JU LY 2018
fun in the sun page11
Natural first aid Healing connections Know your hair type
aloe for skin care
6/6/18 10:13 AM
5/18/18 11:38 AM
July 2018 vol.14 no.7
28 11 feature
4 From the Editor’s Desk 6 Health Pulse
Vitamin D may help treat diabetes • Yogic breathing influences the mind • Fish oil helps arthritis pain • More
14 The Goods 16 Healthspan
Stay connected to boost health.
19 Sports Nutrition
Get the latest on protein powders.
22 Supplement Spotlight Support your veins.
26 Herbal Healing
Ease the symptoms of menopause with vitex.
28 Healthy Glow
sun safety Prevent and treat UV-related skin damage.
Check out our top summer hair care tips.
29 Everyday Remedies Learn the basics of first aid.
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, discusses the role of Hintonia latiflora in the treatment and prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Cover: Aloe vera.
A source for news, information, and ideas for your healthy lifestyle. remedies-and-recipes.com
@RemediesRecipes July 2018
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from the editor ’s desk
Reaching Out Live longer, and live better. That’s an ongoing quest, and a theme we pay a lot of attention to at remedies. I’ve had several close relatives live well into their 90s, and a few others who didn’t make it nearly that far. Diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors certainly played a role in their lives, although genetics and environmental factors may have been even more important. I often think about how to improve my odds of living longer. Fortunately, I love to run and walk, and I’ve always liked broccoli! In this issue, Jane Eklund casts light on an often overlooked factor in the quality (and length) of life. “Social Connections” (page 16) explores the research behind the idea that strong social ties—whether in a family group, neighborhood, club, or other network—can increase our chances of living longer. “People who have broad and varied social relationships that are rewarding are more likely to be in good physical health and to live longer,” Jane writes. Studies show that not having any viable social connections can have as much of a negative impact on the lifespan as smoking or not exercising. Fascinating stuff, and important. Of course, so many other things affect our health and well-being, and we do our best to cover those issues too. This issue highlights the value of proper sun protection (page 11), maintaining healthy veins (page 22), controlling diabetes (page 30), and much more. Enjoy summer. And reach out to a friend.
Rich Wallace, editor
Chief Content Officer and Strategist Lynn Tryba Contributing Editors Lisa Fabian, Rich Wallace Editorial Assistant Kelli Ann Wilson Art Director Michelle Knapp Graphic Designer Ronna Rajaniemi Custom Graphics Manager Donna Sweeney Business Development Director Amy Pierce Customer Service email@example.com Client Services Director—Retail Judy Gagne 800-677-8847 x128 Client Services Director—Advertising and Digital Ashley Dunk 800-677-8847 x190 Western Brand Promotions Director Shannon Dunn-Delgado 415-382-1665 Group Brand Promotions Director Bob Mucci 978-255-2062 Executive Director of Retail Sales and Marketing Anna Johnston (Anna.Johnston@TasteforLife.com) Retail Account Manager Kim Willard Founder and Chief Executive Officer T. James Connell
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FASN, FACN, CNS, professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University; Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director, American Botanical Council, editor/publisher of HerbalGram, senior editor, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs; C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, research geochemist, author, Natural Asthma Relief and Prevent, Treat, and Reverse Diabetes; Steven Foster, photographer, herbalist, and senior author of three Peterson Field Guides, author of 101 Medicinal Herbs, A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine and more, associate editor of HerbalGram, the journal of the American Botanical Council; John Neustadt, ND, founder of Montana Integrated Medicine, coauthor, A Revolution in Health Through Nutritional Biochemistry; Lisa Petty, RHN, RNCP, holistic nutrition consultant, author of Living Beauty and host of the health talk radio show Lisa Live; Dana Ullman, MPH, author of The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy and other titles on homeopathy; Marc Ullman, partner at Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, chairman, Legal Advisory Counsel, Natural Products Foundation; Amber Lynn Vitse, CN, is certified in Integrative Nutrition, a fusion bodyworker, and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and writes on health issues. remedies is published monthly by Taste for Life, 149 Emerald Street, Suite O, Keene, NH 03431, 603-283-0034 (fax 603-283-0141); ©2018 Connell Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. This magazine is not intended to provide medical advice on personal health conditions, nor to replace recommendations made by health professionals. The opinions expressed by contributors and sources quoted in articles are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Advertisers and advertising agencies assume liability for all content of advertising and for any claims arising therefrom. Information appearing in remedies may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express permission of the publisher.
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Products advertised or mentioned in this magazine may not be available in all locations. 4 remedies
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S A V ES A V E
4/16/18 1:39 PM
five habits for longer life
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking can add more than a decade to life expectancy, according to a long-term study from Harvard. Life expectancy at age 50 was 14 years longer for women who followed the five principles, compared to those who adhered to none of them. Men gained 12 years, on average. Those additional years would bring women to age 93 and men to 87, based on present life expectancies for US adults. Participants included more than 78,000 women, who were followed for 34 years, and more than 44,000 men, who were tracked for 27 years. Those with the healthiest lifestyles were 82 percent less likely to die from heart disease and 65 percent less likely to die from cancer when compared to those with the least healthy practices. “Prevention, through diet and lifestyle modifications, has enormous benefits in terms of reducing occurrence of chronic diseases, improving life expectancy as shown in this study, and reducing health care costs,” said study author Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD. “Five Healthy Habits May Add More than a Decade to Life,” American Heart Association, 4/30/18 l “Following Five Healthy Lifestyle Habits May Increase Life Expectancy by Decade or More,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 4/30/18
it all adds up
Accumulating brief bouts of physical activity throughout the day appears to provide benefits similar to those of longer workouts, according to a new study. “Guidelines have suggested that moderate-to-vigorous activity could provide health benefits, but only if you sustained the activity for 10 minutes or more,” said researcher William E. Kraus, MD. “That flies in the face of public health recommendations, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking farther from your destination. Those don’t take 10 minutes, so why were they recommended?” “Whether Sustained or Sporadic, Exercise Offers Same Reductions in Death Risk,” Duke University Medical Center, 3/22/18
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D shows diabetes promise Vitamin D may prove to be a vital factor in treating diabetes, according to scientists at the Salk Institute. They discovered that the vitamin helps protect cells in the pancreas that store and release insulin. When those beta cells are dysfunctional, they can’t make insulin to control blood sugar (glucose). In turn, glucose levels can rise to dangerous levels. “We know that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation,” said researcher Ronald Evans, PhD. “We identified the vitamin D receptor as an important modulator of both inflammation and beta cell survival.” “Boosting the Effects of Vitamin D to Tackle Diabetes,” Salk Institute, 5/10/18
did you know? Elevated blood sugar may hasten age-related cognitive decline. In a new 10-year study, participants’ cognition declined as their blood-sugar levels rose, whether or not they had diabetes or prediabetes at the start of the trial. “Wellness Made Easy,” University of California Berkeley Wellness Letter, 5/18
yogic breathing may sharpen mind Controlled breathing—a key part of meditation and mindfulness practices— directly affects a key chemical messenger in the brain, according to a new study from Trinity College Dublin. The finding suggests that controlled breathing can enhance attention and improve brain health. “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years that respiration influences the mind,” said lead author Michael Melnychuk. “We looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity.” The researchers determined that the chemical messenger noradrenaline is affected by how we breathe. “When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can’t focus,” Melnychuk said. “When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can’t focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking, and memory are much clearer.” He said that attention is influenced by our breath, and that “it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration.” “Meditation and Breathing Exercises Can Sharpen Your Mind,” NeuroscienceNews.com, 5/10/18
l remedies 7 5/29/18 8:24 AM
supplement may help heart patients Certain heart failure patients may benefit from a beetroot juice supplement. New research showed that those with reduced ejection fraction who took the supplement saw significant increases in how long they could exercise as well as peak power and peak oxygen uptake during exercise. Reduced ejection fraction means that the heart muscle doesn’t contract effectively and doesn’t provide sufficient oxygen-rich blood to the body. Tens of millions of people have heart failure, and about half of them have reduced ejection fraction. No negative side effects were seen from the beetroot supplement. “Beetroot Juice Supplements May Help Certain Heart Failure Patients,” Indiana University, 2/22/18 l “Dietary Nitrate Increases VO2peak and Performance but Does Not Alter Ventilation or Efficiency in Patients with Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction” by A.R. Coggan et al., Journal of Cardiac Failure, 2/18
fish oil may ease arthritis
more OA help
Essential fatty acids from fish oil can reduce pain and inflammation in joints, helping to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA). A review of 68 studies concluded that about a gram a day of fish oil would also help improve cardiovascular health in people with OA. “OA patients would benefit greatly from some ability to self-manage their condition,” wrote the authors, who noted that treatment options are limited. They wrote that for overweight OA patients, “weight reduction, ideally incorporating exercise, is paramount.” Strength training, flexibility, and aerobic exercises were recommended. The researchers also determined that eating more foods that are abundant in vitamin K may enhance the work of proteins that enable bone growth and repair while decreasing the risk of OA. Kale, spinach, and parsley are examples of foods that are rich in K. “The importance of a good diet and regular exercise should never be underestimated,” said researcher Margaret Rayman, PhD. “Not only does it keep us fit and healthy, but as we have learned from this study, it can also lessen painful symptoms of osteoarthritis.”
The Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter suggests the following treatments for osteoarthritis (OA). n Physical therapy for stretching and strengthening. n Weight loss to ease pressure on joints. n Walking to slow OA’s progression. n Acupuncture, though studies have shown mixed results. n Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which also show mixed results. “Take Charge,” Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, May 2018
“Symptoms of Osteoarthritis Lessened with Simple Changes to Diet,” University of Surrey, 5/8/18 l “What Is the Evidence for a Role for Diet and Nutrition in Osteoarthritis?” by S. Thomas et al., Rheumatology, 5/1/18
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4/30/18 2:55 PM
5/17/18 9:31 AM
By Lynn Tryba
sun safety keep your skin protected this summer
Medical experts have been screaming at the sun-worshipping public for decades, trying to make them understand that sun exposure—including the use of tanning beds—is dangerous. The US Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation—from the sun and artificial sources—to be carcinogenic. Statistics show that Americans are getting the message about tanning beds. Usage among the heaviest users of tanning beds—white women ages 18 to 21—dropped from almost 32 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2015. Unfortunately, skin damage accumulates over the course of the lifespan. Sun exposure and sunburns from childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood add up, sometimes leading to cancer. The statistics are alarming. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma skin cancer rates are rising, and the Mayo Clinic reports that between 2000 and 2010, squamous cell carcinoma diagnoses increased by 263 percent and basal cell carcinomas increased 145 percent. But first, a little background on Americans’ love affair with artificial sun. July 2018
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continued from page 11
An industry in flux
Cool the fire Despite our best efforts to protect our skin from sun damage, sometimes we still get burned. The American Academy of Dermatology offers these helpful ways to get your skin on the mend: • Bathe or shower in cool water for instant pain relief. Gently pat dry and apply a moisturizer to trap water in your skin. • Look for a moisturizer that contains aloe vera and gently apply to damaged skin. Avoid products containing “-caine” ingredients (benzocaine, etc.) as they may irritate skin further. • Drink lots of water, since sunburns can lead to dehydration. • Allow any sunburn-related blisters to heal naturally— don’t pop! • While skin is healing, be sure to keep it covered when spending time in the sun. If light passes easily through fabric, it’s too sheer to offer adequate protection. “How to Treat Sunburn,” American Academy of Dermatology, www.AAD.org
The first tanning salon opened in the late 1970s. People tanned because they believed they looked more attractive and healthier with darker skin. In sun-deprived parts of the country, people craved light so much that enclosing themselves in a cocoon that blasted them with artificial light seemed appealing. Some found that it boosted their mood in winter. Others believed that a base tan would protect them from getting a sunburn on vacation or at the beginning of bathing suit season. By 2008, there were more than 18,000 tanning salons in the US, and business was booming. By 2010, the tanning industry’s revenue was estimated at $2.6 billion. As skin cancer rates continued to climb, the medical profession and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—whose mandate is to protect consumers—began ringing the alarm in earnest. In 2010, the FTC forced the Indoor Tanning Association to stop its marketing campaign claiming that there were health benefits to indoor tanning. By 2016, the number of salons had plummeted to 9,500. It may not sound like a lot compared to the early days, but those remaining salons still service about 30 million people each year.
The cost of exposure
Young white women remain the heaviest users of tanning beds, making up nearly 70 percent of salon patrons. In 2010, women ages 18 to 25 who used tanning beds averaged about 28 salon trips each year. Once they reach their 40s, these same women will develop wrinkles, crow’s feet, keratoses (raised benign lesions), and hyperpigmentation, also called sunspots, due to UV overexposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that frequent ultraviolet ray exposure before age 35 increases the risk of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—by 75 percent. Each use of a tanning bed increases the risk. Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may be responsible for 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the US each year. Because overexposure to the sun and UV rays during childhood greatly increases the chance of skin cancer later in life, most states now regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors. California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Washington all ban the use of tanning beds for children under 18. Between 2009 and 2015, indoor tanning among adolescents dropped by more than 50 percent, due in part to state restrictions on minors.
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9 Sun Savvy Tips
1. Both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB)
can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF between 30 and 50. Look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, a UV reflector that scatters UV radiation.
2. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure.
Reapply about two tablespoons of sunscreen to the entire body every two hours, more often if you’ve been swimming or sweating a lot.
“Can You Be Addicted to Tanning?” by Arielle Grabel, https://blog.SkinCancer.org, 1/30/18 l “EWG’s Guide to Safer Sunscreens,” Environmental Working Group, 2017 l “Incidences and Trends of Basal Cell Carcinoma and Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma” by J.G. Muzic et al., Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2017 l “Indoor Tanning Restrictions for Minors: A State-By-State Comparison,” National Conference of State Legislatures, 3/12/18 l “International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning . . .” by M.R. Wehner et al., JAMA Dermatol, 2014 l “Prevalence and Characteristics of Indoor Tanning Use Among Men and Women in the United States” by K. Choi et al., Archives of Dermatology, 2010 l “Prevention Guidelines,” Skin Cancer Foundation, www.SkinCancer.org l “Tanning Bed Use Declining Among US Adults” by Carolyn Crist, Reuters Health l “Twilight of the Tanning Salons” by Patrick Clark, www.Bloomberg.com, 10/5/16
3. Wear a wide-brimmed hat. 4. Use sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV light. Wrap-around styles are best.
5. Wear protective clothing outdoors. 6. Find shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 7. Avoid sunscreens and lip products that contain
vitamin A. Research shows that when vitamin A is exposed to sunlight it can speed the development of skin tumors.
8. Be aware that UV radiation can penetrate car and office windows. Apply sunscreen accordingly.
9. Avoid using tanning beds and sunlamps.
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4/2/18 8:53 AM
social connections cultivate relations, live long, and prosper
One of the best things you can do to live a long, healthy life doesn’t require a visit to the doctor, a change in diet, or a new supplement regimen. It’s all about social connections. “Social” Science Get connected: It’s not just common sense that physical and mental health is enhanced by having a supportive network–family, friends, faith community, knitting group, poker buddies, or whatever. It’s backed by an array of scientific evidence. “Wide-ranging research suggests that strong social ties are linked to a longer life. In contrast, loneliness and social isolation are linked to poorer health, depression, and increased risk of early death,” reports News in Health from the National Institutes of Health. Numerous experiments going as far back as the 1970s show that people experiencing positive emotions are better at being socially engaged, at including others socially, and at showing consideration, trust, and compassion. People who have broad and varied social relationships that are rewarding are more likely to be in good physical health and to live longer. An analysis of more than 140 studies that looked at a combined 300,000 people concluded that, in terms of mortality risk, a lack of social connectedness is comparable to other major risk factors including smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, and lack of exercise.
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A Sense of Belonging Emma Seppälä, PhD, science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and author of The Happiness Track, defines social connection as “The subjective experience of feeling close to and a sense of belongingness with others.” She lists its benefits as longer lifespan, stronger immunity, lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem and empathy, better regulation of emotions, and “a positive feedback loop of social, emotional, and physical well-being.” Low levels of social connection, on the other hand, can lead to higher inflammation, higher susceptibility to anxiety and depression, slower recovery from illness, and increased antisocial behavior, Dr. Seppälä writes.
The Costs of Isolation Social connectedness rates are dropping in the United States, with one survey indicating that more than a quarter of people have no one to talk with about personal problems. For aging adults, loneliness is a serious health risk. Speaking at a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, psychologist John Cacioppo, PhD, noted that feeling isolated from other people can cause insomnia, elevated blood pressure, spikes in the stress hormone cortisol, gene changes in immune cells, increased depression, and a lower sense of well-being. Dr. Cacioppo, who died earlier this year, had pointed to three dimensions of healthy relationships: • Intimate connectedness, or having someone in your life who affirms who you are; • Relational connectedness, or having mutually satisfying in-person contacts; • Collective connectedness, or feeling part of a larger group.
Don’t Lose Touch It’s not about living alone: Risks to health and lifespan come not from physical isolation but from feeling isolated. So if you’re feeling disconnected, or if you want to maintain connections as you age, consider a few approaches. Retiring to a warmer climate may mean fewer weather hassles, but staying where your support network is may outweigh that. Reach out to others by volunteering and offering acts of kindness. Be sure to ask for help when you need it–if you don’t ask, people will assume you’re OK. Turn casual or online “friendships” into real ones by inviting a friend for a walk or a cup of tea. Finally, don’t just seek a friend: Be a friend. —Jane Eklund “8 Ways to Really Connect with Each Other” by Carrie Barron, www.PsychologyToday.com, 9/30/15 l “AAAS 2014: Loneliness Is a Major Health Risk for Older Adults” by Williams Harms, University of Chicago, 2/16/14 l “Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection” by Emma Seppälä, Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, http://ccare.Stanford.edu, 5/8/14 l “Do Social Ties Affect Our Health?” NIH News in Health, 2/17 l “How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health . . .” by Bethany Kok et al., Sage Publications, 5/6/13
l remedies 17 5/24/18 11:00 AM
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shake it up
protein powders pack a punch at any age Word of the day: Sarcopenia. The degenerative loss of muscle mass that happens faster around age 75 but that can also speed up around age 65. “Once you lose more than 10 percent of your muscle mass, your immune system doesn’t function properly,” Randall J. Urban, MD, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, told AARP the Magazine. And a weakened immune system is just the beginning of the problems seniors face, according to Caryl Nowson, PhD, an expert on nutrition and aging. Research shows loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength can lead to increased risks of mortality and morbidity, and reduced quality of life in older people. Dr. Nowson’s research team found that an increase of 25 percent in protein over the USDA requirements for people older than 70 was the best way to go. Studies showed that people who followed the lower recommended amounts had lost muscle mass compared to those who followed the higher-dose recommendation.
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Protein = Power
Pace yourself for peak performance Paul Arciero, DPE, has been studying our nutritional relationship to proteins for 30 years. What has he learned? Pacing your protein intake throughout the day can substantially improve your body composition (less body fat, especially harmful abdominal visceral fat), blood sugar levels, and blood glucose while improving blood pressure and reducing cellular (oxidative) stress, thus reducing free-radical damage. Protein pacing, Arciero says, requires you to eat four to six mini meals daily, each including at least 20 grams of quality protein. The first meal should be within an hour of waking and the last within two hours of bedtime. If you pace your proteins, your athletic performance will improve as well, says Arciero. In addition to an increase in lean muscle mass, you will improve your upper and lower body strength and aerobic power. “Increased Protein Intake and Meal Frequency Reduces Abdominal Fat During Energy Balance and Energy Deficit” by P.J. Arciero et al., Obesity, 7/13
The top five rated protein sources are cow’s milk, eggs, casein (milk protein), soy protein, and whey. Whey protein isolate: Whey is one of the three proteins derived from the components in milk. Whey isolates contain the highest percentage of pure protein and can be almost lactose free, carbohydrate free, and fat free. Whey protein concentrate: Whey concentrates have low, but still significant, levels of fat and cholesterol. They range from about 29 percent to 89 percent protein by weight. Casein protein: Another milk byproduct, casein provides a slow release of amino acids into the bloodstream for several hours. Plant protein: Organic protein powders and drinks tend to favor vegetarian ingredients like pea protein, sprouted beans, brown rice, hemp, flax, or chia. Plant-based proteins are easy to digest and they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Protein blends: Protein blends, a combination of proteins (often from whey, casein, peas, rice, eggs, or soy), differ from a single-source protein in that they release their proteins at different times, helping sustain the benefits over a longer period of time. —Dave Clarke “How to Get into the Best Shape of Your Life, According to Science” by Kristin Canning, www.Health.com, 3/27/17 l “Protein Requirements and Recommendations for Older People: A Review” by C. Nowson and S. O’Connell, Nutrients, 8/15 l “Supplements to Take in Your 50s, 60s, and 70s” by Amy Paturel, AARP the Magazine, www.AARP.org
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5/1/18 9:23 AM
healthy veins diet, supplements help keep them strong
Veins have one primary job: Returning blood to the heart and lungs to be reloaded with oxygen before it heads back out in the body again. A few things can go wrong with this part of the circulation system, generally falling into the two categories of blood clots or “insufficiency.”
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Trouble at 30,000 Feet Insufficiency describes a poor or sluggish return of the blood to the heart. This insufficiency is mostly associated with cosmetic and uncomfortable (but not life-threatening) symptoms. Fortunately, diet and lifestyle changes can provide some relief for insufficiency disorders.
Varicose Veins When improperly working valves allow blood to accumulate in the veins, it stretches them out of shape and can lead to the swollen, bulging blue veins called varicose veins. The legs are a common location for this venous insufficiency problem. Varicose veins may cause an achy, heavy feeling as well as leg cramps, itching, and throbbing. Sitting or standing in one place exacerbates the symptoms. Women experience these more often than men, in part because pregnancy ups the risk, as extra blood present throughout pregnancy tends to pool in the legs, enlarging veins. To make matters worse, the weight of an expanding uterus puts extra pressure on leg veins, while pregnancy hormones promote relaxation in the walls of veins. This all adds up to a case of varicose veins for many pregnant women. Heredity can make you susceptible to varicose veins, but diet and lifestyle can tilt the scales away from their development. Walking is great for anyone with varicose veins, while cycling and other low-impact exercises can also help. The best dietary protection for healthier veins is to focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Also eat plenty of foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus, green peppers, and berries, as this vitamin helps to strengthen vein walls. As for supplements, the antioxidant Pycnogenol (derived from pine bark) leads the pack in terms of easing the symptoms of varicose veins. Pycnogenol supports healthy circulation and performs on par with compression stockings, yet does not come with the discomfort (especially in warmer climates!) of wearing compression stockings. Herbal supplements for strengthening veins include horse chestnut and butcher’s broom. Horse chestnut extract promotes healthy circulation in the veins while also reducing swelling. Butcher’s broom is used by many of those with vein conditions, such as varicose veins, with positive outcomes. Vein-supporting supplements are available as both oral and topical formulas.
Air travel serves as an increasingly uncomfortable way to get from point A to point B, as seats get smaller and legroom has all but disappeared in the dry air of the airplane cabin. The combination of dehydration and cramped seating can result in blood pooling in the legs, which can trigger the formation of blood clots (a condition called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT). The longer the flight, the greater the risk. To reduce your risk of DVT, take a stroll to the bathroom or around the cabin every half hour or so and do some simple stretches while in your seat. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just some sets of ankle circles, alternating foot and knee lifts, and bringing your knees to your chest. If you are at high risk of blood clots, consider taking supplemental prevention. There is some evidence that supplements of Pycnogenol can be beneficial in DVT risk reduction on long flights. “Long-Haul Flights, Edema, and Thrombotic Events . . .” by G. Belcaro et al., Minerva Card, 4/18
Hemorrhoids More than half of the population will experience hemorrhoids at some point. They’re actually just varicose veins that occur in the anus and rectum. In general, they are the result of excessive pressure on the veins in that area. They’re more common with advancing age, during pregnancy, or in those who have a family history of hemorrhoids, over use laxatives or enemas, or experience frequent constipation or diarrhea.
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Hemorrhoids are classified as either internal or external, depending on their location. External hemorrhoids feel like hard lumps and are very sensitive. Internal hemorrhoids may protrude during bowel movements, which may or may not be painful. Other symptoms of hemorrhoids are itching in the anal area or bleeding during bowel movements. The straining that accompanies constipation places extra pressure on the affected veins, either causing or worsening hemorrhoids. Therefore, treating underlying constipation is an important first step for resolving them. People who have a high fiber intake are less likely to develop hemorrhoids. But remember to drink more fluids anytime you eat extra fiber. The insoluble form of fiber, which is primarily found in whole grains and vegetables, makes the stool softer, bulkier, and easier to pass. Supplementary fibers, such as psyllium seeds, may also be used to increase fiber intake. The herb horse chestnut as an oral supplement may help shrink hemorrhoids. Research has documented benefits from horse chestnut extract in just under a week of daily use. Alternatively, it can be applied as an ointment to the affected area a few times a day. HORSE CHESTNUT
Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH, a health journalist for more than two decades, is the author of Life After Baby: Rediscovering and Reclaiming Your Healthy Pizzazz (Basic Health Publications, 2012).
—Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH “Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut),” Alternative Medicine Review, 2009 l “Management of Varicose Veins and Chronic Venous Insufficiency in a Comparative Registry with Nine Venoactive Products in Comparison with Stockings” by G. Belcaro et al,. 2017; “Patients’ Satisfaction with Therapy Methods of Advanced Chronic Venous Disease” by J. Chudek et al., 2016, Int Angiol l “Think You Can’t Exercise With Varicose Veins? Think Again,” Vein Clinics of America. www.VeinClinics.com, 2/15/18
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this herb is MVP when it comes to menstrual regularity
The berries of Vitex agnus-castus, or chaste tree, have been used since antiquity. In modern times, chasteberry (also called monk’s pepper, chaste tree fruit, chaste tree berry, or, simply, vitex) has become one of the most relied-upon botanicals in Western herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide array of gynecological complaints, from infertility to menopause. 26 remedies
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Quality and safety
One of the primary uses of chasteberry is for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Clinical studies have reported on vitex’s ability to alleviate or reduce irritability, mood alteration, anger, headache, breast fullness, restlessness, and fluid retention (edema). In these studies, while effectiveness was assessed after three cycles, many users noticed improvements within the first cycle. Other studies have reported the effectiveness of chasteberry in reducing anxiety, sugar cravings, depression and crying spells, lack of concentration, and breast pain.
Good quality chasteberries have a strong, warming taste somewhat akin to black pepper. However, a number of vitex species used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine do not possess this characteristic and, therefore, may not be effective for the purposes mentioned here. For ensuring quality, taste is really the best test. Even a small taste from your tablet, tincture, or capsule will tell you if the herbal product possesses the characteristic pungency. The mild side effects reported for chasteberry (upset stomach, acne, occasional headache, and itching) are uncommon.
Treating cyclical conditions n Breast pain. Chasteberry is effective for the treatment of breast pain, or mastalgia. Vitex has been found to be nearly as effective as the hormone progesterone in combating premenstrual mastalgia. Its effects are thought to be partly the result of chasteberry’s action as an inhibitor of prolactin, the primary hormone associated with milk production in new mothers. Elevated prolactin levels may contribute to breast pain. Pain and swelling in the breasts, however, should be assessed by a healthcare provider to rule out other conditions before turning to vitex. n Menstrual cycle regulation. One of the most specific uses of chasteberry is for the treatment of several menstrual irregularities: lack of menses, abnormally long menstrual cycles, abnormally frequent menses (cycles shorter than 26 days), and infertility. Chasteberry is the herb of choice for its ability to regulate the cyclical hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the month, specifically a normalization of the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and progesterone levels. n Relief at menopause. In Germany, clinicians recommend chasteberry for the management of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, and depression. n Managing acne. Acne is often a result of hormonal imbalance. In one study, a group of patients treated with chasteberry was reported to show a quicker healing time after six weeks. Lapses in treatment resulted in a relatively frequent recurrence of symptoms after three to six weeks. After three months, 70 percent of the patients who had failed to respond to prolonged conventional therapy prior to the study showed complete healing.
Other uses American herbalists offer chasteberry for the treatment of uterine fibroids and cysts as well as endometriosis. Although conventional medicine’s response to these common conditions is often to recommend partial or complete hysterectomies, many such surgeries are considered unnecessary when patients seek a second opinion.
It’s a natural for women’s health Given the broad range of conditions for which it is used, it is no wonder that vitex has become indispensable to US herbalists and naturopathic physicians. Its importance is further accentuated by the fact that allopathic medicine has little to offer to women for gynecological care. Surgery and powerful hormonal therapies—with their own sets of risks and side effects— continue to be the treatments of choice for American women unfamiliar with the benefits of chasteberry. —Roy Upton
Herbalist Roy Upton, DAyu, is the founder, executive director, and editor of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP). He is also cofounder and past president of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG) and serves on botanical expert advisory committees of AOAC International, the American Botanical Council, and NSF International. He is the author of several books on herbs and a coeditor of The Botanical Safety Handbook. Chaste Tree Fruit, Roy Upton, ed., American Herbal Pharmacopoeia l “Efficacy of Vitex agnus castus L. Extract Ze 440 in Patients with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)” by D. Berger et al., Arch Gyn Obst l “Pre-menstrual Syndrome Treatment with Agnus Castus Extract: a Randomised, Placebo-Controlled Study” by R. Shellenberg et al., Brit Med J
Can vitex be used during pregnancy? The Botanical Safety Handbook, a textbook reviewing the safety of botanicals, advises that chasteberry not be used in pregnancy, based on reports in the historical literature of its use for bringing on the menstrual cycle. While there is no substantiation in the modern clinical literature regarding this effect, it is nevertheless a caution to consider following. Similarly, the Handbook states that chasteberry may interfere with the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. However, there is also no substantiation for this in either modern studies or the experience of clinicians.
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care for your hair for great-looking locks, know your type
Summertime living is easy . . . but it can be hard on the hair. Baked by the sun, whipped into a tangled mess by the wind, and fried by chlorine in the pool, hair can take a beating in the warmer months. But there are lots of natural ways to love your locks. The first step is learning what type of hair you have. Hair type exists on a complex matrix of textures, but there are a few characteristics that help narrow it down. HAIR TYPE
Dull, frizzy, and prone to split ends and dandruff
Dull, limp, with a tendency toward dandruff
Fine or Thin
Limp, flat, frizzy, tends to break or split easily, often looks dirty
Coarse, frizzy, may show surface damage
If you have dry hair, avoid washing too frequently and limit or avoid heated styling tools including straighteners. Look for hair care products that include herbs like calendula and chamomile. Essential oils that benefit dry hair include sandalwood and rose. Supplements like vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and biotin may also be helpful. Oily hair benefits from conditioning at the tips only and a light touch when it comes to brushing. Lemon balm, mint, rosemary, and sage are great herbs for oily hair. Look for products that include essential oils from cedarwood, grapefruit, lavender, and tea tree. To treat oily hair from the inside out, try supplementing with vitamins A and C, as well as zinc.
If you have fine or thin hair you’ll want to avoid styling products like gels and sprays, and limit the use of heavy conditioners that weigh hair down. Look for products with oat straw, lemongrass essential oil, and seaweed. Avocado and evening primrose oils are also great. Thick hair requires a gentle touch to prevent frizz, so avoid brushing when wet and also avoid blow-drying or coloring with permanent hair color products, which have thickening effects. Look for shampoos and conditioners that contain aloe vera and thyme, as well as essential oils of geranium and orange. Moisturizing ingredients like almond, coconut, and jojoba oils can also help thick hair look its best. —Kelli Ann Wilson
Natural Beauty edited by Rebecca Warren and Shannon Beatty ($25, DK Publishing, 2015) l Recipes for Natural Living Essential Oils Handbook by Amy Leigh Mercree ($14.95, Sterling, 2018)
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e ve r y d a y r e m e d i e s
first aid What is it? Treatment of small cuts and scrapes that bleed, or bumps and bruises with associated mild swelling, redness, and tenderness.
Food: Good nutrition speeds wound healing. Try foods rich in vitamins A and C, such as citrus, bell peppers, leafy greens, and tomatoes. High protein foods like beans, eggs, milk, meat, and yogurt are also useful.
Supplements: Vitamins A and C, and the mineral
Herbal therapy: Arnica, goldenseal, all-heal, and
Homeopathy: For cuts and scrapes, try Calendula, Staphysagria, and Phosphorus; for bumps and bruises consider Arnica, Aconite, Bellis perennis, Bryonia, Hypericum, and Ledum.
Lifestyle: Rinse cuts and scrapes with cool water
lavender essential oil.
and apply light pressure with clean gauze to stop any bleeding. Apply a cold compress for 20 to 30 minutes on bumps and bruises to reduce swelling and speed healing.
“Bruise”; “Cuts, Scrapes & Open Wounds,” National Center for Homeopathy, www.HomeopathyCenter.org l “Bruises,” 11/18/17; “First Aid Tips,” 12/8/16; “How to Treat Minor Cuts and Scrapes,” 8/12/17, www.WebMD.com l “Cuts and Scrapes: First Aid,” 11/15/17; “First-Aid Kits: Stock Supplies That Can Save Lives,” 4/17/15, www.MayoClinic.org l “Nutrition Tips to Improve Wound Healing,” www.My.ClevelandClinic.org, 9/23/14
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Diabetes Is Optional
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board-certified internist and author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” which was ranked in the top 10 of all health/wellness downloads on iTunes. Dr. Teitelbaum is the author of the perennial bestseller From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Penguin Group/Avery), which has sold over half a million copies.
Hintonia latiflora is an extract of the bark of a shrubby tree that grows in the Sonoran Desert. It has been used in folk medicine in Mexico and Central America to treat and even reverse high blood sugar, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome for over a century. It’s been studied in detail for its ability to reverse high blood sugars for the past 60 years. After a number of case reports showing efficacy, 10 more studies have been published looking at this herb’s effectiveness in treating diabetes. Research has shown it was so effective that many patients with Type 2 diabetes could reduce or eliminate their need for insulin, especially those needing 25 units a day or less. They were also routinely able to lower the dose or eliminate their oral hypoglycemic agents. One Hintonia latiflora study followed 177 patients with prediabetes or mild Type 2 diabetes for eight months. Patients consumed capsules that included hintonia as the primary ingredient. During the study, patients were evaluated every two months on various parameters of diabetes, including HbA1C, fasting glucose, and postprandial blood sugar, as well as common symptoms associated with diabetes, such as neuropathy. At the end of eight months, researchers noted these improvements: n HbA1C improved by a significant average of 10.4 percent. n Fasting glucose improved an average of 23.3 percent. n Postprandial glucose decreased by an average of 24.9 percent. Improvements were also found in diabetic symptoms, as well as blood pressure, cholesterol, and liver enzyme values. Hintonia latiflora is an incredibly safe herbal medicine. Researchers followed up with study participants for almost three years, and there were no side effects or any problems taking it in combination with blood-sugar-control medications.
Mechanisms of Action 1. Hintonia inhibits glucosidases, slowing the breakdown and absorption of sugar in the gut. This delays the release of sugar into the bloodstream and keeps glucose levels low instead of allowing them to spike, a main cause of excessive insulin release. 2. Coutareagenin, a nutrient found in hintonia extracts, appears to be responsible for other blood sugar-controlling benefits. It has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation. —Excerpted with permission from Diabetes Is Optional by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD ($8.95, To Your Health Books, 2018). “Hintonia Concentrate—for the Dietary Treatment of Increased Blood Sugar Values . . .” by M. Schmidt and M. Hladikova, Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 2/14 l “Natural Flavonoids as Potential Herbal Medication for the Treatment of Diabetes . . . ” by J. Chen et al., Nat Prod Commun, 1/15
l July 2018 5/23/18 12:06 PM
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