Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

20 effective and affordable ways to help prevent wrinkles without cosmetic surgery and other medical treatments

Smoking causes wrinkles, sagging skin and moreMy mother and her younger sister in Perth, Australia both have great skin for women their age. My aunt is 58, but could easily pass as being in her early 40s. My mother is 70, but has better skin with fewer wrinkles than many 60-year-olds. Both have had no Botox, face lifts or other skin procedures.

Just good genes cause their good skin? I don’t think so. Both of them don’t smoke. They also moisturize their skin often, drink plenty of water, only spend a short amount of time in the sun (and there’s plenty of sunshine where they live), and drink little alcohol. So they put into practice well known techniques to prevent wrinkles. And it has paid off — smooth, supple and younger looking skin, with few wrinkles.

Aromatherapy essential oils can help treat stress, depression, anxiety, inflammation and other health problems

The scent of Gardenia jasminoides flowers can reduce anxiety and promote sleepIs jasmine the next Valium substitute? Perhaps. Recent research has discovered that the scent of jasmine has the same effect on the brain and is as strong as barbiturates and the anesthetic propofol. Jasmine calms, relieves anxiety and promotes sleep. Researchers Professor Hanns Hatt and his team in Germany tested hundreds of fragrances and found jasmine and one other plant fragrance are especially good relaxants.

Other studies have found that the use of fragrant plant oils (essential oils), such as rose, lemon and lavender oil, can reduce stress, and the symptoms of anxiety, depression and more. This is no surprise considering the fragrant parts of plants have been used for health and healing throughout history all over the world, including China, India, North America, the Far East and the Middle East.


50 natural ways to help treat depression without taking antidepressants

Healthy eating habits are important for happiness Imagine if you often drove your car with very little engine oil. This one thing could have a huge negative impact on the car’s performance. When it comes to having happy minds, our bodies are similar. Just one thing out of balance can have a huge negative impact on our mental health — whether it’s a lack of vitamin D, omega-3 fat or sunlight, too much junk food and so on.

Finding that balance can be difficult, but there are many things that can help us gain inner peace and happiness. A holistic approach is important — one that addresses the body, mind and spirit.

Below are 50 natural alternatives to antidepressants that can help bring the body into balance, reduce symptoms of depression and boost happiness.


Get into probiotics – good gut bugs that improve our mental and physical health

How important are probiotics — “good” (beneficial) bacteria and other microorganisms? According to Dr. Mercola: “The research into probiotics indicates that supplementing with probiotics is probably more important than taking a multi-vitamin and its true importance for your health is likely right up there with vitamin D.”

We all have trillions of bacteria, fungi, yeasts and other microorganisms (gut flora) in our guts. Gut flora is a mix of “bad” (harmful) and good microorganisms. When this mix is out of balance, with too many bad types, we get sick. Celeste Perron reports that Mark Hyman, M.D., founder and medical director of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, says: “If you have an autoimmune disorder, depression, allergies, or any number of other illnesses, the underlying cause may be an unhealthy balance of gut bugs.”

Dr. Mercola says: “The secret to improving your mood and brain health is in your gut, as unhealthy gut flora can impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, autism and more.”

Many people have gut flora that’s out of balance, so are ill as a result. These people could benefit from eating more foods that contain probiotics, taking a probiotic supplement and/or making healthy lifestyle changes so their good gut bugs can thrive.


Natural ways to help treat anxiety without taking medication

Exercising in nature can help treat anxietyAnxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in USA, Australia and beyond. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in USA say that over 15% of people are estimated to have an anxiety disorder at some stage in their lives. Common anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic disorder.

Medication for anxiety can work well, but it has its downsides. Medication does not treat the causes of anxiety, just the symptoms. Lots of anxiety medication is very addictive, and many have bad – sometimes dangerous – side effects. Once you stop taking medication, the anxiety can return. Stopping medication can be hard because it can be habit forming.


Hops is an effective herbal remedy for relaxation and helping treat insomnia

A hop cone in a hop yardDid you know that the herbal remedy hops is related to marijuana and is legally sold in supermarkets, drugstores and health food stores across the world?

Hops is well known for its use in beer-making, where it’s been grown and used worldwide for centuries. Less well known, however, are the plant’s medicinal uses. Hops has been used for centuries in different types of medicine, including North American traditional medicines and Indian-Ayurvedic medicine, according to the American Botanical Council (ABC).

The English have also known about hops’ therapeutic benefits for some time. The ABC says one of the most prominent people treated with hops was King George III. He is believed to have slept on pillows filled with hops to help calm himself down.

Studies have found that hops is sedating (calming and sleep promoting), often with no unwanted side effects. Compounds in hops have various properties, including relieving aches and pains, and killing bacteria. Hops is used to help treat various health problems, such as sleeplessness and nervous problems. Many uses of hops have not been thoroughly tested, so hops’ full effectiveness is uncertain.


Vitamin E – one of the best vitamins for brain and bedroom health

A field of sunflowers. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E.Decades of research shows that a lack of vitamin E can contribute to brain diseases. This essential vitamin helps reduce the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, and helps stop blood vessels clogging, including those that supply oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Vitamin E also helps stop the fat in our brains from going rancid, so we can think, focus and remember better. Our brains are mostly made of fat, and the quality of this fat is very important.

These are just a few reasons why I think vitamin E is one of the best brain vitamins – and I’m probably not alone. Best-selling author and researcher Jean Carper lists in her book, Your Miracle Brain, the names of a number of doctors around the world who research vitamin E and take it daily as a supplement, because they believe in the benefits of vitamin E for brain health.

As well as being known as a great brain vitamin, vitamin E has been referred to as the “sex vitamin”. Low levels can cause impotence, low sex drive and infertility. Boosting vitamin E to healthy levels can help treat these problems. So we can think of this vital nutrient as the “Brain and Bedroom Vitamin”.


Research shows giving thanks boosts health and happiness

A good dose of daily gratitude goes a long way. People who often give thanks are less envious and resentful, sleep longer, exercise more and report a drop in blood pressure, according to Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis.

Psychologist Brenda Shoshanna, author of 365 Ways to Give Thanks: One for Every Day of the Year, also believes in the benefits of gratitude. She says being appreciative makes us physically and mentally healthier.

Psychologist David DeSteno says gratitude makes people more generous and builds social support, which is tied to physical and mental well-being.

Isn’t it amazing that saying thank you often could be so powerful?


Can vitamin C supplements boost mood, memory, intelligence and brain function?

Many fruit and veg are high in vitamin C“It’s smart to take vitamin C, and it may make you even smarter.” That’s the advice from Jean Carper, author of Your Miracle Brain. She outlines studies showing that vitamin C supplements can improve IQ, memory and other mental functions, especially in people with low levels of vitamin C. This isn’t surprising considering vitamin C is involved in making neurotransmitters – chemicals that affect our mind and mood.

Our bodies can’t make nor store vitamin C, so we must receive it every day through food and drinks and, if necessary, supplements. Getting the right amount of vitamin C is vital for good health because – as with all nutrients – having too much or too little can cause health problems.

Many people are at risk of having low levels of vitamin C, including smokers, people who eat few fruits and veggies, and women on the birth control pill. Are you receiving enough vitamin C for good health?


Ginkgo can treat depression, poor circulation, memory, concentration and more

ginkgo leavesKate Fraser, one of Australia’s leading medical herbalists, writes in her book Positive Health with Herbs that ginkgo extract has been claimed to be ““the most important single development in Western Herbal Medicine” in recent years. This claim is supported by the fact that, according to the World Health Organisation, (WHO), it was the most prescribed pharmaceutical in France and Germany… Such widespread use of a herbal extract by medical practitioners is unprecedented in post-war medicine.”

Ginkgo trees have been revered as sacred plants in China, where they have been used to treat illnesses for about 5,000 years. Today ginkgo is mostly used to help treat circulation problems, boost mood, and enhance memory and concentration. Ginkgo extract is generally considered safe, and side effects are rare.


What’s the secret to health and happiness? A holistic new health movement called Integrative Medicine is part of the answer

Tired of your doctor prescribing you a pill for every ill? Sick of the side effects from your pills and potions? A revolution is happening in health care that will reduce prescriptions and the side effects we suffer. Called Integrative Medicine (IM) the philosophy is a holistic approach to health. IM “makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing”, according to the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association Inc.’s (AIMA’s) website.

President of the AIMA, Professor Kerryn Phelps, is an advocate of IM. She recently reported on this emerging health movement in November 2010’s issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine.


Does chamomile work for anxiety, sleep problems and relaxation?

chamomile flowersThe pretty little flowers of the chamomile plant have been used to treat many health problems for thousands of years. Today chamomile is popular in many countries, including Europe. In the United States and Australia, chamomile is best known as a relaxing tea. Other common uses of chamomile are to help treat anxiety, sleeplessness, stomach pain, and gas. Some beauty products, healing creams and ointments also have chamomile added.

Although there is too little human research of chamomile to support its medicinal use, animal studies have found chamomile can reduce inflammation, speed wound healing, reduce muscle spasms, and promote sleep.


Lemon balm is a safe and effective relaxing herb to naturally treat anxiety, stress and insomnia

lemon balm leavesFrom before the Middle Ages the delicious herb lemon balm has been used to improve mood, help heal wounds, and treat insect bites. Today lemon balm is still used for health, especially stress, anxiety, relaxation, insomnia, cold sores, shingles, and digestive problems. Lemon balm is grown in herb gardens, and in crops for medicine, cosmetics, and making furniture polish. The herb is generally considered safe, with few side effects.


Can glutamine enhance your mind and mood by reducing stress, anxiety, depression and more?

Dr. Priscilla Slagle, author of The Way Up From Down, says on her website The Way Up that L-glutamine and L-tyrosine are the two amino acid supplements she most often prescribes in her practice. She recommends L-glutamine (a common form of glutamine) for various health problems, mostly to increase energy, and improve mood, concentration, focus, and memory.

According to Slagle, glutamine is often low in people with yeast overgrowth (candida). This depletion is partly responsible for the “brain fog” they feel.

Could glutamine supplements improve your mind and mood?


How good are GABA supplements for anxiety, stress and relaxation?

Yoga is a natural way to increase the level of GABA in the bodyNutritionist Patrick Holford says that most people with intense or constant anxiety either self-medicate with alcohol or cannabis, or see their doctor, possibly to be given a prescription for a tranquiliser. “In one week in Britain, we pop 10 million tranquillisers, puff 10 million cannabis joints and drink 120 million alcoholic drinks”, says Holford, in his book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind. “The choice of these three drugs – alcohol, cannabis and tranquillisers – is no coincidence. They all promote the neurotransmitter GABA, which is the brain’s peacemaker, helping to turn off excess adrenalin and calm you down.”

“Supplementing 500 to 1,000mg [of GABA], once or twice a day, is a highly effective natural relaxant,” according to Holford. But what does the evidence say about how good GABA supplements are to calm people down? Although the evidence is mostly anecdotal, using a GABA supplement to boost GABA levels in people who are stressed and anxious can lead to a more relaxed and focused mind.


How safe is kava for anxiety, stress, insomnia and relaxation?

A kava plantKava has been a drink for thousands of years in the Pacific Islands. Its effects are similar to alcohol. People use kava for many reasons, in particular stress, anxiety, insomnia (sleeplessness), relaxation, improving mood, and as a social and ceremonial drink.

Some countries have taken kava off the market because it might cause liver damage. Many experts are unsure about kava’s safety, and whether kava alone, or in combination with other drugs/herbs or pre-existing health problems, could be dangerous.

A recent world-first Australian study found kava is, according to its researchers, “safe and effective in reducing anxiety”, and reduces depression. Lead researcher Jerome Sarris said, “We’ve been able to show that Kava offers a natural alternative for the treatment of anxiety, and unlike some pharmaceutical options, has less risk of dependency and less potential of side effects.”

The type of kava extract used in this study was water-soluble, like the type traditionally prescribed in the Pacific Islands. The kava extracts used in other studies of kava, that found the plant may be unsafe, were extracts that might cause liver problems.


Meditation therapy at least as good as antidepressants for preventing relapses in depression

Person meditating on a lakeA recent trial in Exeter found that Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is at least as good as antidepressants at preventing relapses in depression, according to an article in Times Online. Other studies have found lower relapse rates in depression between groups of people who receive MBCT and groups who don’t.

MBCT is so good at preventing depression that a report by the Mental Health Foundation in Britain calls for much wider use of “mindfulness” treatment – a combination of meditation with orthodox “thought training”.

MBCT trains people to focus their attention on one thing instead of thinking about issues, the past, future and other distractions. There are various ways to do this, such as focusing on breathing, and what we feel while we are moving.

Meditation is inexpensive and recommended by mental health professionals for depression. When combined with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), meditation is better than CBT alone for preventing depression.


Get into exercise for a heart-healthy and happier you

Man walking the dogDid you know that there are over 10 ways that exercise helps our mind and body, but most people can only name a few? Some benefits of exercise include lowering high cholesterol, strengthening the heart, and helping treat anxiety and depression.

Alana Richardson, writer for Mediterranean Book, is passionate about lowering high cholesterol. She recently sent Extra Happiness some easy exercise ideas that can help treat this common health problem.


Tyrosine – an answer for a better mind, memory, mood and sleep

The amino acid supplement tyrosine, sold in health food stores, can help improve mood, sleep and alertness, according to some research. Tyrosine has been called the ‘anti-depressant amino acid’ because of its ability to boost our mood. It is used to make adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine – chemicals called neurotransmitters, which all affect our mind. Can taking a tyrosine supplement benefit you?


Suffer from anxiety, stress or sleeplessness? The herb valerian might be the answer

valerianThe herb valerian – often called ‘nature’s Valium’ – is a popular natural treatment in Europe, North America and Japan for insomnia and anxiety.

The plant has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in USA. Hippocrates described its therapeutic properties, and later the Roman philosopher Galen prescribed valerian for insomnia (sleeplessness).

How well does valerian work? Clinical studies have had mixed results, although a number of health experts say it can help treat insomnia.


EMDR – a safe, easy and effective natural therapy to treat depression, anxiety, stress and trauma

eyesDid you know that doing some simple eye movements can stop the emotional pain from bad memories? Called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), it’s a key treatment for trauma used all over the world by thousands of trained therapists.

Studies show that EMDR is a safe, fast and worthwhile treatment for many problems such as depression, stress, anxiety, phobias, addictions and eating disorders.

The technique works like the rapid eye movement (REM) we have while we sleep. REM is believed to help sort out our problems so that we still remember bad events, but no longer feel the pain linked to them.


Is clinical hypnotherapy a safe and worthwhile technique to make you more happy, healthy and successful?

Woman being hypnotized I’ve been interested in having hypnosis for years but, for various reasons, I put it off. Earlier this year I decided to have weekly clinical hypnotherapy sessions with a trained psychologist. I’m glad I went. I found that it helped me achieve some of my goals, and it was very relaxing – just what I needed.

I decided to write this blog post about hypnotherapy to share a bit about my experience with the technique, learn more about it myself, and share some of what I learnt with others.

Is milk causing autism, schizophrenia, heart disease and type 1 diabetes?

Cow in the mountains Is a common type of cow’s milk consumed by millions of people across the world causing serious physical and mental health problems? Agribusiness professor and farm-management consultant Dr. Keith Woodford believes so. In his book Devil in the Milk he describes research showing that a protein in milk from particular breeds of cows – called A1 cows – is causing schizophrenia, autism, inflammation, heart disease and, possibly, type 1 diabetes. Dr. Woodford says that A2 cows, however, produce milk that does not cause health problems due to this protein.

Switching from A1 to A2 cow’s milk may have amazing health benefits. Are you drinking the right kind of milk for good health?


How much sleep do we need to be happy, healthy and productive?

Woman sleepingWhat do Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and the Challenger shuttle explosion all have in common? They are all international disasters in which a lack of sleep is believed to have contributed to their cause, according to the BBC.

We have all had times in our lives where we weren’t getting enough sleep. Grumpiness, poor concentration and forgetfulness are some symptoms you’re probably familiar with.

Many of us put up with symptoms of lack of sleep so we can work longer and party harder. But are the benefits of skimping on sleep worth it? A recent article in US Science News says studies have linked chronic sleep loss to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and shorter lives.

St John’s wort – natural relief for depression, anxiety and sleeplessness

yellow St John's wort flowersDid you know that St John’s wort is one of the most popular natural antidepressants in the United States and Canada?

St John’s wort is a flowering plant that has been used to treat depression for centuries. Today it’s available from health food stores, pharmacies and even some supermarkets. It is generally safe and has few side effects.


Passion flower – natural herb to treat anxiety, insomnia, stress and tension

Passion flowerPassion flower is a native plant of North America, where it has been used for centuries as a mild sedative. It was later used in Europe and adopted by herbalists to treat insomnia, hysteria and epilepsy, and used as a painkiller.

Passion flower is generally safe when taken in the recommended dosages, but it may interact with many medications.

Is 5-HTP a safe, natural option for helping treat depression and anxiety by boosting serotonin?

A naturally occurring chemical in our body, called 5-HTP, has been shown to help treat depression with fewer side effects than conventional antidepressants.

Some studies show that supplementing higher than normal amounts of 5-HTP causes the brain’s serotonin-producing neurons (nerve cells) to increase production. This leads to more serotonin and improved mood.

While 5-HTP appears to be a promising treatment for depression, more research is needed to find its long-term side effects.

Best B vitamins to boost mood, brain power and happiness

Vitamin B tabletsCan popping a vitamin pill help cure mental health problems? For people who lack vitamin B and show symptoms of mental illness as a result, this may be the case.

All of the B group vitamins affect brain function, mental sharpness and mood. Research shows that folate and vitamins B6 and B12 might be particularly vital. Some studies show a link between memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly and low levels of B12, for example.

Mild deficiencies of B vitamins can badly affect mental health. Severe deficiencies are linked to serious mental illnesses such as severe depression.

This article discusses vitamins B6, B12 and folate.

Food intolerances can cause hyperactivity, mood swings and depression

Are the foods you’re eating making you sick? For many of us, one or more of the foods we eat is badly affecting our health, and we might not even know it. Depression, mood swings and aggression are just a few of the many possible signs of a reaction to foods.

There are two types of food reactions. The most common is food intolerance. This is a reaction to foods that doesn’t involve the immune system. The other less common type of reaction is a food allergy, which does involve the immune system.

There are many ways we can find out if we have a food intolerance or allergy, and there are things we can do to treat them.

Zinc supplements can help treat depression, ADHD, schizophrenia and other mental health problems

Oysters are high in zinc Since the 1920s zinc has been known to play a role in mental health. Decades of research has found a link between taking zinc supplements and an improvement in the symptoms of schizophrenia, autism, ADHD and other mental health problems.

Along with iron, zinc is the most common trace mineral in the body. Zinc is found in every one of our cells, and is needed for about 100 enzyme reactions. It’s vital for a healthy mind, immune system, reproductive system and more.

Treating neurotransmitter imbalances can help cure mood problems such as anxiety and depression

Neurotransmitters passing between nerve cellsDid you know that many experts believe that an imbalance of neurotransmitters in our brain can cause mental health problems?

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers between nerve cells. They affect mood, behavior, sleep and more. Perhaps the best known neurotransmitter is serotonin, however this is just one of over 50 in the brain.

How do we know if we have an imbalance and how can we treat it?

Is the natural antidepressant SAMe a safe option for depression, arthritis and other health problems?

A natural compound in our body’s cells called SAMe, pronounced ‘Sammy’, has been shown in some studies to be safe, fast-acting and effective for treating depression.

“SAMe has been hailed as the safest and most effective natural antidepressant ever used”, according to Marios Kyriazis, MD. He says it’s one of the best all-round anti-aging supplements available. In his book The Anti-Aging Plan he claims SAMe is one of the six key ingredients of the modern equivalent of the ‘elixir of youth’.

Like other antidepressants, SAMe can have side effects and it isn’t for everyone. Can SAMe benefit you?

Think lecithin to improve memory and concentration

lecithin powder

There’s an inexpensive supplement called lecithin in health food stores and supermarkets that might do amazing things for our minds, according to experts.

Lecithin has been shown to improve memory and concentration, and possibly help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise your way to health, fitness and happiness

soccer ballFor some of us exercise is a chore, for others it’s a joy. We all know exercise is good for us, but most of us don’t do enough for good health. Doctors estimate that between 65% and 85% of the world’s population do not exercise enough.

There are plenty of excuses not to exercise, the most common being “I don’t have time.” Make time. If we can do non essential things, we can exercise. It’s vital for health, fitness and happiness.

The benefits are worth it. Professor Mario Maranhao, president of the World Heart Federation said, “Moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk for 30 minutes most days, helps control weight, cuts stress, anxiety and depression.”


Is magnesium a cure for depression?

Spinach is a good source of magnesium Are you suffering from a lack of magnesium? Chances are you could be, as many of us aren’t receiving enough from our diet. In fact magnesium deficiency is an epidemic throughout the western world. About 80% of Americans are low in it. Depression, anxiety, irritability, ADHD and nervousness are just a few of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Beat depression and improve your mind by avoiding gluten

Some foods containing glutenDid you know that gluten, a common protein, is one of the causes of depression, mood swings and other mental health problems? Professor Rodney Ford, a world authority on gluten and food allergies, believes gluten “is sapping the energy and wellbeing of countless millions”, and causing mental health problems.

With Mental Health Action Week running from 12 to 18 April in the UK, now is a good time to consider whether you, or someone close to you, is suffering from gluten-sensitivity.

Fight depression and improve mood with omega-3 fat

Salmon sashimiBy now you’ve probably heard something about the wonders of omega-3 fat for improving mood. From helping overcome depression and ADHD, to treating Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, some might call omega-3 fat a miracle cure for the mind.

How can omega-3 help give us extra happiness? How much do we need to be happy, and how do we get it?