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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Say "Om" to Addiction

Yoga combines physical and mental discipline to achieve peace of mind and strength of body. Various branches of yoga utilize different physical postures or asanas; however, each branch has several elements in common. The most important is the emphasis on the connection between the power of the mind and the body. Evidence suggests that when practiced consistently, yoga can tone and strengthen muscles, ease stress, and even help fight addictions.
Smoking is one such addiction that seems to respond to yoga. Kundalini yoga, in particular, is thought to benefit smokers in their battle to quit. Kundalini is one of the more vigorous forms of yoga. Strenuous and repetitive movements stretch people's limits. Particular attention to heavy breathing draws participants' focus to the lungs and their current health state.
The mind-body-spirit approach that yoga uses is becoming increasingly popular in addiction-recovery programs. Part of the addiction of smoking is associated with the mental comfort a cigarette provides. People who are addicted to a substance either have or develop anxiety. Smoking is used to alleviate that anxiety.
Yoga may help conquer other addictions such as shopping, gambling and drinking. It also recognizes that the addiction may be a symptom of another, larger emotional problem. For example, alcoholism may develop as a mechanism for dealing with depression, and some people smoke to deal with insecurity. By first realizing the larger spiritual or emotional problem, the addict can better use the serene poses and quiet thoughtfulness of yoga to explore the mind and focus energy on quitting. Consistent meetings or classes that addicts can attend for yoga also can help make them accountable for their path of healing, as well as providing a supportive community.

How to Stick With an Exercise Routine

Break up your workout. You don't need to exercise in a single block of time to see results. Simply take the stairs at work, park farther away from wherever you happen to be going (work, school, the grocery store, etc.), or walk over to a colleague's desk rather than phoning them, etc. Did you know you can potentially burn just as many calories throughout the day doing this as you would from huffing and puffing at the gym for hours? Make exercise a part of your daily life and you won't even know you are exercising!

Start small. Most people tend to overdo it when they first start an exercise program. We get so motivated that we start going to the gym every day. We try to do more than we can. Guess what happens? We get so sore or so burned out that we actually start hating it. Start off slow and pace yourself. This will always keep you going over the long haul.

Remember, you don't need to spend hours at the gym. Nowadays, even if you do decide to go to a gym, you can do a weight-training program in 20 minutes. If you don't know how, ask a trainer. We have several patients that are trainers. More is not necessarily better. It's about efficiency and quality of exercise, not quantity. In fact, there are high-intensity cardio workouts that last only four minutes, if you can believe that, and they are used by professional athletes and other people who are exceptionally well-conditioned. If elite athletes are doing things in less time and seeing results, so can you. Always do full-body workouts, making sure you engage all your muscles. This always leads to better results.

Try new activities. The best way to prevent exercise boredom is to always seek new activities you can do during the year. Some activities that can give you a great workout just as well as conventional exercise include salsa or ballroom dancing, golf, swimming, or even an activity such as sightseeing around town. If you are going out for dinner, park as far away from the restaurant as possible and enjoy the walk there and back. These simple activities add up.

Write down your goals. Did you know one of the best predictors of success is writing things down? It's as simple as spending a minute at the start of each day writing down what you are going to do that day. This type of activity provides reinforcement that you have goals to achieve. Always follow the SMART rules of goal setting. This means each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
No matter what your fitness level, time availability or motivation, taking simple steps to staying active is within your reach. Not only will you be able to do more, but you'll also have better overall health and a better ability to combat the stresses of everyday life. All it requires is a bit of your time in outlining your goals and what you will do to achieve them. Once you do, write down what you're going to do every day – and then do it! Only by committing to exercise on a consistent basis can you hope to follow through on a consistent basis.

You've Got to Be Flexible

Flexibility is the ability to move the joints and muscles through a normal range of motion, and it's an important fitness measure; in fact, it's one of the five health-related components of physical fitness, along with muscular strength, muscle endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition. Here are just a few of the health benefits attributable to a regular flexibility and stretching program: increased circulation, improved posture, better coordination and stress relief.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are six essential guidelines to keep in mind when stretching, modified by Dr. Tang:
1
Warm up first. You're more likely to pull a muscle when it's cold. Start off with five minutes of walking, light limb movement or a favorite low-intensity exercise.
2
Hold each stretch for 10 seconds, remembering to breathe. Simply put, it takes time to stretch tissues safely. Go too fast and you could be in for trouble in the form of a muscle or tendon tear. For most muscle groups, a 10 times for 10 seconds stretch is adequate.
3
Don't bounce. Speaking of muscle tears, bouncing during a stretch can cause microtears in the muscle, leaving scar tissue as the muscle heals, which will only make the muscle tighter and more prone to future pain and inflexibility.
4
Avoid pain. You shouldn't feel sharp pain during a stretch. You should feel a medium ache, however. If you do, you've gone too far and need to back off and hold the stretch in a pain-free position.
5
Stretch both sides. Joint range of motion needs to be as equal as possible on both sides of the body; after all, if only half the body is flexible, the other half can still cause problems.
6
Stretch before and after exercise. Stretch them lightly before a workout and then more thoroughly after your workout. Stretching before activity improves flexibility and reduces injury risk; stretching after exercise relaxes tired muscles and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness.
Here are a few sample stretches (again courtesy of the Mayo Clinic) you can start doing right away:
The Neck Stretch: Bend your head forward and slightly to the right to stretch the left side of your neck. With your right hand, gently pull your head downward, stretching the back left side of your neck. Hold for 10 times for 10 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
The Shoulder Stretch: Bring your left arm across the body and hold it with your right arm above or below the elbow. Hold 10 times for 10 seconds, switch arms and repeat. To stretch the internal rotators of the shoulder (important if you participate in tennis, golf or other overhead/throwing/swinging sports), hold a rolled-up towel vertically with both hands. One hand should hold the top of the towel and the other hand should hold the bottom of the towel. Now gently pull the towel toward the ceiling with your top hand, stretching the shoulder on your opposite arm. Hold for 10 times for 10 seconds, switch top hand and repeat.
The Hamstring Stretch: Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or door frame. With your left heel resting against the wall and your left knee bent slightly, straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh. Hold the stretch 10 reps for 10 seconds switch legs and repeat.

No to Drugs, Yes to Nutrition

Research is increasingly demonstrating the value of natural, nontoxic, nutritionally-based preventive approaches and interventive therapies, particularly for the purpose of prolonging a healthy, productive lifespan. Let's review recent study findings that validate the safety and efficacy of various nutritional supplements for the prevention and treatment of aging-related diseases.
Don't run short on vitamin D: At Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, researchers have completed a study suggesting that low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with a 26 percent increased risk of death from any cause. Vitamin D also may help prevent type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study. Good food source of vitamin D include salmon, cod liver oil, fortified milk.
Remember your omega-3: Following on two studies published in April 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that reported regular consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids was effective in preventing age-related cognitive decline, Chih-Chiang Chiu, from Taipei City Hospital (Taiwan), and colleagues found that omega-3s actually provide therapeutic benefits for the condition. Another study suggests increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids also slashes the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Good food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish (mackerel, herring, sardines, etc.).
Reduce the pressure with potassium: A study led by Mark C. Houston, MD, reports that increased intake of potassium, (and possibly magnesium and calcium) by dietary means may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and decrease blood pressure in people with hypertension. High intake of these minerals also may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Good food sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, soybeans and bananas. Good sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach and unrefined grains.
A little dark chocolate for the heart: In a recent study, researchers collected subjects' dietary habits via food surveys and measured serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood marker of inflammation. The team determined that CRP levels were 17 percent lower in subjects who consumed dark chocolate as compared to those who did not consume any at all.
Calcium -- not just for strong bones and teeth: Mitsumasa Umesawa, from the University of Tsukuba (Japan), and colleagues followed 41,526 Japanese men and women (ages 40 to 59 at the study's start) for 13 years. Men and women who consumed the highest calcium from all dietary sources lowered their risk of stroke by 30 percent, reported the study, published in the July 17, 2008 issue of Stroke. Good food sources of calcium include plain yogurt and cheese.
To learn more about the many benefits of sound nutrition and how you can design a nutritional program that's right for you and your family, talk to your doctor.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Remarkable Hormore . . . Insulin

One of the primary lab tests that can predict longevity is fasting insulin. Research has proven that caloric restriction is the single greatest longevity factor in all the lab animals’ studies to date. A big part of why caloric restriction increases longevity is because it lowers insulin levels. Low fasting insulin levels can be one of the best screens for predicting health and preventing disease.
I’ll give you some optimal lab values in a minute, but before I do, think about it. What role
does insulin play in the body? Remember, insulin is essential to pull sugar or glucose into
the cell to keep homeostatis in the blood. The sugar is then burned for energy or stored for later
use.

Excess sugar is stored as fat, and for our ancestors that may have been a good thing because they didn’t have the instant access to food that we have. But because our culture consumes SO many refined sugars, our very cells try to resist extra sugar intake because they can only store so much sugar as fat in a healthy manner. So, in order to reduce the amount of sugar coming into
the cells, the cells will ultimately reduce the amount of insulin receptor sites.

Well, that’s good for the cells, but bad for the bloodstream. Insulin can’t get into the cells, so it
remains in the blood. Remember, part of insulin’s job is to convert sugar to fat wherever it is. So now the excess insulin in the blood causes excess fat in the blood.

Dr. Ron Rosedale in his book “The Rosedale Diet” quotes a study where insulin was dripped
into the arteries of dogs and in just a few months the artery became blocked with plaque. Plaque
buildup can deprive the heart of blood and oxygen and eventually cause a heart attack.

As a person continues to ingest refined carbohydrates and the insulin continues to be made, it
drives the body into a fat storage mode rather than a fat burning mode. We use the term
insulin resistance, meaning a healthy cells response to excess refined carbohydrates.
Insulin has many key roles that will not be fulfilled if blood sugars are elevated; let’s look at a
few of them.

Insulin is necessary to pull magnesium into the cell. Blocked insulin receptor sites in the cell
mean low cellular magnesium levels and magnesium is critical for energy production, healthy
heart, vascular, and blood pressure regulation.

Excess insulin in the bloodstream causes retention of sodium which in turn causes increases in
blood pressure and fluid retention. There is also a significant correlation between elevated insulin levels and certain types of cancer, namely: breast, colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.

Poor sugar regulation and insulin dysregulation has also been indicated in aging, memory problems, fatigue, anxiety and depression, immune suppression, obesity, vascular disease, and as I mentioned heart disease.

The fasting insulin levels I like to see should be 10 or lower, under 6 is ideal. Traditional lab values suggest treatment should begin when levels exceed 18; however, if fasting insulin levels are over 10, insulin resistance is well under way and needs serious attention.
Therapeutically, we need to make sure the patient reduces their level of refined and even their starchy carbohydrates until levels are stabile and life style changes are made.
Exercise is critical for anyone who is struggling with insulin resistance. Cells will burn sugar
with activity and movement. So the best way to reduce sugar, (besides not eating it) is to
burn it.

Keep in mind, the most stubborn cases of insulin resistance usually involve one or more food allergens, so reducing food allergens can be important.

As far as supplements, there are several options, but let me remind you to start treatment with the basics and adjust from there as you change your lifestyle.

GlucoBalance is a formula developed by Dr.'s Jon Wright and Allan Gaby as a foundational
nutrient: 2-3 capsules tid.
Optimal EFAs are a mixture of Omega 3’s and GLA with some flax seed oil to reduce
NF-kappa-B: 2 capsules tid.
Bio-D-Mulsion Forte 4,000 IU (some studies show it works as good as medication to
reduce blood sugar).
Lipoic Acid: 100 mg tid to prevent neuropathy.
Niacinamide: 500 mg tid to help burn sugars more efficiently.
Magnesium is prescribed to bowel tolerance in the form of Mg-Zyme or Calm 3tsp (about 300mg bid) at bedtime.

As you know, so many botanical agents are available to assist blood sugar regulation; but if the basic building blocks are not available, the herbs may not work as effectively. So diet, healing the gut, exercise, and foundational nutrients will hold a big piece to the insulin resistance puzzle.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Flat-Belly Diet

The Flat-Belly Diet

Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Try Eating a MUFA With Every Meal
ü Vegetable oils: olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil
ü Nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios
ü Avocado
ü Peanut butter and almond butter (I prefer almond butter because peanut butter is PRO-Inflammatory—gives you inflammation that leads to pain)
ü Dark chocolate

Cut Back On Saturated Fats
This bad fat should be strictly limited. Saturated fats are a major component of storage fat - the fat around your stomach, butt and thighs.

Cut back on: butter, processed meat products - sausages, meat pies,
cookies, cakes, cream, full-fat cheese, whole milk, burgers and fries

Strictly Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are formed in a process called hydrogenation, which converts an unsaturated liquid fat into a solid one. (This process uses heavy metals platinum and/or palladium, so you may have some impurities in there as well.) This process lengthens the shelf life, so it’s ideal for restaurants and food manufacturers. However, the body treats hydrogenated fat like saturated fat, which is known to clog arteries, raise your cholesterol, and increase your risk of heart disease and other conditions. Trans fat not only raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol, but it actually lowers to HDL cholesterol as well!

Read the nutrition labels to see how much trans fat is in a product.
Since January 2006, manufacturers have been required to list trans fat content on their labels. Look for the phrases "partially hydrogenated," "hydrogenated vegetable oil," or "shortening" on nutritional labels, since they are dead giveaways products contain some trans fat. Cut back on fried, processed, and commercial foods.

DID YOU KNOW?A sneaky way of the manufacturer saying that their product has 0g trans fats is the loophole of if their product has less than 0.5g of trans fat, THEY ARE ALLOWED TO ROUND DOWN to 0g! So they claim zero, zip, zilch. No trans fats are found in this product. How deceptive is that? YOU SHOULD BE OUTRAGED!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Doctors going alternative

chicagotribune.com
Doctors going alternative

More mainstream physicians suggesting meditation, massage and acupuncture
By Julie Deardorff
Tribune reporter
1:59 AM CST, January 14, 2009

For years, Dr. Ali Keshavarzian ignored "alternative" therapies because his Western-trained brain wanted more evidence that they actually worked.But Keshavarzian also knew conventional medicine often needed some assistance. And when he learned his patients were seeking out natural products, acupuncture, meditation and massage, he took a deep breath and dived in.Ten years later, Keshavarzian straddles both worlds, using Western treatments along with a variety of alternative approaches, a combination known as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. "CAM is looking at a patient as a human being, rather than a disease," said Keshavarzian, a gastroenterologist at Rush University Medical Center. "Instead of treating 'ulcerative colitis,' I treat 'Mr. Jones.' "The future success of the holistic CAM movement in the U.S. hinges on the very people who once viewed alternative medicine with cold skepticism: mainstream, conventionally trained doctors. Though many, such as Keshavarzian, still believe medical treatments should be backed by rigorous scientific data, they will not rule out adding into the treatment mix mind-body therapies that have been used for centuries in other cultures. Keshavarzian, for example, might suggest relaxation techniques when he thinks stress is a factor, acupuncture for pain or probiotics for acute diarrhea."The public has been on board for some time," said physician Andrew Weil, founder of the University of Arizona's School of Integrative Medicine, which has trained more than 350 physician fellows. "The professionals are harder to win over."Five chronic conditions—mood disorders, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure—account for more than half of all U.S. health expenditures, according to the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government on health issues. But these are the disorders that conventional medicine struggles to treat, according to the institute."Studies show that $2.5 trillion is being spent in a system that is not improving the overall health of our citizens," according to the institute. "Incidents of chronic disease are on a sharp rise and by 2023 will cost our nation $4.3 trillion."Proponents say CAM, which is also called "integrative medicine," is a cost-effective solution.Integrative treatments fall into four main categories: natural products (vitamins and supplements), energy medicine (acupuncture), manipulative practices (chiropractic work) and mind-body medicine (meditation or deep breathing).For instance, if a patient needs bypass surgery, an integrative doctor would recommend it. But afterward, he or she might suggest fish oil, exercise or nutritional changes to aid healing.Laura Restaino of Wheaton tried an integrative physician, Charles Dumont, a Loyola University pediatric gastroenterologist, after prescription drugs, creams, steroids and lotions prescribed by conventional doctors failed to treat her daughter Alex's severe eczema. After receiving hand acupuncture (using pellets in place of needles) from Dumont, the condition cleared up almost instantly, Restaino said.Alex, now 12, sees Dumont every six to eight weeks for maintenance acupuncture. "He's kind, he listens and he doesn't rush," her mom said.Though primarily driven by patient demand, the integrative medicine movement recently has received a boost from the conservative medical establishment, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has a CAM task force.An increasing number of prestigious medical schools are teaching integrative practices. Since 1999, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, a group that includes Duke University, Harvard and Northwestern, has grown from 8 to 43 members. With more traditional medical schools focusing on health care that addresses the mental, emotional and physical aspects of healing, the use of CAM by the nation's future physicians is expected to grow.Meanwhile, it's getting easier for practicing physicians to find CAM training. In early December, the University of Chicago and the Mayo Clinic co-sponsored the ninth annual two-day CAM conference for medical professionals. And the 2009 Integrate Chicago Conference on Jan. 17 at Loyola is being organized by, and for, medical students interested in integrative medicine.Nearly 40 percent of adults used integrative therapies last year, according to a new government report, most often to treat chronic back, neck and joint pain, arthritis, anxiety, high cholesterol and head or chest colds.And 12 percent of U.S. children have used an alternative therapy."Early in my career I felt like we [doctors] were missing the boat because we weren't addressing underlying problems," said integrative physician Steve Devries, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "We'd often tell patients after angioplasty that they 'had the heart of a teenager again.' But it was completely untrue. We'd bought them time to correct the underlying problem, but if we didn't fix that then we'd see them again and again."Now Devries focuses on prevention; his aftercare includes addressing factors that influence heart disease, including stress and nutrition. He'll find a therapy that fits a person—meditation, yoga, biofeedback or talk therapy—as part of an overall treatment plan. "The modality is not as important as the awareness of a mind-body connection," he said.One of the challenges of integrative medicine, however, is that it requires more of a doctor's time. Critics say it also has a relatively small evidence base, but that, too, is changing. Though research funding pales in comparison to pharmaceutical drug trials, the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has been increasing its pace of granting funds for CAM research. It has funded more than 2,200 research studies since 1999."The difference is that 50 years ago Western medicine began to examine its practice more vigorously; the other methods have begun to do it more recently," said Keshavarzian. "You can't dismiss CAM; it's the result of 1,000 years of experience. But we can vigorously study it."jdeardorff@tribune.com

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chinese Medicine Treatment for Menopause

Family Care Wellness & Rehab is proud to bring to you two products that may dramatically reduce your menopausal conditions as well as bring your body back in harmony so it can heal itself. These products are specifically designed to gently strengthen your Kidney Qi and overcome Liver Qi stagnation, so that your body can begin to heal. As this harmony occurs your conditions will go away. They will not by covered up by drugs, but may, by your body's own natural healing ability be eliminated or  reduced. They are safe and all natural. Most women will feel a change begin with 2-4 weeks and after about three months, their organs are functioning well enough that this treatment for menopausal conditions are no longer needed.

These two products are based upon ancient natural formulas and have been adapted exclusively for Western individuals by Dr. Nan Lu. The stresses of life, career and family have taken their toll on all of us. These products when taken together address the Kidney Qi deficiency and Liver Qi stagnation that is the root cause for menopausal conditions.

Why Together?

Remember these products are designed to be taken together, because the root cause of most menopausal conditions lie in the Kidney and the Liver. These two formulas will work to harmonize the body. Most women will find their menopausal conditions dramatically reduced or even completely gone within three months.

For complete information on Menopause WITHOUT Hormones click here or visit http://www.menopausewithouthormones.com. 

Using even a hands-free phone while driving can be dangerous

Something off topic, but safety first!  -Dr. Tang


Dec 4th 2008
From The Economist print edition

MANY countries have made it illegal to natter into a hand-held mobile phone while driving. But the latest research provides further confirmation that the danger lies less in what a motorist’s hands do when he takes a call than in what the conversation does to his brain. Even using a “hands-free” device can impair a driver’s attention to an alarming extent.

Melina Kunar of the University of Warwick, in England, and Todd Horowitz of the Harvard Medical School ran a series of experiments in which two groups of volunteers had to pay attention and respond to a series of moving tasks on a computer screen that were reckoned equivalent in difficulty to driving. One group was left undistracted while the other had to engage in a conversation about their hobbies and interests using a speakerphone. As Dr Kunar and Dr Horowitz report in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, those who were making the equivalent of a hands-free call had an average reaction time 212 milliseconds slower than those who were not. That, they calculate, would add 5.7 metres (18 feet) to the braking distance of a car travelling at 100kph (62mph). The researchers also found that the group using the hands-free kit made 83% more errors in their tasks than those who were not talking. 


To try to understand more about why this was, they tried two further tests. In one, members of a group were asked simply to repeat words spoken by the caller. In the other, they had to think of a word that began with the last letter of the word they had just heard. Those only repeating words performed the same as those with no distraction, but those with the more complicated task showed even worse reaction times—an average of 480 milliseconds extra delay. This, the researchers suggest, shows that when people have to consider the information they hear carefully, as they might when making decisions about a business deal, it can impair their driving ability significantly.

But does chatting to passengers have the same detrimental effect on driving? An earlier study found that it does not. That research, led by Frank Drews of the University of Utah, analysed the performance of young drivers using a vehicle simulator. Dr Drews found that when using a hands-free phone, a volunteer “drove” significantly worse than he did when just talking to someone playing the role of a passenger. Passengers, the researchers believed, might even help road safety by commenting on surrounding traffic.

Dr Kunar and Dr Horowitz also explored the effect of simply listening to something—such as a radio programme. For this they played a recording of the first chapter of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Even though the test subjects were told to pay attention because they would be asked questions about the story afterwards, it had little effect on their reaction times. Dr Kunar reckons that having to think about responses during a phone conversation competes for the brain’s resources in a way that listening to a monologue does not.. Dr Drews’s work suggests the same thing is true of the idle chatter of a passenger.

This could mean road-safety advice needs to be revised. America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the use by motorists of hand-held phones is continuing to increase: to 6% of drivers at any given time in 2007, from 5% the previous year.. The biggest culprits are aged 16 to 24. People texting while driving, or fiddling with an iPod, also worry safety officials. Now it appears that talking on a phone even when both hands are on the steering wheel is dangerous too.

Punishing people for using hand-held gadgets while driving is difficult enough, even though they can be seen from outside the car. Stopping people making hands-free calls would probably be impossible—not least because more and more vehicles are now being fitted with the necessary equipment as standard. Persuading people to switch their phones off altogether when they get behind the wheel might be the only answer. Who knows, they might even come to enjoy not having to take calls. And they’ll be likelier to arrive in one piece.

 

Guide to remaining calm during stressful times: Harvard Medical School

Guide to remaining calm during stressful times: Harvard Medical School

December 12, 2008 — Lately, every day seems to bring a new cause for worry — the mortgage crisis, the struggling economy, rising unemployment. And on top of all that, the holiday season (a recurring source of stress) is about to begin. This constant barrage of disturbing news and emotional hurdles can have a big impact on health.

Although you won't find the word “stress” anywhere on the list of the 10 leading causes of death in America, many highly-regarded studies link chronic stress to ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and a weakened immune system.

“Stress doesn't just make you feel tense and edgy, it can actually impair your health,” says Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “Thankfully, there's plenty we can do on our own to reduce stress in our lives.” The Harvard Medical School Portable Guide to Stress Relief, a free guide offered by Harvard Health Publications, provides helpful tips on how to start.

Of course, sometimes just thinking about embarking on such a program can feel overwhelming. Don't freeze in your tracks. Instead, follow Dr. Miller's suggestion to start small.

One stress-management technique that may work for you is a form of deep breathing known as the relaxation response. Another useful approach, known as cognitive restructuring, aims to change patterns of negative thinking. Not only will these strategies help you feel calmer, they may also reduce your blood pressure.

The free guide from Harvard Health Publications, culled from the pages of the special health report, Stress Management: Approaches for Preventing and Reducing Stress, provides detailed suggestions for soothing anxiety and worry. Whether you have one minute or half an hour, The Harvard Medical School Portable Guide to Stress Relief will teach you ways to manage the strains of your day. It describes 10 common stressors and how to defuse their impact and offers information on how to use meditation to lower stress levels. You will also find step-by-step instructions for "mini-relaxation" routines, organized according to how much free time you have available. To begin, try the sample mini-relaxations that follow:

De-stressing when you've got one minute

• Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.

• Or alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself “I am” as you breathe in and “at peace” as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of the chair.

When you've got two minutes

•Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete  breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.

Also in this guide:

• Using a gratitude journal to turn your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings

• Learning to straighten out cognitive distortions

• Helping your children or yourself reduce stress with a “worry box.”

The Harvard Medical School Portable Guide to Stress Relief is available to download for free from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard MedicalSchool, at www.health.harvard.edu/stress-relief.

Go to www.health.harvard.edu to find information on other Harvard Health Publications, including:

• Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress: www.health.harvard.edu/SC

• Coping with Anxiety and Phobias: www.health.harvard.edu/AP

• Alcohol Use and Abuse: www.health.harvard.edu/AUA

• Understanding Depression: www.health.harvard.edu/UD

Source: Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu  

Free guide to remaining calm during stressful times: Harvard Medical School

Guide to remaining calm during stressful times: Harvard Medical School

December 12, 2008 — Lately, every day seems to bring a new cause for worry — the mortgage crisis, the struggling economy, rising unemployment. And on top of all that, the holiday season (a recurring source of stress) is about to begin. This constant barrage of disturbing news and emotional hurdles can have a big impact on health.

Although you won't find the word “stress” anywhere on the list of the 10 leading causes of death in America, many highly-regarded studies link chronic stress to ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and a weakened immune system.

“Stress doesn't just make you feel tense and edgy, it can actually impair your health,” says Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “Thankfully, there's plenty we can do on our own to reduce stress in our lives.” The Harvard Medical School Portable Guide to Stress Relief, a free guide offered by Harvard Health Publications, provides helpful tips on how to start.

Of course, sometimes just thinking about embarking on such a program can feel overwhelming. Don't freeze in your tracks. Instead, follow Dr. Miller's suggestion to start small.

One stress-management technique that may work for you is a form of deep breathing known as the relaxation response. Another useful approach, known as cognitive restructuring, aims to change patterns of negative thinking. Not only will these strategies help you feel calmer, they may also reduce your blood pressure.

The free guide from Harvard Health Publications, culled from the pages of the special health report, Stress Management: Approaches for Preventing and Reducing Stress, provides detailed suggestions for soothing anxiety and worry. Whether you have one minute or half an hour, The Harvard Medical School Portable Guide to Stress Relief will teach you ways to manage the strains of your day. It describes 10 common stressors and how to defuse their impact and offers information on how to use meditation to lower stress levels. You will also find step-by-step instructions for "mini-relaxation" routines, organized according to how much free time you have available. To begin, try the sample mini-relaxations that follow:

De-stressing when you've got one minute

• Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.

• Or alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself “I am” as you breathe in and “at peace” as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of the chair.

When you've got two minutes

•Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete  breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.

Also in this guide:

• Using a gratitude journal to turn your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings

• Learning to straighten out cognitive distortions

• Helping your children or yourself reduce stress with a “worry box.”

The Harvard Medical School Portable Guide to Stress Relief is available to download for free from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard MedicalSchool, at www.health.harvard.edu/stress-relief.

Go to www.health.harvard.edu to find information on other Harvard Health Publications, including:

• Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress: www.health.harvard.edu/SC

• Coping with Anxiety and Phobias: www.health.harvard.edu/AP

• Alcohol Use and Abuse: www.health.harvard.edu/AUA

• Understanding Depression: www.health.harvard.edu/UD

Source: Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu  

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lead poisoning

When I read my mother's Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (a new service I have just introduced) I was completely shocked! Her lead levels were off the charts (try just under 2x the level of the limit of the chart!) This made me take into consideration how precious mom's health is and how emergent that we change her lifestyle. I have started her on a detox program to get rid of the lead, which I believe was from her hair dye - she is going to LISTEN to me about keeping with a natural hair colorant that I had introduced her to years ago; mercury, which I believe is from her silver amalgam dental fillings, which I've tried very hard to coax her to change them, but to no avail yet; and aluminum, which I believe is from cookware.

We are doing the 3-step detox, Ion Cleanse foot bath, and Biotics Research product called Porphorzyme and although this needs to be handled delicately and systematically, we will prevail. I am also considering using Detoxamin EDTA (which I currently do not carry) as another means of detoxification. I would like to follow-up in 4-6 months with her.

I highly recommend anyone who suffers from fatigue to also have their Hair Mineral Analysis performed.

Below is some information on lead, sources and its toxic properties.

Lead is one of a number of substances termed a "heavy" metal, all of which are either very difficult or impossible for the body to process out. In lead poisoning, ingested or inhaled lead enters the bloodstream. It inhibits the production of hemoglobin -- which is needed by red cells to carry oxygen -- and locks onto and inactivates essential enzymes in the brain and nervous system.

While lead poisoning among children was once mainly caused by old paint, U.S. manufacturers long ago banned the ingredient. Today, a new rash of high lead levels in the bloodstreams of American kids continues to be caused by foreign products -- mainly from China.

In the wake of scandals involving tainted food and toothpaste from China comes word of a new concern from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as the Food and Drug Administration. So serious is the resurgence of lead poisoning among U.S. children that the Iowa Department of Public Health is working on writing a new law to require mandatory testing of those entering school for the first time.

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning may be hard to detect at first, because children who appear healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies. The accumulation of lead usually is gradual, building up unnoticed until levels become dangerous and cause signs and symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children are nonspecific and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sluggishness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Unusual paleness (pallor) from anemia
  • Learning difficulties

Signs and symptoms in adults

  • Pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities
  • Muscular weakness
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Memory loss
  • Mood disorders
  • Reduced sperm count, abnormal sperm

Lead Poisoning in Chinese Products

IWave after wave of recalls have been announced with the only common denominator in each case being the product was “Made in China”. There are many theories floating around as to how these products were even sold on North American soil. 2007 was a record year for toy recalls. U.S. regulatory agencies and companies instituted numerous recalls for defective, dangerous or toxic products, such as toothpaste, children's jewelry, toys, tools, dog food, baby bibs, tires and computer batteries. The common link between many of these products: They were made in China and contain lead paint.

If you have, or know someone who has kids, you need to let them know about this site, and the effects of lead poisoning. With recent high-profile incidents involving dangerous goods imported from China, the American media has finally begun to warn consumers about the dangers of cheaply producing goods in a country hardly known for its strict safety regulations. After spending some time digging through product recall press releases, we’ve found that the mainstream media is still only reporting the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dangerous products imported from China.


Lead Poisoning a Threat for Children

Lead poses the greatest danger to babies and young children whose developing brains and neurological systems are very susceptible to its devastating effects, which include learning disabilities, behavioral problems, reduced IQ, mental retardation, academic failure, brain damage, neuropsychological deficits, hyperactive behavior and attention deficit disorder, antisocial (criminal) behavior, as well as seizures, coma, and death at very high levels. Make no mistake that it is a deadly chemical.

The good news is that since its use as a motor fuel additive was banned in 1968 and its inclusion in house paints also subsequently prohibited, the average levels of lead found in children's blood has dropped significantly over the past 20 years. Nonetheless, The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) found that about 1.7 million US children under the age of six still had blood levels above the Center for Disease Control's "safe" level.

Here are the major tips for avoiding lead contamination. More information is available and if you have young children in a home that was built or painted prior to 1978 (which includes an estimated 83 percent of privately owned housing units built in the US), we urge you to seek it out by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800 424 LEAD.

1. If you have small children in an older home with double-hung windows, only open the top window. This reduces the amount of tiny paint chips from oxidizing paint that rain down onto the window sills and floors in the area of the window. If you do keep the bottom window open, the area should be mopped frequently with a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP).

2. If you're doing remodeling, again, we urge you to seek more information from the National Lead Information Center at 100-424-LEAD. Lead paint removal is complicated and preventing contamination will require either a lot of planning, or the services of a qualified contractor. Plan your remodeling so that children will not be around when old paint is removed. You must also be careful that paint removed from the outside of the structure does not fall down on the ground around the home as it will contaminate the soil.

3. Before drinking tap water (we don't think that in most cases, this is a very good idea anyway), let it run at least one to three minutes in the morning or anytime it has not been used for six hours orlonger. Tap water standing in old pipes may dissolve unhealthy amoungs of lead from pipes or solder. A good quality filter, however, will eliminate lead. [Link href to Water Filters]

4. When installing or repairing plumbing, make sure the solder used is lead free.

5. Avoid eating and drinking from imported ceramics, china and crystal that may contain lead.

6. If you have an old bathtub, replace it with a new one not covered with a lead-based glaze.

7. Do not eat vegetables or fruits grown very close to busy roads or highways. Residual contamination from leaded gasoline may still be in the soil.

Lead in Your Home

Do you know how old your house is? You likely do know if you moved into the house when it was new or if you live in a newer neighborhood in the suburbs. But what if you are renting your home or apartment or you bought a previously owned home?

Lead poisoning is still a problem, especially in low-income children, urban children, and those living in older housing . It is estimated that 2.2% of children in the United States (about 434,000 children) aged 1-5 years have a blood lead level greater than or equal to 10 µg/dL, the level at which lead is thought to cause harmful health effects, including learning disabilities and behavior problems.

Just as concerning are new reports that show that there may be no safe lead levels. Some recent reports have shown small declines in IQ points for children even if their lead level was under 10. Another report showed a delay in when puberty begins in girls with lead levels less than 3.

To avoid your child having even low levels of lead, it is important to take the screening questionaires seriously and unless you are sure of the age of your home, answer that you don't know and request a blood lead level be tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends universal screening in areas with >27% of housing built before 1950 and in populations in which the percentage of 1- and 2-year-olds with elevated BLLs is >12%.

You can see if you live in an area where there are a lot of older homes by searching this census database. Select your 'state' and then 'county' and choose '1990 ZIP Codes within one State' to see how many of the homes in your zip code were built before 1950. Don't rely on your Pediatrician to know if you live in a high risk area. Your Pediatrician likely has patients in many different zip codes and might not know the risk for each.

There is also a recommendation from the Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention that screening blood lead test be performed on all children enrolled in Medicaid at ages 1 and 2 years.