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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones play a vital role in every woman’s health and well-being. Very often when women are in a bad mood, you will find that they, or their partners, blame it on their hormones. When hormone levels fluctuate, this can affect your mood, sexual desire, fertility and ovulation. In other words, the imbalance of hormones may impact negatively on how your reproductive system responds.

Every month, the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced. When estrogen and progesterone levels do not balance, this may have a dramatic effect on your health. The gonadotrophin releasing hormone, also affects the functioning of the hypothalamus which in turn affects the pituitary gland, which then affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus.

The imbalance of estrogen hormones can also cause menopause and all the symptoms associated with it. These hormones are influenced by certain factors such as nutrition, diet, lifestyle, exercise, stress, emotions, age and ovulation.
Diagnosing Hormonal Imbalance

There are trained specialists such as obstetricians, gynecologists and reproductive endocrinologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hormonal imbalance and abnormalities.

Treatment options depend on the individual’s overall health, the type of hormonal imbalance and the severity of the fertility condition. For instance, a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber may be recommended. In addition, those who are suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) may be treated with ovulation medications such as clomiphene (Clomid) while estrogen cream may be prescribed for cervical mucus irregularities.

Women of all ages may experience hormonal imbalances, often with symptoms becoming evident in their late twenties and throughout their forties. Many women also experience symptoms of hormonal changes during their premenstrual cycle.
General Signs and Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance

* Changes in menstruation
* Acne
* Basal body temperature
* Oily skin
* Excessive hair growth
* Fatigue
* Dizziness
* Allergy symptoms
* Anxiety
* Low sex drive
* Headaches
* Weight gain
* Depression
* Endometriosis
* Water retention
* Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
* Urinary tract infections (UTI’s)

Types of Hormonal Imbalance

High Levels of Estrogen

High levels of estrogen are very common in women, especially in women over 35, yet most ignore and try to live with the problem because they attribute it as part of their menstrual cycle or aging.

In addition, many women of menopausal age believe they are actually lacking in estrogen, and this misconception has led many women to engage in hormone replacement therapy. However, this additional estrogen only exacerbates the problem further, complicating health even more.

Women who are overweight, have high blood pressure or diabetes, take estrogen-containing drugs or are in certain stages of pregnancy may also be suffering from excess estrogen. This condition is also referred to ‘estrogen dominance’, because while some women may have surges of estrogen, it is often the imbalance between the normal hormones levels in the body, progesterone and estrogen, where the problems most occur.

Symptoms of high levels of estrogen may include:

* Migraines
* Mood swings, feeling easily angered
* Cramps
* Uterine fibroids
* Depression
* Unexplained weight gain
* Feeling fatigued or lethargic
* Osteoporosis
* Insomnia
* Allergies
* Memory loss
* Skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, or a red flushed appearance
* Breast sore, tender, and/or enlarged
* Miscarriage
* Low sex drive
* High blood pressure
* Facial hair – excessive growth
* Inflammation
* Hot flashes
* Thinning hair or excessive loss
* Irregular periods

Helpful Products:

Dong Quai Promotes hormonal balance and helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels within the normal range

Liver Dr. ™ Supports healthy liver functioning

Endo-Ex ™ Supports a healthy endometrial lining for female reproductive health

MellowPause ™ Helps maintain balanced moods and healthy sleep patterns during menopause

NewMama Drops ™ Supports health, vitality and hormone balance after childbirth

AdrenoBoost ™ Supports adrenal functioning and vitality, plus the balance of adrenal hormones and cortisol levels

MemoRise ™
Supports brain health and memory functioning for help with the common forgetfulness associated with aging

Low Levels of Estrogen

While most common during menopause, women can experience low estrogen levels if they undergo a hysterectomy, have chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or have an autoimmune disease. Women with very low body fat, often due to excessive exercise, may also experience low estrogen levels.

Mood is greatly influenced, as hormones decrease the onset of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO), destroying neurotransmitters that greatly affect mood and emotions, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitter fluctuations can have an affect on thinking, digestion, sleeping, eating, pain levels, and can lead to onset of disease and mental health disorders.

In addition, low estrogen levels can adversely affect the vagina, causing thinning of the walls and dryness, which can lead to painful sex. The lining of the uretha also thins, leaving the body susceptible to infections like UTIs.

Symptoms of low estrogen may include:

* Fatigue
* Hot flashes
* Night sweats
* Memory lapses
* Difficult concentrating
* Joint pain
* Vaginal dryness
* Dry skin (which can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and brown age spots)
* Loss of libido
* Artherosclerosis
* Headaches/migraines
* Vaginal infection
* Arthritis
* Depression
* Panic attacks
* Low self esteem
Helpful Products:

Vagi-Soothe ™ Homeopathic remedy temporarily relieves vaginal itching, burning and discomfort

FemaLube ™ Supports healthy lubrication, maintain vaginal tone and elasticity

Thanda Passion Booster ™ Promotes a healthy libido and sexual pleasure

Candidate™ Supports normal levels of systemic Candida and balanced probiotic flora in the body

Dong Quai Promotes hormonal balance and helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels within the normal range

MellowPause™ Helps maintain balanced moods and healthy sleep patterns during menopause

MemoRise™ Supports brain health and memory functioning for help with the common forgetfulness associated with aging

JointEase Plus ™ Supports joint and muscular-skeletal system health and mobility

High Levels of Progesterone

A hormone naturally secreted by the ovary during the menstruation cycle, progesterone levels can become raised by birth control pills or menopausal hormone replacement therapy. Excessive progesterone can lead to fatigue and even sedation. It also promotes vaginal dryness, and can also decrease the amount of menstruation or cease it entirely by reversing estrogen’s effect on the growth of the uterine lining.

Symptoms of high progesterone may include:

* Breast tenderness
* Feeling bloated
* Mood swings
* Excessive sleepiness
* Dizziness
* Susceptibility to yeast infections
* Functional estrogen deficiency

Helpful Products:
Dong Quai Promotes hormonal balance and helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels within the normal range

Endo-Ex™ Supports a healthy endometrial lining for female reproductive health

Candidate™ Supports normal levels of systemic Candida and balanced probiotic flora in the body

Femalite ™ Promotes mood balance during the premenstrual and menstrual period

Fatigue Fighter ™ Promotes healthy energy levels, stamina and vitality

Low Levels of Progesterone

Progesterone is one of the most important hormones produced by the female body. It plays a critical role in stimulating and regulating various functions within the body. Progesterone is a fundamental hormone that is also responsible for the production of additional hormones such as estrogen and cortisone.

There could be many possibilities that could cause the progesterone levels to fall. Some prominent factors include excess estrogen, resistance to insulin present in the body, chronic stress, sugar-laden diet, insufficient exercise and certain medications.

Symptoms of low progesterone may include:

* Infertility
* Thyroid dysfunction or disorders
* Depression
* Fibrocystic breasts
* Weight gain
* Gallbladder disease
* Low blood sugar
* Panic attacks
* Water retention
* Irregular menstrual cycle
* Blood clots during menstruation
* Magnesium deficiency
* Vaginal dryness
* Breast tenderness
Helpful Products:

Thyroid Assist ™ Promotes thyroid health & functioning, plus healthy energy levels

AdrenoBoost™ Supports adrenal functioning and vitality, plus the balance of adrenal hormones and cortisol levels

FemaLube™ Supports healthy lubrication, maintain vaginal tone and elasticity

Dong Quai Promotes hormonal balance and helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels within the normal range

Endo-Ex™ Supports a healthy endometrial lining for female reproductive health

High Levels of Androgens

In a woman's body, one of the main purposes of the androgens is to be converted into the female hormones called estrogens. These hormones influence and regulate the function of many organs, including the reproductive tract, bone, kidneys, liver and muscle before, during and after menopause. Androgens also affect libido and sexual pleasure. However, excessive androgens can pose a problem and disrupt the healthy functioning of many of these bodily systems.

Left untreated, high levels of androgens can lead to serious health consequences, such as insulin resistance, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Symptoms of high androgens may include:

* Acne
* Hirsutism (excess hair growth in "inappropriate" places, like the chin or upper lip)
* Thinning hair
* Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
* Irregular or absent menstrual periods
* Infertility
* Low HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") and high LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol")
* Obesity around the abdomen
Helpful Products

Dong Quai Promotes hormonal balance and helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels within the normal range

Endo-Ex™ Supports a healthy endometrial lining for female reproductive health

MellowPause™ Helps maintain balanced moods and healthy sleep patterns during menopause

Low Levels of Androgens

Low androgen levels can be a problematic as well, and may affect women at any age, but most commonly occurs during the transition to menopause, or perimenopause. Associated conditions which may lead to low androgens include hypothalamic amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods resulting from excessive dieting and exercising) and hyperprolactinemia (characterized by high levels of prolactin, the hormone that drives milk production when a woman breastfeeds).

Rarely, pituitary gland tumors also can affect low production of testosterone (as well as other hormones). Low androgen levels also have been linked to bone loss and osteoporosis.

Symptoms of low androgens may include:

* Low libido
* Fatigue
* Reduced sense of well-being
* Vaginal dryness

Dong Quai Promotes hormonal balance and helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels within the normal range

Endo-Ex™ Supports a healthy endometrial lining for female reproductive health

MellowPause™ Helps maintain balanced moods and healthy sleep patterns during menopause

AdrenoBoost™ Supports adrenal functioning and vitality, plus the balance of adrenal hormones and cortisol levels

Femalite™ Promotes mood balance during the premenstrual and menstrual period

Fatigue Fighter™ Promotes healthy energy levels, stamina and vitality

FemaLube™ Supports healthy lubrication, maintain vaginal tone and elasticity

What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?

Hormonal Imbalance and Menstrual Cycle

Many factors can disrupt hormonal balance and a normal menstrual cycle. Birth control pills, stress, and many other conditions may be to blame. Drug use, reliance on stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, and even poor nutrition seems to physically change the proteins in the brain so they can no longer send the proper signals for normal ovulation.

Other factors which can disrupt hormonal balance and menstruation include:

* Adrenal Exhaustion - The adrenal glands contribute to about 35 percent of premenopausal female hormones and almost 50 percent of postmenopausal hormones. Therefore, compromised adrenal function profoundly affects hormonal balance. When we are under stress, regardless of the source (danger, personal relationships, work, environment) our adrenal glands are designed to secrete the hormone cortisol, which has a direct impact on the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA.

* Eating disorders - While hormonal changes do not cause eating disorders, an imbalance in hormones can occur in severe eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. When an eating disorder occurs, the reproductive hormones which include estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are low while the stress hormones are high. In addition, the thyroid and growth hormones are also considerably affected. These conditions can lead to amenorrhœa, or the absence of a menstrual period.

* Ovulation disorders - These types of disorders are caused by high levels of androgens (male sex hormones) or prolactin. Androgen levels promote the male sex characteristics and are responsible for the development of pubic hair and sex drive ( libido) .

* Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - This condition is caused by abnormally high levels of male hormone, which in turn results in high levels of lutenizing hormones as well as low levels of follicle stimulating hormones (FSH).

* Abnormal cervical mucus - Irregularities related to cervical mucus include mucus that is too thick to allow sperm penetration even during ovulation or insufficient cervical mucus production in the cervical glands.

Dong Quai Promotes hormonal balance and helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels within the normal range

Endo-Ex™ Supports a healthy endometrial lining for female reproductive health

AdrenoBoost™ Supports adrenal functioning and vitality, plus the balance of adrenal hormones and cortisol levels

Femalite™ Promotes mood balance during the premenstrual and menstrual period

Hormonal Imbalance and Post Partum

As it is common for hormone levels to be off balance after pregnancy, many women experience emotional and physical disturbances, most commonly post partum depression. Postpartum affects approximately 13% of new mothers and if left untreated, can have detrimental consequences on health.

Affecting 5%-7% of women who give birth is the condition postpartum thyroiditis, a painless inflammation of the thyroid gland that can occur in the mother about 2-6 following childbirth.

Symptoms may resemble an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), including rapid heartbeat, sudden and unexplained weight loss, nervousness, fatigue, and increased sensitivity to heat. The condition may then turn to symptoms of underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which may include unexplained weight gain, hoarse voice, constipation, puffy face, fatigue and increased sensitivity to cold. Blood tests can confirm diagnosis.

In most women, thyroid function returns to normal, in varying time frames from a month to several years. However, some women develop lasting thyroid conditions and require long-term treatment.

NewMama Drops™ Supports health, vitality and hormone balance after childbirth

Thyroid Assist™ Promotes thyroid health & functioning, plus healthy energy levels

ThyroSoothe ™ Soothes the thyroid gland & promotes health

Hormonal Imbalance and Birth Control Pills

Some women may experience hormonal imbalance from taking birth control pills, or if they choose to stop taking them after chronic use.

Women on birth control pills tend to have very low testosterone levels, since the majority of the natural hormones in the blood are inactivated by serum hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which not only absorbs testosterone, but is also one of the body’s main hormone regulating mechanisms. It makes sense that pills that disrupt this cycle can have adverse affects on health.

In addition, synthetic hormones alter the menstrual cycle, so women taking birth control pills aren't making their own estrogen, progesterone or testosterone, or ovulating. Over time, suppressing the brain from making its own chemicals can lead to a permanent loss of hormone functioning. Some women who go off birth control pills can be extremely hormone deficient for weeks or months, sometimes years.

Other Causes of Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalance can clearly have many affects on health, and can even lead to female infertility. Some other causes of hormonal imbalance include:

* Glandular problems - Primary glands such as the hypothalamus, thyroid and pituitary glands are responsible for the production of reproductive hormones. They send signals during reproductive processes that cause various levels of hormone production. When hormonal abnormalities occur in these glands, fertility problems in women may occur. The primary glands may be affected by a wide range of underlying conditions such as weight changes, stress, medication, birth control pills and medical disorders such as hypothyroidism and tumors.
* Premature menopause - Premature menopause is also known as premature ovarian failure. It occurs when women under the age of 40 lack hormones required for ovulation and menstruation as a result of a depleted supply of eggs.
* High insulin levels
* Painkillers
* Environmental chemicals (pesticides and hormones) in our food, water and air. From plastics, pesticides, and other poisons found in common household items, these foreign substances mimic estrogen once they enter the body.
* HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
* Candida - A Candida waste product produces a false estrogen, which tricks the body into thinking it has produced adequate levels, signaling a reduction of its own estrogen. Similar messages can also be sent to the thyroid, reducing thyroxin production and initiating or worsening a hypothyroid problem.
* Prolonged stress. The body is designed to cope with stress by producing its own stress-fighting hormones. However, chronic stress disrupts this natural process, leading to compromised production of female hormones and multitude of symptoms including irritability, mood swings, headaches, sleeplessness, and weight gain.

Help for Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal balance is essential for good health and immunity. There are also more natural, gentler ways to treat the symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies are gentle on delicate body systems, but still effective and improve your overall health helping to restore balance to hormonal levels.

Depending on the type of hormonal imbalance, a proper diagnosis must be established to determine the best treatment options to correct it. However, most everyone can benefit from the benefits of a holistic and healthy lifestyle, which includes diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction.

In addition, the liver is responsible for eliminating excess hormones (e.g. in the case of estrogen dominance). In addition, estrogen-mimicking chemicals found in many products and in the environment would also be eliminated by the liver. Therefore, supporting the liver is an important and essential part of treating hormonal imbalance.

Herbs such as Vitex agnus-castus (Chasteberry) promote hormonal balance and health while Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh) has become well known for its beneficial effect on hormone functioning due to its phyto-estrogenic properties. In addition, Eleutherococcus senticosis (Siberian Ginseng) helps to regulate the menstrual cycle as well as improve hormone balance and promote fertility.
More Information on Hormonal Imbalance

If you think you are suffering from hormonal imbalance, speak to your doctor right away. He will make a proper diagnosis and provide you with treatment options for your specific condition.

A healthy and balanced diet is crucial for hormonal health and overall systemic balance. Make sure to reduce overly processed foods, especially refined sugars. Eating wholesome organic foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables will help your overall health, including the regulation of hormone production.

Herbal Remedies

More Tips

While we can do our best to reduce stress and partake in healthy lifestyle, avoiding environmental/external causes of hormones are more difficult, as they are present in many household items. Reduce stress in any way possible, such as yoga, painting, meditation, etc. and be sure to get enough exercise and sleep.

Be sure to avoid in particular:

* Anti-aging creams containing lactic, glycolic, AHA, and BHA acids
* Hair dyes containing ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene; all dark permanent hair dyes
* Liquid hand soaps containing triclosan
* Nail polish and removers containing formaldehyde
* Skin lighteners containing hydroquinone
* Excessive fragrance and dyes
* Anything with parabens or "-paraben

Diet Information

* Avoid high-fat and highly processed foods. Hot dogs, pre-packaged meats, cookies, frozen dinners and most packaged white breads are processed foods that contain chemicals that adversely affect hormones levels.
* Increase your fiber to 30 grams day to flush out your system.
* Drink plenty of water and minimize consumption of caffeine, sugars, and alcohol.
* Consume a natural, organic, and whole foods diet (raw fruit, vegetables and whole grains) as often as possible, since they are free of pesticides.
* Include fish in your diet about three times a week, as it contains DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a vital hormone that influences the reproduction process and brain functioning. Salmon, tuna and mackerel are all good sources. If you don't like fish, use a fish oil supplement instead.
* Opt for natural, hormone-free dairy products and avoid milk and other dairy products that are derived from animals fed antibiotics and artificial growth hormones to increase production.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gastric Reflux better known as Heartburn

Gastric reflux is a common digestive condition that is also often referred to as heartburn. A burning sensation and pain in the stomach and chest is usually felt when gastric reflux occurs. This condition is extremely uncomfortable and can affect your quality of life. It occurs when there is a back flow of the stomach’s acidic contents into the esophagus (the tube which connects the stomach to the throat).

At the bottom of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter acts as a valve and prevents the stomach acids from flowing upwards. However, in some people this valve may be weak or faulty and as a result the stomach acids flow into the esophagus. If there is increased pressure on the stomach or the stomach contains too much food or gastric juices, gastric reflux will occur.
The symptoms and signs of acid reflux may include
or be accompanied by:

* Heartburn
* Indigestion (dyspepsia)
* Regurgitation
* Pain and discomfort in the upper abdomen
* Nausea
* Bloating
* Difficulty swallowing
* Hoarseness and coughing
* Asthma
* Dental erosion

What Causes Gastric Reflux?

Gastric reflux is typically brought on by a number of factors such as eating a large or fatty, spicy meal, acidic foods and beverages, drinking alcohol, smoking, lying down too soon after eating, bending or lifting. Obesity, pregnancy, constipation and a hiatal hernia may also be associated with gastric reflux. If gastric reflux is left untreated, complications such as inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), anemia, ulceration and cancer of the esophagus can cause serious health risks.
Diagnosing Gastric Reflux

The diagnosis of gastric reflux is based on the symptoms presented, a thorough physical examination and review of your medical history. Certain diagnostic tests such as barium x-rays, endoscopy, biopsy, esophageal PH testing and esophageal manometry may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

How to treat the symptoms of gastric reflux depends on its severity. For mild symptoms of stomach reflux, over-the-counter medications such as ant-acids, H-2 receptor blockers or anti-gas medications may offer fast relief. If symptoms are severe and keep recurring, proton pump inhibitors may be prescribed by your doctor. Surgery may be required if medications do not work.

More and more people are choosing natural and holistic treatments to treat and assist the prevention the symptoms of digestive problems, including those which results in throat pain. Homeopathic remedies are safe and gentle within the body without the unwanted side effects of conventional medications. Carefully selected ingredients such as Calc phos, Carbo veg, Nat phos, Mag carb and Silicea help to absorb toxins in the body, neutralizes acid in the stomach, acts as an internal cleanser and calms the digestive system.

There are several ways to relieve gastric reflux and these include:

Herbal Remedies

* Eliminate certain foods and beverages such as fatty, spicy foods, milk, coffee, tomatoes, oranges, peppermint, chocolate and alcohol that may trigger stomach reflux symptoms
* Keep a diary to track which foods and activities may worsen your symptoms
* If you are overweight, lose some weight to relieve symptoms
* Eat slowly and always sit up straight when eating
* Avoid going to bed on a full stomach – eat a meal at 2-3 hours before lying down
* Eat smaller meals throughout the day and avoid overeating
* Elevate the head of your bed by placing blocks or a bedwedges under the bedposts to alleviate gastric reflux
* Wear loose fitting clothes to release pressure on your stomach
* Stop smoking as it weakens the lower esophageal sphincter
* Reduce stress levels by exercising, practicing deep breathing exercises or meditating
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My Zimbio

Monday, August 23, 2010

Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

During pregnancy a woman’s body experiences many different changes. A common downside to pregnancy is foot pain. Expectant mothers often complain about tired, sore and swollen feet which can range from a dull ache to severe pain.. This is natural because the additional weight gained during pregnancy alters a woman’s center of gravity, changing her posture and balance, and adding undue pressure on the knees and feet.

Burning sensations may develop and feet may feel hot because of an increase in body temperature due to hormonal changes. These changes affect the way the feet would normally function and as a result a number of foot conditions may develop.

What Causes Swollen Feet?

Two of the most common foot conditions brought on by pregnancy are over-pronation or weakening of the arches (also known as flat feet) and edema. When over-pronation occurs, your arch flattens and your feet roll inward. As a result, excessive strain is placed on the calves and back making walking extremely painful.

If over-pronation or flat feet are left untreated, more serious conditions such as metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain) or plantar fasciitis (severe heel pain) can occur. edema is a condition in which the extra fluid in your body becomes displaced and is stored in the hands and feet. Many women experience edema and it typically occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy, and especially in the summer months.

Feet and ankles swell and turn purplish in color. edema usually disappears after delivery but if swelling appears more prominent in one foot than the other or affects the face, consult your doctor immediately. Other foot problems that may develop and cause ‘“pain”:natural-treatments-for-pain-relief.html include bunions and calluses, while many pregnant women experience varicose veins and leg cramping.

Very often we tend to neglect our feet but during pregnancy, it is very important to maintain foot health. Rest your feet throughout the day and try to keep them elevated to reduce the swelling Keep in mind that although you should reduce your activities and take regular breaks. It is still vital that you remain active and walking and swimming are gentle forms of exercise that will not place undue stress on the body.

Treat your feet gently by choosing proper-fitting footwear that will accommodate swelling feet. Wear shoes that are comfortable and have Velcro, laces or an arch support. Consult a podiatrist about insoles or orthotic devices to treat foot conditions such as over-pronation, edema, plantar fasciitis or bunions.

Orthotics are designed to provide extra support, shock absorption, cushioning and protection. Avoid using any topical medications on your feet during pregnancy unless it has been prescribed by your doctor. To keep feet feeling cool and refreshed, immerse feet in a tub of warm, salt water and then apply cooling foot gel. Having regular foot massages or pedicures can also relieve fatigue and rejuvenate the mind and soul – the perfect pamper treatment for any mum-to-be!

During pregnancy feet often need special attention and tender care. Carrying all that extra weight around can wreck havoc to your feet and bring about foot problems you wish you had never had. Soothing tired, sore, achy feet can easily be relieved by using carefully selected aromatherapy oils in a footbath or as massage oil.

Best of all, these oils will provide you with an instant pick-me-up leaving you feeling invigorated and refreshed. Pure essential oils such as Litsea cubeba and Grapefruit (Citrus paradise) have excellent anti-inflammatory and calming properties and also treat swelling water retention, fatigue and insomnia. In addition, Ginger essential oil acts as a pain, eases aches and cramps also improves circulation.

There are a number of things that you can do to ease swollen feet during pregnancy and prevent further foot problems and these include:

Herbal Remedies

* Take short breaks during the day and elevate your feet to relieve the pressure
* Stretch and flex your feet when you are sitting down
* Wear shoes that fit properly and avoid wearing high-heeled or tight shoes while you are pregnancy as they will constrict circulation
* Exercise regularly to ensure optimum health – practice walking every day
* Shop for shoes towards the end of the day as feet tend to swell as the day progresses
* Measure your feet often throughout your pregnancy as they will change in size
* If you suffer from over-pronation, use custom-made inserts in your shoes
* Wear compression hosiery to keep the pressure from fluids down
* Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation
* Eat healthy, well balanced meals and avoid foods high in salt that can cause water retention
* Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated, reduce swelling and improve circulation
* Have a relaxing foot massage to soothe swollen feet and stimulate circulation
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My Zimbio

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gastric Ulcers

A gastric ulcer, also referred to as a stomach ulcer, is a break or raw, eroded area in the normal tissue lining of the stomach. People often believe that a gastric ulcer is the result of too much acid in the stomach. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and people with gastric ulcers do produce normal amounts of acid. It depends on how well the lining of the stomach copes with the acid because the stomach makes chemicals and mucus which covers the surface and protects the tissues from the acid.

Gastric ulcers are extremely common and affect about two percent of the adult population in the United States. They are most common in older men between the ages of 55 and 70.

The diagnosis of a gastric ulcer is based on a physical examination, symptoms and medical history of the individual. Risk factors such as male sex, age, use of NSAIDs, history of excessive use of alcohol and smoking as well as the family history of ulcers will be taken into account. Additional tests such as an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) and biopsy will show a benign gastric ulcer. To check for a gastric ulcer, an upper GI series test will be performed.

What Causes Gastric Ulcers?

A gastric ulcer is caused by an imbalance between the stomach acids and digestive juices which injures the protective mucus of the stomach lining. Gastric ulcers usually develop as a result of the use of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.

The presence of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori), disorders that create over secretion of stomach juices, certain types of medication and an excessive intake of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can also cause gastric ulcers. Many people experience periods of chronic ulcer pain alternating with symptom-free periods that may last for many weeks or even months.

The risk factors for gastric ulcers include:

* Use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen
* Alcoholism
* Smoking
* Chronic gastritis
* Aging
* Certain blood clotting problems
* Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) infection
* Mechanical ventilation

Symptoms of a gastric ulcer

The symptoms and signs of a gastric ulcer include:

* Indigestion in upper abdomen
* Heartburn in upper abdomen
* Abdominal pain
* Nausea
* Vomiting blood
* Blood in stools or black, tarry stools
* Weight loss
* Fatigue

A gastric ulcer may be treated with prescription drugs that will reduce the stomach acid secretion and protect the mucus tissue that lines the stomach. Treatment may also be recommended to remove H.pylori bacteria in order to avoid further recurrences of an ulcer. In cases where complications such as hemorrhaging or perforation of the stomach wall may occur, surgery is required.

Several lifestyle changes can benefit the individual with gastric ulcers to prevent a recurrence, and they include:

* Eat several, small nutritious meals a day at regular time intervals
* Exercise regularly
* Avoid unnecessary use of aspirin and NSAIDs
* Reduce your intake of coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages
* Stop smoking
* Reduce your intake of alcohol

Herbal Remedies

Natural and Holistic treatments are also highly effective in the prevention of stomach flare ups and digestion problems. While many synthetic and prescription drugs provide symptomatic relief, they also have harsh side effects. Herbal and homeopathic remedies, on the other hand, are gentle on the body’s systems without any side effects.

Herbs such as Matricaria recutita, (German Chamomile) contain anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and calming properties which are excellent for digestive disorders. Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet) is an anti-inflammatory, soothing digestive remedy which helps to reduce the pain of digestive disorders and ulcers. Ulmus fulva (Slippery Elm) is an extremely effective herb used in reducing digestive pain and irritation while also protecting and soothing the lining of the stomach and digestive tract. In addition, Sutherlandia frutescens (Cancer Bush) has been used for thousands of years to treat chronic and acute digestive complaints, internal cancer and also acts as a powerful tonic.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hair Loss

Hair loss is also known as baldness or alopecia. Your hair grows in three distinct phases – it grows, rests and falls out. During the growing phase about ninety percent of your hair grows and lasts for several years. Hair stops growing during the resting phase which lasts between two to three months. Finally, during the shedding phase, the hair falls out of the follicle and new hair begins to form.

Approximately 50 to 100 hairs are shed daily and this is considered normal for the average person. Hair loss may affect any part of the body that is covered in hair including the scalp, eyebrows, beard or pubic area. It affects both men and women. It is more common in men who tend to accept the condition more easily than women. Women, on the other hand, often struggle to come to terms with their hair loss which can lead to depression, low self esteem and anxiety.

There are various types of hair loss and they include:

Permanent baldness

* Male-pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) affects men during their teens or early twenties. Hair loss or balding appears at the top of the head with a receding hairline at the temples.
* Female-pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is characterized by hair thinning at the front, sides and crown of the head. Women seldom experience complete hair loss.
* Cicatricial (scarring) alopecia is caused by scarring of the hair follicle. It is a rare condition and is often associated with itching or pain.

Herbal Remedies

Temporary baldness

* Alopecia areata

Hair loss occurs in small, bald spots in one particular area, usually on the scalp but can affect other body areas such as eyebrows or beard. Hair eventually grows back after several months but if all body hair is lost, it may never grow back.

* Telogen effluvium

A sudden loss of hair occurs because the normal hair growth cycle is interrupted. Hair begins to thin and fall out of the scalp, particularly when you wash or comb or hair.

* Traction alopecia

This condition occurs as a result of hairstyles that pull too tightly on the hair follicle. Hairstyles include braids, tight ponytails, cornrows, chignons, buns or twists.

What Causes Hair Loss?

There a number of causes and underlying factors that may contribute to hair loss. These include:

* Pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) which develops as a result of heredity factors
* Cicatricial (scarring) alopecia occurs when the hair follicle is scarred and damaged by inflammation
* Alopecia areata is defined as an autoimmune disease and it is believed that genetic factors may be the cause
* Telogen effluvium is caused by a change to your normal cycle as a result of physical or emotional stress (high fever, weight loss, loss of a family member, nutritional deficiencies or surgery)
* Traction alopecia is due to hairstyles that pull your hair back too tightly or excessive hairstyling

Other factors include poor nutrition, certain medications, medical treatments, underlying diseases, hormonal changes, trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) and hair treatments such as bleaching, dyeing, tight braiding, blow drying, straightening or hot curlers
How is Hair Loss Diagnosed?

If you suspect that you may have hair loss, your health practitioner will perform a thorough physical examination, medical and family history. Additional tests such as the pull test, skin biopsy, or skin scrapings maybe ordered to determine the cause of hair loss

There are several treatment options that may help to stimulate and encourage hair growth. If hair loss occurs as a result of an underlying condition or disease, then the condition needs to be treated first. The various types of hair loss are treated with specific medication which includes antibiotics, corticosteroids, or steroid injections. For more serious episodes of hair loss, surgical procedures such as hair transplants, scalp reduction or skin grafts may be performed to replace hair loss.

Natural and Holistic therapy offers a gentler alternative for people experiencing hair loss than the harsh effects of conventional medication. Treatments such herbal and homeopathic remedies stimulate and encourage hair growth as well as support blood circulation, hormonal balance and thyroid functioning.

Herbs commonly used include Ginkgo biloba, Rosmarinus officinale and Xanthoxylum clavaherculis help to promote strong, abundant hair. Other powerful herbs such as Equisetum arvense, Avena sativa and Echinacea are effective combating hair loss and nourishing hair follicles.
More Information on Hair Loss
Tips to cope with hair loss

* Eat a proper, balanced diet that contains fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and protein
* Ensure that you get adequate rest and sleep to reduce stress
* Invest in a wig, hairpiece or try a hair weave to cover baldness
* Have a regular scalp massage to increase blood circulation needed for hair growth
* Use various types of headgear to cover your hair with such as hats, caps, scarves or bandanas
* Essential oils such as lavender used as a massage oil are highly effective for stimulating hair growth
* Practice relaxation techniques such as visualization, yoga or meditation
* Surround yourself with supportive, positive people
* Be kind to yourself – acknowledge your value and worthiness

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hair Growth

While many of us may wish for long, luscious, healthy hair, we are not always that lucky. Growing your hair requires time, effort and patience! Often people who have dry, damaged or very thin, limp hair struggle to grow their hair. This may partly be due to a poor diet, underlying diseases, hormonal changes, certain medications, hair treatments such as bleaching, dyeing, tight braiding, blow drying, straightening or hot curlers.

Most people are not even aware that the hair on their heads has a lifespan of their own and that shedding of hair is normal, natural and healthy. To understand how your hair works, you firstly have to understand the anatomy of hair and how hair grows.

Anatomy of Hair

Hair is composed of two basic structures – the follicle which is found in the skin and the hair shaft lies above the skin. The follicle consists of several layers and each layer has its own specific functions. At the base of the follicle is a stocking-like structure called papilla which contain capillaries and supply blood to the cells.

Surrounding the bottom part of papilla is a structure known as the bulb. The follicle is surrounded by two sheaths – inner and outer sheaths. There primary function is to protect the hair shaft and to help shape it so that it grows in the correct direction. The inner sheath runs next to the hair shaft, ending at the sebaceous gland. The outer sheath runs next to the gland, ending at the erector pili muscle – hair stand on end when this muscle contracts.

The hair shaft is made up of three layers of dead, hard protein called keratin. The innermost layer is called the medulla and may not always be present in the hair shaft. The cortex is situated in the second layer and makes up most of the hair shaft – this is part of the hair that provides bounce and curl.

Pigment cells that are spread throughout the cortex determine the color of your hair. The outermost layer is known as the cuticle and is responsible for the hair’s luster and sheen.

Hair Growth Cycle

There are three phases of the hair growth cycle – anagen, catagen and telagen phases.

Anagen (growing) phase is defined as the growing or the ‘on’ phase where the hair cells grow faster - hair cells divide and new hair growth occurs. The anagen phase normally lasts for approximately 1000 days, as long as two to six years. The length of the anagen phase determines how long your hair will grow.

Catagen (transitional) phase also often referred to as the transitional phase runs about two to three weeks. During this period, your hair stops growing and the hair follicle shrinks and stops growing.

Telagen (dormant) phase is the final resting or dormant phase which lasts for about five to six weeks. During this phase hair may fall out or remain connected to the hair follicle until the growth of new hair forces it out. This usually occurs when you brush or comb your hair or notice stray hairs in the bath. Approximately 10 to 15% of a person’s hair is experienced during the telogen phase.
Hair Growth Disorders

There are two types of hair growth disorders known as hirsutism and hypertrichosis. Hirsutism is a condition which predominantly affects women where abundant thick and dark hair growth occurs in areas of the body mostly found on men – face, chest and areola. Hypertrichosis is a condition which results in excessive hair growth in areas of the body where visible hair is not normally present.

Herbal remedies are a more natural alternative to help promote and stimulate healthy hair growth. These remedies are safe and gentle to use on the body and hair without the harsh side effects that strong chemicals have to offer.

Two well known herbs such as Ginkgo biloba and Rosmarinus officinale encourages healthy blood supply and circulation to the hair follicles and scalp, and also supports the body’s system. Other herbal ingredients include Xanthoxylum clavaherculis, Equisetum arvense, Achillea millifolium and Avena sativa supports the thyroid and all mechanisms involved in hormonal balance in the body.

Herbal Remedies

Tips to maximize hair growth

* Follow these helpful tips for long, abundant hair:
* Eat a healthy diet that is filled with fresh vegetables, fruit, lean meat and fish.
* Get plenty of sleep and rest to ensure that your body allows hair growth
* Increase your intake of zinc and iron supplements to help hair grow faster
* Eliminate smoking, caffeine, carbonated sodas, sugary and fatty foods as they block hair growth
* Have regular scalp massages or rub your scalp with your finger tips when shampooing your hair to stimulate hair follicles
* Brush your hair daily and use a soft bristle brush to prevent breakage
* Avoid using hot water, hot blow dryers, hair straightners or other hair tools that may damage hair
* Have regular treatments such as hot oil or protein treatments to protect the hair’s shafts
* Have regular trims to get rid of split ends – at least every eight weeks
* Wash your hair regularly as an oily scalp can clog follicles and prevent hair from growing
* Consider hair extensions, clip-on braids and ponytails or long wigs for instant

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Immune Deficiency

The immune system enables the body to fight off illness and infection on a daily basis. While we are usually unaware of it, we are constantly surrounded by a multitude of viruses, bacteria, microbes, parasites, and toxins that pose a potential threat to our health. If it were not for the immune system, these germs and foreign cells would have the upper hand.

Like most other important body systems, the immune system goes about its important job without any thought and effort on our part. It is usually only when things go wrong that we realize just how essential the immune system is.

Varying in degrees of severity, immune deficiency can be thought of as a condition where the body's defense system is compromised, causing it to be less resilient to foreign invading cells. Abnormal cells which develop inside the body systems may also multiply and cause illness if the immune system is compromised.

What Causes Immune Deficiency?

Immune deficiency may occur for any number of reasons. Whatever the cause, people who have a compromised or weakened immune system tend to be more inclined to catching the flu, colds, or infections that they would normally be resistant to.
Possible Causes of Immune Deficiency

* The after-effects of previous illness or infection
* The consequences of an unbalanced lifestyle that does not sufficiently support immune system functioning
* The effects of medication
* The result of a number of serious medical conditions known as immunodeficiency disorders

Common Causes of Immune Deficiency

After-Effects of Previous Illness, Infection, or Injury

One of the common reasons for lowered immune functioning is illness or infection. Once your body has been under attack from any sort of illness, the immune system takes some time to fully recover. This can often set up a vicious cycle – though you are beginning to feel better, your immune system is still weakened, thus your body is still vulnerable to another invasion. If you get sick again before the immune system has fully recovered, the illness usually hits harder and recovery takes longer.

Certain illnesses have also been known to weaken the immune system such as chicken pox, measles, tuberculosis, chronic hepatitis, and certain types of cancer.

Injuries such as burn trauma or surgery also tend to lower the immune system's first line of defense (the skin and protective membranes), as the body has to split much of its energy and resources between healing and fighting off infections.

Effects of an Unbalanced Lifestyle:

* Poor Diet: Malnutrition and an unbalanced diet are leading causes of a lowered immune system. Research has shown that poor nutrition compromises the lymphatic system, making the body more vulnerable to infection and disease. By ensuring that you eat a wholesome, nutritious diet rich in fresh fruits, and vegetables, whole-grains, legumes and natural oils, you can help strengthen natural immune responses. Also try to avoid excess amounts of “bad foods” such as sugars, animal fats, and highly refined foods, as they tend to weaken the immune system.

* Stress: Many studies have shown that stress has a remarkably powerful effect on the immune system. Short term time-limited stresses such as public speaking or a momentary fright tend to temporarily boost the immune system, preparing the body for a potential threat, and giving it that extra boost it may need. However, prolonged stress tends to have the opposite effect and has been shown to significantly suppress the immune system.

* Not enough sleep: Too little sleep or poor quality sleep weakens the immune system, leaving the body more susceptible to other diseases and disorders. While it is not fully understood, people who suffer from sleep disturbances tend to have weaker immune functioning than those who get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night.
* Poor hygiene habits: Simple hygiene habits such as washing hands regularly and keeping a clean living environment go a long way in helping the immune system protect us from potentially hazardous organisms.

Effects of Certain Medication:

Some medications, particularly immunosuppressant medications such as corticosteroids or medications used after organ transplants (to reduce the chances of the immune system rejecting the new and “foreign” organ), have an adverse effect on the immune system. While suppressing the immune system is the purpose of these medications, it leaves the body open to all sorts of other infections and illnesses.

Chemotherapy also often reduces the body's defenses for some months, both during and after treatment. This is due to the fact that chemotherapy reduces the white blood cell count, which is an essential element of the immune system.

Regular use of antibiotics may also contribute to a weakened immune system – due to the drugs themselves, and because they do not afford the immune system an opportunity to deal with the invading organisms and thus strengthen itself.

Serious Medical Conditions:

There is a group of immune-related disorders known as immunodeficiency disorders. This is where the immune system response is severely reduced or absent altogether. These disorders can be divided into two categories – Primary (also known as congenital) immunodeficiency disorders which are rare genetic defects that an individual is born with or pre-disposed to, or acquired immunodeficiency disorders, which are caused by external causes such as illness, malnutrition, or injury. Some examples of immunodeficiency disorders include:

* HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
* X-linked agammaglobulinemia
* Selective IgA deficiency
* Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
* Chronic granulomatous disease
* Leukocyte adhesion defects
* Bruton disease
* Combined immunodeficiency disease

Herbal Remedies

As illustrated, the immune system has an essential role to play, and sometimes it needs some assistance. By supporting and enriching the immune system, we take a vital step in building resistance to disease and reducing susceptibility to colds, viruses, and cancer. There are a number of ways to boost the immune system and provide immune deficiency treatment alternatives. For example, boosting the system through practicing a healthy lifestyle, exercise, diet, good sleep habits, and the regular use of natural remedies all help to maintain optimum functioning.

Immune deficiency treatment often depends largely on the cause as diagnosed by a medical professional. For serious immune system diseases such as HIV, drug treatment will almost always be necessary.

If other causes such as dietary or lifestyle-related factors are determined to be at fault, treatment will involve a serious restructuring of eating and living habits, aimed at righting the causes of the immune system problem.

Therefore it is very important to see a specialist to have your immune deficiency diagnosed properly. Try to provide as much background information on your condition as possible so that your doctor can better understand your condition. Blood tests will also likely be required to determine if your condition is the result of an autoimmune disease.
Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies for the Immune System

Certain Herbal and Homeopathic remedies have been used as support for immune deficiency treatment for thousands of years, with great effect. Herbs such as Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceous, Inula helenium and Withania somnifera are well-documented for their antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties, as well as their ability to strengthen and assist the immune system. These herbs have a tonic effect for the immune system and are often taken to prevent illness and assist recovery. Remember that therapeutic dosage is important when using herbal medicines – so ensure that you source them from a reputable company.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

What is Jaw Tension?

When stress builds up in the jaw joint, it is referred to as jaw tension or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ). As complicated as that sounds, it’s actually very simple.

The temporomandibular joint is located on both sides of the head at the point where the jawbone meets the skull. Problems can develop when the supporting muscles and ligaments of the temporomandibular joint are over stretched and out of alignment or when there are problems with the joint itself such as arthritis.

Depending on the cause, temporomandibular joint disorders can affect people of all ages, although women under the age of forty are more prone to the tension and stress related problems.

Many people complain of problems associated with their jaw. People suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder may experience difficulty in opening or closing their mouths, or their jaws may ache at certain times. Talking may become difficult, and eating and swallowing uncomfortable. Headaches, earaches, neck pain, stiffness and sometimes jaw clicking or teeth grinding are also listed as symptoms.
What Causes Jaw Tension?

There are many factors and causes of TMJ. The most common causes of TMJ are a joint which becomes overworked and disjointed, causing stiffness and discomfort.
Common Causes of TMJ

* Jaw Clenching - or Bruxism (you may grind your teeth during the day and/or at night while you sleep)
* Poor posture
* Poor diet
* Lack of sleep
* Stress
* Inability to relax
* Medical conditions such as arthritis, jaw dislocations and fractures

If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, your doctor or dentist will be able to determine the causes of temporomandibular joint disorder and suggest treatment. Treatment usually depends on the type of jaw ailment and TMJ symptomsyou are experiencing.

Often, a mouthpiece or an adjustment to your bite (the way the teeth come together) is all that is required. The dentist may prescribe painkillers, or recommend heat or ice packs to help soothe the pain. Jaw exercises also help to strengthen the muscles and the jaw. In more extreme cases, surgery is necessary.

Herbal and Homeopathic remedies can also be very helpful in the overall treatment plan for people who experience jaw tension or TMJ symptoms. Homeopathic treatments such as Causticum, Hypericum perforatum, Ignatia, Kalmia, Magnesia phosphorica, Rhus toxicodendron and Ruta graveolens can soothe and relax strained ligaments in the jaw area. Herbs in a tincture form such as Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus), Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), Passiflora incarnata and Melissa officinalis can also provide safe and natural alternatives to prescription medications.

Consult a health practitioner, homeopath or naturopath for further advice if necessary.
More Information on Jaw Tension

A lot can be done in a personal capacity to alleviate discomfort and other symptoms that may cause distress.

Herbal Remedies

* Counseling, acupuncture, the Alexander technique (correcting your posture) and relaxation therapy to relieve stress
* Eating soft, healthy foods that do not stress the jaw joint such as soups, fish, yogurt, steamed vegetables and soft fruits
* Stretching your neck regularly
* Applying pressure to your jaw
* Sleeping on your back to avoid applying pressure to your face
* Adding calcium to your vitamin intake

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Dog (and Cat) Days of Summer

Please remember to take car of our pets during this very hot month of August!!

Lets keep them with plenty of water and for goodness sakes DO NOT leave them in cars or trucks with the windows closed or even half open!!

Terry, Grover, and Gracielou

Types of Labor Contractions

Labor contractions are the body’s way of getting you ready for labor and typically occur during the final stage of the third trimester during pregnancy. Women often describe the onset of contractions as severe menstrual cramps or gas pains. They move in a wave-like motion starting from the top of the uterus down to the bottom of your abdomen.

Labor contractions gradually increase in intensity and lengthen, with the peaks coming quicker and quicker as the birth looms. Each woman’s experience with contractions is different. Some may experience pain in the back and lower abdomen, while others may also feel pain in the upper thighs, or their water may break.

You may experience two types of labor contractions – Braxton Hicks, and true labor contractions. During the second trimester but more often in the third trimester, false labor pains or Braxton Hicks may occur. Braxton Hicks contractions are described as a mild, irregular tightening of the abdomen. These contractions are uncomfortable but not painful – they do not occur close together, increase in intensity or last very long. In essence, this is simply a “practice session” before true labor begins. In some pregnant women false labor contractions may lead up to true labor but does not actually dilate the cervix. Labor contractions are often irregular and usually subside when you stop or change positions.

When true labor starts, contractions are regular, lasting approximately 30 to 70 seconds and get closer together as time moves on. They continue irrespective if you are standing, sitting or lying down. Pain is felt in the lower back and abdomen, and may also develop in upper thighs. They intensify in frequency and strength and may be accompanied by diarrhea, cramps or an upset stomach. A blood-streaked discharge may occur together with your water breaking (membranes rupture).

When to Call Your Doctor

When your contractions begin, you should keep note of how long each contraction and how often they are occurring – have a watch, pen and paper on hand! If labor contractions are coming quite regularly and are about five to seven minutes apart, you should contact your obstetrician. Call your obstetrician as well if your water breaks, if your water breaks and labor has not begun, a bloody, brownish mucus discharge appears or the contractions are very intense but you are nowhere near your due date.

Natural and Holistic treatments can also help to prepare the uterus for labor and birth and alleviate her stress, fears and anxiety. Herbs such as Squaw Vine (Mitchella repens) and Raspberry leaves (Rubus idaeus) can help promote contractions and facilitate an easier, more positive birth experience. In addition, Passiflora incarnata also called Passion Flower and Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) relieves anxiety and nervousness and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and stimulant for contractions.
More Information on Labor Contractions
Tips to cope with Labor Contractions

Herbal Remedies

There are several things that you can do to promote contractions and these include:

* Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, imagery, or massage throughout your pregnancy so that you will be able to cope with contractions
* Attend childbirth classes such as Lamaze or Bradley with your partner to learn techniques that will help you cope with labor pains
* Enlist the help of your partner, a labor coach, birth assistant or doula to support you and offer encouragement during the delivery stages
* Try to relax during contractions, and if you can take a nap
* Distract yourself from the pain and discomfort of contractions by watching a movie, listen to music, chat to your partner or relax in a warm bath
* Avoid looking at your stopwatch all the time – it will only stress you out!
* Walk during each contraction or use a birth or physiotherapy ball to help you move around
* Drink plenty of fluids so that you are fully hydrated
* Urinate as often as possible because a full bladder can make it difficult for your uterus to contract
* If you are in the mood to be touched, let your partner massage you gently but firmly
* Apply a warm or cold compresses onto your back or forehead to relieve pain and discomfort
* Surround yourself with positive people during your pregnancy who will offer support and encouragement, and avoid listening to negative birth stories
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mononucleosis "Mono"

What are the Symptoms of Mono?

Symptoms of Mononucleosis arise three to seven weeks after infection with the virus. Some people may have no symptoms at all but most typically symptoms include:

* Fatigue
* Fever
* Headache
* Muscle aches
* Sore throat
* Enlarged glands

What Causes Mono?

Infectious mononucleosis is most commonly caused by a virus known as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Mono is usually spread through infected saliva - that is why it is often called "the Kissing disease". Transmission of the virus requires prolonged and repeated exposure to infectious saliva – and often people have no idea how they contracted Mono.

People with infectious mononucleosis are contagious for months after the virus! Once a person has been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus it stays in the body even after recovery and although that individual could develop Mono again this is not common. The best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to not kiss or share food, drinks or eating utensils with an infected person.

There is Help for Mono

Since it is a viral illness, antibiotics are not effective in treating Mono. If a secondary infection develops, such as a strep throat or sinus infection, then antibiotics can be prescribed for treatment. Tylenol or Advil may be used for fever, body aches or throat pain. Extra rest is highly recommended. Most symptoms of Mononucleosis usually resolve in one to two weeks, but it may take several weeks to months for full recovery.

Students may attend classes as tolerated but sports with a lot of physical contact are not recommended for 4-8 weeks since the virus can also affect the spleen causing it to become enlarged. If an enlarged spleen is hit or strained it could rupture causing severe internal bleeding. Additionally, mono may cause liver inflammation. It is, therefore, important not to drink alcohol since this could further damage the liver.

Natural and Holistic treatments have proven to be a wonderful alternative to traditional medicines in providing relief for the symptoms of viral infections, including Mono. Herbal and homeopathic remedies can be greatly beneficial in restoring balance in the body and harmonizing body systems.

Herbs such as Silybum marianus (Milk Thistle) can be used to maintain healthy liver functioning and give additional support to the liver when it is put under strain as in the case of Infectious Mononucleosis.

Herbs such as Hypoxis Rooperi (extract of African Potato) contain phytosterols and Sterolins, which help to modulate the effect of the immune system and enhance its performance – and double as a convalescent or strengthening tonic when the body is run down due to illness.

Herbal Remedies

Olea europea (extract of olive leaf) contains a proven compound called oleuropein acid that can assist the fight against numerous viruses, bacteria and fungi. It has been beneficial in the treatment of people with viral illnesses such as Epstein-Barr disease, Infectious Mononucleosis and Glandular Fever.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sore Paws

Your dog and cat’s paws can take a lot of strain from walking and running on hard surfaces, in hot or cold conditions and between thorny bushes and trees. As a result, pets are prone to sores, cuts, scrapes, bruising, blisters and burns on their paws.

Inspect the paws carefully and disinfect the wound with warm water and anti-bacterial soap. Apply Vaseline to promote healing and soothe paws after exposure to harsh, cold elements like snow or blizzards. Keep in mind that your pet needs his “bare little feet” to get around and keeping them in healthy condition will prevent wear and tear all year round.

What Causes Sore Paws?

Although your pet’s paws are designed to be tough and durable, foreign objects such as broken glass, nails or thorns often become embedded between their toes or in their pads which makes walking difficult and painful.

Dogs and cats lick their paws excessively when they are dry or chapped which can lead digestive upsets. They may also limp when their paws or pads are sore.

Natural and Holistic treatments have been used for centuries to heal, soothe and condition burns, wounds, cuts and scrapes. Herbal remedies are a safe, natural alternative to conventional medications that is gentle enough to use on your pet’s paws and pads.

Carefully selected herbal ingredients such as Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wort), Calendula offinalis and Plantago lanceolata contain anti-inflammatory and soothing properties and act as an excellent tonic for the skin.
More Information on Sore Paws

There are several things that you can do to protect your pet’s paws and keep them in healthy condition and these include:

Herbal Remedies

* Check your pet’s paws for cuts, scrapes, burrs (prickly seed) or objects lodged between the toes after he has been outside
* Wash cuts and scrapes with an anti-bacterial soap and dry gently
* Keep your dog or cat’s nails trimmed and regularly check that none have grown into the pad
* Use tweezers to pull out foreign objects between your pet’s toes and remember to be gentle!
* Protect your pet’s paws during winter by wrapping their paws in protective pads, boots or use a natural de-icing spray
* Avoid allowing your pet to run on a hot a road or pavement as this may burn their pads

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Disobedience and Pets

Disobedience is defined as the failure to obey. While every animal deserves the right to free will, when your sofa is being torn to shreds or your animal is putting its life in danger, obedience and listening to commands becomes very important.

Training your animal when they are young (still a puppy or kitten) gives you the best chance of success, however it is often easier said, than done. Even puppies and kittens can stretch your patience to the limit! Training older dogs, while still possible, is usually a much harder task.

What Causes Disobedience?

An animal that routinely disobeys should undergo a full check up by a veterinarian to rule out any physical problem (loss of hearing for example) that may be responsible for the ‘naughty’ temperament such as excessive barking, excitability, and aggression.

Your vet may also prescribe medications that help to calm your pet, long enough for them to be receptive to learning. However, keep in mind that these medications may also have side effects, and it may be difficult in the future to wean your pet off these prescribed drugs.

There are a wide variety of natural ingredients used to help support the animal brain and help pet’s become more amenable to learning, without doing harm. Herbal and homeopathic remedies can provide the perfect accompaniment to training or behavior modification.

Herbs such as Scutellaria laterifolia and Hypericum perforatum can help treat animal anxiety and other nervous disorders, thus providing tonic benefits for the entire nervous system. Belladonna, Cantharis and Nux vom are homeopathic ingredients used to alleviate high levels of irritability, aggression and defiance (all of which may make ‘teaching an old dog new tricks’ nearly impossible!).

Herbal Remedies

* Before inadvertently setting any bad habits in place, consult with a behaviorist or trainer that can help you with the ‘ground rules’ of training and give you helpful tips for teaching your animal.
* Never shout or hit your pet – this is likely to set up a pattern of bad behavior for negative attention. (Negative attention is still attention from you as owner)
* Try using a spray bottle to deter bad behavior, or withhold attention until your animal settles down.
* Consult with a behaviorist that has professional expertise and experience with your specific breed.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Nursing for Cats and Dogs

Your pet has just given birth to a beautiful litter of kittens or puppies. Now all that needs to be done is make sure all the babies are nursing and that the mother remains in good health during this nutritionally demanding stage.

As the time for delivery draws nearer, milk is already being produced so that it will be ready in time for the new arrivals. This special type of milk is called colostrums and it contains essential antibodies from the mom that will help to guard against illness and infection in the early weeks of life.

It is essential that the puppies or kittens each get their fair share of this early milk as it is only available for one to two days. After about 48 hours, mature milk will be produced and this is the milk that will take care of all their nutritional needs over the next few weeks.

The nutritional demands of the new litter are high; in fact, they are growing at such a rapid rate at this stage that they usually double in weight within the first 10 days of life! That means that the new mom has to eat enough high quality food to support both her own needs, and those of her young.

Many veterinarians will suggest that the mother eat a diet of premium puppy or kitten food as this is high in nutrients and will contain all things necessary for the healthy growth of the litter. During nursing, she should be eating between 1- 3 times her usual amount of food, and drinking plenty of water as this will help replace lost fluids as well as stimulate milk production.

What Problems Can Occur During Nursing?

It is important to keep a watchful eye on the new litter and monitor their health and growth rates. In addition, always keep an eye on the mother as nursing problems such as eclampsia and mastitis can cause her to become ill. There are a few things that can go wrong during the nursing phase and by knowing what they are you will be better prepared to recognize them early on.

• Lactation failure (agalactia) – This serious problem occurs when no milk is produced by the mammary glands. As a result, the litter will not receive any nutrition, will cry incessantly and fail to gain weight. Lactation failure is very serious and if it occurs you will need to bottle-feed the litter with an appropriate formula until the milk comes in, or until the litter can be weaned onto solid foods.

• Lactation depression or (dysgalactia) – this is the most common lactation problem and it is one that often has no apparent cause. Lactation depression is when the mammary glands are functioning, yet they are unable to produce enough milk to meet the nutritional needs of the litter. It’s not always easy to know when lactation depression is occurring, however, if you monitor the litter’s weight gains, you should be able to pick up that they are not gaining enough weight. The puppies or kittens may also pull at the teats or cry more than usual and you may also notice that the litter does not nurse for continuous lengths of time, but that they still seem hungry. It is important to treat lactation depression as soon as possible to prevent delays in developmental growth.

* Deficient milk – this less common problem occurs when milk is produced in sufficient quantity but lacks some of the nutrients required for the litter’s growing needs. This can also be a sign of nutritional problems in the mother.

* Eclampsia – In humans, eclampsia is associated with blood pressure, but in cats and dogs it is related to the levels of calcium available in the blood. In eclampsia, the majority of the mother’s calcium is lost to the milk so that while litter receives their nutritional needs, the mother is left calcium deficient which can have serious health consequences. The condition is often the result of a very large litter or those with nutritional problems themselves. If not treated Eclampsia can be life threatening.

* Mastitis – Mastitis is an inflammation or bacterial infection of the mammary glands. This is a potentially serious problem as the infection can contaminate the milk causing illness in the kittens or puppies. The infection can also spread quickly and the mother can become quite ill if the infection is not treated soon.

There is something so beautiful about watching a litter of puppies or kittens nursing on their new mother. Nursing is a beautiful and natural process, and when things go wrong with the production of milk, who better to trust than nature to help restore balance safely and effectively. Herbal ingredients such as Milk Thistle and Goat’s Rue are excellent at helping to encourage milk production and increase milk flow.

Milk Thistle also acts as an effective liver tonic and can help reduce the amount of toxins passed through the milk to the litter. Another beneficial herb that increases milk production is Fennel and along with being excellent for nursing problems, it is also an excellent digestive tonic and blood cleanser.

Lastly, Borage helps to encourage healthy milk production while also containing soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients that help recovery from whelping or queening and act as a tonic remedy for digestive and bowel functioning.
More Information on Nursing
Tips for lactating and nursing pets

Herbal Remedies

* In every litter there are those puppies or kittens that are just more pushy and dominant than others. Just the same, there are often those who may be weaker and if you don’t keep watch, these little ones may get pushed out of the way during feedings. It is especially important to make sure this doesn’t happen within the first 48hours as the entire litter needs to get their full of colostrum!
* The best thing that you can do for your pet and her litter is to provide her with a healthy nutritious diet that meets all her dietary needs as well as those of her babies. Make sure her food and water are close to her nesting area.
* Keep the nesting area clean and replace the newspaper or towel lining regularly.
* Calcium supplements are sometimes recommended for nursing mothers; however, it is important to discuss correct dosages with your vet before hand. Calcium supplements during pregnancy can sometimes cause eclampsia during nursing, so always consult your vet before deciding on any supplements!
* If for some reason the mother is unable to feed her litter, then you will need to take over. Ask your vet for a recommended pet milk formula and get prepared for the sleepless nights ahead. For the first week, puppies and kittens need to be fed every 2hrs, after which you can usually feed between every 3-4 hours. At week 3, you can gradually start weaning the puppies or kittens onto solid food to supplement their bottle feeds. Whenever possible, steps to encourage the mother to feed should be taken.
* While we may think we know best sometimes, cats and dogs naturally have great maternal instincts and tend to be good mothers. Try leaving them to do their thing and only interfere when necessary.
* Monitor the weights and growth of each kitten or puppy so that you can pick up if they are not gaining sufficient weight. This may be a sign of lactation problems which need to be addressed.
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