Fetus Suffers when Mother Lacks Vitamin C

vitamin C supplements are important during pregnancy.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons af Tom & Katrien.

Healthy pregnancy

Maternal vitamin C deficiency during pregnancy can have serious consequences for Continue reading

Stimulant Marketed as ‘Natural’ in Sports Supplement actually of Synthetic Origin

A new study published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis found that DMAA, a stimulant often found in many nutritional and sports supplements, does not originate from natural substances and is actually comprised of synthetic compounds.

The substance DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) is a stimulant existing in Continue reading

Your Best Defense against the “D” Word

Versus Acute Diarrhea
Using probiotics for treating sudden cases of infectious diarrhea in children is well studied. Good-quality studies have shown that probiotics (“Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG,” “L. reuteri,” “L. casei,” “Shirota,” and “Bifidobactrium factis”) shortened the duration of diarrhea caused by a virus. It seems, though, that probiotics are effective only for rotavirus-associated diarrhea, and not diarrhea triggered by another virus or bacteria. This is the most common form of viral diarrhea in the world, and affects children under the age of five mostly. It accounts for many hospital trips every year. Whatever the case, probiotics seems to work in relieving acute cases of diarrhea in infants and children, although only certain kinds show this beneficial effect. Only “Lactobacillus GG” has been proven. Continue reading

East Asian Mushroom Doubles Life Expectancy of Cancer Patients

There’s hope for liver cancer patients. And it doesn’t come in the form of toxic chemicals or invasive surgery…which kill you before the cancer does.

This remedy is an all-natural compound. It boosts the immune system and can double your survival rate after surgery. And if you don’t have liver cancer, it can keep you from getting it.

Telemedicine, East Asian Mushroom, Life Expectancy, cancer patients,Dr. Suwanna Cowawintaweewat is a molecular researcher at Thammasat University in Thailand. She has a PhD in biomedical sciences.

Dr. Cowawintaweewat recently studied the impact of the compound on advanced liver cancer. The results appeared in the Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology.

A Better Solution Continue reading

Treat Ulcers with Probiotics not Antibiotics

Ulcers caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterial strain may be more effectively treated by beneficial probiotics rather than by conventional antibiotics, according to a new study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Researchers from Spain say that probiotic strains like Bifidobacterium have an incredible success rate in fighting inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcers.

The team conducted tests on the effectiveness of several unique strains of bifidobacteria in treating H. pylori and found that one particular strain, Bifidobacterium bifidum CECT 7366, protected against infection roughly 95 percent of the time. Continue reading

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/

Definitions of Herbal Properties

adaptogen: a non-toxic substance which helps the body to adapt to stressful situations while also normalizing physiology

alterative: gradually alters the body towards health, also often referred to as a blood cleanser. Alteratives work directly through the metabolism

anodyne: pain relieving

antibacterial: effective against bacteria

anticoagulant: prevents blood from clotting, blood thinner

antidepressant: relieves depression

antifungal: effective against fungal infections

anti-inflammatory: reduces inflammation

antimicrobial: inhibits micro-organisms

antioxidant: prevents free radical or oxidative damage

antiseptic: prevents growth of microbes

antispasmodic: stops spasms

anti-tumor: inhibits growth of tumors

antiviral: inhibits growth of viruses

aphrodisiac: increases libido

aromatic digestant: promotes digestion through aromatic actions of moving energy and relieving stagnation (promoting peristalsis, expelling gas, etc)

astringent: tightens tissues, useful for toning organs, stopping diarrhea and other excessive fluid loss

bitter: a taste that stimulates salivation and the secretion of bile and HCL to promote

carminative: expels gas from the intestines (often an aromatic digestant)

cell proliferant: promotes cell growth

cholagogue: stimulates bile flow from the gall bladder

circulatory stimulant: promotes circulation

demulcent: internally soothing, often times a mucilaginous that coats and protects the

diaphoretic: a relaxing diaphoretic relaxes the exterior to allow for heat to leave the body a stimulating diaphoretic engages the tissues to help push the heat out.

digestant: aids digestion

diuretic: stimulates urination

emetic: promotes vomiting

emmenagogue: promotes menstruation

emollient: soothing and softening to the skin

expectorant: promotes the expulsion of mucous from the lungs

hemostatic: stops bleeding

hepatoprotective: protects the liver

hypotensive: lowers blood pressure

immunomodulator: promotes health in the immune system by modulating extremes in hyper or hypo action

laxative: promotes bowel evacuation

lymphatic: promotes lymphatic movement; an example is reducing enlarged lymph glands

mood elevator: promotes a happier disposition

nervine: can be relaxing or stimulating. A relaxing nervine relaxes constricted or contracted tissues in the nervous system. . A stimulating nervine stimulates stagnant or overly relaxed tissues of the nervous system.

nutritive: contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals

sialagogue; promotes the salivary glands to secrete saliva

styptic: stops bleeding usually through astringent actions

tonic: gradually increases organ tone and is often considered invigorating

trophorestorative: a nourishing herb or food that usually has an affinity to a particular organ or system of the body, it acts on the particular system to bring it into balance and can also restore function

vulnerary: heals wounds

Ginger, Tulsi, Black Pepper Keep Flu Away: Ayurveda experts

SRINAGAR – Afraid of flu and other respiratory aliments which often resemble swine flu? Use ginger, tulsi (basil) and black pepper as part of traditional preventive measures suggested by experts of Indian systems of medicine.

The Jammu and Kashmir government’s department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) has set up a group of experts to suggest remedies useful in the prevention and treatment of flu-like diseases.

Participating in a workshop here Monday, the group of Ayurveda experts, physicians from local government hospitals as well as private practitioners and from research councils here said that viral epidemics come under the “Vaata Kaphaja Jwara” discipline of Indian system of medicine, a release said.

The ayurveda experts have advised some preventive measures for building immunity and protection from such diseases which are often seen in autumn and spring with seasonal changes and in moderate climate conditions.

“The people should avoid cold food, cold drinks, fruit juices during these seasons. They should use tulsi, ginger and black pepper etc. These can be adopted by normal healthy persons as well as those who have mild cold, cough, body pain etc,” one of the Ayurveda experts said.

“The use of these commonly available, centuries-old and time-tested grandmother’s recipes would keep flu and other respiratory infections away as they build body’s natural resistance against such ailments,” the expert added.

Cotton May Be Promising Source of Protein

WASHINGTONCotton is emerging as a promising source of protein for millions of the world’s malnourished, according to the latest research.

Researchers engineered the cotton to reduce the toxic gossypol to tolerable levels in the high-protein seed, without affecting higher levels in the rest of the plant, to ward off pests and disease.

“The results look very promising,” said Keerti Rathore, the Texas AgriLife Research plant bio-technologist in whose lab the cotton was developed.

Rathore said kernels from the safe seed could be ground into a flour-like powder and used as a protein additive in food preparations or perhaps roasted and seasoned as a nutritious snack.

Less than three years ago, Rathore had announced that cotton plants had been successfully altered in the lab to “silence” gossypol in the seed.

But this year, five generations of cotton plants produced in greenhouses and the small test plot in the field are showing similar findings, Rathore said, though the results have not yet been published in scholarly journals.

Gossypol has long been a block for cotton farmers trying to make cotton seed available for human or animal consumption.

Cotton fibers have been spun into fabric for more than 7,000 years, but generally only cattle have been able to eat the fuzzy seeds that are separated from the fiber.

Cattle can tolerate the gossypol because it is gradually digested through their unique four-part stomach.

“The levels of gossypol and related defense chemicals are similar to that of regular cotton plants in the buds, leaves and flowers. But the seed is still showing the ultra-low levels of gossypol.”

The “beauty of this project,” Rathore said, is that the high-protein seed could be a new food source – especially in developing countries.

Because the variety is “genetically modified,” the scientist and AgriLife Research will have to negotiate with others who hold patent rights to some of the basic technologies used to develop this “ultra-low seed-gossypol” cotton.

Rathore will also have to seek approval from the US Department of Agriculture, US Food and Drug Administration and perhaps other agencies to make it commercially available as seed to farmers.

Reduce Tension, Keep Plants in Offices, Classrooms

DALLAS – House plants can help reduce tension and stress among office workers, who spend more than 80 percent of the day indoors.

Researchers found the presence of plants in homes and workplaces exerted a positive effect on headaches and fatigue and hoarseness.

Interior plants have also been shown to increase work productivity. In one study, employees’ reaction time on computer tasks improved by 12 percent when plants were present.

Jennifer S. Doxey and Tina Marie Waliczek, agricultural scientists from Texas State University (TSU), and Jayne M. Zajicek, horticulturist from Texas A&M University, are testing the impact of plants on student performance and satisfaction in the classroom.

“Our results showed that interior plants appeared to have the greatest impact on students who were in the classroom that had no other natural elements,” said Waliczek.

The main objective of the study was to investigate the impact of plants in classrooms on course performance and student perceptions of the course and instructor.

The study was designed to include a minimum of two classes of the same course work taught by the same professor in the same room during one semester.

Three sets of two classes each and 385 students were included within the study. Throughout the semester, an experimental group of students attended classes in rooms that contained an assortment of tropical plants. The control group of students attended class in rooms with no plants.

Statistically significant differences were found between control and treatment groups when students scored questions related to “learning”, “instructors’ enthusiasm”, and “instructors’ organization”, says a TSU statement.

Students from the group whose classrooms included plants rated these items higher on the satisfaction. Conversely, of the two student groups, the most apparent differences were reported by students who attended class in the room that was windowless and stark.

These findings were published in a recent issue of HortScience.

Over-the-Counter Painkillers Can Become Addictive Within Just 3 Days

LONDON – Popular painkillers, which are routinely used to ease headaches, back problems and period pain, can cause addiction in just three days, the UK Government’s drug watchdog has warned.

The drugs, which contain codeine and include brand names such as Nurofen Plus and Solpadeine Plus, are taken by millions of people. However, official figures have shown that tens of thousands of people have become dependent on the drugs, many accidentally, with women most at risk of developing an addiction.

Growing concern about the spread of what experts describe as a ‘hidden addiction’, has led the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to announce a series of measures to counter the problem, reports The Telegraph.

Packets size will be limited to just 32 tablets with larger packs available only by prescription in a bid to curb misuse.

Clear and ‘prominently positioned’ warnings will be put on the front of packs and accompanying patient information leaflets, stating: ‘Can cause addiction. For three days use only.’

Advertising will no longer state that the drugs are remedies for things like coughs and colds and only that they are acute and moderate pain.

Popular Antacid Triples Pneumonia Risk

WAKE FOREST – A popular antacid to prevent stress ulcers in critically ill patients requiring breathing machine support heightens their risk of getting pneumonia threefold, says a new study.

“Patients who develop hospital-acquired pneumonia or ventilator-acquired pneumonia have about a 20 to 30 percent chance of dying from that pneumonia,” said senior study author David L. Bowton, professor-anesthesiologist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine (WFUSM).

The study compared treatment with two powerful drugs that decrease stomach acid, namely ranitidine and pantoprazole, marketed as Protonix or Prilosec.

Both drugs decrease stomach acid, but the newer pantoprazole is considered more powerful and has become the drug of choice in many hospitals.

However, in the analysis of 834 patients, researchers found that hospitalized cardio-thoracic surgery patients treated with pantoprazole were three times more likely to develop pneumonia.

“We conducted this study, in part, because we thought we were seeing more pneumonias than we were used to having,” said study co-author Marc G. Reichert, coordinator for surgery at WFUSM Centre.

Both acid-reducing drugs can make the stomach a more hospitable place for bacteria to colonize. Patients on breathing machines sometimes develop pneumonia when stomach secretions reflux into the lungs.

Current treatment guidelines to prevent pneumonia recommend raising the head of the bed for patients on breathing machines, which reduces the risk of stomach secretions getting into the lungs.

Doctors should consider whether an acid reducer is needed at all, Bowton said. The occurrence of stress ulcer bleeding has gone down in recent years, perhaps because patients with breathing tubes are fed earlier, and food in the stomach may neutralise or reduce the effects of stomach acid.

Bowton added that in cases where an acid reducer is needed, ranitidine is recommended, given the apparent decreased risk in developing pneumonia, said a WFUSM release.

Doctors should stop using the drug as soon as the risk of bleeding passes — once the patient is off the breathing machine and eating, either on his/her own or through a feeding tube.

These findings were published in a recent issue of CHEST.

Home Remedies Series – Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids develop when the normal veins around the anal opening become abnormally enlarged or dilated. This happens because of habits or medical conditions that cause increased pressure on veins in the pelvis. The most frequent cause is a refined diet with not enough grains and bulky foods. This causes constipation, leading to increased pressure.

Hemorrhoids are classified as internal or external depending on where they are in relation to a line (the dentate line) that separates the two types of anal skin.

External Hemorrhoids develop below the line and are generally painless. They rarely need medical treatment, unless a vein bursts, blood pools under the skin and a painful lump forms (this is called a clotted or thrombosed hemorrhoid).

Internal Hemorrhoids develop above the dentate line. They can range in size from a slight swelling under the wall of the canal to large, sagging veins that stick out of the anus all the time. For treatment purposes, internal Hemorrhoids are graded according to their size:

    * Grade I: The vein bulges during bowel movements.

    * Grade II: The vein comes out of the anus during bowel movements, but goes back by itself.

    * Grade III: The vein comes out during bowel movements, but doesn’t go back by itself. It has to be replaced by hand.

    * Grade IV: The vein sticks out all the time and cannot be replaced.

It is possible for a person to have both internal and external Hemorrhoids at the same time.

Cause

    * Poor bowel habits – straining from long-term constipation or diarrhoea

    * Overweight, which often leads to straining to pass stools

    * Standing or sitting for long periods of time

    * Breathing improperly while lifting heavy weights (inhaling rather than exhaling while pushing against the weight)

    * Pregnancy, which results in increased blood flow to the pelvic area

    * Medical conditions, such as long-term (chronic) heart and liver disease, which causes blood to pool in the abdomen and pelvic area

    * Coughing, sneezing or vomiting

    * Genetic (inherited) factors

Symptoms

Internal and external Hemorrhoids manifest differently.

External Hemorrhoids

    * Slight swelling of the veins near the anus generally goes unnoticed. It may only be felt as extra skin around the anus.

    * These skin tags can become inflamed, causing a feeling of pressure in the anus. They can also make it hard to keep the anal area clean, which can lead to skin irritation, itching and burning. If a vein becomes quite large, it may cause discomfort, especially during bowel movements. The discomfort may discourage you from cleaning the anal area as well as you should, which can also lead to skin irritation.

    * A clotted haemorrhoid can be very painful. The pain may be so bad that you cannot sit or walk. The skin covering the lump may be blue (because of the collection of blood under the skin) and shiny due to stretching of the skin.

    * If the lump is not removed within 24 to 48 hours, the pain will gradually lessen over the following four to five days. The skin covering the lump may break open on its own, causing mild bleeding. With good self-care, pain and bleeding will stop within two weeks.

Internal Hemorrhoids

    * The most common symptom of internal Hemorrhoids is painless rectal bleeding. You may notice bright red streaks of blood on toilet paper after having a bowel movement or blood on the surface of stools. If you strain to pass stools, blood may spurt (spraying the sides of the toilet bowl) or trickle (coloring the water in the toilet bowl) from your anus.

    * You may have an uncomfortable feeling of fullness after passing stools because of the bulging of the hemorrhoid in the anal canal.

    * Hemorrhoids that are large enough to stick out of the anus (grade III and IV) may secrete mucus, causing mild skin irritation and itching. Good hygiene can keep this from becoming a problem.

    * You may see or feel protruding Hemorrhoids as moist pads of skin sticking out. It may recede into the rectum on its own or can be pushed back into place.

    * Very large Hemorrhoids may become painful if they swell and are squeezed by the muscles (anal sphincters) that control the opening and closing of the anus.

    * At their worst, large internal Hemorrhoids stick out of the anus all the time.

    * In rare cases, the opening and closing of the anus may cut off the blood supply to the swollen veins. This causes tissues inside the rectum to die, and emergency surgery is required to prevent serious damage.

Prevalence

Hemorrhoids are very common. Most people will experience symptoms or problems at some point in life, most often between the ages of 20 and 50. Men and women are affected.

When to see a Doctor

A visit to a doctor is indicated when:

    * Rectal bleeding occurs for no apparent reason and is not associated with trying to pass stools

    * Rectal bleeding continues for more than one week

    * Stool becomes more narrow than usual

    * A lump near the anus gets bigger or becomes more painful

    * Pain and/or swelling due to Hemorrhoids is severe

    * Moderate pain lasts longer than one week after home treatment

    * Any unusual material seeps from the anus

    * Tissue from inside the body sticks out of the anus and does not return to normal after three to seven days of home treatment

    * Rectal bleeding becomes heavy and/or changes in color from bright red to dark red or if stools change in color

Diagnosis

A number of ailments that affect the anal canal, rectum, and colon (large intestine) can cause bleeding, discharge, itching, and discomfort. Most people who have these symptoms assume they have Hemorrhoids, but this is often not the case.

The purpose of a visit to the doctor is to evaluate symptoms and confirm the diagnosis. Even more importantly, he or she should rule out life-threatening conditions. If the diagnosis is confirmed, a treatment plan can be initiated.

Diagnosis is based on:

    * Medical and social history, including personal habits

    * Symptoms

    * Visual examination

    * Digital rectal examination, i.e. feeling inside with a lubricated gloved finger

    * Anoscopy, the use of a small, hollow lighted tube to help see into the anal canal and lower part of the rectum

    * Proctoscopy – as above, but this makes a more thorough rectal examination possible

    * A fecal occult blood test – this may be done if internal Hemorrhoids cannot be detected with a digital rectal examination or anoscopy.

    * Flexible sigmoidoscopy – because people older than 50 are at higher risk for cancer of the colon and/or rectum (colorectal cancer), this procedure may be undertaken to view the lower colon and so rule out other causes of rectal bleeding, even if Hemorrhoids are evident.

    * Further examination of the entire colon with colonoscopy, when indicated

    * A barium X-ray can also be done which will show the colon’s interior.

Treatment

Home and medication

The best treatment is prevention and such strategies are also effective when Hemorrhoids have already developed.

In addition, most small internal Hemorrhoids can be treated at home with the following techniques:

    * Try not to sit for long periods. Take frequent breaks.

    * A doughnut-shaped cushion can make sitting more comfortable and ease hemorrhoid pressure and pain.

    * Insert petroleum jelly just inside the anus to make bowel movements less painful.

    * Ointments that contain hydrocortisone may help decrease inflammation and speed healing.

    * Resist the temptation to scratch Hemorrhoids, as this irritates the inflamed veins more, damages the surrounding skin and intensifies the itchiness. Non-prescription hemorrhoid creams may help for the itching and pain.

    * When wiping, be gentle. If toilet paper is irritating, try dampening it first, or use cotton balls or alcohol-free baby wipes. You may prefer washing yourself and then dabbing the area dry.

    * Bathe regularly to keep the anal area clean, but be gentle. Excessive scrubbing, especially with soap, can intensify burning and irritation.

External Hemorrhoids

    * External Hemorrhoids usually do not need treatment, unless an enlarged vein near the anus bursts, forming a hard and extremely painful lump under the skin (thrombosed hemorrhoid).

    * If the pain is not too severe, stool softeners, topical pain-relieving creams and Sitz baths (sitting in a bathtub of warm water for 15 minutes several times a day, especially after a bowel movement) may be sufficient. If pain is severe, surgical treatment may be required. If the lump is not removed within 24 to 48 hours, the pain will gradually lessen over the next four to five days. The skin covering the lump may break open on its own, causing mild bleeding. With good self-care, pain and bleeding stop within two weeks (although the lump may remain for several weeks).

Internal Hemorrhoids

    * Anaesthetising creams and suppositories to reduce inflammation may relieve irritation and pain due to internal Hemorrhoids.

    * Internal Hemorrhoids that continue to bleed after a trial of home treatment or become so large that they stick out of the anus may require professional treatment.

Surgery and fixative procedures

This section discusses surgery and fixative procedures for internal and external Hemorrhoids.

External Hemorrhoids

    * If an external hemorrhoid causes a lump with severe pain, it is more effective to surgically drain it, as this provides immediate relief from pain. It is best if it is removed during the first 24 to 48 hours after formation of the lump. This procedure is easily performed in the doctor’s office using a local anesthetic to numb the skin.

    * Surgical removal (hemorrhoidectomy) is only considered for external Hemorrhoids when the veins are so large that they cause significant discomfort and make it difficult to keep the anal area clean.

    * If skin tags cause repeated problems, they can be removed surgically.

Internal Hemorrhoids

    * Larger internal Hemorrhoids may require medical treatment. Non-surgical treatments are used to cure most smaller (grade I and II) and some larger (grade III) internal Hemorrhoids.

    * The goal of most non-surgical procedures is to cut off the flow of blood to the enlarged vein, causing the vein to fall off and a scar to form in its place on the wall of the anal canal. These are called fixative procedures because the scar keeps nearby veins from drooping into the anal canal. Fixative procedures include the following:

          o Rubber band ligation: a tiny rubber band is tied around a prolapsed hemorrhoid, shutting off its blood supply. Within a week, the hemorrhoid will fall off. This method is painless and successful 75% of the time.

          o Coagulation or cauterization: using an electric probe, laser beam or infrared light, a tiny burn painlessly seals the end of the hemorrhoid, causing it to close off and shrink.

          o Injection sclerotherapy: Hemorrhoids are injected with chemicals that create a scar and closes off the hemorrhoid. With a success rate of 90%, this is often the first choice. Results are not permanent, however; repeat injections may be needed every two or three years.

    * Most internal Hemorrhoids respond to non-surgical treatment. When compared to surgery, these procedures involve less risk and are less painful. These treatments often depend on the doctor’s experience and the equipment available.

    * Surgical removal of Hemorrhoids (hemorrhoidectomy) is most successful for treating larger (grade III and IV) internal Hemorrhoids.

    * Smaller internal Hemorrhoids are only treated surgically when they cause severe problems (usually when a person has several Hemorrhoids, when bleeding cannot be controlled with other treatments, or when a person has both internal and external Hemorrhoids).

    * Surgery may be done under general, spinal or local anesthetic. It can be done with a scalpel, cautery device or laser. The choice as to which is the most appropriate varies from patient to patient and is best left to the judgment of the surgeon.

    * Complete healing from this operation can take two to four weeks. However, after one week most patients are able to return to their usual activities with minimal or no discomfort.

    * The success rate of hemorrhoid removal approaches 95%, but unless dietary and lifestyle changes are made, Hemorrhoids are likely to recur.

Prevention

The best treatment is prevention. Initial treatment for Hemorrhoids begins at home. Since Hemorrhoids are made worse by straining to pass stools, changing some of your daily habits so you can have regular, smooth bowel movements may help relieve symptoms and keep Hemorrhoids from getting bigger. Half of all haemorrhoid sufferers find relief with dietary changes alone.

    * Avoid constipation by eating high-fiber foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, beans, and legumes) and avoiding refined and “junk” food.

    * If this cannot be accomplished with diet alone, adding bulk laxatives may be necessary.

    * Drink plenty of liquids such as water, fruit juice and other beverages that don’t contain caffeine – at least eight glasses of water a day.

    * Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day. Alcohol causes dehydration, which can lead to constipation.

    * Monitor your sodium (salt) intake. Excess salt in the diet causes fluid retention, which will cause swelling in all veins, including Hemorrhoids.

    * Regular exercise is important, especially if you have a sedentary job. Exercise helps by keeping weight down, decreasing constipation and enhancing muscle tone. Exercise often to promote regular, smooth bowel movements.

    * Practice good bowel habits. Go to the bathroom as soon as you have the urge to move your bowels. Try to set up routine times when you can go to the bathroom without feeling as if you have to rush or strain. Once on the toilet, don’t sit there any longer than necessary, because this can put additional pressure on the haemorrhoidal veins. Don’t strain to pass stools. Be relaxed and give yourself time to let things happen naturally. Never hold your breath while passing stools.

    * Modify your daily habits. Avoid prolonged sitting and/or standing at work or during leisure time. Take frequent short walks. If possible, avoid frequent lifting of heavy objects. If you must do heavy lifting, always exhale as you are lifting the weight; don’t hold your breath when you lift.

Do You Have A Bashful Bladder?

If you think this only affects awkward teenagers you’re wrong. There are men of all ages who will stand in a public toilet with a full bladder, only to find they’re unable to urinate. They might not even be feeling self-conscious at the time.

There’s a theroy that the problem has its roots in our primitive history and that we’re still inclined to think “I can pee in Ugg’s presence, therefore I can challenge him to a fight, intimidate him with terrifying roars, bared yellow teeth and thumping of my hairy chest.” Perhaps so, but that doesn’t help get the pee from the bladder to the bowl.

You have a few options. Clenching and unclenching your pelvic floor muscles may help trigger the flow or urine. If not, you can try teaching yourself to pee around other people by degrees. Start by standing in a cubicle with the door closed, progress to keeping the door open, then to standing at the urinal furthest from anyone else, and eventually to peeing happily while singing “Old Man River”.

One doctor advised doing mental calculations, which apparently stimulates the cortex of the brain, interrupting the stream of messages it’s sending your nether regions. If all else fails, a behavioral therapist ought to be able to help.

Beating Stress the Natural Way

Stress is the plague of the new millennium. We blame everything on it from our health to our relationships to our poor performance at work. However stress is not always a bad thing, positive stress motivates us and spurs us into action. It also keeps us going when we don’t think we can make it through another day. The problems come in when we experience stress overload and the emotional and physical distress that accompanies it.

So what’s the solution? It’s time to get back into the driving seat and rebalance your life. You don’t necessarily need to spend all your hard-earned cash on stress relief and visits to your shrink, mother nature has a lot to offer the stressed and weary. Try some of these excellent natural remedies to boost your mood, de-stress and get your life back on the rails.

1. Aromatherapy

Try the top five de-stressing essential oils. All of the following essential oils will work to balance and soothe your body and mind. Mix a few undiluted drops with a carrier oil, such as almond, for a massage or add it to your bath water.

   1. Lavender – balancing, soothing and normalizing

   2. Geranium – relaxing and uplifting

   3. Neroli – soothing and regenerating

   4. Chamomile – acts as a sedative and boosts the immune system

   5. Ylang-ylang – calming, also an aphrodisiac

Adding these essential oils to the bath will take a load off your mind. But make sure that you follow the following guidelines so that you get the full benefit of the essential oils:

    * Follow the instructions on the bottle carefully and only add the recommended number of drops.

    * The bath must be hot, but not scalding or else the oils will evaporate before you’ve even hopped in.

    * Stay in the bath for about 20 minutes. If you stay in for less, the essential oils might not have time to take effect; if you stay in for longer, you’ll just feel lethargic.

    * While you’re in the bath, focus on ensuring that your breath is deep and regular. Inhale from the diaphragm, hold for a few seconds and exhale slowly.

 

2. Exercise that stress away

Most exercise has calming benefits, but you don’t have to hit the treadmill for hours, or take a high-impact aerobics class to pound and punch out your stress. Why not try one or more of these three gentle natural therapies that offer a complete mind-body workout and long-lasting stress-reducing results?

Tai Chi

The aim of this 8000-year-old exercise system is to harmonise the body and mind through meditation and slow, graceful movements. Tai Chi is based on the Taoist philosophy of yin (cool, dark, negative energy) and yang (hot, light, positive energy) two polar types of energy that are believed to exist in everything in the universe. The goal of Tai Chi is to balance these energies. In so doing, the natural balance of the body and mind is restored and stress is reduced.

By focusing on the controlled movements, your mind is distracted from whatever tension or stress you may be experiencing. Tai chi is great for stress-related disorders like headaches and stomach ulcers and is even used by cancer patients in China.

Alexander Technique

This therapy was developed 100 years ago by an Australian actor Frederick Alexander. It will teach you how to deal physically with everyday situations, including how you sit, how you walk and how you lift things. The aim of this therapy is to reteach your body the natural, relaxed poise that you had as a child.

By improving one’s posture, the Alexander Technique will eliminate the physical symptoms of stress, such as backache and muscle tension in the neck. A person is taught how to loosen one’s neck and free one’s head. This will promote a sense of calm, improve your posture and encourage better breathing.

Pilates

Pilates is quickly reaching the same popularity level as yoga. It was designed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates as a way for injured and recuperating dancers to stay fit. Pilates combines systems of springs and pulleys to lengthen and tone muscles with floor-based stretching exercises.

Both Tai Chi and Pilates concentrate on breathing. Pilates, like the Alexander Technique, will also radically improve your posture and realign your body. You will feel healthier and more relaxed. While performing all the stretching exercises, energy is released and this energy helps to dissipate stress and muscle tension.

Build your therapy into your normal exercise regime, by alternating with resistance work and two or three aerobic sessions per week.

3. Massage

The intrinsic benefits of touch through the medium of massage, has long been recognized. It is the oldest and simplest of all complementary therapies and in traditional cultures it is accepted as a natural part of self-care. A good massage can dissipate nervous energy and release feel-good endorphins into the body. These endorphins are like natural painkillers and help ease aching, tired muscles.

If you have a willing partner, spend one evening a week massaging each other with special massage oils. If you’re not sure, what you are doing, read one of the many books on massage or enrol in a course. Or you could try the following self-massage techniques:

Neck and shoulders

First, lie on your side on the bed or on the floor, and using slow, circular movements, massage the side and back of your neck. Then move onto your shoulders and as much of your upper back that you can reach. Now, turn over and repeat the massage on the other side.

Back

Sit up straight. Staring at the bottom of your back, position the fingers of both hands on either side of the spine. Gently “walk” your fingers up your back as far as you can go, and back down again.

Face

Lie on your back on the bed and start stroking your forehead with both hands, moving from the middle and out towards the ears. Repeat this movement as you slowly move down your face towards your chin, then gently massage around your eye sockets. Finish off with a mini-Indian head massage by briskly rubbing your scalp for five minutes.

What to take

Consult your doctor or a professional herbal practitioner before using any of the herbs mentioned in the following section, especially if you are pregnant, suffer from a chronic disease or are on other medication.

1. De-stress the herbal way

Is stress getting you down? Do you feel like you are not coping? Take action. Try the top five de-stressing herbal supplements.

   1. Kava kava – relaxes you, just like a couple of glasses of wine, but without the side effects. It will also give you a positive sense of wellbeing.

   2. Ginseng – if you take this herb over a period of time, your body’s ability to cope with stress will increase.

   3. Passionflower – if your stress is causing insomnia, anxiety or nervousness, this is the herb for you. Many over-the-counter sedatives contain Passionflower.

   4. Skullcap – for mental and physical exhaustion. It relaxes the muscles and nerves.

   5. Vervain – a very useful herb if you are suffering form a stress-induced virus (like the flu). Also a natural anti-depressant.

If you are under constant stress, take the above herbs in tablet or tincture form for at least four weeks.