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Archive for March, 2011

The tiredness you used to feel after a long day or a long week has become constant and chronic. You feel like you are dragging yourself around from work to home and then back again and you feel miserable.

If chronic fatigue has become your day-to-day reality then it is time for you to find ways to get your life under control.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the name given to a collection of symptoms that have no known medical cause – they just are. The symptoms can include fatigue with no obvious cause (in other words no underlying medical problem), weakness, muscle aches and pain, depression, sleep disturbances, problems concentrating and thinking, fever, the swelling of the lymph nodes and a general feeling of being sick. CFS is also sometimes known as post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS).

CFS has been associated with other disorders such as fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. It often begins in the aftermath of another health problem such as a physical or psychosocial injury, some form of stress or a viral infection.

This syndrome was once referred to as the “yuppie disease.” It took many years for the medical community to acknowledge that it is a real health problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic fatigue syndrome is a “diseases that affects the nervous system as it is accompanied by excessive exhaustion, muscle pain and weakness, a variety of cognitive impairments such as problems with  focusing and thinking, and an array of debilitating problems.” Many physicians still consider CFS to be a type of clinical depression.

It has been estimated that approximately 800,000 people suffer from this syndrome but only 10 percent are aware of it and have sought treatment for it. Women are three times more likely to develop it than are men. In some cases it can become so bad that it affects the day-to-day functioning of the sufferer and can interfere with doing even the simplest activities.

Herbal Solutions for CFS:

If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and you prefer to look to natural treatments for help then there are a variety of herbs that can be of service to you in your quest to feel better. Before you begin to take an herbal remedy you should talk with your healthcare provider and let him/her know that you are going to try an herbal method of treatment.

Be aware that not all herbs take effect in the same span of time. Some may begin to work in a few weeks while others may take a number of months. It is always smart to keep your doctor informed of any herbs you are taking for your condition.

Those who suffer from CFS need herbs that can improve the way in which the immune system works. The best options in this regard are echinacea, goldenseal and licorice. The first two herbs often work best in conjunction with each other. Look for a supplement that contains both of these.

Astralagus is also beneficial for immune system function. This herb helps in the creation of white blood cells that fight disease and it is beneficial when the symptoms of a head cold or flu show themselves. Astralagus can be purchased as a supplement and it is also an herbal tea.

Ginseng can also be beneficial for those with chronic fatigue syndrome. In particular look for Chinese, Korean or Siberian ginseng. Ginseng helps to combat fatigue, stress and a variety of diseases. It also supports the immune system and fights many viruses.

Milk thistle and ginkgo biloba are both useful for those who have CFS. They support the body in healing itself. The former cleanses the blood while the latter is good for liver function. Please note that milk thistle should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Samantha

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Eczema is a skin condition that can be described as a type of dermatitis.

It is an acute or chronic inflammation of the skin that causes redness, itching and sometimes oozing of the skin. While this condition is not contagious it is also not one that anyone wishes to develop. The scratching and discomfort that comes along with eczema can be downright uncomfortable for those who suffer from it.

Here we look at some natural means you can use to help tame the skin problem and help healing to take its course.

You want to scratch your skin so badly but doing so can make the problem even worse. When you scratch and tear your skin you let more bacteria in and inflammation can become worse. Do what you can to fight the urge to itch and scratch. Keeping your skin well moisturized at all times is one way to do this. Dry skin is more vulnerable to those who suffer from eczema. Find moisturizing products such as creams, lotions and oils that can help your skin. Use them the second you sense a flare up is coming.

Studies have shown that natural oils that come from food contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help to treat eczema and other skin disorders. You can consume more natural oils by eating foods that are abundant in omega-6. These foods include olive oil, walnuts and oily fish such as salmon and sardines.

If you prefer you can increase your intake of natural oils by taking a supplement such as borage oil or cod liver oil. If you take this route then you need to consume two to three tablespoons of fish oil per day.

Evening primrose oil is also beneficial as a natural means of treating eczema. Those who suffer from atopic eczema will find evening primrose oil to be of tremendous help. This oil does not work quickly however. It may take a matter of weeks or months before you notice an improvement in your skin. Evening primrose oil is most often found in capsule form. You can take the capsules orally or you can break them open and apply them topically to where your skin is affected.

A zinc supplement is also a natural treatment for eczema. Zinc is a type of mineral that is beneficial to the body in many ways.

While this mineral is only required in small quantities by the body it is not always easy to get the necessary amount on a regular basis. For this reason zinc supplements can come in handy. Zinc helps to keep the skin and hair in tip top shape. Zinc supplements can help those who suffer with eczema. Speak to your doctor first before you start taking these supplements. It will take approximately a month or two before you notice a positive change.

Becca

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Yoga is something you may or may not have tried. Perhaps you practice yoga all of the time and wouldn’t want to live without it. Or maybe you find it a little strange and put it into the category of “new age” therapies that are not for you. It helps to gain a better understanding of what it is really all about in order to demystify it. Let us delve into the philosophy that underlies yoga.

Yoga is a holistic therapy that has as its purpose the redirecting of negative energy and stress in order that stress will not have the opportunity to build up in the body and lead to problems in the form of disease and illness. In fact the preventative approach is what makes up most holistic practices.

Yoga practitioners (also sometimes referred to as yogis) feel that what we want most from life is to find joy and happiness.

However they believe that many people settle for so much less. They feel that at some point in time the desire for deeper and lasting happiness is something that everyone wants to find. This is what yoga seeks to do – discover a deeper feeling of bliss that comes from inside, as opposed to fleeting pleasures that come from the outside.

If a person feels that their life is lacking in bliss, joy and a sense of purpose then yoga can help them to find meaning that comes from within, as opposed to meaning that is sought through external avenues such as their work or the money they earn. Yoga is something that can be practiced at any age but many people do not make it a part of their lives until they find themselves needing more from their lives then they presently are receiving.

As the spirit evolves in your life (which is what yoga taps into – the spirit that lies within everyone) an individual can discover a greater sense of both peace and tranquility within themselves. This comes from the core of what makes you who you are.

As your life progresses and your spirit grows wiser and more insightful you are brought to a new stage of your life in which you yearn for a greater sense of well-being, and want more happiness, joy and peace. Yoga can help bring you that. You can work towards renewing and enriching your spirit and this can motivate you to higher stages of growth.

Yoga comes out of a Buddhist tradition and got its start in China. It has been practiced there for centuries where it is widely popular. Here we have looked at yoga in an abstract manner. If you are the kind of person who prefers concrete concepts then yoga can best be described as being “an applied science of the body and the mind.”

Practicing yoga regularly and not just once in a while can benefit you physically in that it helps with balance and poise as well as helping to keep the body strong and healthy. It helps you to grow, develop and thrive. It works well when combined with a healthy lifestyle of eating nutritiously and getting plenty of physical activity. Yoga can center your mind and keep it calm, serene and clear which will enable you to turn your focus inwardly to listen to your spirit.

Yoga can help many to discover a path they didn’t know existed and which leads to true happiness and fulfillment.

Samantha

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Many of the new buzz words in the health community are not ones that everyone is familiar with.

For instance are you aware of what prebiotics and probiotics are? Before we can delve into this topic it would help to get a little background. For that we must turn to the digestive system.

We all have bacteria living in our digestive systems. Some of these bacteria have the potential to make you ill (bad bacteria). We also have bacteria that are useful and can contribute to keeping you well (friendly, good or healthy bacteria). The good bacteria’s job is to keep bad bacteria and yeast from developing in the intestinal tract and leading to health problems. This friendly bacteria also helps in the production of vitamin K and aids the immune system in working to its highest capacity.

Most of the time there is an abundance of good bacteria in the intestinal tract. However such things as taking a course of antibiotics, stress and making unhealthy food choices can lead to what is known as intestinal dysbiosis. This condition is a bacterial imbalance that leads to the overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria.

Dysbiosis is more common than you might think. However most health issues that result from this problem are called by other names. For instance this condition has been connected to disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), yeast infections and rheumatoid arthritis.

Antibiotic therapy is a common reason that dysbiosis occurs. This is because when you take an antibiotic to get rid of an infection not only does it destroy the bad bacteria but it also affects the levels of friendly bacteria that reside in the digestive system.

This brings us to the topic at hand – prebiotics and probiotics. What are they and how can they help our bodies to function better?

Both prebiotics and probiotics are able to restore the balance of bacteria that exists in the digestive tract. Probiotics can be defined as beneficial or healthy bacteria that are found in a selection of foods and/or can be taken as supplements. There are different strains of probiotics but the two most common families of bacteria include Lactobacillis and Bifidobacterium.

Prebiotics on the other hand are foods that are non-digestible that are able to make their way through the digestive system. The job of prebiotics is to support healthy bacteria to grow and to multiply in numbers. Think of it this way- prebiotics see to it that good bacteria remain healthy and plentiful in order to fight any bad bacteria that they encounter.

Prebiotics:

The prebiotics in your system that is responsible for being a food source for friendly bacteria mainly come from carbohydrate fibers known as oligosaccharides. These fibers are not digested and for that reason they stay in the digestive tract and encourage good bacteria to grow.

The sources of oligosaccharides include fruits, whole grains and legumes. You can also find supplements known as fructose-oligosaccharides that you can consume. Yogurt with prebiotics is made with bifidobacteria which in turn contains oligosaccharides. Check the yogurt label to make sure of this before you purchase it.

Probiotics:

Probiotics or probiotic bacteria such as lactobacilli are naturally occurring in foods that are fermented. Examples of these include sauerkraut and yogurt. There are some types of foods that will have probiotics added. Always check your labels.

You can also buy supplements such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus.

Becca Scott

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Feeling tired is a universal problem. Every day about 2.2 million Americans complain of being wiped out and exhausted.

While many people are convinced this is because of their jam packed schedules the reality is it’s more likely connected to the way they eat or don’t eat. Here we look at some of the top ways to fight fatigue and to prevent you from wanting to go back to bed as soon as you’ve gotten up.

Your mother was right – breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it fuels you up and gets you in gear for the day ahead. Even if you do not feel hungry when you get up have something nutritious to eat. Research studies have shown that those who consume breakfast function better and feel better both physically and mentally. Researchers at Cardiff University in London have also discovered that the stress hormone cortisol is lower in those who eat a small bowl of breakfast cereal or oatmeal in the mornings.

Instead of eating three large meals a day change things up by eating three smaller meals and two snacks throughout the day. This will help to keep your blood sugar at a stable level and by so doing it will also keep your energy level where it is supposed to be. Be aware that eating big meals requires more of your energy to digest and can leave you feeling very tired. What you need to do when you eat your mini meals is to make sure that you eat a mix of protein, carbs and healthy fats (such as seafood, nuts and olives).

You need an adequate amount of fiber to not get run down.

Fiber works with carbohydrates to release them into the bloodstream at a slow rate that is better for the body’s metabolism. What this serves to do is to keep your energy at a high level. Most people consume only 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day despite the fact that the daily recommended dosage is 25 to 30 grams. To add more fiber to your diet eat an apple with the skin on, eat air-popped popcorn, whole-wheat spaghetti or black beans and cheese wrapped in a multigrain tortilla.

There is no substitute for drinking water. Hydration is the name of the game in keeping tiredness at bay.

You may wonder why this is the case. Approximately 83 percent of our blood is made up of water. The water found in the blood helps to digest food, control body temperature and transport waste out of the body. The majority of other bodily fluids are also composed of water. Mild dehydration thickens the blood and then forces the heart to work harder to deliver blood to the organs and the cells in the body. Unfortunately this causes tiredness because the heart is pumping faster and more intensely.

You do not just have to drink water to increase your intake of it. There are foods that contain ample amounts of water that you should be eating as well. These include broccoli, carrots, grapefruits, oranges, watermelons and yogurt.

Samantha

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