Echinacea Purpurea -The Immunity Herb

Echinacea is a mainstay in any holistic health kit of essential remedies. We have found nothing better than echinacea extract for treating the onset of a sore throat. Also, echinacea is especially beneficial if taken at the first signs of flu and cold symptoms rather than waiting until you are in the full-bloom of the nastys. This healing herb is found to be a benefit to inflammatory distress.

Echinacea Purpurea, commonly known as the purple cone flower is extremely easy to grow. Every part of the plant (roots, stems, folige, and blossom) have a medicinal use. All the parts of this plant can be used in teas and herbal remedies. The blossom is used in the making of flower essences. Because of its antibiotic properties one can incorporate the echinacea blossom in a special blend of flower essences used in healing practices of Exhaustion and Fatigue.

A web search on the keyword Echinacea will bring you a mother-load of links, (mostly markets for Echinacea products). We do not recommend or approve of using Echinacea on a daily basis. Echinacea is nature’s antibiotic meant to boost your immune system. It is not intended to be taken as a constant. Our recommendation is to take Echinacea for a week to ten days. After a lapse of 5-6 days if your symptoms persist then take it for a second period of 7-10 days.

We prefer the liquid tinctures that are available at natural food stores. Echinacea is also available in capsule or tablet form for anyone who cannot tolerate the somewhat unpleasant taste of echinacea extract.

Note: Using echinacea as a treatment for for anyone with compromised immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS patients has become controversial among the healing community. Although some studies have suggested that echinacea may have beneficial effects for people with AIDS/HIV, further research on the subject is needed. If you have AIDS/HIV or are a caregiver for someone with AIDS/HIV, do not initiate echinacea therapy without consulting with a qualified health provider.

Attitudes about Personal Pain

How do you usually respond to personal pain?

Pain is our bodies’ way of communicating with us. How good are you at listening to your body’s outcries? Do you choose to ignore the pain? Do you use your pain as a way receive sympathy from others? Do you confront your pain head on and strategically seek out a remedy? Can you easily recognize subtle changes in your body or does it take a brick to hit you over the head to grab your attention. Where do you fit in? Poll: Which common attitude listed below describes you best?

1. Hypochondriac

Hypochondriacs are paranoid thinkers. They fear the worst illnesses. They routinely visit their doctors regularly for every little scratch or sneeze.

2. Cyberchondriac

High tech off-springs of the hyperchondriac. Cyberchondriacs have been known to falsely self-diagnosis themselves with some of the rarest and deadliest diseases written about on the Internet.

3. Researcher

Researchers will surf the Internet and scour their local libraries looking for illnesses that will match up with their symptoms and explore available treatments. These individuals are well educated people who are seeking knowledge to better understand the pain they are experiencing. These people want to be active participants in their own well being. Researchers are not content to leave their health completely in the hands of the medical community to call all the shots.

4. Empath

Empaths are natural pain magnets. Sensitive by nature, they naturally absorb sufferings felt by other people near them. Empaths quickly learn to isolate themselves from others and will create energetic boundaries in order to shield themselves from taking on emotions felt by others. If they build too strong of a steel wall of protection around themselves they can appear to be aloof and non-caring to others’ troubles.

5. Complainer

We have all been in the company of complainers. Their demeanor comes across as WOE IS ME. They feel as if they are suffering more than others. They are self-absorbed in themselves and give their power over to their sufferings. They often become very dependent on their sympathizers.

6. Shrugger

These types tend to shrug off or completely ignore signs of pain, suffering in silence. They will often do this out of fear because they don’t want to find out something is wrong and face the possibility of BAD NEWS. Also, they may take on the philosophy that their pain is mild or insignificant compared to others and therefore they should just endure their afflictions. Some wear their pain like a badge of courage as if they are proving to the world that nothing can hurt them.

7. Juggler

For lack of a better label, I will refer to this type as jugglers. These people are highly intune with their bodies and easily recognize when changes and imbalances are occurring. They often feel an imbalance in their etheric field before physical manifestation of any illness has begun. They will take whatever steps necessary, including juggling their routine habits if they must, doing whatever is needed to bring themselves out of flux and return back to a normal and more balanced energy.

8. Combination

If you recognize yourself in more than one of the previous attitudes described then your attitude is a combination of those categories. Our attitudes will vary depending on the severity of pain we are experiencing.

Respect Pain – Listen Your Body When it is in Pain

Addressing the Cause of Your Pain – Ask Yourself “Do I love my pain?

Understand Blood Pressure

The heart is a muscle that pumps blood around the body continuously. Blood that is low in oxygen is pumped towards the lungs, where oxygen supplies are replenished. The heart pumps this oxygen-rich blood around the body to supply our muscles and cells. The pumping of blood generates pressure – blood pressure.

When we measure blood pressure, we gauge two different types of pressure:

* Systolic pressure – the blood pressure when the heart contracts, specifically the moment of maximum force of the contraction, which occurs when the left ventricle of the heart contracts.

* Diastolic pressure – the blood pressure between heartbeats, when the heart is resting and opening up, (dilating).

When our blood pressure is taken the doctor or nurse needs to measure both the systolic and diastolic pressures. The figures usually appear with a larger number first (systolic pressure), and then a smaller number (diastolic pressure). The figure will be followed by the abbreviation mmHg, which means millimeters of mercury.

If your blood pressure is 120 over 80 (120/80 mmHg), it means a systolic pressure of 120mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80mmHg.

Our levels of blood pressure can fluctuate by as much as 30 or 40 mmHg during the day. It will be at its lowest point when we are asleep or resting. When we are physically active, very stressed or anxious our blood pressure rises. It is important that blood pressure is taken under similar circumstances each time so that when the readings are compared they refer to the same state of physical activity.

Manuka Honey May Help Fight Infection

CARDIFF – Manuka honey may kill bacteria by destroying key bacterial proteins. Dr Rowena Jenkins and colleagues from the University of Wales Institute – Cardiff investigated the mechanisms of manuka honey action and found that its anti-bacterial properties were not due solely to the sugars present in the honey.

Meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was grown in the laboratory and treated with and without manuka honey for four hours. The experiment was repeated with sugar syrup to determine if the effects seen were due to sugar content in honey alone. The bacterial cells were then broken and the proteins isolated and separated on a system that displayed each protein as an individual spot. Many fewer proteins were seen from the manuka honey-treated MRSA cells and one particular protein, FabI, seemed to be completely missing. FabI is a protein that is needed for fatty acid biosynthesis. This essential process supplies the bacteria with precursors for important cellular components such as lipopolysaccarides and its cell wall. The absence of these proteins in honey-treated cells could help explain the mode of action of manuka honey in killing MRSA.

“Manuka and other honeys have been known to have wound healing and anti-bacterial properties for some time,” said Dr Jenkins, “But the way in which they act is still not known. If we can discover exactly how manuka honey inhibits MRSA it could be used more frequently as a first-line treatment for infections with bacteria that are resistant to many currently available antibiotics”.

Eczema Patients Enjoy Complementary Therapies

LONDON – These are very popular among patients with atopic eczema. They include aromatherapy, massage, homeopathy, and some herbal remedies, to mention but a few. It is important to remember that although patients do report benefits, a lot of information one reads in books and on the internet is anecdotal. For therapy to be convincing, it should undergo proper clinical tests, usually carried out and compared to a placebo (dummy treatment). Before undergoing any complementary/alternative therapy, check it out carefully.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York reported that treatments consisting of Erka Shizheng Herbal Tea, a bath additive, creams and acupuncture, effectively treated patients with persistent atopic eczema. Their findings were presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Another study, carried out by Scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, found that a traditional Chinese herbal concoction, consisting of Flos lonicerae (Japanese honeysuckle), Herba menthae (peppermint), Cortex moutan (root bark of peony tree), Atractylodes Rhizome (underground stem of the atractylodes herb) and Cortex phellodendri (Amur cork-tree bark) may help people with eczema and reduced their needs for medications.

Bleach baths

Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported that bleach baths offer an effective treatment for kids’ chronic eczema.

Emollients

An emollient is an agent that softens and smoothes the skin – it can be a cream, lotion or ointment. They keep the skin supple and moist. Emollients are an important part of atopic eczema treatment. The skin of people with eczema is usually dry; emollients help keep them moisturized, which helps prevent cracking and irritation.

Finding the right emollient may be a question of trial-and-error at first. The patient may have to try several different ones before hitting on a suitable one. Patients usually end up needing different types of emollients for different parts of their body.

Some emollients are specific for very dry skin, while others are aimed at less dry skin. Ointments are generally prescribed for drier skin, while creams and lotions are usually prescribed for other skin types.

It is not uncommon for patients to find that an emollient is not longer as effective as it used to be. Others may start experiencing skin irritation after long-term use. If either case happens to you or your child, you should see your GP.

* Applying an emollient – apply smoothly to the skin, following the direction the hair grows. Do not rub it in as this may irritate the skin. Gently dry the skin after washing and apply the emollient as soon as the skin is dry. Emollients must not be shared.

* Creams and lotions are generally used for red, inflamed areas.

* Ointments are usually used for dry areas that are not inflamed.

* Apply often – Frequency is the key for effective emollient use. Do not stop applying it when the skin seems to be clear. Frequent use on known affected areas will significantly reduce the number of flare-ups, as well as their severity. Patient’s whose skin is very dry should have repeat applications every two to three hours. During flare-ups frequency of use is paramount – this is when the skin needs the most moisture. Applications during a flare-up should be both frequent and generous.

If your child has atopic eczema it is important that you liaise with his/her school. In the UK it is common for a child to have emollient supplies at home and at school.

* Emollient instead of soap – emollient treatments should be used in place of soap. Soap irritates the skin if you have atopic eczema. In many countries it is possible to purchase emollient bath and shower additives. This measure will make a significant difference in the patient’s frequency and severity of flare-ups.

* Side effects of emollients – some patients may develop a rash with certain ingredients in a specific emollient. That is why people commonly have to try out different ones when they first start. Some emollients contain paraffin and can be a fire hazard – store them carefully and do not use them near a naked flame. Emollients may make the surface of the bath and the floor of the shower cubicle more slippery.

Discover Shamanic Smudging

Shamanic smudging or just smudging is an age-old tribal tradition which has been used for centuries to create harmony and peace. There are many different shamanic smudging ceremonies, and different tribes use a variety of herbs for smudging.

To define it more clearly, shamanic smudging is the burning of herbs or incense for cleansing, purification, protection of physical and spiritual bodies, banishment of negative energies and creation of sacred space. You can use smudge sticks (herbs that are tied into a bundle for easier handling), braided herbs and botanicals (like sweetgrass) or loose herbs (burned on charcoal or mugwort, or in a firepit). Shamanic smudging releases the energy and fragrance of the herbs and botanicals so they can heal, cleanse and purify.

Smudging Four Directions

In many traditions, shamanic smudging involves a four directions ceremony or prayer, which sends specific kinds of smoke or prayers into the four directions. Different tribes have different smudging prayers that program the smoke to do a specific action, such as cleansing or aiding in divination.

In general, shamanic smudging can be used in daily life for practical purposes: to restore physical, mental and emotional balance; to shield against negative energies; to cleanse yourself, your magickal tools and your space; and to restore you sacred space.

You can burn these common smudging herbs singly or in combination with each other. One good combination that covers all four magical elements of air, fire, water and earth is pine resin and sage (either desert sage or white broadleaf sage). This combination is appropriate for general use, cleansing, ceremony and ritual.

When to Smudge Yourself

Smudging yourself on a daily basis can be very helpful in keeping yourself balanced and maintaining a peaceful state of being. However, you should definitely use shamanic smudging techniques when youíve been around people who are ill, depressed, fearful, angry or generally emotionally unbalanced; before meditating to create a calm state of being; when youíre feeling blue or depressed; or when youíve been under a lot of stress.

Smudging yourself is easy. If you’re using a smudge stick, light the smudge stick on a candle flame. Hold the stick in the flame until there is a lot of smoke and the stick is burning well (that ís why a candle is better than a matchóit can take a while to get the stick really smoking). Using a feather (or feather fan) or your hand, gently fan the smoke onto your body, starting at the top of the body and moving downward. Get the back of your body as best you can (it is often easier to use a smudge pot and loose herbs for this). When you’re done, inhale a little of the smoke (just a little!) to purify your insides.

If you’re using a smudge pot or firebowl and loose herbs, light the herbs (using self-lighting charcoal, not the barbeque kind!) until it is smoking well. Then, put the firebowl on the ground and stand over it with your legs spread and feet on either side. Weave back and forth in the smoke until you have been thoroughly cleansed. Clothing is optional for this approach, and smudging in the nude is recommended for a more thorough cleansing. Again, when you’re done, inhale a little of the smoke to purify your insides. People often feel more relaxed, lighter and brighter after smudging.

If you’re going to use the smudge smoke during meditation, use a charcoal burner or firebowl, light the herbs and enjoy the scent and smoke as you meditate. Meditating with these herbs often produces a deeper and longer-lasting state of relaxation and contemplation.

Bronchitis -Home Remedies Series

Bronchitis treatment using Turmeric

One of the most effective home remedies for bronchitis is the use of turmeric powder. Half a teaspoon of this powder should be administered with half a glass of milk, two or three times daily. It acts best when taken on an empty stomach.

Bronchitis treatment using Ginger

Another effective remedy for bronchitis is a mixture comprising of half a teaspoon each of the powder of ginger, pepper, and cloves, three times a day. It may be licked with honey or taken as an infusion with tea. The mixture of these three ingredients has also antipyretic qualities and is effective in reducing fever accompanying bronchitis. It also tones up the metabolism of the patient.

Bronchitis treatment using Onion

Onions have been used as a remedy for bronchitis for centuries. They are said to possess expectorant properties. They liquefy phlegm and prevent its further formation. One teaspoon of raw onion juice, first thing in the morning, is very beneficial in such cases.

Bronchitis treatment using Spinach

Fifty grams of fresh leaves of spinach, and 250 ml of water should be mixed with a pinch of ammonium chloride and one teaspoonful of honey. This infusion is an effective expectorant in the treatment of bronchitis.

Bronchitis treatment using Sesame Seeds

An infusion of one teaspoon of sesame seeds, mixed with a teaspoon of linseed, a pinch of common salt, and a teaspoon of honey, can be given once at night with beneficial results in bronchitis. Half a teaspoon of dry seeds pounded into powder should be given, mixed with two tablespoons of water, twice daily. Alternately, a decoction of half a teaspoon of the same should be taken twice daily.

Bronchitis treatment using Almond

An emulsion of almonds is useful in bronchial diseases, including bronchitis. It is prepared by making a powder of seven kernels of almonds and mixing the powdered kernels in a cup of orange or lemon juice. This emulsion may be taken once daily at night.

Bronchitis treatment using Chicory

Chicory or endive is another effective home remedy for bronchitis. The powder of the dry root of this herb should be given in doses of half a teaspoon mixed with one teaspoonful of honey thrice daily. It is a very useful expectorant in chronic bronchitis.

Bronchitis treatment using Linseed

A hot poultice of linseed (alsi) should be applied over the front and back of the chest. This poultice may be prepared by mixing one cup or sixteen tablespoons of the seeds with a quantity of hot water, sufficient to convert them into a moist mealy mass. This should then be applied carefully. Turpentine may also be rubbed over the chest.

Athletes Foot -Home Remedies Series

Tea tree oil with antifungal properties

Prepare a solution of water and white vinegar – one part of white vinegar to four part of water; soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes twice day. Sprinkle some baking soda between your toe fingers and rinse your feet after fifteen minutes. It is as effective as an expensive antifungal powder. Rub tea tree oil between your toe fingers, it has antifungal properties. For immediate relief from itching or burning, soak your feet in an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine. Corn starch is effective in soaking moisture, so keep your toe fingers dry by sprinkling some corn starch on them

Diet for Athletes foot

Avoid eating baked products and products that have high yeast content in them. Avoid alcohol, sugar, cola drinks and grains. Eat a healthy and a balanced diet, avoid processed foods. Your diet must include fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables. Avoid fried and greasy food. Garlic has a good antifungal property, eat raw garlic or include it in your diet.

Promoting Breast Feeding is Now Encouraged

LOS ANGELES — The American Dietetic Association (ADA) has called for greater efforts to promote breastfeeding, which offers health benefits for both infants and mothers.

Nursing exclusively for six months, then with food until at least 12 months is ideal, the ADA said in a study published in the November issue of the Journal of the ADA.

“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that exclusive breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition and health protection for the first six months of life and breastfeeding with complementary food from six months until at least 12 months of age is the ideal feeding pattern for infants,” the ADA said.

“Breastfeeding is an important public health strategy for improving infant and child morbidity and mortality and improving maternal morbidity and helping to control health care costs.”

“Research is especially needed on the effectiveness of breastfeeding promotion campaigns,” said the association.

Having conducted an evidence-based review of breastfeeding’s history, practices and health benefits in the United States and other countries, the ADA concluded that breast milk features optimal nutrient composition for infants and reduces the risk for many acute and chronic conditions.

According to the study, breastfeeding offers the following benefits for infants:

— A stronger immune system;

— Decreased risk of asthma, lower respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis;

— Improved protection against allergies and intolerances;

— Proper development of jaw and teeth;

— Association with higher IQ and better grades in school; and

— Reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome, as well as chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and childhood leukemia.

The benefits of breastfeeding for mothers include:

— Quality time spent bonding with baby;

— Quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight due to increased calorie expenditure;

— Less postpartum bleeding, faster shrinking of the uterus and return to menstrual cycle;

— Lowered risks for breast and ovarian cancer, as well as type II diabetes;

— Better bone density with less risk of hip fracture;

— Improved self-esteem and less risk of postpartum depression; and

— Cost savings from not buying formula.

Labels Database for Dietary Supplements

The Dietary Supplements Labels Database offers information about label ingredients in more than 4,000 selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to compare label ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the “structure/function” claims made by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies may not market as dietary supplements any products that are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Ingredients of dietary supplements in this database are linked to other National Library of Medicine databases such as MedlinePlus® and PubMed® to allow users to understand the characteristics of ingredients and view the results of research pertaining to them, including the following characteristics:

* Uses in humans

* Adverse effects

* Mechanism of action

The Database can be searched by brand names, uses noted on product labels, specific active ingredients, and manufacturers.

http://dietarysupplements.nlm.nih.gov/dietary/

Onset of Genetic Diseases Identified

BARCELONA – Scientists from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) have identified a mechanism that could trigger onset of various genetic diseases.

They have found a process by which proteins with a tendency to cause conformational diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy, familial amyloidotic cardiomyopathy, etc. finally end up causing them.

The answer can be found in the separation of the proteins.

According to the researchers Salvador Ventura and Virgmnia Castillo, every day cells produce thousands of new proteins, which renew themselves every second and which, by obeying the orders prescribed in our genetic code, work towards the proper functioning of our body.

However, these proteins occasionally suffer genetic mutations, which can cause changes in their composition, thus preventing them from carrying out their functions and the activities they are assigned.

In many cases this gives way to the formation of toxic macromolecular aggregates – amyloid fibrils – which block our body’s protein quality control system and finally provoke cell death.

Protein aggregation and the misfolding of proteins can be linked to the origin of many conformational diseases, which can be either genetic or spontaneous.

As possible strategies to prevent the dissociation of proteins, the authors propose introducing genetic mutations into the proteins to strengthen their association and developing specific molecules to block the risk regions of already dissociated proteins.

The study appears in journal PLoS Computational Biology.

The Meaning of Holistic Healing

Holistic healing means taking a holistic approach when seeking treatment for imbalances and choosing to live a more balanced lifestyle. What primarily distinguishes holistic healing apart from alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine is that physical health is not necessarily the main focus. Even so, it is often the experience of physical discomfort that will first prompt a person’s pursuit of holistic healing.

It is true that our pains and other physical discomforts demand our attention. This is where the saying “sticking out like a sore thumb'” originated from. It is difficult to ignore the obvious when we are physically hurting. Common sense tells us that we should seek help to alleviate our discomforts. Holistic healing is not an “alternative” to conventional medical care. Sometimes going to a medical professional is the best solution to addressing a disease.

Physical illnesses are the symptoms of a greater imbalance that may or may not have a root cause in the physical.

Holistic or “wholistic” healing addresses all parts of the individual, not just the physical aspect of a person where manifested illnesses are most apparent. Holistic healing is not intended to serve as a band-aid or a onetime fix. It is an ongoing journey of discovery in search of more answers and ultimately; living better, being healthier, and striving for wholeness.

Understanding Nutraceuticals

The term “nutraceutical” was coined from “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical” in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice, MD, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM), Cranford, NJ.1 According to DeFelice, nutraceutical can be defined as, “a food (or part of a food) that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of a disease.”1 However, the term nutraceutical as commonly used in marketing has no regulatory definition.2

When food is being cooked or prepared using “scientific intelligence” with or without knowledge of how or why it is being used, the food is called “functional food.” Thus, functional food provides the body with the required amount of vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc, needed for its healthy survival. When functional food aids in the prevention and/or treatment of disease(s) and/or disorder(s) other than anemia, it is called a nutraceutical. (Since most of the functional foods act in some way or the other as antianemic, the exception to anemia is considered so as to have a clear distinction between the two terms, functional food and nutraceutical.) Thus, a functional food for one consumer can act as a nutraceutical for another consumer. Examples of nutraceuticals include fortified dairy products (eg, milk) and citrus fruits (eg, orange juice).

The DSHEA formally defined “dietary supplement” using several criteria. A dietary supplement3:

Is a product (other than tobacco) that is intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: a vitamin, a mineral, an herb or other botanical, an amino acid, a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total daily intake, or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combinations of these ingredients.

Is intended for ingestion in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form.

Is not represented for use as a conventional food or as the sole item of a meal or diet.

Is labeled as a “dietary supplement.”

Includes products such as an approved new drug, certified antibiotic, or licensed biologic that was marketed as a dietary supplement or food before approval, certification, or license (unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services waives this provision).

Thus, nutraceuticals (as per the proposed definition) differ from dietary supplements in the following aspects:

Nutraceuticals must not only supplement the diet but should also aid in the prevention and/or treatment of disease and/or disorder.

Nutraceuticals are represented for use as a conventional food or as the sole item of meal or diet.

A ray of “cure preference” in the mind of common patients revolves around nutraceuticals because of their false perception that “all natural medicines are good.” Also, the high cost of prescription pharmaceuticals and reluctance of some insurance companies to cover the costs of drugs helps nutraceuticals solidify their presence in the global market of therapies and therapeutic agents.

The use of nutraceuticals, as an attempt to accomplish desirable therapeutic outcomes with reduced side effects, as compared with other therapeutic agents has met with great monetary success.

Osteoarthritis Knee Pain Relieved with Tai Chi

BOSTON – A traditional Chinese martial art can help reduce pain and improve knee function among seniors with osteoarthritis, American researchers have found.

“Tai chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be an applicable treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis,” Dr. Chenchen Wang, co-author of a study published in The November issue of Arthritis Care & Research, said in a release.

Tai chi features slow, rhythmic movements designed to relax people and enhance balance, strength and flexibility.

In the study, researchers looked at 40 people with confirmed knee osteoarthritis from Boston who were in otherwise good health. They had an average age of 65.

Half the study participants took Yang-style tai chi sessions for one hour, twice a week for three months. The sessions included 10 minutes each of self-massage and review of principles, breathing techniques and relaxation, and 30 minutes of tai chi movements.

The rest took two 60-minute classes per week for three months to learn about diet and nutrition, and treatments for osteoarthritis. These participants also stretched for 20 minutes.

At the end of the 12-week period, people practising tai chi showed a significant decrease in knee pain on a standard pain scale compared with those in the control group.

The findings show the need to further evaluate the biological mechanisms of tai chi to extend its benefits to a wider population, Wang said.

No severe adverse events were reported.

Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 3,000,000 or one in 10 Canadians, according to the Arthritis Society

Health Risks Posed by Rating Raw Bean Sprouts

OTTAWA – Cook those bean sprouts well, advises Health Canada, if you want to reduce the risk of exposure to food borne illness.

“Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to these bacteria and should not eat any raw sprouts at all,” Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Wednesday.

“They should also avoid eating cooked sprouts unless they can be sure the sprouts have been thoroughly cooked.”

The agencies note that sprouts from alfalfa and mung beans are a popular choice for Canadians as a low-calorie, healthy ingredient for many meals. Onion, radish, mustard and broccoli sprouts, not to be confused with the actual plant or vegetable, are also options.

But they may carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, which can lead to serious illness.

The largest recent outbreak in Canada linked to sprouts was in the fall of 2005, when more than 648 cases of salmonella were reported in Ontario.

Healthy adults who choose to eat sprouts are urged to ensure they buy crisp ones that have been refrigerated and avoid those that appear dark or smell musty. They should also use tongs or a glove to place the sprouts in a plastic bag.

Symptoms from salmonella usually occur 12 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, while symptoms from E. coli can occur within two to 10 days.

Symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps. People who experience these symptoms should contact a doctor immediately. In extreme cases, E. coli can lead to acute kidney failure or even death.