17 July 2008

Alternative Medicine practitioners are realizing that healing herbs should be part of their arsenal against disease. The newest touted natural herb is Capsicum, found in cayenne pepper. It has many benefits whether taken internally or externally. When taken internally, capsicum is an antibacterial which will encourage healing and deflect infections while slowing the absorption of fat in the intestines to help fight obesity. Because this natural herbal remedy is a stimulant, it improves circulation. Capsicum will also stabilize blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Herbalists are finding capsicum is useful in fighting a variety of ailments.

Many herbalists today recommend capsicum for such ailments as cold hands and feet, sluggish metabolisms, obesity and respiratory tract infections. Use it externally for arthritis, sore back muscles, rheumatism or sprains and bruises. One suggestion for cold feet is to wear a thin pair of socks, then get a thicker pair of socks, sprinkle the inside with cayenne pepper and put them on over the thin socks. The pepper will send a warm soothing sensation to the soles of your feet.

The General Nutrition Center has suggested that herbs that have a “bitter digestive stimulant” property might be used as well. They believe that theses herbs may produce natural digestive enzymes. Herbs like blessed thistle are advocated in the hopes that they will alleviate heartburn. As there is no clear way of knowing their effects, blessed thistle and other such herbs are not as universally recommended.

An interesting study was done to see if capsicum would irritate or cause ulceration in the intestines. On the contrary it was found that the herb did not harm the tract but sped up the healing of ulcers by secreting more mucosa, the protective lining of the intestines.

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10 July 2008

How to lose weight around the waist

If you only want a slim waist and your weight ranges between normal to 20% above normal, what you need is not to lose weight, but to tone your muscles. Sit-ups only tone up your lower abdominals. Bending your body left and right and rotating your midriff left and right help to shape your waist.

For the upper abdomen, lie on a table with the upper half of your body hanging over the edge. Keep your arms on the sides or behind your head. Bend forward and backward. To tone up the upper thighs and backside, lie on your back with your arms alongside your body. Lift your legs alternately and stretch them upward using your stomach muscles. Do each of the above exercises 30 times on a daily basis.

They don’t necessarily reduce your weight, but they firm up your muscles and shape up your body. If your weight is 20% above normal, you need to shed some pounds first before toning up muscles. Avoid food that contains a lot of calories and protein, especially in the morning and at night. A balanced diet with adequate calories is allowed at lunch, while low fat milk is recommended to replace breakfast and dinner.

And no snacking! If this regimen works, in the first month you will be smaller in size, but your weight will stay the same due to the body’s natural mechanism of stabilizing weight. You will lose some weight after consistently being on this low-calorie diet for 2-3 months.

The recommended exercise is jogging because it burns more fat than
aerobics, which burns more sugar. You can take appetite suppressants(not weight loss pills) under a doctor’s supervision. Sweat it out! wish your good news for trying above tips, here at health news today keep body and soul healthy.

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01 June 2008

What are the herbal medicines?

The Herbal medicines, also called botanical medicines or phytomedicines, refers to the use of any plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Long practiced outside of conventional medicines, herbalism is becoming more mainstream as up-to-date analysis and research show their value in the treatment and prevention of disease.

History of the herbal medicines

Plants had been used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history. For example, ancient Chinese and Egyptian papyrus writings describe medicinal plant uses. Indigenous cultures (e.g., African and Native American) used herbs in their healing rituals, while others developed traditional medical systems (e.g., Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicines) in which herbal therapies were used systematically. Scientists found that people in different parts of the globe tended to use the same or similar plants for the same purposes.

In the early 19th century, when methods of chemical analysis first became available, scientists began extracting and modifying the active ingredients from plants. Later, chemists began making their own version of plant compounds, beginning the transition from raw herbs to synthetic pharmaceuticals. Over time, the use of the herbal medicines declined in favor of pharmaceuticals.

Recently, the World Health Organization estimated that 80% of people worldwide rely on the herbal medicines for some aspect of their primary healthcare. In the last twenty years in the United States, increasing public dissatisfaction with the cost of prescription medications, combined with an interest in returning to natural or organic remedies, has led to an increase in the use of the herbal medicines. In Germany, roughly 600 to 700 plant-based medicines are available and are prescribed by approximately 70% of German physicians.

How do herbs work?

For most herbs, the specific ingredient that causes a therapeutic effect is not known. Whole herbs contain many ingredients, and it is likely that they work together to produce the desired medicinal effect. Many factors affect how effective an herb will be. For example, the type of environment (climate, bugs, soil quality) in which a plant grew will affect its components, as will how and when it was harvested and processed.

How are herbs used?

For the reasons described in the previous section, herbalists prefer using whole plants rather than extracting single components from them. Whole plant extracts have many components. These components work together to produce therapeutic effects and also to lessen the chances of side effects from any one component. Several herbs are often used together to enhance effectiveness and synergistic actions and to reduce toxicity. Herbalists must take many things into account when prescribing herbs. For example, the species and variety of the plant, the plant's habitat, how it was stored and processed, and whether or not there are contaminants.

What are the herbal medicines good for?

Herbalists treat many conditions such as asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome, among others. Herbal preparations are best taken under the guidance of a trained professional. Be sure to consult with your doctor or an herbalist before self-treating. Some common herbs and their uses are discussed below. Please see our monographs on individual herbs for detailed descriptions of uses as well as risks, side effects, and potential interactions.

Ginkgo ( Ginkgo biloba ) , particularly a standardized extract known as EGb 761, appears to produce improvements in awareness, judgment, and social function in people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. In a year-long study of 309 people with Alzheimer's disease, those taking EGb 761 consistently improved while those on placebo worsened.

Kava kava ( Piper methysticum ) has become popular as a treatment for anxiety, but recent reports have traced liver damage to enough people who have used kava that the U.S. FDA has issued a warning regarding its use and other countries, such as Germany and Canada, have taken kava off of the market.

St. John's wort ( Hypericum perforatum ) is well known for its antidepressant effects, and an analysis of 27 studies involving more than 2,000 people confirmed that the herb is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.
Valerian ( Valeriana officinalis ) has had a long tradition as a sleep-inducing agent, with the added benefit of producing no hangover feeling the next day.
Echinacea preparations (from Echinacea purpurea and other Echinacea species) may bolster immunity. In a study of 160 volunteers with flu-like symptoms, echinacea extract reduced both the frequency and severity of cold symptoms.

Who is using the herbal medicines?

Nearly one-third of Americans use herbs and it is estimated that in 1998 alone $4 billion was spent on herbal products in this country. Unfortunately, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicines indicated that nearly 70% of individuals taking the herbal medicines (the majority of which were well educated and had a higher-than-average income) were reluctant to reveal their use of complementary and alternative medicines to their doctors. Because the herbal medicines contain a combination of chemicals, each with a specific action, many are capable of eliciting complex physiological responses—some of which may create unwanted or unexpected results when combined with conventional drugs. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying any herbal products.

How is the herbal medicines sold in stores?

The herbs available in most stores come in several different forms: teas, syrups, oils, liquid extracts, tinctures, and dry extracts (pills or capsules). Teas are simply dried herbs left to soak for a few minutes in boiling water. Syrups, made from concentrated extracts and added to sweet-tasting preparations, are frequently used for sore throats and coughs. Oils are extracted from plants and often used as rubs for massage, either alone or as part of an ointment or cream. Tinctures and liquid extracts are solvents (usually water, alcohol, or glycerol) that contain the active ingredients of the herbs. Tinctures are typically a 1:5 or 1:10 concentration, meaning that one part of the herbal material is prepared with five to ten parts (by weight) of the liquid. Liquid extracts are more concentrated than tinctures and are typically a 1:1 concentration. A dry extract form is the most concentrated form of an herbal product (typically 2:1 to 8:1) and is sold as a tablet, capsule, or lozenge.

Are there experts in the herbal medicines?

Herbalists, chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicines all use herbs to treat illness. Naturopathic physicians believe that the body is continually striving for balance and that natural therapies can be used to support this process. They are trained in four-year, postgraduate institutions that combine courses in conventional medical science (such as pathology, microbiology, pharmacology, and surgery) with clinical training in herbal medicines, homeopathy, nutrition, and lifestyle counseling.

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