can wreak havoc on your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, your hormone balance, immune system, and may even increase fat storage.

The good news is research has shown that consuming ashwagandha may not only reduce cortisol levels but also, as an adaptagen, can “substantially” reduce chronic stress14 to help your body adapt to and alleviate the stomach-churning anxiety stress can cause.

In one interesting study, anxiety test scores among 75 participants with moderate to severe anxiety were placed in two groups. Those treated with ashwagandha were shown to have “significantly decreased” symptoms as opposed to those undergoing more conventional interventions.

Another review was undertaken to seek evidence of ashwagandha use in regard to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter significantly involved in regulating physiological and psychological processes signaling:

“Our results provide evidence indicating that key constituents in WS [ashwagandha] may have an important role in the development of pharmacological treatments for neurological disorders associated with GABAergic signaling dysfunction such as general anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances, muscle spasms, and seizures.”

Research indicates there’s a likelihood that ashwagandha may be useful for helping patients in opioid withdrawal as well as reducing or eliminating dependence on benzodiazapene drugs such as Xanax and Valium.

Infertility Alleviated, Muscle Strength Increased by Compounds in Ashwagandha

Stress can cause many seemingly unrelated ailments and conditions, including infertility — or perhaps the infertility causes the stress. In one study, ashwagandha supplements were given to 120 infertile men, while placebos were given to another 60 men classified as fertile.

“Treatment resulted in a decrease in stress, improved the level of antioxidants and improved overall semen quality in a significant number of individuals. The treatment resulted in pregnancy in the partners of 14 percent of the patients.”

Researchers also found that groups treated with this Indian herb showed dramatically increased muscle strength and muscle mass, as well muscle recovery after injury in several different bench press exercises after being treated with ashwagandha supplements for eight weeks.

Further, participants taking ashwagandha in that study experienced more than double the percentage of body fat loss in comparison to those taking placebos. Interestingly, ashwagandha is also used in Ayurveda to stimulate libido in women, soothe painful periods and strengthen the uteruses of those who’ve had miscarriages.

Learning, Memory, Improvement of Neurodegenerative Diseases and More

One of the traditional uses for this herb was to improve memory and sharpen brain function, the age of the individual notwithstanding. That continues to hold true:

“In modern research, ashwagandha has been found to boost an important antioxidant in the brain called glutathione. Glutathione is an essential component for cell development, enzymatic activity, and for clearing toxins from the body.”

Numerous studies indicate there’s also hope for patients suffering from devastating disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. Scientists believe this ability comes through inhibited amyloid plaque that forms on the brain. It may also be useful for a neurological disorder called restless leg syndrome.

In people with underactive thyroid, in which the thyroid gland fails to produce the hormones needed, ashwagandha extracts have been found to significantly increase the hormone levels of patients with hypothyroidism. Scientists believe that, taken over time, this herb may also help with adrenal gland imbalances.

Natural Medicine — Much More in Line With Your Best Health Interests

Finding a plant that has as many uses as ashwagandha in regard to healing your body and mind makes it all the more clear that natural and alternative health care is so much more effective and less threatening to your body than what is pushed through today’s conventional medical practices.

In spite of many medical associations’ claims, natural medicine is one way you can take control of your health. Arm yourself with the facts about disease, what causes it and how to prevent it, rather than caving to the current medication-driven forum for “treating” disease and “managing” illness.

Published in Health Plus
Thursday, 09 June 2016 00:00

One-Minute Workouts Can Do Wonders

Written by: Beth Levine

One of the most common reasons people give for not exercising is that they just can't find the time to squeeze it in. It's tough when you work long hours, have a family to care for, household chores to be done, errands to run, and you're trying to fit in a few social activities too. But truthfully, there is really no room for excuses any more because according to new research, you can get plenty of health benefits from a regimen that relies mainly on three 20-second bursts of intense exercise.

The study, which took place at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, found that very brief workouts based around a single minute of intense exercise broken up into three intervals may be as effective in improving fitness as longer, more traditional workouts.1 The health aspects monitored included cardiovascular health and measurements of insulin sensitivity. The subjects were 27 men with sedentary lifestyles who had not been involved in any regular physical activity.

These participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group was provided with an exercise regimen of sessions three times a week consisting of short, intense training activities for 12 weeks. The second group was provided with an exercise regimen of sessions three times a week consisting of a longer duration with more workouts for 12 weeks. The third group was the control and performed no exercise.

The volunteers were all examined at the end of the 12-week period to measure the results. Incredibly, the group that only worked out for a few minutes at a time had almost identical improvements as the group that performed the longer, less intense workouts. What's astounding is that similar results were achieved despite the fact that one group spent five times longer exercising than the other.

Protocols for the exercise sessions in both groups were very strict and based on earlier investigations this team of scientists had conducted. The "one-minute" exercise routine they devised is a sprint interval training (SIT) workout that actually lasts 10 minutes--still very quick, but not quite the one minute of exercise you might initially expect. This routine is comprised of a two-minute warm up, three 20-second full intensity cycling sprints, two two-minute periods of low intensity cycling to promote recovery in between the intense bursts, and finally a three-minute cool down. In contrast, the moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) protocol they developed is based on more typical 50-minute workouts with moderate energy expenditures.

While the findings are definitely not as strong as they could be due to the fact that the pool of subjects was so small and homogenous, this is still one more piece of evidence demonstrating the essential importance of exercise. And the results correlate with a 2014 study at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark which showed that intense bursts of activity during a shorter workout can make more of an impact on blood sugar levels in those with diabetes than longer workouts do.2

What it comes down to ultimately is finding the form of physical activity that works best for you. The type of brief, intense workout that the current research focused on is great for people who have trouble setting aside an hour at a time to work out. But--and this is a big but--you need to be able to reach intensity levels of approximately 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, which can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220, for this exercise to be optimally effective. If you are just going to turn your effort up a notch or two so you are breathing a bit harder, you won't be getting any major benefits from your activity.

That being said, if you are presently sedentary, the most important thing is to get moving. Even if all you can handle at the moment is a 10-minute walk around the block, go do it. You can build your way up to more intense and/or longer durations of exercise as you become accustomed to a higher level of physical activity. Once you get started and feel what a difference regular workouts can make, you may be happy to schedule fitness sessions into your days.

Material originally published at www.jonbarron.org.
Copyright © 1999-2015. Baseline of Health® Foundation
Used by permission of the Baseline of Health® Foundation.
All rights reserved worldwide.

Published in Health Plus
Thursday, 09 June 2016 00:00

Yoga and Balance

The effects of a stroke can be devastating, both to mental and physical capabilities. Those who experience a stroke may lose their ability to speak clearly or at all, certain analytical functions, depth and distance perception, and their use of one or more limbs. And strokes are now occurring in younger people more frequently than ever before, due to risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity being on the rise.

According to a recent study that took place at Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center and Indiana University in Indianapolis, yoga exercise classes can improve balance and provide other benefits for stroke victim health. Jon Barron discusses the benefits to stroke victims that yoga can provide.

Material originally published at www.jonbarron.org.
Copyright © 1999-2015. Baseline of Health® Foundation
Used by permission of the Baseline of Health® Foundation.
All rights reserved worldwide.

Published in Health Plus
Thursday, 09 June 2016 00:00

Cut Your Risk of 13 Cancers

If there was something that you could do every day that would slash your chances of developing not one or two, but 13 types of cancer, doing it would be a no-brainer, right? Well, according to new research, one of the best ways to defend yourself from cancer may be as simple as becoming more physically active.

The study, which was conducted at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland in conjunction with facilities around the world, found that exercise may reduce the risk of 13 different forms of cancer.1 The subjects were 1.44 million men and women living throughout the United States and Europe. They were participants in 12 cohort investigations that tracked them for an average of 11 years.

All of the volunteers answered questions about their leisure time physical activity, including whether they took part in moderate or vigorous exercise such as walking, swimming, or running on a regular basis. Over the course of the study period, nearly 187,000 of the subjects were diagnosed with some form of cancer. The scientists categorized the participants by their reported levels of activity, considering those in the top 10 percent of the individuals in their research group as highly active, and those in the bottom 10 percentile of activity levels in their group as the least active. Those in the highest 10 percent of activity were found to have a lower risk of developing 13 kinds of cancer versus their peers in the lowest 10 percent of activity.

Some of the potential reductions were truly amazing, too. The risk of esophageal cancer plummeted by 42 percent, liver cancer by 27 percent, lung cancer by 26 percent, kidney cancer by 23 percent, stomach cancer of the cardia (upper portion of the stomach) by 22 percent, endometrial cancer by 21 percent, myeloid leukemia by 20 percent, myeloma by 17 percent, colon cancer by 16 percent, head and neck cancer by 15 percent, rectal cancer by 13 percent, bladder cancer by 13 percent, and breast cancer by 10 percent.

As the researchers analyzed the scope of the 26 types of cancer that had been diagnosed, they determined that the overall risk of developing any cancer was decreased by seven percent. What's more, of the 13 cancers that they linked to a reduced risk because of exercise, in 10 of them the findings remained true even after controlling for such factors as each subject's body mass index and even whether they smoke.

In a strange twist, there are actually two forms of cancer for which the risk appears to be increased by exercise. The first of these, malignant melanoma, was shown to be associated with a 27 percent higher risk in those who are more active. However, that can likely be explained by greater amounts of sun exposure to people getting their exercise outside in the sun. It is a good reminder that if you are going to spend more than a few minutes outdoors, it's essential to apply a waterproof sunscreen that you won't sweat off right away.

The other type of cancer with an increased incidence in the most physically active group is prostate cancer, with a five percent higher risk. While there is no obvious explanation for this, it's possible that the increase is simply due to the fact that men who work out often might be more readily willing to visit their doctor for annual checkups. Then again other research has come to a different conclusion, such as a 2005 study at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, which found that frequent vigorous workouts might slow the progression of prostate cancer.2

The current study was limited by the lack of specifics about the participants' exercise regimens. There was no information provided as to the frequency or duration of the workouts or how long each person had been living an active lifestyle. Despite this, though, the large number of participants and the length of time they were tracked make the message very clear: exercise is a key factor in our health. If you're still sedentary most days, stop making excuses and find the time to get moving. Your future self will thank you.

Material originally published at www.jonbarron.org.
Copyright © 1999-2015. Baseline of Health® Foundation
Used by permission of the Baseline of Health® Foundation.
All rights reserved worldwide.

Published in Health Plus
Wednesday, 08 June 2016 00:00

Surgery Does Little for Arthritic Knees

By Dr. Mercola

Trimming damaged tissue through arthroscopic knee surgery does not relive pain and swelling in arthritic knees any better than simply flushing loose debris from the joint, according to new research.

The findings are based on three randomized studies, one of which found the treatments produced similar results in pain and physical function after two years. The other two studies produced low-quality evidence, according to researchers.

Potential side effects of arthroscopic surgery include a risk of infection and blood clots. Further, the surgery does not stop the progression of osteoarthritis, and symptoms are likely to return over time.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that affects your hands, hips, shoulders and knees, especially in older people. The condition causes joint cartilage to break down, and loose bits of tissue can then cause pain, swelling and poor joint function.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Arthroscopic knee surgery is one of the most unnecessary and useless surgeries out there. It works no better than a placebo surgery, and the proof of this was published in one of the most well-respected medical journals on the planet.

Despite this monumental finding, and numerous studies like the one above, 650,000 people in the United States undergo arthroscopic knee surgery every year. And with a cost of about $5,000 per procedure, that adds up to over $3 billion every year spent on a needless and non beneficial surgery.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Often, what prompts people to receive arthroscopic surgery is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in your joint deteriorates, causing bone to rub against bone, and leading to pain and loss of movement.

This is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, and usually occurs in the older age group. It is more frequent in women than in men. The disease results from structural changes in the articular cartilage in the joints, usually those that are weight-bearing such as your spine and knees.

Potential contributing factors to this condition include:

  • Obesity
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Continuous physical stress
  • Glandular insufficiency
  • Shortage of hydrochloric acid

Natural Options for Treating Osteoarthritis

Surgery is the absolute LAST option to consider if you’re feeling pain and stiffness in your joints due to osteoarthritis. Again, please carefully review the major study that found arthroscopic surgery to work no better than placebo.

The patients truly believed that this expensive, invasive procedure would fix their problem, and superficially it appeared to do just that. But the same thing happened with those who received the placebo -- a placebo unknown to them, of course.

What really healed their bodies were their own minds.

This is amazing testimony to the power your brain has at inducing healing changes in your body. Remember that whatever you focus your conscious attention on in the real world will typically be achieved. That is precisely what happened with this study.

So here you have a real world study, published in a respected journal, providing the theoretical underpinnings of why the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and the principles of The New Biology, work. So in dealing with pain, don’t underestimate the power of your mind -- check out my EFT page to find out how you can begin to harness its power.

Also, for a good look at how EFT can help arthritis see 22 Years of Pain from Degenerative Arthritis Gone after Persistent EFT.

And, to help with the structural issues that can contribute to osteoarthritis, here are my top recommendations:

  • Get plenty of omega-3 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil.
  • Get moving with an exercise program.
  • Eat a healthier diet based on the principles of the Total Health Program.
  • Rely on safer anti-inflammatory alternatives. 

Published in Health Plus

By Juliette Siegfried | Alzheimers Disease - Health Guidance

That seems to be the gist of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research, led by neurologist Dr. Joe Verghese at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, followed elderly subjects over an impressive 21-year period to determine which activities most improved their sharpness of mind, and thus staved off the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease.

The scientists, working under the assumption that the old saying "Use it or lose it" is extremely accurate when it comes to brain function, studied a number of activities that subjects engaged in to see which ones best improved their cognitive functions. These activities included reading books, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards, writing for pleasure, and playing a musical instrument. They also included physical activities such as swimming, bicycling, playing tennis or golf, walking for exercise, doing housework, and dancing.

Based on previous research, they expected doing crossword puzzles to score highly, and they did, producing a 47% lower risk of dementia. Reading produced a 35% reduced risk. To the researchers' surprise, forms of exercise such as playing golf, bicycling, and swimming produced a 0% lower risk of Alzheimer's – no effect at all. But an even bigger surprise was that regularly engaging in social dancing lowered the seniors' risk of dementia by a staggering 76%.

Why would dancing have such a profound effect on aging brains?

The theory proposed by Dr. Verghese and his fellow researchers is that social dance is an activity that activates and takes advantage of our brains' neuroplasticity. That is, according to Dr. Joseph Coyle, a commentator on the study, "The cerebral cortex and hippocampus, which are critical to these activities [greater cognitive reserve and increased complexity of neuronal synapses], are remarkably plastic, and they rewire themselves based upon their use."

When the aging process causes our brain cells to begin to die off, our memory of nouns (like the names of people we know and love) often go first, because there is only one neural pathway connected to that bit of stored information. If that neural connection is lost, so is access to the piece of information it pointed to. It's like taking the same well-worn path through a forest, and one day not being able to find the entrance to that path. In patients suffering from dementia, even if they can physically see their destination, they sometimes can't figure out how to get there, because they've forgotten how to find the path they were accustomed to take.

The key to avoiding this, in the researchers' opinion, is to continually forge new neural pathways. And the way to do this is to constantly challenge the mind and force it to make split-second, rapid-fire decisions. Each of these decisions has the effect of creating greater cognitive reserve and a more complex network of neuronal synapses. In short, the more pathways your brain has to the information stored in it, the more accessible that information becomes, and the less likely you are to forget it.

But again, why dancing?

Dance, especially ballroom dance and other forms that involve cooperation between two partners – one leading and the other following, or both following not just preset steps but having the ability to improvise – causes the very rapid-fire decision-making that forges new neural pathways. The researchers emphasize that not all forms of dancing will accomplish this; for example, types of dance that rely on retracing the same memorized steps will form no new connections in the brain. Improvements to cognitive function occur when we learn something new, something we haven't done before. The dancers in the recent study who showed the most resistance to dementia practiced what is referred to as freestyle social dancing – foxtrot, waltz, swing, tango, and Latin dance.

In the 21-year study, seniors who danced regularly showed more resistance to dementia than those who only danced occasionally; just as with doing crossword puzzles, more is better. Those who "changed partners" more often benefitted more than those who stuck with the same dance partner, possibly because they had to adjust to the new partner and make more split-second decisions to adapt to their different style.

Interestingly enough, women may benefit slightly more than men from social dancing, because they follow their male partner's lead, and thus are constantly having to make rapid-fire decisions. But this piece of information can help the men, too. By becoming more attentive to your partner's style and constantly adjusting your own to insure their comfort and continuity of motion, you can become not only a better dancer, but improve your brain's cognitive abilities as well.

Published in Health Plus
Monday, 23 May 2016 00:00

Health Benefits of Baking Soda

 

By Christopher Jacoby | Medicine - Health Guidance

Baking soda, or its chemical name sodium bicarbonate, is an odorless crystalline white solid that has many industrial, food, and health uses. Sodium bicarbonate is non-flammable and dissolves in water. It is commonly seen in a number of commercial products such as detergents, soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, and others. Baking soda has an inexpensive cost, and with its numerous cleaning, hygiene, and medical applications, it is recommended to always have it available.

Medical Applications of Baking Soda

Baking soda has several medical and health applications. It is most commonly ingested in a solution with water to relieve heartburn and acid indigestion. In clinical medicine, it has been used to treat aspirin overdoses and other illnesses. For first aid applications, baking soda can be used to treat scalds while medical attention is pending.

Sodium bicarbonate may be used to treat hyperkalemia, or an elevation of blood potassium levels in the clinical setting. Sodium bicarbonate can be delivered intravenously by medical doctors to raise the pH of blood in cases of acidosis. It may also be used topically as a paste to relieve itching or rash inflammation. One recent medical study even found that baking soda was effective at slowing down advanced kidney disease.

Precautions for Using Baking Soda

It is important to note that baking soda should never be used for any medical application without consulting with a licensed physician first beforehand. Baking soda should not be used for children under the age of 6 without consulting a pediatrician. The usage of baking soda might be dangerous for those with allergies or health conditions that make them sensitive to sodium intake.

Certain conditions such as appendicitis, intestinal bleeding, and other conditions can be made worse by ingesting baking soda. High blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, toxemia, edema, and other illnesses can be made worse by ingesting baking soda. Also, some medications like tetracyclines, methanamine, and Nizoral can be reduced in their effectiveness by baking soda.

Baking Soda for Heartburn

Baking soda works to treat heartburn by neutralizing excess stomach acids. It can also be used to treat acid indigestion, nausea, and sour stomach. It is safe to use in small amounts. Most packages of baking soda have directions for treating heartburn or indigestion, but for a general rule, one teaspoon of baking soda should be stirred in a glass of warm water. If the product is more concentrated, then less baking soda should be used.

Like other antacids, baking soda should be used only in moderation to treat heartburn. Also foods that trigger heartburn should be avoided like tomato based foods, fatty foods, chocolate and other foods as well as drinks like coffee.

Baking Soda for Hygiene

Many toothpastes have baking soda in them, because the compound is shown to be beneficial for cleaning teeth and mouth hygiene. It also neutralizes acidity in the mouth that results from bacterial waste products, and thus it freshens breath. It also works as a mild antiseptic to prevent infections in the mouth. It can be used to relieve the pain from canker sores as a mouthwash.

Baking soda can be used as a mouthwash diluted in water. Some use a paste of baking soda, a small amount of water, and 3% hydrogen peroxide as an alternative to commercial toothpastes. However, baking soda can be found in commercial mouthwashes and deodorants.

Baking soda can be put into sneakers to deodorize them, and it can also be massaged into feet to clean them or help treat athlete’s foot.

Baking Soda for Skin

Baking soda can be added to bathwater to relieve skin irritation, rashes, or bug bites. It can also be rubbed on the skin on a damp rag for this same purpose.

Baking soda has mild exfoliant properties due to the round shape of the particles, and when mixed with water and scrubbed gently into the skin with a sponge it can remove dead skin cells. The inflammation from sunburns can be partially relieved with a solution of baking soda and water.

Baking Soda for Kidney Stones and Kidney Function

Kidney stones are small hard masses in the kidney and some studies suggest that urine acidity can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Baking soda may prevent kidney stone development if take on a semi-regular basis but there have been no scientific studies on this matter. A doctor should be consulted before taking a regimen of baking soda for kidney stone prevention.

In the case of urinary tract infections, there is anecdotal evidence that baking soda may have beneficial effects by raising the pH of urine and reducing bacterial multiplication, but there is no scientific evidence of this.

One recent student in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that baking soda improved kidney function for patients with advanced kidney disease. This was a single study with no placebo group, and further studies would need to be completed to prove if baking soda is beneficial for kidney disease.

Conclusion

With a wide range of uses, and several health and medical benefits, hygienic, and cleaning uses, baking soda is an inexpensive and useful compound to have in the house. However, like any other compound that can have health implications, the usage of baking soda for health benefits or medical treatments should be discussed with a physician beforehand. It is safe to use it for the previously mentioned hygienic purposes as long as it is not ingested in large quantities.

More scientific studies on the effectiveness of baking soda in helping to treat kidney illnesses and other kidney related problems would need to be performed, but it seems that this is a promising avenue for the another medical application of baking soda.

There is no doubt, however, that baking soda is effective for treating heartburn and indigestion. In the case of topical skin related treatments, it may be better to use baking soda as a complement to prescription or over the counter products for treatment, as long as there are no interactions. Baking soda is useful and safe for mouth hygiene, and it can be used as a mouthwash or as a paste for cleaning teeth.

Published in Health Plus
Friday, 13 May 2016 00:00

Vitamin B12

By National Centre for Complimentary and Integrative Health

What is vitamin B12 and what does it do?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.

Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food. First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein to which vitamin B12 is attached in food. After this, vitamin B12 combines with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor and is absorbed by the body. Some people have pernicious anemia, a condition where they cannot make intrinsic factor. As a result, they have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from all foods and dietary supplements.

How much vitamin B12 do I need?

The amount of vitamin B12 you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts for different ages are listed below in micrograms (mcg):

Life Stage

Recommended Amount

Birth to 6 months

0.4 mcg

Infants 7–12 months

0.5 mcg

Children 1–3 years

0.9 mcg

Children 4–8 years

1.2 mcg

Children 9–13 years

1.8 mcg

Teens 14–18 years

2.4 mcg

Adults

2.4 mcg

Pregnant teens and women

2.6 mcg

Breastfeeding teens and women

2.8 mcg

What foods provide vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods. Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods including the following:

  • Beef liver and clams, which are the best sources of vitamin B12.
  • Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products, which also contain vitamin B12.
  • Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts and other food products that are fortified with vitamin B12. To find out if vitamin B12 has been added to a food product, check the product labels.

What kinds of vitamin B12 dietary supplements are available?

Vitamin B12 is found in almost all multivitamins. Dietary supplements that contain only vitamin B12, or vitamin B12 with nutrients such as folic acid and other B vitamins, are also available. Check the Supplement Facts label to determine the amount of vitamin B12 provided.

Vitamin B12 is also available in sublingual forms (which are dissolved under the tongue). There is no evidence that sublingual forms are better absorbed than pills that are swallowed.

A prescription form of vitamin B12 can be administered as a shot. This is usually used to treat vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is also available as a prescription medication in nasal gel form (for use in the nose).

Am I getting enough vitamin B12?

Most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. But some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency affects between 1.5% and 15% of the public. Your doctor can test your vitamin B12 level to see if you have a deficiency.

Certain groups may not get enough vitamin B12 or have trouble absorbing it:

  • Many older adults, who do not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb the vitamin B12 naturally present in food. People over 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements because, in most cases, their bodies can absorb vitamin B12 from these sources.
  • People with pernicious anemia whose bodies do not make the intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12. Doctors usually treat pernicious anemia with vitamin B12 shots, although very highoral doses of vitamin B12 might also be effective.
  • People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease. These conditions can decrease the amount of vitamin B12 that the body can absorb.
  • Some people who eat little or no animal foods such as vegetarians and vegans. Only animal foods have vitamin B12 naturally. When pregnant women and women who breastfeed their babies are strict vegetarians or vegans, their babies might also not get enough vitamin B12.

What happens if I don't get enough vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue. Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system even in people who don't have anemia, so it is important to treat a deficiency as soon as possible.

In infants, signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include failure to thrive, problems with movement, delays in reaching the typical developmental milestones, and megaloblastic anemia.

Large amounts of folic acid can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency by correcting megaloblastic anemia, a hallmark of vitamin B12 deficiency. But folic acid does not correct the progressive damage to the nervous system that vitamin B12 deficiency also causes. For this reason, healthy adults should not get more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid a day.

What are some effects of vitamin B12 on health?

Scientists are studying vitamin B12 to understand how it affects health. Here are several examples of what this research has shown:

Heart disease
Vitamin B12 supplements (along with folic acid and vitamin B6) do not reduce the risk of getting heart disease. Scientists had thought that these vitamins might be helpful because they reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a compound linked to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Dementia
As they get older, some people develop dementia. These people often have high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Vitamin B12 (with folic acid and vitamin B6) can lower homocysteine levels, but scientists don't know yet whether these vitamins actually help prevent or treat dementia.

Energy and athletic performance
Advertisements often promote vitamin B12 supplements as a way to increase energy or endurance. Except in people with a vitamin B12 deficiency, no evidence shows that vitamin B12 supplements increase energy or improve athletic performance.

Can vitamin B12 be harmful?

Vitamin B12 has not been shown to cause any harm.

Are there any interactions with vitamin B12 that I should know about?

Yes. Vitamin B12 can interact or interfere with medicines that you take, and in some cases, medicines can lower vitamin B12 levels in the body. Here are several examples of medicines that can interfere with the body's absorption or use of vitamin B12:

  • Chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin®), an antibiotic that is used to treat certain infections.
  • Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec®) and lansoprazole (Prevacid®), that are used to treat acid reflux and peptic ulcer disease.
  • Histamine H2 receptor antagonists, such as cimetidine (Tagamet®), famotidine (Pepcid®), and ranitidine (Zantac®), that are used to treat peptic ulcer disease.
  • Metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes.

Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medicines or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.

Vitamin B12 and healthful eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food, advises the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate.

Where can I find out more about vitamin B12?

Disclaimer

This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

 

Published in Health Plus
Monday, 09 May 2016 00:00

Vision Correction with Dr. DeWitt

 

Dr. DeWitt is a Vanderbilt University graduate who earned a full athletic scholarship after his first semester. He went on to become the starting defensive end for the next four years and was awarded The Wade Looney Award for outstanding work ethic. He continued his football career with the NFL Houston Oilers, NFL Europe Champion Scottish Claymores, Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, San Francisco Demons of the XFL, and several teams in the AFL including three seasons with the LA Avengers.

Today, Dr DeWitt is working as a Board Certified Chiropractor with Dr Bergman. He graduated from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He has competed in the Ballroom Dance Charity Event "Dancing for Tomorrow's Stars" and has been featured on the Real OC health segment on KOCE.

He has been married for over 14 years to his lovely wife, Cathy, and they have three phenomenal dogs, Murphy, Ginger and Maggie.

In this video Dr. DeWitt explains on the issue of Vision Correction.

Published in Health Plus

Dr Bergman was propelled into Chiropractic by a severe auto accident, with 2 broken legs, fractured skull and sternum along with several organ injuries. With great need and a passion for healing and regenerating Dr Bergman began studying the body’s recovery process. Dr. Bergman obtained his degree in Doctor of Chiropractic at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles (CCCLA), California. Dr. Bergman teaching at CCCLA: Human Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics, and 4 Chiropractic techniques: Full Spine Specific (Palmer Method), Thompson, Diversified, and Extremity Adjusting. As a past Instructor Dr. Bergman has an extensive knowledge of human anatomy and human physiology that few can match. Dr. Bergman’s practice has continued to grow serving hundreds of families, focusing on corrective and wellness care and is dedicated to pediatric development and adult health care. With Dr. Bergman’s unique approach and direct experience of recovery from severe injury, many successes can be achieved in even with the most challenging cases.

 In his spare time he enjoys, sailing, biking, camping and spending time with his 2 sons Michael and Danny. Dr. Bergman has been Serving Huntington Beach and its surrounding communities since May 1998. Dr. Bergman was born and raised in Burbank California. After graduating at 16 years old from John Burroughs High. School, he did his prerequisite studies in Santa Barbara, California.

In this video Dr. Bergman explains on the issue of Healthy Feet and Knees.

Published in Health Plus
Page 4 of 5
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