Daily Blogs about the Family, Men, Women, Children, our Dogs and Cats, and even Horses health

Learn more about the wonderful natural herbal/holistic remedies that can make your life or a loved one much more healthy and rewarding. I will be providing many interesting and timely descriptions of human and pet remedies that will make our health and wellbeing so much better for years to come. Please let me know if I can help you with any kind of aliment that you need information about or herbal/holistic/homeopathic remedy that you would like to know more about.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Nervous Breakdown'

A nervous breakdown can be described as an acute emotional or psychological collapse. The term nervous breakdown is not a medical term, but rather a colloquial term used by the general public to refer to and characterize a wide range of mental illnesses.

It generally occurs when a person is unable to function in social roles anymore, experiencing severe depression or feelings of being out of touch with reality. This often occurs after a long period of stress which has not been adequately dealt with.

This inability to function can occur in both work and personal arenas, resulting in difficulty in fulfilling obligations. It also causes the individual to develop physical, mental and emotional symptoms. A person experiencing symptoms of a nervous breakdown may feel extreme tiredness, weakness, episodes of uncontrollable crying, confusion, disorientation and feelings of worthlessness.

There may also be a loss of self-esteem and confidence, extreme weight loss or weight gain, disrupted sleep patterns and feelings of guilt and despair. In severe cases, an inability to move, called catatonic posturing, may result. This is a serious psychiatric condition and should not be taken lightly.
Other Disorders Associated with a Nervous Breakdown

* Depression
* Panic disorder
* Panic attacks
* Anxiety disorder
* Generalized anxiety disorder
* Acute stress disorder
* Post-traumatic stress disorder
* Trauma disorders
* Schizophrenia
* Psychotic disorders
* Mood (affective) disorders
* Biopolar disorder

Learning to manage stress and identify the early symptoms of a nervous breakdown such as anxiety, depression and panic disorders can help to prevent its onset. Many people have experienced being on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and it is this feeling of overwhelming helplessness that has forced them to revamp their lifestyles and has offered them the opportunity for growth and enlightenment.

Diagnosing a Nervous Breakdown

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to rule out any other medical conditions, and also ask you what symptoms you are experiencing. A course of medication may be prescribed as well as a referral to a psychologist or psychotherapist.
Symptoms of a Nervous Breakdown & Early Warning Signs

There are physical, emotional and behavioral warning signs and symptoms of a nervous breakdown. They include:

Physical symptoms of a nervous breakdown

* Sleep disruption - much longer periods of sleep or insomnia
* Diarrhea
* Constipation
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
* Breathing problems
* Migraine headaches
* Low libido
* Memory loss
* Disrupted menstrual cycle
* Extreme exhaustion/fatigue
* Feelings of persistent anxiety or panic attacks
* Significant changes in appetite, such as eating too little or too much (comfort eating)
* Visual/eye disturbances

Emotional symptoms
* Anxiety
* Depression
* Agitation and restlessness
* Indecision
* Loss of confidence and selfesteem
* Inability to stop crying
* Feelings of guilt, poor judgment
* Disinterest in social life and work or alienation from previously close friends and family
* Hearing voices
* Inability to pursue a normal life, normal activities or normal relationships
* Increasing dependence on alcohol or drugs
* Paranoid thoughts, such as the thought people are trying to harm you
* Seeing people who are not there
* Thoughts of dying or wish to die
* Thoughts of grandeur or invincibility
* Having flashbacks to a prior traumatic event
* Hearing voices

Behavioral symptoms

* Mood swings
* Strange behavior such as odd body movements or undressing in public
* Exhibiting strong or violent anger

In more extreme cases, psychosis can occur where the person will experience complete loss of contact with reality. The symptoms may include hallucinations or visions, feelings of victimization or persecution, strange speech patterns and behaviors as well as extreme guilt or grandiosity.

There is always a trigger or catalyst that sparks a nervous breakdown. Breakdowns usually stem from a change in a major life event such as a broken relationship, death of a loved one, a demanding job or financial difficulties. Factors that may contribute to a breakdown include:

* Stress
* Depression
* Alcohol and drug abuse, particularly cocaine
* Genetics (family history)
* Coexisting medical conditions, such as vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, movement disorders, skin and limb problems, etc.
* Anxiety surrounding major life changes or disorders, such as pregnancy/after birth/labor, menopause, etc.
* Schizophrenia
* Extreme guilt or emotional problems

Help for Nervous Breakdowns

There are many treatment methods and approaches for dealing with nervous breakdowns. Choosing the right one depends on the diagnosis of the individual case, as there is no standard cure. There are ways to prevent a nervous breakdown, conventional treatments, natural remedies, nutritional supplements and many other therapies to choose from.
Available Treatment Options for Nervous Breakdowns


Obviously the best approach is to prevent the breakdown from occurring in the first place. Recognizing the warning signs of a nervous breakdown and reducing and managing stress levels can often produce excellent results and prevent the total collapse usually associated with a nervous breakdown.

Conventional Medicine

Conventional treatments once signs of a nervous breakdown are observed usually consist of anti-depressants or other psychiatric medications. These can have serious side effects as they are high schedule drugs. Prescription drugs alone do not offer a comprehensive treatment for any psychiatric or stress related condition. It is important to seek help in managing the conditions that led up to the breakdown. This is best done by consulting a psychologist.

Herbal and Homeopathic remedies have the potential to address many of the symptoms of nervous distress and have the advantage of being safe and effective, without many of the side effects and potential for addiction commonly associated with the psychiatric drugs. By incorporating these remedies into your lifestyle, you are not only being proactive but also improving your physical, mental and emotional health.

Herbal and homeopathic remedies commonly recommended include ingredients such as St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), Passiflora incarnata, Lavender, Valerian and Melissa officinalis. Homeopathic remedies may also be very beneficial in addressing the underlying causes of the psychological distress and are very useful along with psychotherapy.

Nutritional Supplements

Signs of a nervous breakdown include stress which often means that the individual becomes deficient in certain vitamins and minerals especially if appetite is also affected. A good multivitamin can be very beneficial and special attention should be paid to taking extra vitamins in the B complex, particularly Vitamin B6 and B12. .

Other therapies

Aromatherapy, yoga, reflexology, Reiki and massage therapy can all be useful adjuncts to treatment and can greatly assist in aiding relaxation and stress management.

Prevention & Treatment Tips for Nervous Breakdowns

Taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally is very important, especially with the hectic demands placed on our daily lives. These useful tips include:

* Eating a healthy diet and improving food choices
* Exercising regularly
* Actively seeking professional help for better coping mechanisms or help with emotional issues
* Taking a break from work and going on vacation
* Practicing deep breathing exercises and meditation
* Incorporating fun and laughter into your life
* Allowing more time for a good nights rest
* Limiting alcohol and tobacco intake
* Avoiding drugs
* Learning to relax by taking time for yourself
* Maintaining contact with family and friends
* Treating yourself regularly by playing a round of golf, or spending the day at the spa

Herbal Remedies

Nutrition & Diet Tips for Preventing Nervous Breakdowns

While a holistic lifestyle that ties diet, exercise and natural remedy will give you the best results for supporting mental health and therefore helping prevent nervous breakdowns, the benefits of a healthy diet cannot be emphasized enough the old adage you are what you eat can really hold true, as foods are not only fuel but stress fighters, too!

* Complex carbs boost levels of serotonin, a brain-calming chemical. While all carbs actually boost levels of serotonin, complex carbs are best, which are digested more slowly. Good sources include whole-grain breakfast cereals, breads, and pastas, as well as old-fashioned oatmeal. Complex carbs also stabilize blood sugar levels, helping support mood.
* Avoid simple carbs like candy and soda, as are they are digested quickly, leading to a spike and subsequent crash in serotonin.
* Vitamin C has been studied and shown to reduce levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system.
* Magnesium helps regulate cortisol (stress) levels. Spinach, cooked soybeans, tuna and salmon are all high in magnesium.
* Almonds contain vitamin E and a range of B vitamins, which may make the body more resilient during bouts of stress.
* Calcium has been shown to soothe tension, ease anxiety and mood swings.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tips to Avoid Overindulgence

Many people are all too familiar with overindulging in food, nicotine and alcohol whether it is for a special occasion or because we simply enjoy it. When you eat, smoke and drink excessively over the holidays, at parties, over the weekends or go on a binge, you are often rewarded with a hangover, headache, nausea, diarrhea, constipation or stomach ache. Eating too many rich foods such as fried chicken, creamy pastas, pastries, cakes and sweets as well drinking large amounts of wine, beer and alcohol gradually takes its toll on the body and mind. You start to feel tired all the time, sluggish, gain weight, are unable to concentrate and damage may be caused to your digestive organs.

The liver, especially takes a beating when you overindulge as this organ is responsible for the metabolism of fats, removes wastes, and detoxifies the body’s system. It is the liver’s job to get rid of the excess fat, protein and all the unnatural chemicals found in food, the environment, cosmetics and water supply. If the liver cannot eliminate these toxins, they are stored in the body’s fat and the result is weight gain. Other organs that are also affected when you overindulge include the gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, nervous system, endocrine system, heart and lungs.

Although it may sometimes be tempting to overindulge in food, alcohol and nicotine, keep in mind that moderation is key and that you can still allow yourself to indulge ever so slightly but at the same time make the effort to stay healthy.

There is Help for Overindulgence

Natural and Holistic treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies have proven to be highly effective in providing relief for symptoms associated with overindulgence or an alcohol hangover. Herbal remedies are safe, gentle to use on the body’s system and non-addictive.

Powerful herbs such as Silybum marianus (Milk thistle), Althaea officinalis (Marshmallow) and Ulmus fulva (Slippery elm) supports the liver and promotes balance and equilibrium in the body during times of excess and overindulgence.

Homeopathic remedies help the body restore balance at a cellular level, thereby helping the body to transition back into equilibrium naturally. Carefully selected ingredients such as Lupulus humulus, Lobelia inflata and Nux. vomica is the homeopathic hangover remedy to reduce the side effects of a dry mouth, dry eyes, headache and nausea. There are also numerous natural remedies to help your body to detox after periods of excess!

There are several things that you can do to stay healthy and still overindulge once in a while and these include:

Herbal Remedies

* Start eating healthy, well balanced meals that contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
* Eat in moderation with smaller portions throughout the day – try not to skip meals!
* Reduce your intake of carbohydrates such as bread, rice, pasta and cereals at lunch and dinner
* Have a bowl of vegetable soup before you go out to eat – foods with a high water content help to stave off hunger
* Drink eight glasses of water per day to flush out all the unwanted toxins and to avoid dehydration especially when you are drinking alcohol
* Avoid a hangover by drinking water in between alcoholic beverages
* Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and keep physically fit and strong
* Detox to clean out the body’s system and get rid of excess waste
* Manage your stress levels effectively by indulging in healthier outlets such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, going away for a weekend or listening to soothing music
* Stop smoking naturally – your energy levels will increase, food tastes better, your skin starts glowing and your risk of heart and lung disease will be reduced dramatically
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

German Measles (Rubella)

Rubella, more commonly known as German measles, is an infection caused by the rubella virus. Rubella is highly contagious and primarily affects the skin and lymph nodes. Rubella is usually spread through droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. While the symptoms of Rubella are similar to those present in measles, the illnesses are caused by two totally different viruses and Rubella comes with an added danger to pregnant women.

While it is generally considered a mild illness in children, Rubella can pass through a pregnant woman’s bloodstream to infect her unborn child (a congenital infection) making it a potentially devastating disease for pregnant women to contract.

Congenital rubella syndrome can cause severe consequences such as miscarriage, growth and mental retardation, deformities of the heart and eyes, deafness and even liver, spleen, and bone marrow problems.

Once infected with Rubella, it can take between 1 and 2 weeks before symptoms develop. Starting with a mild fever and swollen and tender glands, a characteristic itchy pink rash develops along with flu-like symptoms. Other symptoms include:

* Headache
* Sore throat
* Stuffy or runny nose
* Red or inflamed eyes
* Enlarged and tender lymph nodes at the base of the skull, the back of the neck and behind the ears
* Aching joints, a symptom common in young women
* Loss of appetite
* Conjunctivitis

For many children, the symptoms of Rubella are mild and may even go unnoticed. Adults however tend to get more ill with Rubella and may experience more severe symptoms as well as a longer recovery time.
Diagnosing Rubella

It is important to contact your medical practitioner if you think you or your child has been exposed to rubella, or are showing symptoms that may indicate rubella. While medical attention may not be necessary, if your doctor confirms Rubella, it is essential to stay clear of those people who may spread the virus to a pregnant woman. Your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis by examining the rash and sending a blood sample off to the lab.

If blood tests reveal the presence of rubella antibodies, it is likely that you have rubella or have previously been inoculated against it. If pregnant, you should contact your doctor immediately if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. Blood screening tests will be able to determine if you have had the illness as a child or had the vaccination which should mean that you are immune to the virus.

What causes Rubella?

As mentioned, Rubella is caused by the rubella virus which is transmitted through droplets in the air or direct contact. This makes rubella highly contagious as an infected individual only has to sneeze, cough or yawn to send these infected droplets into the air which are then breathed in by others.

People with rubella are most contagious from 1 week before they even know that they are ill, until 1 week after the rash appears, and so they should make sure to stay clear of people in contact with pregnant women during this period. An infected person who does not show any symptoms at all can still pass the virus to others.

Because most children are now vaccinated against Rubella, it has become fairly rare in the United States, and complications resulting from congenital rubella are not as serious as they used to be.

Rubella is one of those illnesses that doctors can do little about, and unless complications arise, the best thing you can do is to get plenty of bed rest and wait for the virus to run its course. Rubella cannot be treated with antibiotics because they are ineffective against viral infections and so your doctor may simply recommend over-the-counter medications to help deal with your symptoms such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

A common misconception is that these OTC medications are all safe for your child, but be sure to research all side-effects and precautions. It is also not advisable to give your child aspirin during a viral infection as complications have been documented. Bed rest, fever monitoring, a healthy diet and plenty of fluids are still the best treatment.

Fighting off any illness requires a strong and efficient immune system, and so it makes perfect sense to dose up with a few ingredients from nature’s first aid box when illness strikes. Some herbal and homeopathic remedies have long been known for their immune boosting qualities such as Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceous, Inula helenium and Withania somnifera.

These herbs are commonly used to strengthen and assist the immune system to promote faster recovery and are well known for their antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. By boosting the immune system naturally, the body is able to quickly and effectively kill off the rubella virus making recovery time faster and symptoms less disruptive.

Herbal Remedies

Rubella can be easily prevented with a rubella vaccine. While you may think that Rubella is not too serious for your child, immunization is critical in order to control the spread of the disease and the incidence of congenital rubella syndrome.

The vaccine is generally given to children between 12 to 15 months of age as part of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization, although a single rubella vaccination can be requested if you are hesitant about the MMRI.

Be sure to research the advantages and disadvantages of all vaccinations. There is a great deal of controversy and contradictory scientific evidence and so it is important that you research the facts and make an informed choice as to what is the best option for your child’s health.

Tips for caring for your child with Rubella:

* Rubella like most of the childhood illnesses requires lots of love and attention, bed rest and immune boosting measures. Make sure your child gets sufficient nutrients and plenty of liquids while ill.
* Keeping a sick child in bed is not always easy, so arrange for some quiet activities that do not require running about. DVD’s, books, puzzles and coloring/activity books always work wonders!
* Use a warm moist towel over your child’s neck to soothe swollen glands.
* If you notice your child scratching the rash, make sure that nails are trimmed short to prevent injury. Apply calamine lotion or another soothing lotion to the rash if it is itchy or uncomfortable.
* Keep your child isolated from friends and family members who have not been inoculated. This is especially important for pregnant mothers.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Causes of Stretch Marks

Stretch marks (also known as striae) are extremely common and affect a vast majority of women during their pregnancy. They appear as raised red, pink, purple or dark brown lines or streaks in the skin. In the beginning, stretch marks are quite visible but over a period of time they fade into flat, silvery lines.

The skin is made up of three layers – the epidermis (top layer), dermis (middle layer) and subcutaneous layer (inner layer). The dermis consists of elastic fibers of tissue that allow the skin to stretch to a certain point. When the body expands rapidly over a short period of time, the fibers weaken and break and stretch marks begin to develop.

Stretch marks generally appear on a woman’s belly during pregnancy from the end of the second trimester onwards. The abdomen expands quickly to accommodate the baby growing inside and as a result the skin is stretched on parts of the body where fat is stored.

Women may also develop stretch marks on the breasts, thighs, hips, buttocks, upper arms and lower back. Stretch marks also affect women who are not pregnant, men, adolescents, athletes and body builders who have gained excessive weight or experienced rapid spurts of growth.

What Causes Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are caused by the loss of elastic tissue in the skin due to overstretching during periods of rapid weight gain such as pregnancy and adolescence. Several factors may also contribute to the development of stretch marks and these include:

* Family history
* Ethnicity – African American women are less likely to develop stretch marks
* Production of the hormone, corticosteroid
* Poor nutrition
* Weight gain or weight loss may also worsen stretch marks
* Multiple pregnancies
* Stretch marks may develop after a previous pregnancy and become temporarily darker or a lighter extension of the stretch mark

There is Help for Stretch Marks

Over time (about 6 to 12 months) stretch marks do eventually fade and become less noticeable. This is because the pigmentation fades and lightens. In cases where the appearance of stretch marks is more severe, you may need to consult with a dermatologist where topical creams such as Retin-A and glycolic-acid may be prescribed. Keep in mind that these creams should not be used during pregnancy or nursing as they may cause some negative side effects.

Cosmetic treatments such as laser treatments and microdermabrasion may also help to improve the appearance of stretch marks and restore the skin’s elasticity. These treatments are however quite costly and can be harsh treatments on the skin – so consider whether you absolutely need to have them done.

Alternative treatments may contain elastic, collagen as well as vitamins E and A, cocoa butter extracts, wheat germ oil or lanolin to help maintain the skin’s elasticity and also keep it supple. Simply massaging moisturizers into the skin daily helps increase circulation and promote the rejuvenation of the skin’s layers.

Herbal Remedies

People with stretch marks may feel very self-conscious regarding their ‘scars’. A variety of moisturizers, creams and oils containing natural ingredients are available to reduce and prevent the appearance of stretch marks. More and more women are choosing to use natural and holistic treatments during their pregnancy because they are gentle on the body and support healthy skin from the inside out.

Biochemic salts such as Calcium Fluoride, Natrium Muriaticum and Calcium Phosphate restore tone and elasticity to muscles, connective tissue and skin and help to maintain the body’s water balance. Keeping your belly well moisturized throughout your pregnancy will help to reduce dryness and itching that often accompanies stretch marks. There are also many natural ingredients to promote healing of the skin, if such as Rosehip oil that has the ability to rebuild damaged skin tissue and can reduce the appearance of current stretch marks.
More Information on Stretch Marks
Tips to prevent stretch marks

There are a number of precautions that can be taken to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and prevent them from occurring, and these include:

* Eat a well balanced diet that will help you to maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy
* It is recommended that you gain no more than 25 to 35 pounds of weight. Gaining weight slowly will also minimize your risk of getting stretch marks.
* Increase your intake of supplements such as vitamin C and E, zinc and silica to keep the skin healthy
* Exercise regularly
* Drink plenty of water to keep the skin well hydrated
* Moisturize your liberally throughout your pregnancy with a stretch mark prevention cream or oil
* Massage areas where you have stretch marks with a body brush or wash cloth to increase circulation
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Canine Distemper

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. This virus also infects other wild animals such as foxes, raccoons, skunks, wolves, coyotes and ferrets. It is very important that you keep your dogs away from other wildlife to avoid the virus from spreading.

Causes of Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is transmitted through the exposure of airborne viral particles in the respiratory secretions of dogs and puppies. Outbreaks of canine distemper tend to be sporadic. Dogs and puppies younger than six months that have not been immunized are at an increased risk of developing this infection.

Diagnosing Canine Distemper

The diagnosis of canine distemper is based on the symptoms, your dog’s vaccination history and certain laboratory tests. Various tests such as blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, cerebrospinal fluid, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunofluorescence assay may be performed to confirm the diagnosis of canine distemper.
Symptoms and Signs of Canine Distemper

The symptoms and signs of canine distemper include:

* Eye discharge (initially watery and then turns pus-like)
* Nasal discharge
* Coughing
* Fever
* Vomiting
* Diarrhea
* Loss of appetite
* Lethargy

In advanced stages, seizures, twitching, partial or complete paralysis may occur if the virus attacks the nervous system.

The best way to prevent canine distemper is ensuring that your puppy or dog receives the distemper vaccination. Puppies that have not been vaccinated are more prone to viral infections because their immune systems are still weak. Treatment usually involves addressing secondary infections, as there are no medications available to kill this particular virus.

Medications are aimed at controlling symptoms, and intravenous fluids may be administered. Once you have taken your pet home, avoid contact with other dogs, keep him warm and provide good supportive care. It is vital that excellent hygiene is maintained to avoid transferring the infection to other dogs.

Herbal Remedies

Natural and Holistic remedies have also proven to be highly beneficial in supporting the immune, respiratory and digestive systems. These remedies are safe and gentle to use for your pet without the harmful side effects of conventional medications.

One of the most well known herbs known as Echinacea purpurea helps to support the immune system. Homeopathic ingredients such as Distemperinum and Bryonia supports the immune, respiratory and digestive systems by keeping the chest clear, maintaining digestive functioning and keeping the body temperature within normal range.

There are several ways to prevent canine distemper and these include:

* Feed your pet high quality commercial food or an all natural diet containing essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
* Make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are updated regularly
* Avoid contact with raccoons, foxes, skunks and other potentially infected wildlife if possible
* Always provide fresh, clean water for your dog to prevent dehydration and flush out toxins
* Disinfect food and water bowls as well as sleeping areas and bedding
* Wipe away eye and nose discharge and keep these areas clean
* Limit your puppy’s contact with other dogs until he has received his complete series of vaccinations – avoid places such as parks, grooming parlors and obedience classes where dogs typically congregate
* Strengthen your pet’s immune system with immune-boosting supplements
* Visit your vet annually for routine check-ups
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Horse Rhino Flu (Big Pets Get Sick Too!)

What is Rhino Flu?

Rhino flu, also known as rhinopneumonitis in horses, is an upper respiratory disease caused by the equine herpes virus. It affects the mucous membranes of the nasal cavities and lungs. Although this disease is not life-threatening, it can cause serious health complications which affect the respiratory, reproductive and nervous system of the horse.

What Causes Rhino Flu?

Most adult horses are exposed to the equine herpes virus during their first months of life. The virus usually affects the horse’s respiratory system but remains dormant for the rest of his life with the help of the immune system.

If the immune system is compromised in any way, the virus will cause respiratory symptoms. Rhino flu can also cause abortion in a pregnant mare if infected with the virus. The virus can also attacks the spinal cord and cause neurological symptoms. If treated early, symptoms can be reduced and managed.
Diagnosing Rhino Flu

The diagnosis of rhino flu is based on the symptoms, a complete physical examination and review of the horse’s medical history. Certain diagnostic tests such as x-rays, thoracic ultrasound, endoscopic examination, fine needle aspiration and lung biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Symptoms and signs

The common symptoms and signs of rhino flu include:

* Fever
* Loss of appetite
* Lethargy
* Nasal membranes and eyes redden and tear
* Nasal discharge
* Dry, hacking cough
* Stocking up and heat in the lower legs
* Swollen, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

Treatment of rhino flu involves certain medications, supportive care and adequate rest. Medications such as antibiotics may be prescribed to treat secondary infections. A vaccination program is very important to protect against infection.

Pregnant mares require the rhinopneumonitis vaccine at least three times during the gestation period (months 5, 7 and 9) to prevent abortion. If your horse lives in isolation, an annual vaccination is usually sufficient.

Young horses should also receive the vaccine every 2 to 3 months while horses that move around a lot should be vaccinated at least 4 times per year. These vaccinations, however, are not that effective and cannot protect against neurological disease.

Avoid giving your horse human cough syrups or decongestants as these are potentially dangerous. In order to speed recovery, a comfortable, dry but well ventilated barn or stable, adequate rest, palatable foods as well as plenty of fresh, clean water and tender loving care are essential.

Herbal Remedies

Natural and Holistic Remedies have also proven to be highly effective in providing symptomatic relief for upper respiratory diseases. Homeopathic treatments safely support the respiratory system in horses and also maintain overall health and well-being.

Carefully selected ingredients such as Aconitum napellus, Belladonna and Hepar sulph are soothes the throat, clears congested noses and chests and strengthens the immune system. Silicea, Merc sol and Sulphur support respiratory health and acts as a tonic for the immune system.

Ways to prevent rhino flu

There are a number of things that horse owners can do to prevent an episode of rhino flu affecting their horse and these include:

* Feed your horse high quality hay or grain
* Always ensure that your horse has access to fresh, clean water
* Make sure that your horse’s stable is well ventilated – always keep the top half of the stable door open
* Reduce exposure to dust and allergens to facilitate easier breathing
* Boost your horse’s immune system with immune-boosting supplements and antioxidants
* Separate young horses from older horses if rhino flu has developed amongst the herd
* Change bedding regularly and check for bedding soaked with urine – use fresh shavings or shredded paper in peat instead of straw
* Ensure that horses are kept warm and dry in cold and wet conditions as well as after exercise
* Make sure that your horse’s vaccinations are updated to prevent infections
* De-worm your horse regularly
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Toenail Fungus

What is Toenail Fungus?

The term toenail fungus is also referred to as onychomycosis of the nail plate, and tinea of the nails. Fungal nail infections can occur on both toenails and fingernails, but the toenails are more commonly affected. A fungus is a living organism that breeds in moist, dark and warm environments such as shoes and socks underneath and around the nails, which is why the toenails are more susceptible than fingernails, and most commonly it is the big or small toe that is involved.

What Causes Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus can be contracted in damp environments such as public showers, gyms, locker rooms, spas or swimming pools. People who wear tight-fitting shoes or hosiery that is too tight are not only more susceptible to a fungal toenail infection but also to candida or thrush. Nail fungal infections can spread from one person to another and from one toe to another, or to other parts of the body.

Diagnosing Toenail Fungus

The symptoms and signs of toenail fungus may be mild or severe. The affected nail may have a yellowish or brownish discoloration, swelling, thickening or crumbling of the nail. In addition, streaks or spots may appear on the side of the nail, and debris may collect underneath the nail. The nails appear unsightly and may also be painful.
Factors that increase contracting a fungal toenail infection

There are certain factors that increase your chances of contracting a fungal toenail infection:

* Poor hygiene of the foot
* Not drying feet after washing or exercising
* Physical trauma to the nail
* Abnormal pH (acid balance) of the skin
* Weakened immune system
* Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or Candida

Treating toenail fungus is difficult because it is generally a recurring condition. There are a wide variety of over-the-counter anti-fungal creams available, but some can be overly harsh and rid the body of the ‘good’ bacteria needed for systemic balance thus increasing vulnerability to fungal infections in the future.
Your health practitioner or podiatrist may prescribe oral anti-fungal medication to stop the infection. While these medications may work in the short-term, they may also rid the body of intestinal flora and bacteria that are beneficial to the body, creating further problems.

Herbal Remedies

Natural treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies have proven to be highly effective in treating fungal infections. Herbs such as Cymbopogon citratus (lemon grass) are well known for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties while Calendula officinalis acts as an anti-inflammatory. In addition, herbs such as Melaleuca laterifolia, also known as Tea Tree Oil and Lavendula officinalis (Lavender) have excellent anti-fungal and healing properties and can also do a lot to help soothe irritated areas.

Ways to prevent fungal toenail infections

The best way to eliminate persistent toenail fungus is through prevention. Follow these helpful tips to prevent fungal toenail infections:

* Wear protective shoes or sandals in public facilities
* Wash your feet regularly and remember to dry them thoroughly
* Wear cotton socks so that your feet are well ventilated
* Eat a high protein diet so that you can maintain healthy, strong nails
* Do not share socks, shoes or sandals
* Trim toenails but do not cut them too short
* Avoid wearing nail polish on toes if you have developed toenail fungus
* Disinfect pedicure tools

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Children with an Upset Stomach

An upset stomach is another term for indigestion. When we eat, our bodies start the process of breaking down our food into molecules that we can use at a cellular level. Sometimes this process is hampered (food is not broken down properly, or wind is trapped in the stomach) and as a result, we feel certain symptoms.
Symptoms of an upset stomach

Symptoms of an upset stomach usually follow food ingestion, or are present when we have a ‘tummy bug’ or virus. They are varied and may include any of the following:

o Occasional heartburn
o A taste of bile in the mouth
o Pain in the abdomen
o Bloating
o Irregular bowel movements
o Constipation
o Bile reflux
o Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
o Gas
o Diarrhea
o Nausea
o Abdominal cramping
o Flatulence
o Vomiting

Help for Upset Stomach

Many herbal and homeopathic remedies have been formulated with specific ingredients to promote gentle food breakdown and support the digestive system.

Zingiber officinalis (Ginger) is an excellent remedy for maintaining digestive health and functioning.

Working mainly in the digestive system, Ginger boosts digestive fluids, promotes transport through the digestive system, and neutralizes acids, helping to soothe stomachs safely.

Matricaria recutita and Ulmus fulva are also helpful herbs in the treatment of digestive disorders helping to address post meal troubles such as heartburn, indigestion and flatulence, while Mentha piperita is a calmative and analgesic herb which aids digestion, prevents nausea and vomiting and promotes the flow of bile. In addition, Nat. Phos. is a homeopathic remedy that acts as a biochemical antacid, acid neutralizer and PH balancer. It helps to ease digestion problems like bile reflux or heartburn gently, yet effectively.

Herbal Remedies

Ways to help alleviate an upset stomach

* Go bananas! Bananas not only soothe the stomach and counteract the acids that can cause an upset stomach, but they are also easily digested and can help ease diarrhea.
* Ginger knows best. Strong ginger tea, can work wonders and help to relieve nausea. In China, ginger has been used to treat upset stomachs for over 2,000 years!
* Minty mend. Peppermint has long been hailed as a natural tummy soother. The strong vapor promotes the flow of bile and helps to calm stomach muscles.
* Take it easy. Take a warm bath, lie down and listen to calming music or curl up with a good book and rid yourself of stress in a way that works for you.
* Watch out. Avoid foods that may cause upset stomach or gas. (Coffee, onions, milk, cauliflower, chocolate, fried foods and baked beans).
* Water is important! The most important thing (especially when vomiting) is to stay hydrated. Try to drink small amounts of liquids at regular intervals. Water, fruit, teas and electrolyte solutions work best.
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Monday, July 19, 2010


At some point in our lives we may experience low libido and an extra boost is required to keep the passion alive. For centuries people have made use of aphrodisiacs as libido enhancers to achieve greater sexual health and functioning.

An aphrodisiac is a substance such as food, drink, drug, scent or device that can arouse or induce feelings of sexual desire. Aphrodisiacs are named after Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty. Aphrodisiacs have a powerful impact on the mind as they are thought to trigger the release of chemicals in the brain which then stimulate certain organs.

Most aphrodisiacs enhance aspects of the sensory experience such as sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing - which in turn increases sexual drive or libido, improves performance and results in greater sexual satisfaction. Some foods are thought to have aphrodisiac properties.

These include oysters, chocolate, chili, or alcohol. There are also a variety of plants and herbs which have been used for centuries in traditional medicine around the world in order to restore or enhance sexual pleasure.

Even certain situations may play a part in sexual arousal. For instance, a candlelight dinner for two with romantic music and champagne is seen as an aphrodisiac and libido enhancer because it has all the stimulants necessary to promote sexual desire.

Aphrodisiacs have even been hailed as being of great help in treating sexual dysfunction and increasing female and male libido. While aphrodisiacs may be considered by some as folklore and mythology, many claims have been made about their potential libido enhancing powers.

There a wide variety of natural aphrodisiacs and they include:

Vegetables containing androstone, such as celery. Vegetables such as asparagus, carrots, cucumbers and artichoke are suggestive of sex due to their phallic shape
Fruit such as the banana, avocado, pomegranate, fig, papaya and peach
Nuts such as gingko nuts and pine nuts
Grains such as oats
Herbs such as basil, cloves, garlic, ginger, ginseng, aniseed, nutmeg and licorice
Spices such as cardamom, chili, pepper, and asafetida
Shellfish such as oysters, caviar and shrimp
Sensual scents such as vanilla, patchouli and musk
A number of prescription drugs may enhance libido, sexual performance and organ sensation. These drugs include Viagra, Arginine and Prostaglandins. Androgens (male hormones) can be prescribed for men with low libido or poor performance.

Women with low hormone levels, particularly during menopause, can try hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to improve libido.

While these medications may increase sexual pleasure and performance, there are some negative side effects such as tremors, blurred vision, headaches and irregular heartbeats.

Herbal Remedies

Many herbs are also natural aphrodisiacs and have been used for centuries as a way for increasing libido naturally and to promote sexual pleasure and arousal. These herbs are highly effective, safe to use, and nourishing for the body.

For example, Smilax ornata (Sarsaparilla) is used as a tonic for male sexual potency and virility, while Eleutherococcus senticosis (Siberian Ginseng) is an overall system toner which improves performance and stamina. In addition, Sabal serrulata is a strengthening remedy which has a stimulatory effect on sexual functioning, as well as female health.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yeast Infections

Candidiasis is the most common type of yeast infection and is caused by a type of fungus called Candida. This organism commonly penetrates and affects areas of the body such as the mouth, around dentures, under the breasts, the vagina, groin area, nail beds, and beneath other skin folds.

Yeast infections are more common in cases of poor hygiene, weakened immune systems, following antibiotic and steroid use, as well as hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.

Women are more prone to yeast infections, and three out of four women are affected during their lifetime by vaginal yeast infections. Men also may also develop a yeast infection, but it is less common. It is not primarily a sexually transmitted condition, but the infection can be transmitted between partners.

Yeast infection symptoms that recur relentlessly should receive medical attention, while others may be treated with over-the-counter drugs. A wide range of treatment options which include conventional and homeopathic therapies can alleviate symptoms and ensure less pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. There are also many natural cures for yeast infections that do not have the negative sides effects commonly associated with conventional medicine.

How is a Yeast Infection Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a vaginal yeast infection will usually be determined by the following:

A vaginal examination
Samples of discharge will be examined under microscope
For chronic infections, the discharge may be cultured to determine what else may be present. A more serious condition such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can easily be mistaken for a yeast infection, so it is best to have yeast infection symptoms checked out by a medical practitioner, especially if the infection does not respond well to treatment.

What are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infection?The symptoms and signs of a yeast infection include:

Thick, white vaginal discharge (looks like cottage cheese) that is odorless
Vaginal itching
Irritated genital skin
Burning and pain during urination or sexual intercourse
Yeast infections can become widespread throughout the body (known as systemic candidiasis), and can then result in a variety of generalized symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, depression, aches and pains, digestive disturbances, and increased vulnerability to opportunistic infections.

What are the Causes of Yeast Infections?

A yeast infection is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus known as Candida albicans. Candida albicans is normally found in all people, but the levels are usually kept in check by the body.

There are many things that can create an imbalance leading to Candida overgrowth and infection.

Factors Contributing to Candida OvergrowthUse of antibiotics
Use of steroids
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause
People with weakened immune systems because of cancer, steroid treatment, or conditions such as AIDS
Use of contraceptives such as birth control pills
Poor hygiene methods, such as not washing the vaginal area, or not wiping from front to back after using the toilet
Wearing tight trousers or jeans
Exposing the vaginal area to moisture such as a wet bathing suit

Herbal Remedies

Help for Yeast Infections
Vaginal yeast infections may cause intermittent or recurring infections. If not treated immediately, yeast infections can become a serious condition. However, with the correct approach, yeast infection symptoms will respond well to treatment.

Conventional Treatment OptionsOver-the-counter medication such as creams and suppositories
Prescription creams and suppositories
Prescription oral medications
These conventional treatment options will only work successfully if preventative mechanisms are put into place such as eating a well-balanced diet, practicing good hygiene and safe sex, and cleansing the body’s system (see some useful tips on holistic treatment and prevention below).

Natural Cures for Yeast InfectionsThere are effective natural cures for yeast infections available that can help to soothe the discomfort and frustration of a yeast infection, resolving the infection without the use of prescriptions and OTC drugs. These remedies are 100% safe, non-addictive, and non-invasive. They contain ingredients such as Cymbopogon citratus (Lemon grass), Calendula officinalis, and Tabebuia impetiginosa (Pau d'arco bark). All have antibacterial and antifungal properties that effectively remove toxins and help to support the overall natural maintenance systems in the body. Consult a homeopath, herbalist, or naturopath for advice on the remedy that suits your symptoms.

More Information on Yeast Infections
Some Useful Tips for Women on PreventionThese precautionary measures will help to avoid and prevent yeast infections from recurring.

Eat a well-balanced diet, rich in vegetables, protein, and grain
Include yogurt into your diet, as it contains live cultures of lactobacilius acidophilis
Limit your intake of sugar, as increased sugar levels cause yeast to grow faster
Avoid refined and processed foods
Take nutritional supplements such as acidophilus
Avoid the scented variety of soaps, deodorant, talc, tampons, sanitary pads, panty liners, or toilet paper
Wipe yourself from front to back when visiting the toilet
Change your tampons and sanitary towels frequently when you are menstruating
Wear cotton underwear
Wash and dry your vagina area thoroughly before getting dressed, as moisture encourages the growth of yeast
Avoid sharing washcloths and towels
Vaginal douches increase the risk of yeast infection
Avoid wearing jeans or trousers that are tight at the crotch
Avoid wearing underwear or pajama pants to bed and allow the vagina to be exposed to air
Avoid sex if it feels painful, or use a lubricating gel during sex
Switch to non-hormonal contraceptives if medications such as birth control pills are causing recurrent yeast infections
Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics, as they also cause yeast infections
When antibiotic use is unavoidable, combine antibiotics with probiotics to reduce the risk of yeast infection
Avoid the use of fabric softeners

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Xerophthalmia (Bitot’s Spots)

Bitot’s Spots are distinct white patches that appear on the conjunctiva – the membrane that covers most of the visible part of the eye.

Bitot’s spots can expand and develop into a condition called xerophthalmia. Xerophthalmia is a major cause of blindness in children in Africa and Latin America, and usually occurs between the ages of 3-5 years old. It is generally associated with malnutrition and Vitamin A deficiency.

Bitot’s Spots look like raised triangular-shaped areas on the white area of the eyeball and ulcers can develop with the cornea softening and turning pulp-like if not treated, resulting in irreversible blindness.

Diagnosing Bitot’s Spots

The diagnosis of Bitot’s spots will be confirmed by an eye specialist or opthalmologist. Vitamin A status is measured by tests for retinol, with blood-serum retinol concentrations of 30-60 mg/dl considered in the normal range. Levels that fall below this range indicate Vitamin A deficiency.

Symptoms and Signs of Vitamin A DeficiencyDry skin and hair
Increased incidence of ear infection, sinusitis, respiratory infection, urinary infection, and digestive problems
Drying of the cornea with ulceration – xerophthalmia
Inability to gain weight
Nervous disorders
Skin sores
There may be night blindness or a decreased ability for dark adaptation

What Causes Bitot’s Spots?
This condition results from a buildup of keratinized epithelial debris and secretions that can be found in the conjunctiva. These spots are a sign of Vitamin A deficiency and are usually accompanied by night blindness.

Help for Bitot’s Spots
Treating Bitot’s spots first and foremost involves improving the individual’s diet. Regular and adequate intake of foods rich in Vitamin A can reduce symptoms of Bitot’s spots such as night blindness. Other medical conditions such as respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and measles that may be present should also be treated immediately.

Usually, topical antibiotics are administered to prevent secondary bacterial infection. Vitamin A deficiency and the early stages of xerophthalmia can be reversed by administration of a massive does (200,000 IU or 110 mg of retinol palmitate) orally on two successive days. Children with corneal ulcers should receive vitamin A whether or not a deficiency is suspected.

Natural remedies for Bitot’s SpotsNatural and holistic treatments can reduce the symptoms associated with Bitot’s spots. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies are gentle to use, safe and highly effective. Herbs such as Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry), Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos) and Sutherlandia frutescens support the natural ability of the eye to resist infection and disease.

These herbal ingredients promote the health and strength of eye capillaries, and maintain a healthy supply of blood, oxygen and essential nutrients to the eye – essential for eye health.

Vizu-All Plus is a natural remedy that may help maintain healthy eyes and circulatory health. Vizu-All Plus may also help lessen common problems associated with night vision and eye sensitivity often associated with the normal aging process.

Information on Bitot’s Spots

Preventing Bitot’s SpotsIn order to prevent Bitots spots, there are certain lifestyle changes that need to be adhered to and they include:

Increase your intake of Vitamin A supplements and beta-carotene
A protein rich diet is essential and should include meat, liver, eggs, milk, dairy products and vegetables
Drink fresh carrot juice to prevent or alleviate some eye problems
Two tablespoons of cod liver oil taken daily is also rich in vitamin A
Avoid straining your eyes
Avoid smoke-filled rooms
Protect your eyes from direct and indirect sunlight

Bitot’s Spots and PregnancyIt is possible to overdose on Vitamin A, and this is especially important to be careful of during pregnancy. Excessive quantities of Vitamin A intake during pregnancy may have a teratogenic effect as a result of two metabolites, trans-retinoic acid – RA, tretinoin and 13-cis retinoic acid-CRA, isotretinoin.

Herbal Remedies

Pregnant women are therefore strongly advised against eating too much liver, a rich source of Vitamin A, as it may have harmful effects on the fetus. Eating a well balanced diet and taking Vitamin A supplements under the supervision of a healthcare provider should ensure a healthy pregnancy.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Warts and Plantar (Foot) Warts

A wart is a harmless but contagious skin growth caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. The virus that causes warts belongs to the human papilloma virus (HPV) family. They are usually benign. Warts occur in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and can develop anywhere on the body.

These growths are found mostly on the hands and known as common warts while those found on feet are known as plantar warts. A wart may be flat or smooth, or appear as a bump with a rough surface. Dark dots may also appear in the center of the wart. They also develop in clusters or alone.

Warts are unsightly and may often cause embarrassment if they are very noticeable. They sometimes cause pain, especially when pressure is placed on the wart – for instance, when walking. Warts tend to affect children and young adults more, but men and women of all ages develop them each year.

There are different types of warts and these include:Common warts: Common warts most often develop on the backs of the hands, on the fingers and around the nails. They have a rough appearance and the blood vessels grow in the wart look like black dots. These warts tend to appear where the skin has been broken, for instance where fingernails are bitten.
Plantar (Foot) warts: Plantar (foot) warts are usually found on the bottom of the foot (soles) and look like hard, thick patches of skin with dark colored dots. They are extremely painful when walking and often feels as though there are stones in your shoes.
Flat warts: Flat warts usually appear on the face, but may also appear on other parts of the body such as arms, hands or knees. They have flat tops and can be pink, light brown or light yellow. They tend to grow in clusters, as many as 20 to 100 at a time. Flat warts usually occur in children, appearing on their faces. In adults, flat warts may develop on the legs of women and in the beard area of men.
Filiform warts: Filiform warts are long, narrow, protruding growths that usually appear around the eyelids, face, neck, mouth, lips or underarms. They are the same color as your skin. These types of warts tend to itch or bleed.
Periungual warts: Periungual warts are found under and around the toenails and fingernails. They look like rough, uneven bumps. They can affect nail growth by causing the nail to lift or become detached.
Genital warts: Genital vary in size – they may be small, flesh-colored bumps or they may be so tiny that are not even visible to the eye. In men, they appear between the penis and the scrotum or near the anus. In women, genital warts may develop in the vagina, on the cervix, vulva and perineal area.

What causes Warts?

Warts are caused by the virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV) which infects the top layer of the skin, especially if the skin is damaged or broken. The virus causes the top layer of the skin to grow quickly and develops into a wart.

Warts are contagious and spread easily through direct contact. If you touch the wart and then touch another part of your body, you can re-infect yourself. Sharing personal items such as towels, eating utensils, or razors can also cause warts. People with weak immune systems are more likely to catch the wart virus than others.

Diagnosing Warts?
The diagnoses of warts are based on a simple visual examination. If your doctor is unsure whether it is a wart or not, a skin biopsy may be performed. In the case of genital warts, a diagnosis may be confirmed by a physical examination, medical history and gynecological exam.

Help for Warts
There are various over-the-counter and prescription treatment options available to remove warts. Over-the-counter wart treatments are usually in the form of lotions, ointments and plasters (such as Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away products) can be used to freeze the wart with a method known as cryotherapy.

These wart products contain salicylic acid to soften the skin layers that form a wart. Warts in young children may be treated at home by applying salicylic gel or plaster, or a dermatologist may use cantharidin so that a blister can form under the wart and then be clipped off.

Cryotherapy is generally the preferred method of treatment to remove warts for older children and adults. Other treatment options such as *electro-surgery and laser treatment *are also quite effective. In addition, an anti-cancer drug called bleomycin may be injected into the wart or immunotherapy may be used as an alternative.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal and homeopathic remedies are more natural but still highly effective alternative treatments for warts. These remedies are safe and gentle enough to use on the body’s system while at the same time they boost the immune system and help in the elimination of warts. Herbs such as Hypoxis Rooperi (extract of African Potato), Agathosma Battling (also known as buchu), Mentha Piperita and Viscum Album help to strengthen the body’s ability to fight infection and support a healthy immune system.

Galium aperine (Cleavers) and Trifolium pratense (red clover) support skin health and act as a natural cleansing tonic and help to purify and detoxify the body’s system. Homeopathic ingredients such as Natrium muriaticum, Kalium muriaticum and Kalium sulphate keeps the skin well-hydrated while also acts as a blood and lymph cleanser, and supports the natural healing and regenerative processes of the skin.

There are different types of warts and these include:Practice good personal hygiene by washing your skin regularly
Eat a healthy, well balanced diet that contains fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains to boost your immune system
Drink lots of water, at least eight glasses to flush out toxins
Clean wounds, cuts or scrapes with soap and water or disinfectant to prevent infections or warts developing
Avoid touching, rubbing, scratching or picking at warts as you may spread the virus to another part of the body
Cover warts with a bandage and avoid biting your nails
Wear waterproof sandals or flip-flops in public showers, locker rooms or around public pools to protect against infections such as athlete’s footWear open-toe sandals or shoes to allow feet to breathe
Always use a latex condom during sexual intercourse to prevent warts from being transmitted to the cervix
Change socks and shoes daily and keep feet clean and dry
Apply medicated foot powder in your socks to keep feet dry
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Monday, July 12, 2010


Vertigo may be described as a sensation of spinning, whirling or moving that occurs when a person’s balance is disturbed – it is a perception that you or your surroundings are moving. It is a symptom and not disease. Vertigo is often associated with dizziness, faintness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness and disorientation. If you feel that as though you are moving, it is referred to as subjective vertigo while if your surroundings are moving, it is referred to as objective vertigo. Episodes of vertigo are usually not harmless, but if symptoms persist, consult your health practitioner immediately.

Symptoms may be constant or episodic and occur from minutes to hours and sometimes persisting for weeks or months.

Common symptoms and signs include:

Sensation of motion or disorientation
Involuntary eye movements
In addition, symptoms such as a ringing sensation in the ears, hearing loss, weakness, difficulty walking and speaking, visual disturbances or decreased level of consciousness.

What Causes Vertigo?
Vertigo may be caused by the following conditions and these include:

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV occurs as a result of damage caused to the inner ear. It is the most common cause of vertigo and may be accompanied by hearing loss, facial muscle weakness or decreased cognitive function
Meniere’s disease which is characterized by ringing in the ears, episodes of vertigo and hearing loss
Cerebellar hemorrhages which is bleeding to the back of the brain and may be accompanied by vertigo, difficulty walking, headaches and vision impairment
Acoustic neuroma which is a type of a tumor that causes vertigo and symptoms of hearing loss and one-sided ringing in the ear
Inflammation or infection of the ear (ear infection)
Severe migraines
Multiple sclerosis
Head and neck injury or trauma
Diagnosing Vertigo
The diagnosis of vertigo is based on the symptoms, a physical examination and a review of the medical history. Certain tests such as blood tests, CT scan, or electrocardiogram (ECG) may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis of vertigo.

Help for Vertigo
Treatment of vertigo depends on the cause and severity of attacks. A very common form of treatment is known as vestibular rehabilitation exercises which involve lying down on a table on one side until the vertigo subsides and then switching to the other side until vertigo disappears completely. Medications such as Benadryl or Valium may either be taken orally, with a skin patch or given through an IV. If vertigo is caused as a result of a bacterial infection of the middle ear, antibiotics may be administered. More severe episodes of vertigo may also require surgery.

Natural remedies can also provide symptomatic relief of dizziness and nausea associated with vertigo and improves inner ear balance. Herbal remedies containing homeopathic ingredients may be taken at the first sign of symptoms and are safe to use for people of all ages.

Homeopathic ingredients such as Cocculus indicus, Lobelia inflata and Gelsemium have proven to highly effective in relieving the symptoms of dizziness, weakness, fainting, fatigue, headaches and emotional upsets. In addition, Bryonia alba may be beneficial for headaches, and for individuals who perspire where the slightest movement may be disturbing.

Herbal Remedies

Tips to prevent vertigoThere are some helpful strategies that can be taken to prevent and cope with the symptoms of vertigo and these include:

Limit salt from your diet as this may help to minimize the amount of build up in the ear
Exercise regularly to stay active and avoid stress
Stop smoking as it constricts the blood flow to the inner ear
Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Make your home safe to prevent unnecessary falls – ensure that your home is free of clutter, well lit, install grab bars and use non-skid mats in the bathroom
Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery if you have frequent attacks of vertigo
Manage and control stress and anxiety by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga or meditation
Practice eye exercises by looking from near to far, up and down or side to side
Prevent injuries from falls by using a cane or walking frame to control your balance
Wear shoes with low heels, non-slip soles and always see that they are tied.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

The Human Urinary System

The human urinary system consists of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, two sphincter muscles, and a urethra. These organs, tubes, and muscles filter out excess fluids and waste products from the bloodstream, which are then expelled as urine.

The human urinary system removes waste products known as urea from the blood. Proteins found in meat, poultry, and vegetables are broken down in the body into urea, which is then eliminated from the body via the urine.

Diagnosing Problems with the Urinary System

If you are suspected of having an abnormality of the urinary system, your doctor may wish to perform a number of tests in order to determine the presence of indicators in your urine or urinary tract system.

Major Diagnostic Tests for the Urinary SystemUrinalysis

Urinalysis is a test used to check for abnormal substances such as protein, white blood cells, nitrites, and glucose, as well as other disorders of the urinary tract system like a urinary tract infection or kidney disease.

Urodynamic tests

Urodynamic tests are used to find out how the body stores and releases urine. The aim of urodynamic testing is to measure how effectively the bladder can empty and fill itself up. It is used for patients experiencing painful urination, incontinence, recurrent urinary tract infections, frequent urinate, those who have difficulty starting a urine stream.


A cystourethroscopy involves inserting a scope with lenses and a light source into the urethra to view the inside of the bladder and urinary tract system for abnormalities such as tumors or stones.

Renal ultrasound

A renal ultrasound is a non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves which bounce off the kidney, transmitting a picture of it. It is used to detect abnormalities in the kidneys, ureters and bladder, and can also measure the size and shape of the kidney.

Renal angiography

This test is also referred to as a renal arteriography. A contrast dye is injected through a catheter into the bloodstream, followed by x-rays of the renal blood vessels. It is able to determine signs of blockage or abnormalities affecting the blood supply to the kidneys.


Prostatectomy is a surgical procedure which involves a part or entire removal of the prostate.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
Prostate-specific antigen blood tests are used to determine prostate cancer by measuring a substance called prostate-specific antigen produced by the prostate.


This medical procedure is performed to remove wastes and additional fluid from the blood after the kidneys have stopped functioning.

What Causes Problems with the Urinary System?
The human urinary system problem are most commonly associated with:


As you grow older, the functioning of the kidneys may decline. The muscles of the ureters, bladder, and urethra may lose their strength, making you more prone to urinary infections because the bladder muscles often do not tighten enough to empty the bladder completely.

Illness and Injury

If you have been ill or injured, the passage of urine can become blocked and may prevent the kidneys from filtering the blood completely. In men, a swollen prostate gland can impede the flow of urine and increase vulnerability to urinary tract problems.


The kidneys may be damaged by certain substances such as medications and poisons.

What disorders of the urinary system should I be worried about? There are a wide variety of disorders of the urinary system. Some are easy to treat while others may need medical attention.


Cystitis is inflammation of the urinary bladder caused by a bacterial infection.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control, causing involuntary urination.

Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infection i
s a bacterial infection that affects any part of the urinary tract.


Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra caused by a bacterial infection.

Kidney stones
A kidney stone is large amount of calcium salt crystals from urine that may form in the kidneys.

Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction
Impotence, or erectile dysfunction, is the inability to achieve an erection, and/or dissatisfaction with the size, rigidity, and/or duration of erections.


While the prostate gland is not actually a part of the urinary system, the two are closely positioned. Prostatitis is an inflamed condition of the prostate gland that may be accompanied by discomfort, pain, frequent or infrequent urination, and sometimes, fever.

Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer occurs when there are abnormal, cancerous cells growing in the bladder.

Cystocele (Fallen Bladder)
Cystocele is a hernia-like disorder in women that occurs when the wall between the bladder and the vagina weakens, causing the bladder to sag into the vagina.

Hematuria (Blood in the urine)
Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells (RBCs) in the urine.

Renal failure
Renal failure is the condition in which the kidneys fail to function properly.

Help for Problems with the Urinary System
Treatments vary according to the type and cause of abnormality or condition of the urinary system.

Herbal Remedies

Bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections and cystitis are common problems of the urinary system, and are usually recurring. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed to fight the infection. Kidney stones can be very painful, and treatment may involve a non-surgical procedure called lithotripsy or surgical removal of the stone.

Urinary System

Incontinence is often treated with drugs that help relax the bladder such oxybutynin and tolterodine.

For more serious disorders such as renal failure, treatment may include drugs to address the underlying cause. In more extreme cases, kidney dialysis, surgery and blood transfusions may be necessary. Kidney, prostate and bladder cancer is conventionally treated by removing cancerous tissue and using radiation therapy.

Is there a Drug-Free Approach to Treatment? Conventional medical treatments for disorders of the urinary system consist of various drug therapies, dialysis, surgery, and radiation therapy. These treatments are often necessary, especially for life-threatening diseases. However, there are also natural and alternative therapies that can be considered which address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of an individual. These include herbal medicines, acupuncture, and dietary modifications to promote healing.

Some herbal remedies commonly used to treat disorders of the urinary system include Equisetum arvense, Plantago major, Galium aparine, Arctostaphylos uva ursi, Thymus vulgari and Chimaphila umbellate. Furthermore, some natural remedies can be used year-round to support urinary tract health. Alternative medicine uses a holistic approach to treatment and the different therapies can be discussed with your doctor, a homeopath, or naturopath.

Some Helpful HintsThere are steps that we can take to maintain a healthy urinary system:

Ensure good hygiene habits
Drink lots of water – at least eight glasses a day to flush the bladder
Eat a calcium-rich diet, such as dairy products
Urinate regularly - when you feel the need to, and do not fight the urge
Get to know your family’s medical history, especially if there have been cases of kidney disease
Control your blood pressure
Drink cranberry juice, as it fights bacterial infection
Avoid long-term use of painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which can damage the kidneys
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mange in Pets

What is Mange?

The word mange is derived form the Middle French word “mangene” which literally means itching. Mange is an unsightly and uncomfortable skin condition that is caused by a variety of mange mites. These little eight-legged parasites can become a serious problem for dogs as they live on and sometimes burrow into the skin causing a number of skin problems.

There are many different types of mange. Dog mange symptoms often includes hair loss, skin inflammation irritation, and itchiness. In some cases the skin can become crusty and scabbed and may even ooze and crack.

The common types of canine mange include the following:Sarcoptic Mange most frequently affects dogs and is often referred to as canine scabies. The mites responsible for this type of mange actually burrow into the skin of pets and cause severe itching and skin irritation. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and tends to spread quickly if not treated.Demodectic Mange is caused by mites that live in the hair follicles of most animals and they usually don’t cause a problem. However, if a pet has a compromised immune system, they can quickly over-populate and start causing skin irritation and hair loss. Demodectic mange is not contagious as most pets already have demodectic mites. Cheyletiella mange / Walking Dandruff is caused by cheyletiella mites otherwise known as fur mites. These mites are larger than most mites and can actually be seen by the naked eye. The type of mange caused by these mites is often referred to a walking dandruff because the mites shed scales and flakes that resemble dandruff. If you examine an infected pet closely, you may even see these flakes moving as the mites crawl underneath them. In addition to dandruff, cheyletiella mange causes itchiness, slight hair loss and may cause thickening of the skin. Close

What Causes Mange?

As previously mentioned, mange is caused by a wide variety of mites. Some of these mites are highly contagious and can be easily transmitted when your pet comes into contact with an infected animal or is exposed to an infested area.

Many dogs contract mites from their mothers shortly after birth or during socialization and training classes. Some types of mites aren’t as contagious and in the case of Demodectic mange, the over-population of naturally occurring mites is caused by a weakened immune system.

Diagnosing Mange

Any suspected skin condition that develops on your dog should be examined by a vet so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. Mange can become quite serious if left untreated and certain types of mange can rapidly get out of control. Your vet will ask about your pet’s history and symptoms and thoroughly examine the affected areas. A skin scraping or biopsy can be done to help rule out any other conditions and to help identify the type of mite causing the condition.

Help for Mange

Conventional treatment of mange often depends on the type mange that has developed, and the size and breed of your pet. Treating mange usually involves chemical based lotions, dips and shampoos and many of these products contain chemicals such as amitraz, ivermectin, and selamectin.

It is important to consult with your vet before attempting to use any of these products as many of them come with side-effects and some are not safe for cats, small dogs or sensitive pets. Because mange so often causes yeast or bacterial infections, your vet may prescribe a course of antibiotic.

Natural herbal ingredients can be used as a safe and effective alternative to the harsh chemicals present in so many conventional treatments for canine mange. A commonly used herb for mange is Garlic which has become renowned for its natural repellent and antibacterial properties.

Another beneficial herbal ingredient that can be used when treating pets for mange is Wormwood. This natural pesticide has been used for centuries as a natural parasite repellant and is frequently used to rid pets of mange, worms and ear mites.

Neem and Lemongrass also act as natural insecticides and their natural skin healing properties help to soothe irritated skin and promote healing. Lastly, the herbal ingredient Niaoli works as an antiseptic, and helps to cleanse and heal the skin. It also works as an excellent tissue stimulant and can be given to pets to help the skin heal and re-build after a mange infestation.

Information on Mange

Tips for treating and preventing mangeCertain types of mange can live in the surrounding environment without a host for a number of days. It therefore may be necessary to treat bedding, collars, brushes and carpeting that your pet may have been in contact with.

Herbal Remedies

A weakened immune system can play a part in the development of mange, particularly in cases of demodectic mange. It is therefore essential to take appropriate measures to boost your pet’s immune system. This may include a healthy balance diet, regular exercise, and possibly immune boosting herbal supplements.
A canine’s skin will take some time to fully recover from a bout of mange. You may wish to consider adding a skin and coat herbal supplement to your pet’s diet to promote swift healing and hair growth.
Mange is a serious condition and some types can even be fatal if not treated. Many pet owners make the mistake of “waiting to see if it clears up” and before long the condition has spread out of control. It is therefore essential to treat any skin condition as soon as it develops.
Avoid giving your pet harsh pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals if you can. These products can suppress the immune system and cause toxicity build up in your pet.
Remember to treat all pets in the house if one of them has being diagnosed mange. This is because many types of mange are very contagious and can quickly be spread if one pet in the house has it.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be given as a supplement to help boost the immune system as and encourage skin health.
Ivermectin is commonly used to treat mange however, it can be fatal to certain breeds and should never be used Collies and other herding breeds, or in dogs with history of seizures.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Liver and your Pets Immune System

The liver has a host of functions in your pet’s body - it is responsible for building and breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins as well as storing vitamins, minerals, glycogen (a form of glucose) and triglycerides (the building blocks of fat). It plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells and produces factors important for the normal clotting of blood.

Additionally, it is an essential part of the immune system; it assists in digestion by producing bile and is essential for detoxification of a variety of toxic compounds that your pet’s body system encounters everyday.

This is indeed an impressive list of functions, all of which are important in maintaining your pet’s health. However, in performing these functions the liver may be subjected to damage with resultant poor functioning. When your pet’s liver is not functioning properly, toxins will build up, digestion will be affected and there may be a shortage of essential substances such as glucose, vitamins and minerals.

Liver disease, also known as hepatitis is a broad term for describing a number of conditions affecting the liver. These may include bacterial infections, tumors, blockage of the bile ducts from the gall bladder, circulation disorders of the liver, viral diseases such as infectious canine hepatitis and a variety of toxins that may damage the cells of the liver.

Which pets are affected by liver disease?

All pets can succumb to liver disease but certain breeds are genetically predisposed.

Purebred dogs such as Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Maltese, Scottish Terriers, Pugs, Irish Wolfhounds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherds and Poodles have a higher incidence of liver disease. Conversely, in cats, mixed breeds are more predisposed, although among the purebred cats, Persians and Himalayans do develop liver problems.

Your pet may be born with a liver disorder. The most common disorder of this type is known as a portosystemic shunt and is the condition where blood flow is diverted away from the liver. As a result, the liver cannot remove toxins from the blood and classic symptoms of liver disease will appear. Young pets affected in this way will usually start showing symptoms between 6 months and 1 year of age.

Liver tumors tend to occur in older pets, with most animals with liver cancer being diagnosed after the age of 10 years.

What are the symptoms of liver disease?The onset of the symptoms of liver disease may be very rapid in the case of a poisoning or may take some time to show if the liver is affected by a slow growing tumor. The symptoms that your pet might show include:
VomitingAnorexiaDiarrheaStomach ulcersNervous signsFeverBlood clotting disordersJaundice (yellow gums and eyes)Fluid build up in the abdomenExcessive thirst and urinationWeight lossDementiaSeizuresComa

The nervous signs may include circling, head pressing, aimless wandering, weakness, staggering gait, blindness, aggression, dementia and coma. Your vet may refer to these signs as hepatic encephalopathy.

These signs are due to the build up of toxins in your pet’s brain, especially ammonia which is normally broken down into harmless components by the liver. On blood tests, your pet may have too few red blood cells (anemia) and your vet will probably detect elevated liver enzymes.

What Causes Liver Disease?

The causes of liver disease are numerous and include:

Viral infections
Bacterial infections
Toxins such as pesticides
Certain drugs such as corticosteroids
Anorexia in cats (causes Feline Hepatic Lipidosis)
Obstructions of the gall bladder
Other diseases ex. Diabetes, Cushings and Hyperthyroidism
Tumors, cancer
Diagnosing Liver Disease
Your vet will be able to make a presumptive diagnosis based on your pet’s symptoms but will need to run blood tests and possibly take x-rays or do an ultrasound to confirm his/her suspected diagnosis.

Help for Liver Disease

Depending on the cause of the liver disease, treatment may or may not be possible. Treatment options might include:

Intravenous fluids
Blood transfusions
Ursodeoxycholic acid
Vitamin and mineral supplements
Force feeding a high calorie diet
Is there a drug free treatment for Liver Disease?

Because the liver is such an important organ in your pet’s body, it is important that any treatment that is undertaken is done at an early stage of the disease process. The liver has a remarkable capacity for regeneration but care must be taken to not do further damage to the liver during the treatment process.

By adopting a holistic approach to the healing of your pet and acknowledging the importance of a balanced natural diet for optimizing healing, your pet’s liver will be given the best chance of repairing and regenerating itself.

Over the last few years, natural and alternative therapy has become more and more popular amongst pet owners, especially as unlike conventional drug therapies, natural therapies are side effect free.

Herbal Remedies

Natural and alternative therapies to alleviate symptoms of liver disease include:

Herbal medicines (naturopathy)
A combination of herbal and homeopathic remedies such as Silybum marianus, Arctium lappa, Chelidonium majus, Kali mur, Nat phos and Nat sulph can be used to promote a healthy liver. Herbal and homeopathic remedies may also be used alongside conventional treatment for liver disease, but remember to discuss this with your veterinarian.

More Information on Liver Disease

Adopt a holistic approach to your pet’s health; remember that
the stresses that affect your family will affect your pets too.Ensure regular, adequate exercise
Do not feed your pet chocolate
Avoid unnecessary use of pesticides, herbicides and flea collars
Don’t smoke around your pet (in fact don’t smoke at all)
Feed a balanced, organic diet that is free of preservatives and colorants
Ensure that your pet always has plenty of fresh, filtered water
Take time out to have fun with your pet, it’s a great way to relieve stress
Visit your vet once a year for your pet’s annual health check

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