This is for information only, and is not medical advice. The informtion is not intended to replace medical advice offered by medical physicians.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Preventive Health Care: Does it Exist?

Preventive Health Care: Does it Exist? by Barbara Morris, R.Ph.

True preventive health care is nonexistent for most Americans. That's because traditional medicine focuses on treatment of symptoms, and that's not prevention. Our health care system operates like the old barn door – it's left open and then the farmer tries to figure out why the horses ran off.

Preventive or "alternative" medicine is available, but it's not the norm. You have to be informed enough, open minded enough and have enough money to get it. If you find a traditionally trained physician who integrates alternative medicine into his or her practice, and still takes your insurance, you are in luck.

Most often you will not be in luck because alternative practitioners are usually fed up with the traditional system. Part of their gripe is dealing with insurance providers who dictate what medications the insurer will pay for. So doctors stop taking insurance. The result is that patients seeking alternative medicine must either pay the entire cost of care or do without.

Our overburdened health care system is controlled by the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. The pharmaceutical industry holds the "solution" (prescription drugs) to medical problems. That prescription drugs usually don't cure a condition doesn't matter. Drug companies are not interested in finding cures. A cured condition does not require medication. No profit it that!

However, it is profitable just to manage symptoms (high blood pressure for example) with medication for years, or until the patient changes lifestyle habits or the patient dies.

If you think about how long it is taking to find a cure for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other devastating diseases, you must conclude that something doesn't add up. We are the most technologically and scientifically advanced country on the planet and it still takes forever to find cures.

Take the amount of time and money spent over the years to find a cure for cancer. Yes, there are cures (which often become relapses), but treatments that poison the entire body in an effort to get at the cancer and usually end up killing the patient are barbaric. There has to be a better way.

Look how long we have been dallying with Alzheimer's disease. Research money provided by corporations and advocacy organizations continues to fund the same unproductive "plaques and tangles" theory as the cause of AD.

At the same time, credible Alzheimer's research at universities (with the help of government funding – not usually the pharmaceutical industry) clearly shows there is a probable answer to AD but more research needs to confirm preliminary findings. Why isn't promising research followed up by the entities that claim to want prevent or cure AD?

This brings me to a true story. The husband of a close friend, Mary, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In the early stage, he had some hand tremor but what was most disturbing to Mary was evidence of cognitive decline. A math whiz, her husband now had difficulty with simple arithmetic.

The doctor said medication was not yet indicated. He could offer nothing to help the cognitive problem. Mary asked if I knew anything that might help.

I had recently seen research that showed progression of Parkinson's could be slowed a staggering 44 percent by taking 1,200 mg. of CoQ10 a day. (Normal daily dose is 50-150 mg). The Life Extension Foundation protocol for treatment of Parkinson's indicates up to 3,000 mg daily. There are no known side effects or contraindications for high doses of CoQ10.

Mary started her husband on 1,200 mg a day and about two weeks later bumped up the dose up to 2,400 mg.

Within a month, her husband's cognition was almost back to normal. Was it luck? Was it a "miracle" that would have occurred without the CoQ10, or was it the CoQ10 that produced the benefit? Will the improvement last?

Shall we wait for Alzheimer's advocates or the pharmaceutical industry to fund adequate trials of CoQ10? We should not hold our breath. CoQ10 is not patentable.

When the traditional health care system fails us all we can do is take personal responsibility and act on our own behalf to the best of our ability.

Taking personal responsibility includes developing a prevention-oriented mindset – learning how to stay well without reliance on a health care system that talks a lot about prevention but doesn't seem to know how to provide it.

Barbara Morris is a pharmacist and author of Put Old on Hold. Visit her web site, http://www.PutOldonHold.com and sign up for her free newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of special report, "Twelve Diva Tested Tips for Fabulous Skin."

Article Source: ArticleBazaar.net

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Guide to Common Herbs

A Guide to Common Herbs by Jacky

Herbs are nutritional foundation nutrients and good alternative medicine to nourish the body's deepest and most basic elements. Medicinal herbs have been used safely and effectively since the time of recorded history for an endless list of reasons from health, healing, weight loss/gain/maintenance, to survival and more. Herbs can offer the body nutrients it does not always receive, either from a poor diet, or environmental deficiencies in the soil and air. They are great body balancers that help regulate body functions.

The benefits of herbs are many and varied. Even the once skeptical traditional medical community is starting to embrace alternative medicine practices using herbal remedies and healing philosophies and practices incorporating herbal medicine and medicinal herbs. Chinese herbs have been used by the Chinese for over 4,000 years to promote health and as healing agents.

Chinese Herbs are taken as tonics to enhance physical and mental well being. Since the dawn of man, herbs have been used for healing purposes and to promote wellness. Today, herbs are still the alternative medicine and primary source of health care for 80% of the world.

Here are some of the more well-known herbs and plant products and their modern uses.

Herbs Modern Uses

Bilberry Fruit Extract, Vaccinium myrtillus Various microcirculatory conditions. Night blindness and poor ability to adapt to bright light.

Cascara Sagrada Aged Bark, Rhamnus purshiana Constipation.

Cayenne Pepper Fruit, Capsicum annuum Carminative, diaphoretic, counter-irritant.

Cranberry Fruit, Vaccinium macrocarpon Prevention of urinary tract infections.

Dong Quai Root, Angelica sinensis Various menstrual disorders.

Echinacea Herb, Echinacea purpurea As supportive therapy for colds and chronic infections of the respiratory tract.

Evening Primrose Oil, Oenothera biennis Conditions related to deficiency of essential fatty acids (e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome) and alcoholism.

Feverfew Leaf, Tanacetum parthenium Treatment of migraines, fever, menstrual disorders..

Garlic Cloves, Allium sativum Elevated levels of cholesterol in blood and as a preventative measure for age dependent vascular changes.

Ginger Root, Zingiber officinale Modern Use: Prevention of the nausea and vomiting of motion sickness, dyspepsia, stomachic.

Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Ginkgo biloba Memory deficits, dementia syndromes. Improvement of distance and pain-free walking in peripheral arterial occlusive disease. Vertigo and tinnitus.

Asian Ginseng Root, Panax ginseng Tonic for invigoration and fortification in times of fatigue and debility, physical or mental exhaustion, stress, inadequate resistance to infections.

Siberian Ginseng Root, Eleutherococcus senticosus Tonic for invigoration and fortification in times of fatigue and debility, also during convalescence.

Goldenseal Root, Hydrastis canadensis Catarrhal conditions of the upper respiratory tract associated with colds and flus. Mucosal inflammations.

Gotu Kola Herb, Centella asiatica Improved memory. Venous insufficiency.

Grape Seed Extract, Vitis vinifera Microcirculatory maldistribution of blood flow. Altered capillary fragility and permeability. Anti-inflammatory.

Green Tea Leaf Extract, Camellia sinensis Chemopreventative. Hypercholesterolemia.

Kava Kava Root Extract, Piper methysticum Conditions of nervous anxiety, stress, and restlessness. Sedative and sleep enhancement.

Licorice Root, Glycyrrhiza glabra For catarrhal conditions of the upper respiratory tract and gastric/duodenal ulcers. Bronchitis. Adrenocorticoid insufficiency.

Milk Thistle Seed Extract, Silybum marianum Toxic liver damage, and for supportive treatment in chronic inflammatory liver disease and hepatic cirrhosis.

Saw Palmetto Berry Extract, Serenoa repens Urination problems in benign prostate hyperplasia stages 1 and 2.

St. John's Wort Herb Extract, Hypericum perforatum Mild to moderate depressive states.

Valerian Root, Valeriana officinalis Restlessness, sleeping disorders based on nervous conditions.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Rhinitis – Natural Remedies To End The Misery Of Rhinitis

Rhinitis – Natural Remedies To End The Misery Of Rhinitis by Alvin Toh

Rhinitis is a general term to categorize irritation or inflammation in the nose. The main symptom of rhinitis is a runny nose. Other symptoms that may be present are nasal congestion and post nasal drip.

Rhinitis is caused by an inflammation or irritation of the mucous membranes in the nasal passages. One of the most frequent causes of rhinitis is the common cold. A cold causes the mucous membranes to produce more mucus and swelling of the nasal passages. Other causes of rhinitis include allergies or environmental irritants. The discomfort of rhinitis can interfere with daily activities.

There are some natural remedies that can put an end to the misery of rhinitis. Natural cures are often favored because they are not habit-forming and generally do not have side effects associated with conventional drug medications. Natural rhinitis remedies are useful for treating children as well as adults.

A nasal wash or irrigation can be particularly helpful in reducing the amount of mucus in the nasal passages. Saline solution is used to irrigate the nose. There are two methods for using a nasal wash. Lean over the sink, with the head down. Cup some saline solution in your hand and inhale the solution into the nose, one nostril at a time. Spit the excess into the sink and gently blow the nose. The other method uses a syringe or nasal irrigation device to insert the saline into the nose.

Acupuncture has had positive effects on allergic rhinitis symptoms. A qualified acupuncturist can treat congestion and excess mucus associated with chronic rhinitis.

Drink plenty of water every day. Water helps the body flush out germs and bacteria so it acts as a natural body cleanser. Water also keeps the mucus thin and more able to be flushed away. Cut back on the intake of mucus producing foods such as dairy products as well as processed foods. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in nutrients and vitamins.

There are a number of herbal cures that are effective in treating rhinitis. Taken as a tea, a tincture or in capsule form, these herbs help treat and prevent rhinitis. You should be able to find these herbal remedies at your local health food store.

Butterbar possesses the same properties as antihistamine but without the drowsiness associated with the latter. It is useful for treating seasonal allergies and stopping excess mucus production.

Grapeseed extract is also known as a natural anti-histamine. It inhibits the release of histamine in the body. For allergy sufferers, grape seed extract provides relief from a various allergic reactions, including rhinitis caused by irritants.

Reishi is an ancient Chinese healing herb that enhances the immune system and promotes overall good health. It contains ganoderic acids that inhibit histamine release, thus helpful in treating rhinitis caused by allergies. It can be taken daily with no ill side effects.

Collodial silver is a natural antibiotic that is effective against bacteria, virus and fungi. Unlike prescription antibiotics, the body develops no tolerance towards it.

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Friday, April 6, 2007

Wheatgrass? What's not to like?

Wheatgrass? What's not to like?
by Marcus Martinez

The health benefits of wheatgrass juice have been documented since the 1930s. It juices every cell in the body and has a hand in the health of the heart, digestion and energy supply.

Chlorophyll and Haemoglobin

The effects of wheatgrass are attributed to its high chlorophyll content - over 70 percent of the plant's solid content is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a plant's version of haemoglobin, which is the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen in humans. Chlorophyll and haemoglobin are similar in structure, the main difference being that in harmoglobin the central element is iron (which gives our blood the red color) while in chlorophyll it is magenesium. Chlorophyll converts sunlight into energy, which is stored in the plant - a reason why wheatgrass juice is sometimes nicknamed 'liquid sunshine'.

A Powerful Antiseptic

Chlorophyll is a powerful antiseptic and detoxifying agent, explaining why wheatgrass has been used successfully for a variety o finternal and external infections (e.g. sinusitis), as well as to hasten skin grafting and wound healing as a gargle for sore throats and to prevent tooth decay, and in bowel cleansing programs. Research also indecates chlorphyll has anti-mutagenic properties, and therefore may be able to inhibit or reduce cancer formation.

Vitamin-rich Superfood

Wheatgrass contains vitamins (A, C, E and various Bs), amino acids, antioxidant enzymes that aid in fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, minerals (calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron, manganese, potassium and selenium), plus it's a good source of MSM, a sulphur containing molecule that reduces inflammation and allergy-type reactions and detoxifies the body. Enthusiasts who take it regularly often comment on the energy 'hit' they get from wheatgrass; this is most likely a combination of teh concentrated nutrition present and its detoxification properties.

Research Briefs

• Thalassemia Major. This hereditary disease affects the harmoglobin in red blood cells. Patients are usually dependent on repeated blood transfusions and are at risk of anemia, spleen enlargement and bone marrow problmes. An Indian pilot study (2004) found that taking 100 ml of wheatgrass juice daily dramatically reduced the transfusion requirements of patients with thalassemia major - by over 25 percent in half the patients in the study, and by over 40 percent in thress cases. The average interval between transfusions also incrased by 29.5 percent.

• Foetal Haemoglobin. A wheatgrass extract has been used in a preliminary trial at the Murdoch Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The extract was tested on cells to see if it could cause a significant increase in fortal haemoglobin. (This harmoglobin develops in the foetus and has an extremely high affinity for oxygen. After birth it is not so essential and the levels fall in adults to only around two percent of our total haemoglobin.) The trial found that using the wheatgrass extract over a 5-day period suggested a 3 to 5 fold incrase in the production of fortal haemoglobin. This could explain why some thalassemia patients in the Indian study experienced benefits from the juice although it also indicates these benefits are not due to the chlorophyll content, as the extract contains almost no chlorophyll.

• Ulcerative Colitis. A 2002 double-blind Israeli study showed that regular use of wheatgrass juicecan be useful in the treatment of active ulcerative colitis. Patients took either 100 cc of wheatgrass juice or a placebo daily for a month. Treatment with the wheatgrass juice was associated with significant reductions in the overall disease activity and in the severity of rectal bleeding.

User's Guide

Wheatgrass is widely available at juice bars, health food shops and cafes. You can also buy wheatgrass sprouter kits from healthfood stores and juice your own sprouts at home.

When drinking wheatgrass juice, mix it well with your saliva before swallowing - this improves digestion as well as supporting oral hygiene.

Please visit Naturopedia.com for more on natural health and healing. Click here for the original article.

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Natural Health Choices

Natural Health Choices by Lambert Klein

With all of the health issues saturating the internet, perhaps it's time we look to a more natural health in our daily lives. Recently, I had the opportunity to view Qi Gong, a meditative exercise which brings calm and balance within. Used for 4000 years by the Chinese, it has become an effective and proven way to achieve health and well-being.

Qi, pronounced Chi meaning life force; and Gong, meaning exercise.

It comprises slow moving motions which not only heal the body, but the mind as well. Modern medicine, while necessary for certain diseases, cannot come close to Qi Gong in providing the body with increased energy and physical health.

These gentle breathing, stretching and strengthening movements activate the Qi energy and blood circulation in your body, helping to stimulate your immune system, strengthen your internal organs, and give you abundant energy. Qi Gong can be practiced either in a sitting or standing position, and anyone can engage in these simple and effective exercises in as little as fifteen to twenty minutes a day.

Instead of deriving assistance from unnecessary drugs and stimulants; using our own bodies as instruments for change can occur. It seems as if we have become more dependent upon drugs to treat ailments than listening to our bodies. This is not to say diseases can be treated using this method; but certainly stress and other problems which sometimes incapacitate us can be dealt with differently and effectively.

Subliminal messaging CDs are becoming more popular; whether they actually help or not is up to the individual. However, meditation has been around for thousands of years, and yoga has always been a favorite among those who seek alternatives to pills and other conventional methods.

It seems to this writer we have to find our way back to a simplistic lifestyle, where stress and worry have no place to invade our minds and spirit. This may sound naïve, but evidence has shown that meditative practices are effective.

Upon a visit to a big city, one tourist remarked, "Why is everyone rushing around? Where are they going?" No truer words were spoken. Our lives, admittedly, are stress filled; with both parents working to pay the bills; save for a house or their kids college education; with the high cost of rents and oil; trying to meet deadlines at work on a daily basis; it's no wonder everyone is tightly wound. Eventually, it will catch up with all of us.

To this end, maybe it's time to find a balance; a way in which we can live life to the fullest and still achieve the goals we set. It's a question we all need to answer in our own way.

Join us at Think Healthy Forums and learn or teach about natural healthy

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Natural Remedies help Soothe Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Natural Remedies help Soothe Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Marcus Martinez

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you do not have to live in constant discomfort. Studies have show that through diet, supplements and lifestyle changes, one can reduce and even eliminate most symptoms.

• Fiber matters. Adequate dietary fiber is important, but what is more important is the adequate consumption of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps prevent diarrhea and constipation as well as regulating intestinal spasms and easing cramps and pain. Good sources of soluble fiber include raw or steamed vegetables, apples, pears, berries, unprocessed rolled oats, barley, rye, brown rice, psyllium husks and seeds, and spelt products. Insoluble fiber includes wheat, bran, nuts, legumes and salad greens, is best avoided initially until IBS symptoms settle down. These foods may be reintroduced later as digestion improves.

• Glutamine. Glutamine, a type of amino acid, has a particular affinity for the digestive and nervous systems, helping to heal an irritated gut lining and reduce allergic responses to foods.

• Slippery elm. This herb is a bowel normaliser, meaning it can be used for both constipation and diarrhea. It settles the gut, alleviating cramps, wind, reflux and acidic indigestion.

• Aloe vera. Taken just before bed, aloe vera juice is very effective for constipation. It also has a mildly detoxifying effect, helping to heal and soothe the gastrointestinal tract. It can be taken together with glutamine and slippery elm.

• Probiotics. Maintaining sufficient good bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract is important for healthy digestion. Probiotics can be bought in powder or capsule and should be taken twice daily before meal. Lactobacillus plantarum is also very effective. Boosting your digestive enzymes can aid the absorption of nutrients in the body.

• More herbs. Strong fennel, ginger and peppermint teas help alleviate wind, pain and nausea. They also increase gut motility. These herbs can be taken in tablet or capsule form if you do not like the taste of the teas.

• The right fats. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), especially the omega 3 fatty acids, reduce the inflammation associated with IBS. Eat oily fish regularly and/or take a fish or flaxseed oil supplement. These oils also have numerous other health benefits for the immune and cardiovascular systems. Flaxseed oil also reduces allergic tendencies. If you have a sensitive stomach, take oils in small quantities at a time and always with food.

Foods to Avoid

• Dairy products. Many people with IBS have a shortfall of laxtase, the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar. Stick to dairy free options, such as soy, rice, almond or oat milk. Most are available in organic and low-fat versions.

• Gluten. May present in wheat and also some other grains.

• Sugar, and artificial sweeteners, especially sorbitol.

• Red meat, which is high in saturated fat and hard-to-digest animal protein.

• Caffeine. This causes the bowel to spasm. Choose fruity hearbal teas, brewed beverages made from roasted carob or nuts, or white tea, which has only a mount of caffeine.

• Alcohol, especially on an empty stomach. Alcohol-free wine and beer are better choices.

• Soft drinks and carbonated beverages, including mineral waters, which can cause bloating and wind.

Please visit Naturopedia.com for more on natural health and healing. Click here for the original article.

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Monday, March 5, 2007

Using Herbs for Hot Flashes

Using Herbs for Hot Flashes by Danna Schneider

We've all heard the term "hot flashes", unless we've lived under a rock, or are too young to pay attentino to such health woes. Hot flashes are typically associated with the period in life where a woman goes through what is called perimenopause, and then menopause.

This is the time of life for a woman where her menstrual cycle slows down, and eventually stops. There is also a profound hormonal shift in the body which lowers the levels of the signature female hormone estrogen in the body.

This dip in estrogen and subsequent increase of other hormones in the body causes several shifts that result in body changes which unfortunately involved discomfort and many times emotionally trying times. A big part of this landmark shift is something that has been medically and popularly coined as "hot flashes". Hot flashes are pretty much exactly what they sound like.

They are periods of time, varying in their length, where the body suddenly feels extremely overheated. Have you ever been in a highly stressful situation, or been put on the spot? There is a high likelihood that you felt something like a hot flash, with instantaneous sweating, a possible feeling of nausea and the sense that your body was suddenly "on fire".

The only problem is, menopausal and perimenopausal hot flashes tend to not only last longer and occur more frequently than the dubious uncomfortable situation we've all been in, and they also have some additional side effects that are even scarier if you're not sure what's happening to you. This is exactly the reason why so much attention has been focused on this symptom of menopause.

Women find this uncontrollable and unpredictable aspect of the life changing period to be alarming, and of course they seek ways to reduce them or even eliminate them.

There are some supplements on the market currently that are stocked on the shelves of popular drug stores and grocery stores, but what do they have in them that helps hot flashes, and can also aid in offsetting the other symptoms of menopause and the accompanying hormonal imbalance?

Many times the primary ingredient you will see in natural menopausal relief supplements are herbs and botanicals which contain a compound called soy, or soy isoflavones. These natural plant chemicals can gently mimic the effect of estrogen in a woman's body, and can help to replenish the effects of this hormone in the female body.

This is the reason they are used in herbal medicine to help diminish or help eliminate hot flashes, as well as alleviate other unpleasant symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.

Along with soy, there are a variety of other estrogen-mimicking compounds that are found in nature's herbs that are commonly used in modern day hormonal control supplements as well as dating back thousands of years for women who suffered from various side effects of estrogen deficiency.

Evening primrose oil is a very popular herb used to quell hot flashes. Evening primrose oil has long been used, sometimes in conjunction with other herbs, to remedy hot flashes by helping to restore balance in the body.

Evening primrose oil can, in some women who may be sensitive, produce unpleasant side effects , so just carefully read labels when you purchase anything.

Another herb that comes highly recommended for female hormone balance and hot flash symptoms is black cohosh. Black cohosh is another herb that has mild estrogen mimicking qualities, but again, this herb should be treated with caution as well, as it has been known to cause gastrointestinal issues for some sensitive individuals.

Other herbs that have these same mild estrogen qualities, and can also be taken are wild yam, fennel seed, and flax seed, the latter of which I personally like to use in cooking which is probably even better than buying it as a supplement.

It usually is recommended when you first start taking an herb, to start with small doses, to minimize any potential side effects and test the waters for any personal sensitivities to a particular herb before delving in head first.

With a little caution, and armed with some knowledge of herbs that you can seek which can help with hot flashes, many women have found that these herbs, or even combinations of these herbs has resulted in a very successful treatment for their hot flas

Danna Schneider is the founder of Menopause Symptom Relief and Herbal Remedies for Menopause where news and suggestions on new natural ways to combat menopause symptoms and hot flashes can be found. .

Article Source: ArticleBazaar.net

Monday, February 5, 2007

Yoga Breathing Exercise Fundamentals

Yoga Breathing Exercise Fundamentals by Jeff Smith

One of the most common comments I hear from others within my yoga class and yoga beginners alike is that they find yoga breathing exercises the most beneficial, but also the hardest set of asanas to master.

It's true when many traditional and alternative medicines describe breathing as the very essence of existing. Breathing is one of the primary rhythms we see in life which include sleep awake, birth and death, light and dark.

With this in mind, it's no wonder that significant studies have been done to examine the role breathing has on aspects of our life such as health, emotional well being, relationships and the state of society in general.

In yoga, the breath is known as a rather unifying principle called prana, a wide-reaching energy that can bridge body, mind and spirit together in a harmony that is the basis of yoga and meditation. Yoga breathing exercise then becomes the set of yoga breathing techniques seeking to maximize this universal energy that exists inherently in all of us.

Those who practice yoga believe that this state of harmony is natural and that there are many aspects of life that pull apart our inner harmony. Yoga breathing exercise is one of the basic fundamental techniques we can use to control and even eliminate the impact external forces have on our overall health and well-being.

Take our fight or flight response as one example. The instinctual fight or flight response served our ancestors well, arising infrequently to keep our ancestors out of danger and harm. Today, most of us suffer from an almost chronic, permanent fight or flight response triggering symptoms that lead to digestive problems, high blood pressure, deterioration of the arteries and many other stress-related illnesses.

Yoga breathing exercises tackle this chronic stress response by breaking through the mind-body response and re-focusing us on our natural state of internal harmony.


The good news is that we don't have to master yoga breathing exercises to realize the benefits, but it is important that yoga breathing techniques follow a few basic guidelines.

1. Practice Breathing. First and foremost is that we must give ourselves the permission, time and motivation to improve our breathing through exercise. Yoga breathing techniques are proven to help master control over our mind and bodies, but it can only work if you commit to a disciplined program over a period of several months.

2. Understand the Physiology of Breathing. A large part of advanced yoga breathing techniques involves altering the inhale and exhalation speed as well as controlling the depth of breathing exercise. The goal of yoga breathing (pranayama) is to ease the mind and heart, but also increase the oxygenation of the cells within your body - otherwise known as the process of respiration. To master pranayama, your mind pictures the exhalation of toxicity and gas while on inhale, your mind envisions clean, pure oxygen feeding your body.

3. Become Aware of your body as it breathes. Yoga breathing techniques stress the role of your body, your abdomen, your ribs, your thorax and chest as well as your lungs in the yoga breathing process. For example, when you practice deep breathing, the puffing out of the abdomen is a critical indicator that you are taking in enough breath to accomplish adequate oxygenation. Truly mastering pranayama (yoga breathing) is only possible when you become aware of your breathing rhythms in any activity at any time of day.

4. Focus on both inhalation and exhalation. When I first started yoga breathing techniques, I focused almost entirely on the inhalation, making sure I was taking a truly deep breath, without focusing at all on how I was letting the air out of my body. In fact, exhalation is just as important to the success of yoga breathing exercises. Focus on a consistent, controlled release rather than a jerky, uncontrolled release.

The long-term health benefits of yoga breathing exercise are thought to be significant, but I can tell you that the short-term increase in energy, focus, peace and brain power you gain from just a 5-minute yoga breathing technique are incredibly powerful to your overall well being, productivity and happiness.

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

Acupuncture Questions and Answers

Acupuncture Questions and Answers by Alex Rider

Acupuncture is gaining in popularity, and with it the intrigue into what it is all about. This short and concise article answers some of the more common questions associated with this 'alternative' practice.

Q: Is there anything I need to do before undergoing acupuncture?

A: Large meals should not be consumed within one hour of your acupuncture session since digestion changes your pulse rate. Additionally, food and drink that colors your tongue, e.g. coffee, and alcohol should be avoided prior to treatment.

Q: Does my GP need to know?

A: Only if you are receiving any treatments from your doctor. In some circumstances the fact that you are receiving acupuncture may negate the continuation of some prescriptions/ treatments. Similarly, acupuncturists must be informed of any treatments being provided by your doctor as they may reduce the effects of the acupuncture.

Q: What are the after effects of acupuncture?

A: Typically you will feel calm and relaxed, at ease with yourself and everyone around you. On occasion particularly strong treatment may make you feel drowsy or tired for a few hours. Problematic symptoms that were targeted with the treatment may return in a short burst as your Qi drifts away and resettles.

Q: What are the things I should seek in an acupuncturist?

A: The acupuncture practitioner must be registered through a professional organization and have insurance cover that is appropriate. When speaking to them you should be able to engage well, feel comfortable and know that they have a clear idea of what it is that you want from them. Similarly, the practitioner should be able to confer what they believe the acupuncture will achieve.

Q: How much does acupuncture cost?

A: As such no fixed rates are used. Overheads vary from practice to practice. The best way to get an idea of costs is to phone a few practices nearby, asking how much they charge for their various treatments.

Q: What can the practice of acupuncture achieve for me?

A: This is dependant on whether your problematic symptoms you wish to reduce are specific and current, or rather, that you are looking for preventative treatment. What is generally done is to contact your local acupuncture practitioner and discuss your requirements with them. Specific questions can then be answered by the very people that will be carrying out and monitoring your acupuncture sessions.

Q: What number of acupuncture treatments will I require?

A: The number of treatments you may need varies depending upon the patient. Courses of treatments are common as one-time cures are rare. 4-6 treatments tend to produce noticeable results with regards to improving your condition.

Q: Are acupuncture machines that enable self treatment a good idea?

A: These gadgets and gizmo's are not recommended. Experienced and qualified acupuncturists are who you should turn to. These people are able to diagnose your specific wants objectively and then act appropriately for your particular situation.

Q: Is the practice of acupuncture painful?

A: Some very mild tingling can sometimes result. What is should never be is painful. Many people imagine how they felt when surgical needles were placed in themselves. Acupuncture uses far finer needles with little similarity to injection needles, being solid rather than hollow.

Q: If I'm currently on prescribed medications whilst undergoing sessions of acupuncture should I continue with the prescriptions?

A: Indeed you should, until you have proper discussions with your GP that suggest otherwise. Albeit that many people decide to undergo acupuncture because medical treatments are seemingly failing them, it is very important that you should not cease taking your medication without first consulting with your doctor.

Q: In what way are acupuncture needles used?

A: One-use pre-sterilized disposable acupuncture specific needles are used. Stringent codes of sterilization and hygiene are always adhered to.

Q: How safe is acupuncture?

A: The transmission of diseases or improper use of needles are almost non-existent due to very thorough hygiene and safety practices vetted by the local health authorities and acupuncture bodies alike.

Q: Are there different types of acupuncture?

A: Yes, other forms exist that focus entirely on specific parts of your anatomy, e.g. hand or foot. Electrical stimulation via the needles is also practiced. A form of acupuncture uses no needles at all, instead pressure is applied to various points on the body, usually by the practitioners hands. Consult the internet, libraries and local practitioners for more advice.

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