Techniques for Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation

med2Story at-a-glance −

Meditation helps you take a deliberate break from the stream of thoughts that are constantly flowing in and out of your mind

Practicing “mindfulness” means you’re actively paying attention to the Continue reading

Neurosurgeon Reflects on the Awe and Mystery of the Brain

imagesG045FPHIStory at-a-glance −

British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh describes the fear and uncertainty that comes with brain surgery along with the sense of excitement and wonder

 Marsh is honest in his assessment of how little Continue reading

Easy Deep Breathing Techniques to Lower Your Stress Level in 10 Seconds a Day

Did You Know…you can overcome your body’s built-in stress response by using easy deep breathing techniques, an exercise that also produces a wealth of health benefits throughout your entire body?

A previous article on deep breathing, showed it was the single most powerful daily practice for advancing your health and well-being…which is breathing.

But the health benefits of deep breathing techniques are so important that a single article couldn’t possibly do it justice. Continue reading

Salt Therapy A Powerful Healing Detoxifier

Salt suffers from a bad reputation these days, thanks to its overuse in the Standard American Diet. Therefore, it’s no wonder that few people are aware of salt’s astonishing healing powers.

Yet, the fact is, salt has been known as a powerful health remedy since ancient times, Continue reading

Why Women Are at Risk for This Disease, Too

When you think of sleep apnea, what springs to mind? For most people, doctors included, it would be overweight men snoring in bed. However new research from Europe shows that women have much higher rates of this common breathing issue than we might have thought. And it can be quite serious.

Sleep apnea is Continue reading

This Exercise Mistake Can Give You a Heart Attack

Many people wonder whether it is safe to exercise outdoors during cold weather, especially below freezing.

As a general rule, it is; but you do want to make sure you take certain precautions, and pay attention to signs and symptoms of specific cold-weather dangers.

Additionally, there are likely better and safer options than exercising outdoors during very cold temperatures.

Three primary dangers of cold weather exercise are: Continue reading

Do You Really Have a Food Allergy? Maybe Not

There has been a lot of debate about food allergies in recent years. In particular, medical professionals have been trying to classify reactions to certain foods by distinguishing between food allergy and food intolerance. The topic is usually broached with a little skepticism in the health news. After all, a food allergy is a lot more serious than mere food intolerance — or is it?

Of course an anaphylactic response to a certain food is a very serious health problem. But food intolerances can also cause you a lot of suffering. You can experience headaches, fatigue, stomach pains, breathing difficulties, achy joints and muscles — you name it. Whatever your symptoms and health issues, a food intolerance could potentially be the trigger.

While many doctors may consider a food intolerance as a psychosomatic problem — more based in the mind than on any real physiological change in the body — the concept has been around since the ancient Greeks. The Greeks recognized that some unpleasant symptoms could be specifically linked to the ingestion of certain foods. One of two things can happen to trigger these symptoms: either a message gets sent to your immune system to produce antibodies as a potential defense; or a much slower response takes place in the gastrointestinal system. The first is considered an allergy; the second, food intolerance. Continue reading

How Yoga Can Improve Your Sleep

Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years, originating in India. As a spiritual system, it focuses on obtaining a higher state of consciousness while releasing your spirit from suffering. As is the case in most religious practices, there are differences in the belief systems, but mainly yoga is an ascetic philosophy in which people achieve purity by withdrawing from the world.

There are different components in a complete yoga system governing individual wisdom, spiritual belief and ethical behavior. Out of all of them, it is the physical practices of “hatha” yoga that have caught on most successfully in the West. Almost all of the types of yoga we recognize are geared toward improving the body. Relaxation and reducing stress are involved in the practice as well, but many people are focused on fitness and flexibility.

There are many styles of hatha yoga: slow and gentle, exercises using props, power yoga, and a new trend in the yoga world where participants do yoga in a room as hot as 105 degrees F. (The latter is known as “bikram” yoga and it would probably be best to wait until Continue reading

New Research Shows Dementia is Preventable with Natural Means

To hear many people in the mainstream media as well as mainstream medicine describe it, dementia is something similar to a curse: you will get it or you won’t, so all you can do as you get older is just wait and see. Fortunately, evidence is mounting that shows this simply isn’t so, and healthy and natural lifestyle choices can protect the brain and may prevent various forms of memory and identity robbing dementia.

For example, as NaturalNews previously reported, scientist William B. Grant, PhD, of the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), is researching a link between a lack of vitamin D and Alzheimer’s disease and other vascular dementias (http://www.naturalnews.com/026392_V…). And now comes word from two new studies that restful sleep and exercise  Continue reading

Soothing Chronic Pain with Meditation is Best

Chronic pain is estimated to affect over 76 million people, more than diabetes and heart disease combined, and back pain is our country’s leading cause of disability for people under 45. And though the pharmaceutical industry seems very adept at introducing one new painkiller after another, the pills don’t always help. A new study in the Journal of Neuroscience, however, suggests something else might: meditation. It seems that improving your meditation technique could very well be more effective than painkillers at cutting down on pain, and that could save you hundreds in prescription drug costs.

The details: This was a small study that looked at just 15 adults who sat through four 20-minute training sessions on mindfulness meditation. However, before and after the training, the participants’ brains were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Continue reading

How to Relieve Sinus Pressure Naturally

We breathe every single minute of every day, and without breathing we cannot live.

Often people experience difficulty breathing fully, due to impaired sinuses. Also known as the paranasal sinuses, our sinuses are connected to our nasal cavities, and include the maxillary, frontal, ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses. When we have a cold or allergies, the sinuses become inflamed, the sinus tissues swell and breathing becomes congested. Virtually everybody has experienced this. Additionally, accidents involving head trauma can occlude the sinuses, and cause long-lasting or even permanent obstruction.

Continue reading

Obese Adults May Be Misdiagnosed as Asthmatics

Some obese adults may be at increased risk of having their breathing difficulties misdiagnosed as asthma, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 500 Canadian adults who said a doctor had diagnosed them with asthma, objective lung-function testing ruled out the lung disease in 150, or 30 percent.

When the investigators looked at risk factors for misdiagnosis, obesity in general did not play a clear role. However, among patients who had sought emergency care for breathing problems in the past year, obese men and women were four times as likely as their normal-weight counterparts to be misdiagnosed with asthma.

The study, reported in the journal Chest, could not ascertain the reasons for patients’ misdiagnoses or for the higher risk among obese adults who sought urgent care.

But past research has indicated that spirometry, a standard test of lung function, is not used as often as it should be in diagnosing asthma, said Dr. Smita Pakhale of the Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, who led the new study.

Asthma should be diagnosed based on both symptoms and lung-function testing, and underuse of the latter could be a factor in some of the incorrect diagnoses in this study, Pakhale told Reuters Health — though, she added, that is just speculation.

Pakhale also pointed out that obese adults are at heightened risk of a number of health problems that could cause asthma-like symptoms such as breathlessness and chest tightness. Those include low fitness levels, acid reflux and heart disease.

Pakhale said that people who are told they have asthma after seeking care at an emergency room or walk-in clinic should be sure to follow up with their primary care doctor. That way, she said, they can get any additional evaluation or testing that may be needed — which may uncover the actual cause of the symptoms, if it is not asthma.

The study included 496 randomly selected adults from eight Canadian cities who said a doctor had diagnosed them with asthma. Roughly half were obese and the rest were normal-weight.

Overall, lung function testing confirmed the asthma diagnosis in 70 percent of study participants. Of these men and women, 14 percent and 15 percent of obese and normal-weight people, respectively, had sought emergency care for breathing problems in the past year.

Of study participants who turned out not to have asthma, 21 percent of obese individuals had sought urgent treatment for respiratory symptoms in the past year. That figure was less than 10 percent among normal-weight men and women.

When Pakhale’s team considered other factors, including socioeconomics, obese study participants who needed emergency care were four times more likely to have been misdiagnosed with asthma as their thinner counterparts.

The researchers also found that the time since diagnosis mattered: study participants who had been diagnosed in the past few years had a higher likelihood of misdiagnosis than those who had been told they had asthma “many” years ago.

It’s possible, Pakhale speculated, that increased asthma awareness among the general public and doctors — possibly via the recent proliferation of asthma-medication ads — could have something to do with that finding.

Courtesy of Reuters

Home Remedies Series – Asthma

Gasping for breath.  Patients suffering from asthma appear to be gasping for breath. Actually, they have more difficulty in breathing out than breathing in, and this is caused by spasms or sudden involuntary muscular contractions of the smaller air passages in the lungs.

Asthma Causes

Asthma is caused by a variety of factors. It may be due to an allergy caused by weather conditions, food, drugs, perfumes, and other irritants. Allergies to dust are the most common.

Asthma Cures

Asthma treatment using Honey

Honey is one of the most common home remedies for asthma. It is said that if a jug of honey is held under the nose of an asthma patient and he inhales the air that comes into contact with it, he starts breathing easier and deeper.

Asthma treatment using Figs

Among fruits, figs have proved very valuable in asthma. They give comfort to the patient by draining off the phlegm. Three or four dry figs should be cleaned thoroughly with warm water and soaked overnight.

Asthma treatment using Lemon

Lemon is another fruit found beneficial in the treatment of asthma. The juice of one lemon, diluted in a glass of water and taken with meals, will bring good results

Asthma treatment using Indian Gooseberry

Indian gooseberry has also proved valuable in asthma. Five grams of gooseberry mixed with one tablespoon of honey forms an effective medicinal tonic for the treatment of this disease. It should be taken every morning

Asthma treatment using Bitter Gourd Roots

The roots of the bitter gourd plant have been used in folk medicine for asthma since ancient times. A teaspoon of the root paste, mixed with an equal amount of honey or juice of the holy basil leaves, given once every night for a month, acts as an excellent medicine for this disease.

Asthma treatment using Drumstick Leaves

A soup prepared from drumstick leaves, and taken once daily, has been found beneficial in the treatment of asthma. This soup is prepared by adding a handful of leaves to 180ml of water and boiling it for five minutes. After being allowed to cool, a little salt, pepper, and lime juice may be added to this soup.

Asthma treatment using Ginger

A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice, mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste, acts as an excellent expectorant in cases of asthma. The decoction of fenugreek can be made by mixing one tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in a cupful of water. This remedy should be taken once in the morning and once in the evening.

Asthma treatment using Garlic

Garlic is another effective home remedy for asthma. Ten garlic cloves, boiled in 30 ml of milk, make an excellent medicine for the early stages of asthma. This mixture should he taken once daily by the patient. Steaming ginger tea with two minced garlic cloves in it, can also help to keep the problem under control, and should be taken in the morning and evening.

Asthma treatment using Bishop’s Weed

The herb bishop’s weed has been found valuable in asthma. Half a teaspoon of bishop’s weed should be mixed in a glass of buttermilk and taken twice daily. It is an effective remedy for relieving difficult expectoration caused by dried-up phlegm. A hot poultice of the seeds should be used for dry fomentation to the chest twice daily. The. patient can also inhale steam twice a day from boiling water mixed with carom seeds. It will dilate the bronchial passages.

Asthma treatment using Safflower

Safflower seeds are beneficial in the treatment of bronchial asthma. Half a teaspoon of powder of the dry seeds, mixed with a tablespoon of honey, can be taken once or twice a day in treating this disease. This acts as an expectorant and reduces the spasms by liquefying the tenacious sputum. An infusion of five grams of flowers mixed with one tablespoon of honey, taken once daily, is also useful in this disease.

Diet for Asthma

The patient should avoid common dietetic errors. Ideally, his diet should contain a limited quantity of carbohydrates, fats and proteins which are ‘acid-forming’ foods, and a liberal quantity of alkali-forming foods consisting of fresh fruits, green vegetables, sprouted seeds, and grains. The patient should avoid foods which tend to produce phlegm, such as rice, sugar, lentils, and yoghurt. He should also avoid fried and other difficult to-digest foods, strong tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, condiments pickles, sauces and all refined and processed foods.

Fasting and exercises

The patient should also follow the other laws of nature. Air, sun, and water are great healing agents. Regular fasting once a week, an occasional enema, breathing exercises, fresh air, a dry climate, light exercises, and correct posture go a long way in treating the disease.

What Causes Asthma?

Asthma is a disease affecting the airways that carry air to and from your lungs. People who suffer from this chronic condition (long-lasting or recurrent) are said to be asthmatic.
The inside walls of an asthmatic’s airways are swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases your susceptibility to an allergic reaction.

As inflammation causes the airways to become narrower, less air can pass through them, both to and from the lungs. Symptoms of the narrowing include wheezing (a hissing sound while breathing), chest tightness, breathing problems, and coughing. Asthmatics usually experience these symptoms most frequently during the night and the early morning.

Asthma is Incurable

Asthma is an incurable illness. However, with good treatment and management there is no reason why a person with asthma cannot live a normal and active life.

An asthma episode, or an asthma attack, is when symptoms are worse than usual. They can come on suddenly and can be mild, moderate or severe.

What happens during an asthma attack?
• The muscles around your airways tighten up, narrowing the airway.
• Less air is able to flow through the airway.
• Inflammation of the airways increases, further narrowing the airway.
• More mucus is produced in the airways, undermining the flow of air even more.

Asthma Attacks Vary
In some asthma attacks, the airways are blocked such that oxygen fails to enter the lungs. This also prevents oxygen from entering the blood stream and traveling to the body’s vital organs. Asthma attacks of this type can be fatal, and the patient may require urgent hospitalization.

Asthma attacks can be mild, moderate, severe and very severe. At onset, an asthma attack does allow enough air to get into the lungs, but it does not let the carbon dioxide leave the lungs at a fast enough rate. Carbon dioxide – poisonous if not expelled – can build up in the lungs during a prolonged attack, lowering the amount of oxygen getting into your bloodstream.

With experience you will learn to keep away from things that irritate your airways, know when to take your medication, and better control your asthma. Effective asthma control allows you to take part in normal everyday activities.

Consequences of Not Controlling Your Asthma
If you don’t control your asthma you will miss school or work more often and you will be less likely to be able to take part in some activities you enjoy. In the USA and Western Europe, asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.

According to recent estimates, asthma affects 300 million people in the world and more than 22 million in the United States. Although people of all ages suffer from the disease, it most often starts in childhood, currently affecting 6 million children in the US. Asthma kills about 255,000 people worldwide every year.

Children at Risk
Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children – especially children who have low birth weight, are exposed to tobacco smoke, are black, and are raised in a low-income environment. Most children first present symptoms around 5 years of age, generally beginning as frequent episodes of wheezing with respiratory infections. Additional risk factors for children include having allergies, the allergic skin condition eczema, or parents with asthma.

Young boys are more likely to develop asthma than young girls, but this trend reverses during adulthood. Researchers hypothesize that this is due to the smaller size of a young male’s airway compared to a young female’s airway, leading to a higher risk of wheezing after a viral infection.
Allergies

Almost all asthma sufferers have allergies. In fact, over 25% of people who have hay fever (allergic rhinitis) also develop asthma. Allergic reactions triggered by antibodies in the blood often lead to the airway inflammation that is associated with asthma.

Common sources of indoor allergens include animal proteins (mostly cat and dog allergens), dust mites, cockroaches, and fungi. It is possible that the push towards energy-efficient homes has increased exposure to these causes of asthma.

Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke has been linked to a higher risk of asthma as well as a higher risk of death due to asthma, wheezing, and respiratory infections. In addition, children of mothers who smoke – and other people exposed to second-hand smoke – have a higher risk of asthma prevalence. Adolescent smoking has also been associated with increases in asthma risk.
Environmental Factors

Allergic reactions and asthma symptoms are often the result of indoor air pollution from mold or noxious fumes from household cleaners and paints. Other indoor environmental factors associated with asthma include nitrogen oxide from gas stoves. In fact, people who cook with gas are more likely to have symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness, asthma attacks, and hay fever.
photo of city from high in the air

Pollution, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, cold temperatures, and high humidity have all been shown to trigger asthma in some individuals.

During periods of heavy air pollution, there tend to be increases in asthma symptoms and hospital admissions. Smoggy conditions release the destructive ingredient known as ozone, causing coughing, shortness of breath, and even chest pain. These same conditions emit sulfur dioxide, which also results in asthma attacks by constricting airways.

Weather changes have also been known to stimulate asthma attacks. Cold air can lead to airway congestion, bronchoconstriction (airways constriction), secretions, and decreased mucociliary clearance (another type of airway inefficiency). In some populations, humidity causes breathing difficulties as well.
Obesity

Overweight adults – those with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 – are 38% more likely to have asthma compared to adults who are not overweight. Obese adults – those with a BMI of 30 or greater – have twice the risk of asthma. According to some researchers, the risk may be greater for nonallergic asthma than allergic asthma.
Pregnancy

The way you enter the world seems to impact your susceptibility to asthma. Babies born by Caesarean sections have a 20% increase in asthma prevalence compared to babies born by vaginal birth. It is possible that immune system-modifying infections from bacterial exposure during Cesarean sections are responsible for this difference.

When mothers smoke during pregnancy, their children have lower pulmonary function. This may pose additional asthma risks. Research has also shown that premature birth is a risk factor for developing asthma.

Stress

People who undergo stress have higher asthma rates. Part of this may be explained by increases in asthma-related behaviors such as smoking that are encouraged by stress. However, recent research has suggested that the immune system is modified by stress as well.

Genes

It is possible that some 100 genes are linked to asthma – 25 of which have been associated with separate populations as of 2005.
lab test

Genes linked to asthma also play roles in managing the immune system and inflammation. There have not, however, been consistent results from genetic studies across populations – so further investigations are required to figure out the complex interactions that cause asthma.

Mom and Dad may be partially to blame for asthma, since three-fifths of all asthma cases are hereditary. The Centers for Disease Control (USA) say that having a parent with asthma increases a person’s risk by three to six times.

Genetics may also be interacting with environmental factors. For example, exposure to the bacterial product endotoxin and having the genetic trait CD14 (single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) C-159T) have remained a well-replicated example of a gene-environment interaction that is associated with asthma.
Airway Hyperreactivity

Researchers are not sure why airway hyperreactivity is another risk factor for asthma, but allergens or cold air may trigger hyperreactive airways to become inflamed. Some people do not develop asthma from airway hyperreactivity, but hyperreactivity still appears to increase the risk of asthma.

Atopy

Atopy – such as eczema (atopic dermatitis), allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis (an eye condition) – is a general class of allergic hypersensitivity that affects different parts of the body that do not come in contact with allergens. Atopy is a risk factor for developing asthma.

Some 40% to 50% of children with atopic dermatitis also develop asthma, and it is probable that children with atopic dermatitis have more severe and persistent asthma as adults.

Herbal Remedies Linked To Poor Asthma Control

NEW YORK – Use of herbal remedies results in poorer quality of life and increased frequency of symptoms in asthma patients, according to a study published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

“Results indicate patients using herbal remedies are less likely to take their prescribed medications,” said Angkana Roy, M.D., lead author, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. “These patients report worse asthma control and poorer quality of life than patients who follow medication plans. Underuse of prescribed medication is one of the main factors contributing to poor outcomes in asthma patients.”

The study tracked 326 asthma patients over a 33-month period. Of those, 25 percent reported herbal remedy use and lower adherence to use of prescribed inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Patients using herbal remedies were younger, more likely to have been hospitalized or intubated for asthma, have concerns about possible adverse effects of ICS and have difficulty following a medication schedule.

“Patients interested in herbal remedies need to use them to complement treatment and not as an alternative, or they will not maximize their health and may actually hinder it as this study shows,” said Leonard Bielory, M.D., ACAAI Integrative Medicine Committee chair. “Remember, asthma is a serious disease and needs to be treated that way. Always ask your allergist about medication concerns and discuss use of herbal remedies.”

Consumers and patients can take a simple online test to gauge their asthma symptoms and obtain a personalized plan on how to get relief at http://www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

“Anyone with asthma should be able to feel good, be active all day and sleep well at night,” said Dr. Bielory. “No one should accept anything less.”