Friday, September 17, 2010

Hot Flashes

What is happening to me?
You feel your heart begin to race.  You experience some combination of sweating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache, weakness, or a feeling of suffocation. A sudden, intense, hot feeling flushes your face and upper body and you begin to perspire, a little or a lot. You may feel a chill at the beginning of the episode or at the end.   
If this sounds familiar to you, you are all too aware of the affect hot flashes can have on your lifestyle.  It is simply a change in hormonal production that acts as a passage to the second half of life, but it can also be the beginning of new energy and a deeper self awareness within.   
 Eighty-five percent of the women in the United States experience hot flashes as they approach menopause and often one or two years after their period stops.  Hot Flashes are the result of the hormonal changes that occur during menopause, but they can be dramatically affected by lifestyle and treatment choices.   The pituitary hormones begin to flow continuously at high levels and the ovarian hormones, estrogen, progesterone and androgen, begin to slow down.
A diminished level of estrogen has a direct effect on the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling your appetite, sleep cycles, sex hormones, and body temperature.  A drop in estrogen confuses the hypothalamus and causes the brain to respond and alert the heart, blood vessels, and nervous system of overheating. The message is then transmitted by the chemical messengers, epinephrine, norepinephrine, prostaglandin and serotonin.
Under normal circumstances, this is how your body keeps you from overheating, but when the process is triggered by a drop in estrogen, the brain is confused.  Skin temperature can rise as much as six degrees centigrade during a hot flash. Your body cools down when it shouldn't, and suddenly you are soaking wet with little or no warning.  Hot Flashes most commonly occur n the morning, and between at night.   A sudden severe episode can be very frightening and may be misinterpreted as a heart attack. 
For most women hot flashes are mild to moderate, but a small percentage of women experience hot flashes so severe, they seek medical attention to control them. The more rapid the transition to menopause, often after being medically induced, the stronger your symptoms may be. Other factors that may affect the severity include weight, fat to muscle ratio and smoking.
What can I do?
Always begin with the least aggressive and most natural approach when treating your menopausal symptoms.  Studies have shown that medication is not always helpful. Many doctors and pharmaceutical companies see menopause as a deficiency disease, instead of a passage of life.  So, it makes sense to them to view estrogen replacement as the only viable solution to restore vibrancy to menopausal and post menopausal women.   Aside from the misconceptions of this type of thinking, estrogen therapy is not known to be safe for women, particularly women with a history of breast cancer. 
Here are some positive steps you can take:
·         Avoid Pressure: Allow more time to plan your day, as much as possible, around the time you normally experience hot flashes, and give yourself a chance to relax between commitments.
·         Avoid Mood Altering Substances: Alcohol, caffeine, diet pills, smoking can all contribute to more severe reactions during hot flashes.
·         Avoid Heated Situations: Hot or spicy food, hot tubs, saunas, hot showers, hot beds, hot rooms and excessive outdoor heat will intensify hot flashes.
·         Avoid Uncomfortable Clothing: Dress in layers to adjust to body temperature swings.  Wear breathable fabrics
·         Exercise: It will reduce hot flashes, increase endorphin levels, help you sleep better, lower cholesterol levels, improve libido, minimize mood swings, improve self image and strengthen both skeletal and muscular systems.  
·         Use Relaxation Methods: Breathing exercises, meditation, massage, hypnosis and yoga are all methods proven to reduce stress and the physical affect that stress can have on your body.
·         You Are What You Eat: Follow a low-fat diet and avoid processed foods to maintain a healthy weight for your body. 
·         Use Natural Herbs:  A mixture of dong quai,  a female tonic, chasteberry, which regulates the female reproductive system and damiana, used as a tonic and female aphrodisiac may be beneficial when taken once a day, preferably mid day.  A common regimen would be to take these herbs until you no longer experience any hot flashes, and then begin to gradually reduce the dose and stop completely.  Other plant estrogens that women have found effective in treating hot flashes over the centuries can be found in ginseng, evening primrose oil, licorice root, red raspberry leaves, sarsaparilla, spearmint, motherwort, black cohosh, and wild yams. These herbal remedies, may be effective at reducing hot flashes.  However, their relative safety in women who have had breast cancer is not known. Always use great caution when considering plant estrogens and always consult your doctor.
Menopause is one of life’s most natural processes, not a disorder.  All of the pressure of pregnancy, premenstrual and menstrual demands are gone.  And because women develop, sexually, much later in life than men, many say that after menopause, their sex lives actually improve. So, relax, prepare, listen to your body and enjoy the ride.

The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented on this website is for educational purposes only.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Herbs Commonly Used in Poultices

Chaparral, Dandelion, and Yellow Dock:  Can be used to treat skin disorders such as acne, eczema, itchy or dry skin, psoriasis, and rashes. You can use one herb, or combine two or three. The greatest benefit will be obtained from using all three. Use chaparral only if you grow it yourself or purchase it from a reputable organic grower.

Elderberry:  Can relieve pain associated with hemorrhoids.

Fenugreek Seed, Flaxseed Oil, and Slippery Elm Bark: Can be combined to treat inflammation. Slippery elm can also be used alone for the inflamed gangrenous sores often associated with diabetes, and for leg ulcers. The use of a slippery elm poultice upon the appearance of sores and ulcers can help prevent gangrene.

Slippery Elm Bark and Lobelia Leaf: Can be used to treat abscesses, blood poisoning and rheumatism.

Goldenseal Root: Is good for inflammations of all kinds.

Lobelia Leaf and Charcoal: Charcoal is available in health food stores. These are combined and used to treat insect bites, bee stings, and almost all wounds.

Lobelia Leaf and Slippery Elm Bark: Combined to treat abscesses, blood poisoning, and rheumatism.

Mullein Leaf: Is used for inflamed hemorrhoids, lung disorders, mumps, tonsillitis, and sore throat. To make the poultice, mix 4 parts mullein with 1 part hot apple cider vinegar and 1 part water.

Mustard Seed: This is beneficial for inflammation, lung congestion, and swelling, and can help relax tense muscles. Because mustard is an irritant, place the mixture between 2 pieces of cloth, rather than placing it in direct contact with the skin.

Onion Bulb: Is good for ear infections, and for boils and sores that have difficulty healing. To make this poultice, place finely chopped onion between 2 pieces of cloth, rather than placing it in direct contact with the skin.

Poke Root: Is good for an inflamed or sore breast.

Sage Leaf: Like poke root, can help relieve breast inflammation and soreness.

Note: that when the mixture used to make the poultice contains an irritant, such as mustard, it should not come into direct contact with the skin, but should be placed between pieces of cloth.

Disclaimer: The information presented herein by New Way Herbs is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

     When you spend too many hours at the keyboard or on the assembly line and your wrists feel locked up with aching pain, you may be able to rub it away.  Here’s an acupressure treatment worth trying, adjusted for self treatment.  In addition to pain, it may reduce associated swelling and inflammation as well, if practiced daily.
     Using the uninjured (or less painful) hand, press and rub two spots in the middle of the other wrist, above and below, that are located two-and-one-half widths from the wrist joint.  One spot is just about where your watch face rests (feel for the valley of tendons); the other spot is on the inner forearm (on the arteries).  Press both spots simultaneously using the thumb and fingers; then release.  Repeat as needed.  Most important, keep it up every day until the pain lessens and vanishes.
     Butcher’s Broom tincture/extract has been used for centuries to improve circulation and relieve water retention.  Today, it is used to alleviate inflammation brought on by carpal tunnel, arthritis, rheumatism, and varicose veins. 
     Turmeric is another herb that contains a powerful anti-inflammatory chemical called curcumin.  The herb has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat pain and inflammation.  The effect of turmeric has been compared to that of cortisone, sometimes used pharmaceutically to treat CTS.  Although turmeric’s pain fighting power is not as strong as cortisone’s, the herb is a lot easier on your system.  Turmeric is similar to that of bromelain.  For some relief, opt for the extract of this wonderful herb.  Unlike the turmeric on your kitchen shelf it contains 95% pure curcumin.
     Boswellia, was and is still, an important herb in ancient Ayurvedic medicine, known for its anti-inflammatory qualities.  New research promises exciting results that appear to confirm this use, as it is said to relieve muscle pain and joint pains and aches associated with arthritis, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, and rheumatic conditions, without the side effects that are normally produced by the steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications usually prescribed for these conditions.  This would make it an extremely useful supplement to improve mobility, without the after-effects of gastric irritation.
     Extra pounds may aggravate the symptoms of CTS because the more fat between your tissues can reduce the space in the tunnel in your wrists, putting more pressure on the median nerve and exacerbating pain and numbness. If you’re suffering carpal tunnel syndrome and your overweight, talk to a health practitioner about safe and healthy weight-loss methods. 
     Vitamin B6 is important for fat and protein metabolism, plus the formation of new blood cells.  People who suffer from CTS sometimes have a B6 deficiency.  If this deficiency is contributing to your pain, studies have shown a supplementation of B6 for three months, plus B2, can reduce the symptoms.  Some of the herbs that contain these vitamins are: 
Alfalfa Leaf (B6), Oat Straw (B6 & B2), Wolfberry (B6), Catnip (B6 & B2), Eyebright (B2) and Hawthorne Berry (B6).  If the person suffering CTS has normal B6 readings, the supplementation won’t make a difference.   Another vitamin that shows promise for treatment is vitamin C in any form.  Some of the common herbs containing a good dose of vitamin C are:  Rose Hips, WolfberryChicory Root and Nettle Leaf.
     As for prevention, avoid or reduce the number of repetitive wrist movements whenever possible.  Use tools and equipment that are properly designed to reduce the risk of wrist injury.  And take frequent breaks when typing and always stop if there is tingling or pain.  Take a quick reach for relief called spanning.  Reach your arms straight out in front of you, keep your fingers as far apart as possible.  Relax the digits, and do it again, five times in all.  The goal is to counteract the cramping your hands and fingers have silently endured all day, week or year.