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    Natracure Blog — Therapies

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    10 Cheap Ways to Keep Skin Healthy This Winter

    Winter weather isn't just chilly -- it's often downright arid. The harsh weather conditions and low humidity can strip skin of moisture, rendering it dry, scaly, and itchy. Resist the urge to reach for pricey creams and serums, though, and instead heed these tips to soothe skin on the cheap for the rest of the season. BUNDLE UP Dry skin and chapped lips are often the result of prolonged exposure to a cold, dry environment. When temperatures dip and the wind picks up, gloves, scarves, and even sunglasses protect against freezing, dry air. If you have sensitive skin, try to wear only smooth, natural fibers and avoid potentially irritating fabrics such as wool near the face. HUMIDIFY THE HOME As the temperature drops, humidity tends to do the same, and the dry air leeches moisture from skin. Indoor heat sources only make matters worse, so set the thermostat as low as you can bear and use a humidifier in the rooms where you spend the most time. A good cheap humidifier might cost $50 or so but should last far longer than a jar of lotion. An even cheaper alternative: Simply place bowls of water around the home. The water will slowly evaporate and add moisture to the air. Houseplants with large leaves also boost the moisture level around them. WASH WITH CARE The body produces oils to lubricate skin and prevent over-drying, but overzealous washing strips away those oils. Limit yourself to one short bath or shower a day, using mild soap. When washing your face, avoid astringents and cleansers that contain alcohol unless you have acne-prone skin. Although hot water may appeal on a cold morning, dermatologists suggest bathing in warm or cool water instead. USE SOAP-FREE BODY AND FACE WASH Lathering up in the shower may seem like the best way to get clean, but the sodium lauryl sulfate in many face and body washes is known to irritate and strip skin of moisture. Cleansers marketed as "soap-free" or "sulfate-free" could relieve excessively dry skin. MAXIMIZE MOISTURE Apply lotion immediately after washing hands or stepping out of the shower to lock in moisture. It also helps to keep the bathroom door closed to maintain high humidity while applying lotion or cream. Pay particular attention to vulnerable body parts such as hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Make moisturizer more effective by exfoliating skin every week to get rid of dead cells that sit on the top layer of the skin, making it flaky and rough. MAKE YOUR OWN MOISTURIZER Many homemade moisturizer recipes call for ingredients that may already be in the kitchen and promise savings over store-bought creams. Search sites such as Pinterest for a DIY skin-care regimen. If you'd rather buy cheap moisturizer than make it, a key ingredient to look for is glycerin, which attracts and locks in moisture. TRY AN OIL Healthy oils serve a variety of purposes but have one unique, cheap benefit: They are excellent skin moisturizers. While olive oil is one of the most popular, grapeseed, avocado, and sweet almond oil are regularly praised for their moisture-locking properties. Like lotions and cream-based moisturizers, oils work best when applied to damp skin, preferably after showering. RESIST LIP LICKING The body's natural instinct to relieve dry lips is to lick them. However convenient, repeated licking only dries out lips even more. The acids and enzymes in saliva actually cause the moisture already on the lips to evaporate. Instead, keep handy a lip balm that doesn't contain menthol or camphor, two drying agents. MOISTURIZE FROM WITHIN Like lotions and oils that go on the body, what goes in the body affects how the skin appears. Winter is the ideal time to consume foods such as olive oil, which contains a compound called squalene that protects the skin from ultraviolet rays and moisture loss.Salmon, almonds, and sweet potatoes are other foods recommended by beauty experts to nourish and replenish moisture in the skin. DON'T FORGET SPF The sun can be insidious in the winter, as people who slather themselves in sunscreen all summer let their guard down once it gets cold. UV rays can still cause damage, so protect skin by choosing a moisturizer and lip balm with sun protection factor, or SPF. By Tahirah Blanding via MSN Health

    6 Reasons You Feel Awful When You Wake Up

    Hooray! You got a solid 8 hours of sleep last night. But then why did you wake up this morning feeling like roadkill? Facing the day refreshed isn't as simple as logging those elusive 7 to 8 hours in dreamland. We've got six surprising reasons you're not feeling your best—and simple fixes. You read your Kindle before bed. People who read before bed using an iPad or similar device find it harder to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than those who curl up with a printed book, according to a recent Harvard study. The reason? The blue light emitted from the Kindle suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, which controls your sleep and wake cycles, says Robert Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, an Arizona sleep medicine specialist and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day. Translation: When your melatonin levels are out of whack, you probably aren't sleeping as soundly as you think you are. He recommends shutting down all electronic devices (computers, cell phones, tablets, eReaders) 90 minutes before bed. Also, move your cell phone out of the room; even if it's on airplane mode, a phone emits enough light to interfere with sleep, says Sylvia Morris, MD, MPH, an internist in Atlanta. You sleep in a bad position. Waking up with a sore back? It may be from sleeping on your side all night, which can create significant flexion at the hip, says Benjamin Domb, MD, founder of the American Hip Institute. If you're one of the 57% of Americans who slumber in this position, it's a good idea to sleep with a pillow between your legs to maintain proper hip alignment. "Hip injuries are some of the most common, yet trickiest, sleep injuries because the pain from the injury often shows itself in a different part of the body—like in the lower back," says Domb. (Here's how 3 common sleep positions affect your health.) Your pillow sucks. That huge fluffy pillow may seem like luxury, but it can cause massive pain. "Sleeping with your head propped up pulls your spine out of alignment—it's like walking around for 8 hours during the day with your neck tilted down," explains Shawn Stevenson, BS, FDN, founder of the Advance Integrative Health Alliance and author of the 2016 book Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success. Use a pillow that's soft but has a supportive foam core, like the Intelli-Gel pillow ($150, amazon.com). You grind your teeth at night. If you wake up with a headache, it's most likely because you've been clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth overnight, says Kathy Gruver, PhD, a massage therapist in Santa Monica, CA. Research shows that massage can help with symptoms, so apply some gentle pressure and/or a warm, damp cloth to the jaw area right before you go to sleep and as soon as you wake up in the AM to help break the cycle. Also consider seeing your dentist for a mouth guard, which keeps your teeth from grinding down. You have a nightcap. It's true that booze can send you off to dreamland quickly, since alcohol does have a sedative effect. But it also disrupts your normal sleep cycle, says Aaron Clark, MD, a family medicine physician at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. In a 2015 Australian study, people who downed orange juice mixed with vodka as a bedtime drink showed more alpha brain activity while they snoozed, which meant they weren't getting deep, restorative sleep. Women are particularly susceptible to sleep disruptions from alcohol because we metabolize it faster, according to the National Sleep Foundation, so we're bound to wake up sooner. An occasional glass of spirits won't hurt, but to make sure you're getting quality z's, limit yourself to one drink a night and have it a couple of hours before bedtime. You have undiagnosed sleep apnea. Half of all adult women have some type of sleep apnea, according to a 2012 study. (Women between the ages of 20 and 44 have a 25% chance of having sleep apnea, which also affects 56% of women ages 45 to 54 and 75% of women ages 55 to 70.) With this condition, "patients briefly stop breathing multiple times through the night, which leads to poor sleep quality," explains Clark. Sleep apnea is especially common in women as they go through perimenopause, when they mistakenly assume that their frequent night awakenings are a result of hot flashes. As a result, you'll often wake up exhausted, even if you've theoretically gotten plenty of sleep. Ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist. The best way to diagnose sleep apnea is via a sleep study—at-home devices can pick up only severe cases. Mild cases can often be treated with weight loss and alcohol avoidance before bedtime, but if you've got a moderate to severe case, you'll need to use a device like a CPAP, an oxygen tube under the nose that emits mild air pressure to keep the airways open.

    By Hellie Levine via msn health

    Eat This To Fight Spring Allergies

    The weather is warmer, the birds are chirping, and the flowers are blossoming. But for you? That means your eyes are itchy, your nose is runny, and your head feels like it's under more pressure than a batter at the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, tie game, and a full count. For many, the first signs of Spring come with the riveting joy of being able to break out your shorts and sundresses—and finally being able to shed that winter weight. But for others, it's the blazing signal you're about to go to war against your allergies: nasal decongestant in one hand and a box of tissues in the other. If it's any consolation, around 35 million Americans will also suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever or an allergy to pollen. But besides popping an antihistamine pill every day and limiting your time outside as if you might melt in the sun, what else is a seasonal allergy sufferer to do? Well, it turns out that what you eat can have an impact on the extent to which you suffer from symptoms. Research has suggested that certain foods can help fight allergies naturally by controlling underlying inflammation, clearing out air passages and providing other relief effects. On the other hand, some can actually trigger allergy symptoms either by indirectly worsening symptoms or directly through oral allergy syndrome (OAS). OAS occurs when your body mistakes proteins in certain raw foods for the same allergenic proteins in pollen, confusing your immune system and making existing ailments worse. (So that's why my throat gets itchy when I eat carrots or apples!) While foods that cause OAS can affect you anytime of the year, certain foods that have proteins most similar to those in birch and grass pollen—the common causes of allergies in the spring and early summer—will worsen your spring symptoms even more. On the upside, cooking those foods neutralizes the offending proteins. So that's a plus. But if you're sick and tired of being sick, and tired, Eat This, Not That! has your back. We've put together a list of the surprising foods you're probably eating without knowing they could be making your nose runnier and your eyes itchier, and which foods you can replace them with to help part with that post-nasal drip. 1. SPICE IT UP, BUT LOWER THE HEAT EAT THIS: Fennel NOT THAT: Paprika We're always one to recommend spicy foods, like paprika, to enhance flavor and boost your metabolism, but if you're a seasonal allergy sufferer, it's best to steer clear of them during high pollen counts. That's because spicy foods create histamine in your body, adding to what's already an increased amount because of your allergies. Histamine is an inflammatory compound produced by cells when your body is undergoing an allergic reaction. It's the thing that causes the tissue in your nose to both run and swell (which makes it stuffy) and your eyes to itch. Fennel, on the other hand, has been found to act as a natural decongestant, offering allergy relief by stimulating the mucosal cilia to help break up congestion. 2. EASE UP ON DAIRY DRINK THIS: Almond Milk NOT THAT: Whole Milk When you're experiencing an allergic reaction, your body creates mucus to help get rid of the invading allergens. (Which is why your nose is constantly runny.) However, some foods, like dairy, can temporarily thicken this mucus, making it harder for it to travel out of your body, which causes the allergens to stay in your system. And while not all dairy causes excessive mucus production, studies have found that one type, in particular, A1 milk—which is rich in a specific type of casein protein—has been shown to stimulate mucus production on top of thickening it. Because many variables can influence the final amount of A1 in milk, while some milks can make mucus worse, others might not. Even so, if you're already suffering from a lot of mucus, making it thicker—even temporarily—is kind of a drag. So it's best to avoid dairy products just in case and pick up a casein-protein-free almond milk. 3. LOAD UP ON VITAMIN C EAT THIS: Strawberries NOT THAT: Oranges Beat the inflammation-causing histamines with a healthy dose of vitamin C. This vitamin indirectly inhibits inflammatory cells from releasing histamine, and studies have shown that high levels of vitamin C can help histamines break down faster once they're released, which may provide allergy symptom relief. On top of fighting histamines, vitamin C foods also reduce inflammation—key to combating allergy suffering. This is because vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it can decrease levels of inflammatory free radicals. Pick strawberries over oranges when it comes to vitamin C. Ounce-for-ounce strawberries are actually higher in vitamin C, but that's not the only reason why to eat them over oranges. Oranges have been known to possess proteins that mimic grass pollen, which can exacerbate allergy symptoms even more in the late spring. 4. CRUNCH ON A CRUCIFER EAT THIS: Raw brussels sprouts NOT THAT: Raw broccoli and cauliflower Brussels sprouts can annihilate your allergy symptoms in two ways. For one, it's a member of the crucifer family, plants that have been shown to clear out blocked sinuses. This benefit could be linked to the sprouts' glucosinolate content. These compounds help prevent unwanted inflammation when they're converted to I3C—a compound that research has found to decrease the production of pro-inflammatory mediators on a genetic level. It's also high in vitamin K, a vitamin whose deficiency is associated with excessive inflammation. Even though broccoli and cauliflower are in the same crucifer family and possess the same advantages, they also could cause OAS and worsen allergy symptoms if eaten raw, and cooking these veggies can inactivate the enzyme which creates I3C. Be sure to eat brussels sprouts raw in a shaved brussels sprout salad or lightly steam them. 5. STAY SOBER DRINK THIS: Hot green tea NOT THAT: Beer, wine, spirits, and champagne It might be better weather for some happy hour drinks after work, but if you suffer from hay fever, you should take it easy on the alcohol. Beer, wine, spirits, and champagne all contain histamine and tyramine, two chemicals that set off allergy symptoms in your body. On top of making you more sensitive to pollen's effects, alcohol also dehydrates you, which makes your symptoms seem worse. Instead, go with a steaming cup of green tea. "This tea is teeming with histamine-fighting quercetin," says Kelly Choi, author of bestselling tea-based plan, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse. Plus, it'll keep your system hydrated, which can help dilute the amount of allergens in your cells. Even better, the steam may help thin out mucus to ease congestion. 6. QUELL INFLAMMATION WITH QUERCETIN EAT THIS: Blueberries NOT THAT: Apples Allergy research has shown that bioflavonoids can provide relief by reducing inflammation. One bioflavonoid, quercetin, acts as a mast-cell stabilizer, which decreases the number of cells reacting to an allergen. Mast cells are responsible for releasing histamine during inflammatory and allergic reactions. While apples are a good source of the antioxidant, they also can cause OAS. And while cooking an apple may help kill off the proteins that mimic birch pollen, an article published in the journal Nutrition reported that foods prepared by boiling lost a significant amount of quercetin due to contact with heat and water. Instead, load up on blueberries if you're in the mood for something sweet, and add red onions (which are also loaded with quercetin) to savory dishes. 7. PUMP UP THE PROBIOTICS EAT THIS: Kefir NOT THAT: Sauerkraut Probiotics are thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects by improving the intestinal microbial balance, which is often skewed towards a higher prevalence of inflammation-related strains in allergic subjects, according to researchers. An Italian study published in the journal Pediatric Research, found that young children with allergic rhinitis who drank fermented milk with the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei experienced fewer allergic episodes over the course of a year than those who took a placebo. Another fermented food, miso, was found to lower the prevalence of seasonal allergy symptoms by about 41 percent when participants ate just a teaspoon a day, according to Japanese researchers. You can get your daily probiotic intake from kefir, yogurt, or miso, but maybe nix the sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is made of cabbage—a food that can trigger OAS—and it's high in histamines, which worsen allergy symptoms. 8. MUNCH ON MAGNESIUM EAT THIS: Cashews NOT THAT: Hazelnuts and almonds Magnesium-rich foods, such as cashews, help relieve allergy symptoms because magnesium is a natural antihistamine. In fact, a study from Brigham Young University showed that animals deficient in magnesium had higher levels of histamine in their blood when exposed to allergens than animals with adequate magnesium levels. Not only that, but because magnesium helps with muscle relaxation (which is why it's great to eat before sleep), it can help ease the soreness in your body and throat. While many nuts are high in magnesium, be sure to steer clear of hazelnuts and almonds; both nuts contain proteins similar to birch pollen that may cause oral allergy symptoms. 9. BRING ON THE OMEGA-3s EAT THIS: Wild Pink Salmon NOT THAT: Tuna fish DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, have been found to ease allergy symptoms through their anti-inflammatory properties. And even if you don't have allergies now, you're always at risk of getting them. As it turns out, you're at an even greater risk if your omega-6:omega-3 ratio is skewed more towards omega-6s. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults who had a high content of omega-3s (and EPA, specifically) and low content of omega-6s in their blood had a decreased risk of getting allergic sensitisation and rhinitis compared to those with a high content of omega-6s. So eat your threes! Pick up wild pink salmon, which is high in EPA, over tuna fish. Even though tuna is high in EPA, it's also high in inflammation-causing histamines. 10. DIG INTO THE CAROTENOIDS EAT THIS: Boiled carrots NOT THAT: Raw carrots Carrots are superfoods that pack a powerful punch against allergies. That's because they're rich in the carotenoid department. (And by rich, we mean a single medium carrot gives you 203 percent of your DV of vitamin A.) One of the forms of vitamin A it possesses, beta carotene, has been linked to easing allergy issues in a study in the journal Public Health Nutrition. This study found that adults with low carotenoid stores were more likely to have allergy problems than those with high carotenoid levels. Raw carrots posses a protein that could trigger OAS, so if you do want to snack on them, be sure to boil them. Not only will boiling them kill off the allergen-mimicking protein, but it also will increase their carotenoid content. Add a healthy fat such as coconut oil or olive oil, to further extract these fat-soluble vitamins. By Olivia Tarantino via msn.com

    Vinegar for your Arthritis?

    Arthritis is amongst the most prevalent ailments today, affecting literally millions around the globe. There are actually over a hundred kinds of arthritis, with the common signs and symptoms of joint pain and inflammation. This causes great discomfort, and often those with arthritis experience it to a degree that it can take over their lives. For this reason, people with arthritis often try to find remedies that will provide effective, long-term relief, in order to enjoy life as normally as possible. Arthritis apple cider vinegar treatments are one of many methods people consider. It's been in use for many centuries, and has been proven to relieve the inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. It has actually been utilized for other conditions as well. Being full of minerals and vitamins, it allows the body to fight illnesses effectively. One arthritis apple cider vinegar remedy uses a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed to a glass of water. Honey or even some spice may be added to this mixture to improve the taste; honey is even thought to enhance the strength of the solution. This mixture is then taken in the morning and before going to bed at nighttime, to provide relief from arthritis symptoms. An additional way to use apple cider vinegar is to apply it as a liniment, using it straight to afflicted joints. It is almost always warmed, then applied through the use of a clean washcloth. It can then either be massaged in or simply applied to provide immediate respite from the pain. Many people believe in the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar for arthritis. Nevertheless, whenever employing an alternative form of treatment, it's always best to check with your medical doctor to avoid any possible complications. Apple cider vinegar is available in supermarkets, and even on the web. In purchasing this vinegar you need to also look at the quality so it will be more effective for the management of diseases. Organic vinegars are believed more potent, specially those with the mother-of-vinegar still included. Apple cider vinegar is one of the techniques that arthritis has been treated through the years, and it has been considered effective and safe - important points for those with arthritis. If you need to find out about apple cider vinegar and exactly how it can help your arthritis, have a look at http://www.ArthritisNaturalRemedies.com/Arthritis-Apple-Cider-Vinegar. By Meredith Walker via articlecity.com

    Aromatherapy: What is it?

    Aromatherapy is the art and science of treating illnesses through essential oils and/or inhaling herbal mixtures. The sense of smell or olfactory senses are the quickest path to the brain. Once the scent molecules pass the brain, it enters the bloodstream through the lining in our lungs. Once the molecules enter the bloodstream they influence the nervous systems, adrenal glands, stomach, intestines, heart rate, circulatory, and immune systems. Now the scent molecules also stimulate or relax emotions, attitude, energy level, sex drive, concentration, memory and other brain activity. All of that from smelling scents that we already know. Essential oils used in ancient Egyptian times had many purposes. Burial, spiritual, medical and perfume are just some of their uses. The word perfume comes from the Latin phrase “through the smoke”. Egyptians closed themselves in small rooms and burnt herbs and oils to cover their body odor. This is where incense came from. The Egyptians also noticed that the scented smoke had medicinal purposes also. Rene- Maurice Gattefosse was a French chemist who coined the phrase Aromatherapy. It was actually an accident; He burned his hand then confused a bowl of water with a bowl of Lavender Oil. Instead of a bad chemical reaction, he learned that the lavender oil healed the burn quicker and left less scarring. This launched his research in Essential oils and Aromatherapy. The process of distillation is used to extract essential oils from grasses, leaves, trees, roots, and flowers. Some oils require a lot of raw material to make a small amount of oil, and then other oils are easier and less expensive to produce. Therefore, if oil has a higher price, and a few are quite expensive, then that means that particular oil is difficult to harvest and distill. A headache is relieved with essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Lavender, feverfew, chamomile and marjoram. You could place a few drops of any of these oils in a diffuser or aroma lamp to keep your home or workplace headache free. Many homeopathic doctors prescribe the herb feverfew for migraines. In addition, valerian root, hops and lavender, which are all sedatives and muscle relaxers for those tense stressed out, neck muscles. Yarrow is an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and helps control high blood pressure, common cause of migraines and headaches Who has kids? Most huh well you will need to pay attention here. Take out the aroma lamp and diffuser; put 6 drops of lavender, four of chamomile, and three of sandlewood or cedar wood. Turn it on and watch your house hold calm down almost immediately. You can also place chamomile or lavender in a small pillow and place it in your children’s bed. It is safe, pleasant; the child gets a better, more rejuvenating sleep. Jasmine also has a sedative quality as well as Patchouli. Cinnamon bark is neat oil. It is warm, calming, spicy and comforting. There have been surveys conducted about the effect that the scent of cinnamon has on men, for example. Most men stated that the smell of cinnamon reminds them of grandma’s kitchen, thus bringing on a feeling of love. However, it also helps women with cramps, regulates menstrual cycle, and even gives us a little boost in our love lives. Cinnamon also can be used for insect bites, treat infections and is used in cough elixirs. Be careful, cinnamon can irritate your skin if not diluted properly. There are some oils (like lavender, tea tree, and patchouli) can be applied directly to the skin with no dilution. To be safe I would dilute 2-4 drops of essential oil to 1 tsp. (5ml) of carrier oil. Carrier oils allow safe absorption into the skin and calms some of the more potent oils. Aromatherapy is the idea that through the senses of touch and smell the body can achieve harmony between mind, body, and spirit. Balance is important today due to the Contamination of chemicals in our world as shown in the ozone alerts. Today’s stress, busy schedules, full houses and all of the everyday problems, which have become part of our hectic existence. Aromatherapy is a healthy, easy, inexpensive way to naturally heal your mind and body. By Machelle Reaves via articlesfactory.com