Reducing Coughs Naturally

Whether it be in the dead of winter or the high life of summer, colds and allergies seem to pop up out of nowhere and “catch” us completely off guard. Hand-in-hand with these seasonal terrors come the dreaded cough and there are two ways you can fight cold’s comrade-in-arms, with either over the counter cough drops or ones that you can make yourself.

Make yourself, you ask? Why not! It’s easy and many of the ingredients within these little soldiers can be found right in your own kitchen. Sugar, corn syrup and water gently brought to a robust boil till they reach what is known as the “hard crack” stage will give you the “medium.”

The only secret to a successful drop is to use a tasty and simple combination of herbs “steeped” in the water before adding it to the sugar-syrup. This wonderful cough relieving tea along with your “dry” ingredients” are all you need to make your own natural cough candy.

Some herbs that are found in many of the other natural cough drops you find on the market that you may want to try alone or in combination are; Coltsfoot, Korean Licorice Mint (easy to grow; seeds are available from Seeds of Change), thyme, slippery elm, horehound, comfrey leaf, hyssop, marshmallow and common mullein, to name a few.

Many of these herbs are perennial so you will have them for your own personal “medicine cabinet” year after year. Use the leaves only of these herbs either singly or in combination. It helps to try them out as a tea first, that way you know which herbs will taste best in your cough drops. About 2-3 tsp. of herb to 1 1/2 cups boiling water ought to give you the concentration that you need; let steep till cool.

Here’s a tried-and-true hard candy.

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup water (herbal tea)
vegetable coloring (optional)

Mix sugar, herbal tea and corn syrup and cook over low heat stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils. Continue boiling without stirring until a small amount is very brittle when dropped into cold water. Wash away crystals from side of pan with a damp cloth.

Cook slowly at end so that the syrup will not discolor. Remove from the heat and add color. Either drop quickly from the tip of a spoon onto a greased surface or into prepared hard candy molds. Allow to harden and cool completely before removing. You can roll them in powdered sugar and wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper for storage.

For gift giving, why not add a personal touch by pressing some of the fresh herbs between waxed paper and use to decorate or wrap your gift box. Add a nice tag listing the herbs that you used for a professional look.

Nutrition and Your Lifestyle

Nutrition and LifestyleEating healthy and taking care of yourself is essential to obtain optimal wellness. Most people roll their eyes or moan when confronted with these ideas, but, in reality, taking care of yourself is not as hard, time consuming, expensive, or dull as most would have you believe.

In fact, once people decide to choose a healthy life, they notice more energy, increased self-confidence, more time to do things that really matter, and they spend less time in the doctor’s office or hospital. It is less expensive to buy organic foods and shop for most items at a health food store than it is to buy candy, soda, chips, pizza, alcohol, and cigarettes.

Not only do people consume less food on a healthy diet, they help their bodies to become stronger and more able to fight disease, which makes their health costs lower as well. The foods are not dull or tasteless either. It does depend on what you like, but, in general, unprocessed and whole foods right from the garden (or produce section) are the tastiest and most satisfying. If you don’t like fresh snap peas, maybe you’ve not had them done right!

In our current society of hustle and bustle, we often go for the cheapest and quickest foods to get rid of that nasty hunger sensation. But what does that do to you? Most people don’t know and they don’t care. They will care more when they discover they have heart disease or diabetes or the variety of other conditions caused by this type of lifestyle.

But patterns get established and it is so difficult to stay away from the burgers or sodas for long. Tastes get perverted (yes, that is the word for it) to like too much fat, sugar, and salt in our diets. Foods don’t taste as good without additives.

In reality, they don’t taste as good because cheap food is cheap food and you wouldn’t eat it if you weren’t fooled by the extras added in to either make it look, taste, or smell better. A McDonald’s thin hamburger is grayish to begin with, never mind that it has comparatively loads of fat in its small size. Try just the burger without the cheese, ketchup, mustard, onions, or pickles. Pretty bland.

That cheese (if you could call it that) is what they call ‘cheese food’. They cannot call it ‘cheese’ because of the processing. This ‘cheese food’ makes up most of the sliced cheeses in supermarkets. Look at the labels. The ketchup has corn syrup (sugar) and sugar added. I could go on, but I won’t.

The point is, these additives are added to make an inferior product taste good enough to sell at a cheaper price so the public will buy. I guarantee in a taste test of a more expensive, yet organic ketchup made with tomatoes that taste good, and regular ketchup without any added sugar to either sample, you would choose the organic one over the non-organic based solely on freshness of taste.

The same goes for burgers, ice cream, breads, and many processed products. The better the ingredient quality, the better it tastes and the healthier it is for you.

Acne Dysmorphia, a Skin Obsession Disorder

Billions of people around the world experience acne over their lifetimes. In fact, acne is the single most common skin disorder, and more common than all other skin disorders combined.

With this being the case, it is not surprising to see literally thousands of different acne treatments available on the market today. There are prescription medications, such as accutane, and Retin-A. These work well on severe cystic acne.

There are also over the counter medications, such as Benzoyl peroxide and Salicylic acid. For light to moderate acne, these can be a godsend. And of course, there are herbal acne treatments like tea tree oil and green tea cream. These both are proven to work well as alternatives to benzoyl peroxide.

This is just to name a very few of the most effective acne treatments available. There are then hundreds of brands that repackage these treatments under thousands of names, and sell them to acne sufferers the world over.

However, there is one acne symptom that none of these medications can treat… Acne Dysmorphia.

Acne Dysmorphia is really more of its own disorder altogether. It is similar to anorexia nervosa, in that the person suffering from acne dysmorphia becomes completely obsessed with a physical condition of their body. With Anorexia, it is their weight, and with acne dysmorphia, it is their clear complexion.

The truth of the matter is, Acne Dysmorphia is not strongly related to acne at all. The acne is just a catalyst for the problem. With Acne Dysmorphia, a person will become completely fixated on their skin, whether or not they are suffering from acne at all! They may pick at an area of skin until it bleeds, or becomes infected. Also, depression often results from their frustration with their skin complexion.

The sad fact is, many times these people may only have a few very small breakouts. Therefore, no amount of “acne treatment” will help reduce the fixation on the skin. It is not uncommon for someone with Acne Dysmorphia to check their face in a mirror dozens, even hundreds of times a day. And each look in a mirror reflects only a distorted image, one with a much larger acne problem than exists.

The cure for this disorder does not come from any form of acne care, but from healing within. Behavioral therapy, can be an amazing aid in curing acne dysmorphia. In many cases, this is all that is needed to help reduce the symptoms. In extreme cases, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor may be needed. Also, some people find hypnosis can be an effective form of treatment.

The most important thing to understand with acne dysmorphia is that it is not due to the acne breakouts, but to a mental disorder that needs to be treated completely independently of any acne. Furthermore, it is very important to treat acne dysmorphia, because the resulting depression can create many problems for a person, including suicide.

Acne is never pleasant for anyone, but acne dysmorphia can truly be a crippling disorder. Seek treatment for the mental aspects first, and then you may find that the acne you have will suddenly become an easily manageable aspect of your life!

Some Facts about Our Heart

The heart is one of the most important organs in your body, and in some ways the most familiar; we know we have to keep it healthy to live well, most of us know someone who has had a heart problem or even a heart attack, and it’s one of the few organs that we can actually feel as it functions (just put your hand in the middle of your chest!). But there are some things that you may not know about your heart that can help you understand why it’s so important.

Athletes actually appear to have smaller hearts.

The heart is a muscle, as are your biceps. But while striving for big muscles might be an athlete’s visible goal, on x-ray a really good athlete’s heart looks SMALLER than average. That’s a sign of an efficient heart – a heart that pumps blood well squeezes very hard to send as much blood as possible to the body with every beat.

An enlarged heart, in contrast, may indicate that the heart’s having to work too hard because of muscle damage or the increased effort of moving blood through clogged arteries.

The sound that your heart makes when beating is the sound of heart valves closing.

The human heart has four chambers with valves – little one-way doors – between them. If the heart is working correctly, you hear “lub” when blood first enters the heart and ‘dub” after it leaves. If doctor hears a ‘swish” or “gurgle” – murmurs – instead of a thump, that may be a sign that the valves aren’t working as well as they should. Extra sounds (lub-dadub) sometimes indicate uncoordinated valve action (indicating heart injury) but it may be just be the sign of a young and athletic heart.

The heart needs blood, just like all your other organs.

The heart fills with blood and then pumps the blood to the body about once a second or more. But it doesn’t take nutrients and oxygen directly from the blood before pumping it; instead it pumps the heart through a series of blood vessels called arteries.

Each organ has groups of arteries that deliver oxygen and nutrients to it – including the heart! These are called “coronary” arteries; if these arteries are narrowed or damaged, the heart may have trouble receiving the nutrients and oxygen it needs to live.

Heart cells (myositis) are precious.

Unlike skin, which quickly heals after most injuries, if heart cells are injured or killed during a myocardial infarction (or “heart attack”) they are difficult to repair or replace. For many years, in fact, it was believed that you only had one set of myositis, and once damaged, they could never be replaced.

Recent research suggests that there may be cells in the heart (stem cells) that can develop into myositis if needed, but how they are triggered and how long it takes them to repair damaged tissue isn’t known. It is known however that heart damage is difficult to overcome, so prevention is an important part of taking care of your heart.

Your heart is a piece of electronic equipment

Myositis use electrical signals as a means of communicating with one another and coordinating the beating of the heart. The flow of electricity is recordable by an electrocardiograph (ECG). An ECG of a damaged heart can be comparing the flow of electrical waves in the heart to waves in the normal heart to determine what sort of damage has been done.

In addition, if there is significant damage to the electrical communication between heart cells, an artificial pacemaker (usually called a pacemaker) may be implanted in the heart to coordinate the electrical signals used and keep the heart beat regular and coordinated. Many hospitals request that cell phones not be used in certain locations in the hospital because of artificial pacemakers – in rare cases, cell phones have been known to interfere with the functioning of pacemakers. Pacemaker users are recommended to use their cell on the opposite side from where their pacemaker is implanted.