Astaxanthin Benefits: Heart Health, Inflamation and More

31 Oct

Astaxanthin Benefits: Heart Health, Inflammation, and More

 

Have you ever wondered what makes salmon, shrimp, and flamingos pink? It’s a carotenoid called astaxanthin. In addition to giving these animals their pinkish hues, research has shown that for us humans there are multiple health benefits of astaxanthin.

What Is Astaxanthin?

Derived from microalgae called Haematococcus and used extensively in aquaculture (it’s fed to farmed salmon to enhance color), astaxanthin is in the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. Astaxanthin is also an ultra-potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that possesses several remarkable properties.

For starters, astaxanthin’s antioxidant power is up to 550 times stronger than vitamin E and 10 times more potent than beta-carotene. It is also one of a few nutrients with the ability to not only cross the blood-brain barrier but the blood-retinal barrier as well. That’s why it’s not surprising that astaxanthin benefits encompass many aspects of health.

Astaxanthin Benefits: Heart Health

When it comes to astaxanthin benefits, it is a shoo-in with regard to cardiovascular protection. In addition to preventing lipid oxidation, a Japanese study revealed that daily supplementation with astaxanthin significantly reduced triglyceride levels and raised notoriously hard-to-increase beneficial HDL cholesterol.

Astaxanthin Benefits: Inflammation

As mentioned earlier, astaxanthin is an extremely potent natural anti-inflammatory. Human trials have shown that it reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle soreness.

Astaxanthin Benefits: Eye Health

Another one of the health benefits of astaxanthin is vision support. More specifically, because it can cross the blood-retinal barrier, astaxanthin is uniquely equipped to prevent age- and UV-related damage to the eyes, making it an effective way to ward off macular degeneration and other causes of vision loss.

Other Astaxanthin Benefits

Additional studies have found that the health benefits of astaxanthin include improved endurance and effective treatment for H. pylori, the bacteria that causes ulcers. Because of its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, it’s also protective against neurodegenerative diseases. Animal studies suggest that astaxanthin possesses powerful antimicrobial and immune-modulating properties as well.

How to Reap the Health Benefits of Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is naturally present in wild salmon, rainbow trout, and shellfish, and can also be found in very small amounts in red-colored fruits and vegetables (red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and radishes). But to obtain all of the health benefits of astaxanthin, supplements are the way to go. For general antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support, Dr. Whitaker recommends take 2–8 mg per day. To help control blood lipids, Dr. Whitaker recommends take up to 16 mg in divided doses.

Now it’s your turn: Which of these astaxanthin benefits is most appealing to you?

Dr. Whitaker

Benefits of Massage Therapy

29 Oct

 

It’s time to stop thinking of massage as a luxurious indulgence, but rather a research-backed tool that can improve your health.

“The notion that massage is ‘just an indulgence’ is antiquated,” says Brent A. Bauer, M.D., director of the complementary and integrative medicine program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “There are over 1,000 studies and published reports that offer scientific evidence on the health effects of massage therapy. There are certainly direct effects like changes that happen at the muscle level and pain pathways and a reduction in stress hormones, such as cortisol. But there are also indirect effects like being in a comfortable setting and a compassionate human presence that can all lead to profound effects on our stress levels and emotional state.”

Don’t just take Dr. Bauer’s word for it. Here, research reveals five health benefits to a good rub down.

1. Massage decreases stress, depression and anxiety.
When you’re anxious and feeling the pressure, your body pumps out the stress hormone cortisol. Unfortunately, this just makes you feel even more stressed and anxious. Here’s where a massage can help. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, studied patients who had undergone open-heart surgery. They compared the benefits of massage and quiet relaxation time and found that those in the massage group were significantly less anxious and tense. They also reported significantly less pain. Other studies confirm these results. “Similar efforts in thoracic, breast and colorectal surgery led to widespread implementation of massage therapy in our hospitals,” explains study author Bauer.

2. A rub down reduces lower back pain.
Oh, your aching back! If lower back pain is making life, well, really painful, a little rub down may be just what the doctor ordered. Researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine conducted a five-week study on people who had been suffering from lower back pain for at least six months. They found that those who got 30 minutes of massage therapy twice a week had less pain and more mobility and range of motion in their lower backs than those who had relaxation therapy during that time. Added bonus? The massage group also felt less stressed!

 

Reduce Stress

3. You’ll sleep better.
Many of us have trouble falling asleep at night and nearly 10 percent of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. In the same lower back pain study conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine, study participants in the massage group also said they slept better than those in the relaxation group. Another study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology compared the benefits of massage to those of relaxation therapy on people who have fibromyalgia. After five weeks of twice- weekly 30-minute massages, those in the massage therapy group slept longer and more soundly than those who had relaxation therapy. Plus, people in the rub-down group also found their pain level decreased and they had fewer tender spots on their bodies.

4. Massage may ease knee pain.
Osteoarthritis of the knee means there’s been a breakdown of cartilage, ligaments, joint lining or underlying bone, which can be a real pain in the knees. But massage may help. A study at both Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that weekly Swedish massages decreased knee pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis. In the eight-week study, some participants had 60-minute Swedish massages once or twice a week, while the others had shorter or less frequent treatments or no massage at all. Those in the 60-minute massage group had less pain and more function in their knees.

5. The therapy alleviates carpal tunnel syndrome.
With more of us logging longer hours in front of our computers, wrist pain is a problem many can relate to. In more serious situations, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, which is when the median nerve that runs through the wrist becomes trapped, causing pain and tingling. A gentle massage may help. One study reported in Rheumatology International divided carpal tunnel sufferers into two groups. One group got hand massages in addition to wearing wrist splints, while the other group just wore the wrist splints. At the end of the study, those in the massage group had better grip strength and less pain. A second study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies had carpal tunnel patients do self-massage daily and get a professional massage weekly for four weeks compared to a control group. The massage group had less pain and anxiety and better grip strength than the control group.

Pain can negatively affect your quality of life if left untreated. The American Massage Therapy Association shares how massage therapy is proven to manage pain associated with a variety of injuries and conditions.

1. Low-back pain. Several studies have shown that massage therapy may be effective for certain kinds of chronic low-back pain, especially when combined with exercise and other types of rehabilitation. By helping to reduce chronic pain, it may decrease reliance on anti-inflammatory drugs for pain control.

2. Neck pain. Massage therapy can help decrease particular types of neck pain. A recent study showed that multiple massages per week could help decrease chronic pain and improve some day-to-day functions.

3. Arthritis. Those suffering from osteoarthritis with chronic pain or limited mobility may find that massage helps their pain and improves their function.

4. Fibromyalgia. While the cause of fibromyalgia is uncertain, massage is one form of treatment that has found short-term success with some individuals. It may help improve pain and quality of life, especially when combined with other treatments.

5. Sports injury and recovery. Massage therapy may be of benefit to athletes of all fitness levels. Some studies have indicated that massage therapy may help reduce muscle soreness, stiffness and fatigue and may be related to improved recovery after certain types of exercise.

A qualified massage therapist can help you develop a custom plan based on your needs and your health and wellness goals. Talk to your doctor before starting massage to make sure it’s safe for you.

Dr. Oz

The Healing Powers of Saffron Tea

27 Oct

BACKGROUND


Saffron is an herb most people are unlikely to utilize, either for medicinal or culinary purposes, primarily because the material has a justified reputation for being extraordinarily expensive. Bulk quantities of relatively low-grade saffron can reach upwards of $500/pound, while retail costs for small amounts may exceed 10 times that rate. But, avoiding this valuable spice might be unnecessary because of the small quantity needed: in medicinal use, 1–3 grams in decoction, 0.5–1.5 grams ingested as powder, or 30 mg of its dried extract per day is considered adequate in standard applications (described below). For culinary use, just a few strands are sufficient to flavor food (about 2–4 strands per person; there are about 70,000–200,000 strands per pound).

In some countries, such as Spain, Iran, and India, people know that saffron is worth its price and make good use of it. To meet the demand, world annual production is about 265 tons per year, which is grown on about 90,000 acres of land (if efficiently cultivated, each acre produces about 6 pounds of saffron a year). It takes about 170–200 hours of work to collect the flowers and remove the stamens for drying in order to produce just 1 pound of saffron, which is a large part of the expense for the spice. Saffron mainly grows in arid territory with sandy soil, under hot and dry summers, often requiring irrigation.

Iran, the world’s largest producer of saffron, and a neighbor to Afghanistan, has been investing in research into saffron’s potential medicinal uses. Much of the work surrounds its traditional application for alleviating depression. One of the Iranian groups carrying out saffron research is headed by Shahin Akhondzadeh, at the Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital in the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, who has studied the use of several drugs and herbs for mental disorders, such as depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, opiate dependence, and epilepsy. The clinical findings suggest that saffron is a safe and effective antidepressant. For example, in a randomized, double-blind study, 30 mg of saffron extract (in capsules) given for 6 weeks resulted in significant alleviation of depression compared to those on placebo, and did so without evident side effects (1). This study was a follow-up to a preliminary trial in which the same saffron preparation performed as well as imipramine for treating depression in a double-blind trial (2). In further preliminary work, saffron was compared to the drug fluoxetine (often known by the brand product Prozac); it was found that saffron performed as well as the drug in treatment of both depression and epilepsy (3). Pharmacology studies done in Iran (4) and Japan (5, 6) have confirmed an anticonvulsant activity in the extract of saffron.

A potential deterrent to medicinal use of saffron comes about because erroneous information related to saffron toxicity has appeared, especially in internet presentations, but also in books. The reports mention serious adverse effects from as little as 5 grams (about 3 times the medicinal dose), and fatal doses of just 20 grams have also been mentioned. By contrast, all recent research reports indicate that saffron is non-toxic. Why the discrepancy?

The most likely reason for this impression was writers initially confusing toxic meadow saffron with non-toxic saffron; from there the reports were simply repeated. Meadow saffron, also called wild saffron or Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) contains the toxic compound colchicine (used primarily in the treatment of gout). It appears that the literature references to saffron acting as a toxin causing severe spontaneous bleeding or even death with just a few grams are primarily the result of ingestion of meadow saffron (or other materials) but not true saffron. These reports of adverse effects are old ones; for example, this oft-repeated information is relayed in the 1987 German E Commission report, which, in turn, is based on comments in other literature now over 50-years-old that did not include an analysis of the materials ingested or other details. Meadow saffron is not a substitute for true saffron; rather, it is sometimes ingested accidentally when collected mistakenly as a source of wild garlic. However, it is often simply called saffron, and articles reporting on its toxicity may list Crocus sativus as the botanical name, yet refer instead to meadow saffron in the description of uses (e.g., treating arthritis and gout) and toxicity, showing how easily these two are interchanged in reporting. Today, all saffron is cultivated; the material on the market does not include adulterant herbs. The safety of saffron is important in relation to its antidepressant action because the main herb used for that purpose today, St. John’s Wort, has the problem of affecting drug metabolizing enzymes (thus, having a high potential for drug interactions) and for inducing photo-sensitivity.

THE PLANT AND ITS CULTIVATION


Saffron is collected from Crocus sativus (Iridaceae), which originated in the Middle Eastern region of the Eurasian continent, from Greece to Persia (Iran). The plant does not propagate by seeds; the underground portion, corms (also called bulbs), divide to produce new plants. Flowers emerge in autumn; the outstanding feature of the lilac to mauve colored flower is its three stigmas 25–30 mm long, which droop over the petals: that is what is collected as saffron. There are also three yellow stamens, which lack the active compounds and are not collected. The stigma is attached to a style, which has little of the active components and is only included with the lower grades of saffron.

Each bulb produces from one to seven flowers. The cultivated form is thought to have originated as a naturally occurring hybrid that was selected for its extra-long stigmas, and has been maintained ever since. It takes about 36,000 flowers to yield just 1 pound of the stigmas.

Saffron has been cultivated in the region from Greece to Persia for 35 centuries and is mentioned in early literature, such as in the fourth of the Songs of Solomon, dated to about 965 B.C. Its cultivation and use spread throughout the region, moving east to Kashmir and west to Spain. The herb has been cultivated as far west as Britain and became an important medicinal in Tibet. Saffron was described in the Chinese compendium Bencao Gangmu (1596), indicating that it was introduced from Persia and used to benefit the blood (vitalizes blood, stops bleeding) and to calm fright.

Iran is the major saffron producer today, accounting for about 85 percent of the global production. The country produced 225 tons of saffron (April 2003–March 2004) and earned $67 million from saffron exports (only 10–15 tons were used domestically; most of the export goes to Spain). This year the Iranian saffron exports may reach $100 million. Spain is the second largest producer (35–40 tons/year) but is the primary international distributor; minor producers include Portugal, France, Italy, and Turkey. Kashmir has begun large scale production though it is not yet a major international source. Saffron has been successfully planted in several Chinese provinces, including Henan, Jiangsu, Hunan, Shanghai, and Tibet. A major problem with saffron production is that the plant grows in desert regions but needs sufficient water to thrive; irrigation in many of these areas is costly and difficult; severe draughts can cause significant crop losses.

SAFFRON AS A MEDICINAL HERB


The medicinal properties attributed to saffron are extensive. Topically, it is applied to improve the skin condition overall and specifically to treat acne. Internally, it is used to improve blood circulation, regulate menstruation, treat digestive disturbance, ease cough and asthmatic breathing, reduce fever and inflammation, calm nervousness, and alleviate depression. In Tibet, saffron is often an ingredient in medicinal incenses; it is considered a tonic for the heart and the nervous system. The active ingredients may be of benefit in inhibiting growth of cancer cells (7–10).

 

In the East, Saffron was generally used to treat light to moderate depression; it had the reputation to bring cheerfulness and wisdom.  Because of the mood elevation affect Saffron is known to have, it is said  to be useful for treating anxiety, depression, weight loss, & and improving sex drive for not only men, but women too!

Saffron contains more than 150 volatile and aroma-yielding compounds.  It also has many nonvolatile active components, many of which are carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lycopene, and various α- and β-carotenes.  However, saffron’s golden yellow-orange color is primarily the result of α-crocin. Saffron is best kept in its natural state before use. Exposing it to the environment or breaking it down prior to use causes the herb to loose its medicinal qualities.

It is our belief that Saffron Fusion™ Tea is the most effective way of delivering the health properties of saffron. This is due to the fact that our saffron is from the latest harvest and kept in its raw natural state, unexposed to the environment until it is hand blended to order and combined with our whole leaf tea blends! Alternatively using a tea bag is also not recommended as the healing properties in the oil will soak into the tea bag rather than releasing into the tea. Saffron Fusion™ is commited to developing and delivering the highest quality products infused with saffron - Guaranteed!

Saffron Tea uses and health benefits for which it is recognized today are:

Saffron Tea uses and health benefits recognized today are:

  • Anti-Cancer benefits
  • Anti-Depressant Action
  • Benefits for the Heart
  • Antioxidant Action and Eye Care
  • Digestion Aid
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Stress Reduction
  • Reduce Fever
  • Treat Cough

 

For further information and the links to the studies on saffron regarding its antidepressant effects, check the link to the article by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon.

Healing Properties of Saffron

  • Saffron contains many plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
  • The flower stigmas are composed of many essential volatile oils, the most important of them being, safranal. Safranal gives saffron its distinct hay-like flavor and is the   Other volatile oils in saffron are cineole, phenethenol, pinene,  borneol, geraniol, limonene, p-cymene, linalool,  terpinen-4-oil, etc.
  • This colorful spice has many non-volatile active components; the most important of them is α-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the stigmas their characteristic golden-yellow color. It also contains other carotenoids, including zea-xanthin, lycopene, α- and β-carotenes. These are important antioxidants that help protect the human body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as immune modulators.
  • The active components in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines such as antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-oxidant, digestive, anti-convulsant.
  • This novel spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
  • Additionally, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin,vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health.

Medicinal uses

  • The active components present in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines since long time ago as anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic.
  • Research studies have shown that, safranal, a volatile oil found in the spice, has antioxidant, cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, anti-convulsant and antidepressant properties.
  • Αlfa-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the spice its characteristic golden-yellow color, has been anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer properties. 

Saffron tea was treasured by ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks for use in folk medicine, and to create culinary and herbal delights. Saffron, a member of the lily family, is the delicate part of the flower that catches pollen. The bright red stigmas of the saffron plant are carefully picked, leaving behind a golden stamen. Recent clinical trials have proved the herb to have potential health benefits, according to Michael Murray, N.D. author of “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.”

Healing Properties

Eyesight Protection

A cup of saffron tea may have the potential to slow down blindness, according to the article, “Saffron: Golden Secret of Clearer Sight” on the In science website. Research at the University of L’Aquila in Abruzzi, Italy, has established saffron’s ability to protect vision cells thanks to its fatty acid content. When saffron is taken daily, the fatty acid content becomes tougher. During the trial, eye charts showed remarkable progress by the patients. A daily cup of saffron tea protects the eye from bright light, and it is safe to use daily.

What Are the Health Benefits of Saffron Tea?

Anti-Cancer Properties

The rich, golden color of saffron tea comes from crocin, a chemical component in the flower that is loaded with antioxidants. According to Murray, crocin has potent anti-cancer effects against a wide spectrum of cancers. The flavonoids found in crocin inhibit human cancer cells and can potentially shrink tumor cells. Carotenoids, the natural pigments prompting the yellow hue found in saffron, protect the body from diseases, stress and viruses. Preparing saffron tea is simple. Use three threads of saffron or less, toss into hot water, and steep for a minimum of 20 minutes. Add a cinnamon stick to reduce bitterness of the saffron.

Heart Disease Protection

Antioxidants in saffron tea can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The flavonoids, especially lycopene, found in saffron can provide added protection. A clinical trial at the Department of Medicine and Indigenous Drug Research Center showed positive effects of saffron on cardiovascular disease. The study involved 20 participants, including 10 with heart disease. According to the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, all participants showed improved health, but those with cardiovascular disease showed more progress.

Helps With Premenstrual Syndrome

In a study published in a 2008 issue of “BJOG,” researchers found that taking 30 milligrams of saffron a day led to reduced premenstrual syndrome in women with regular menstrual cycles. The study was conducted over the course of two menstrual cycles. While researchers found the study promising, they stated that a study regarding the safety of consuming saffron in such high quantities — the amount used could make up to 20 cups of tea — was needed before recommending saffron as an alternative treatment to PMS.

May Help Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2010, the “Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics” published a study on saffron and its potential use as an herbal aid for dementia. Study participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease took 30 milligrams of saffron per day for 16 weeks. The study found saffron was safe for use in such high quantities, and those taking the saffron supplement showed improved cognitive function when compared to those on the placebo. While the study suggested saffron may be useful in treating some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease in the short term, longer, randomized studies are still needed.

May Aid Depression

A 2013 issue of the “Journal of Integrative Medicine” included a large-scale analysis on the studies where saffron was used as a potential anti-depressant. Researchers found that when comparing studies conducted on adults and in the presence of a placebo option in the study, saffron showed significant benefits toward relieving the symptoms of depression. They concluded that longer-term trials were needed, however, with greater geographical variety. As well, larger study groups would help further confirm saffron’s safety and efficacy as a natural anti-depressant.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Akhondzadeh S, et al., Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial, Phytotherapy Research 2005; 19(2): 148–151.
  2. Akhondzadeh S, et al., Comparison of Crocus sativus and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a pilot double-blind randomized trial, Biomed Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2004; 4(1): 12.
  3. Noorbala AA, Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial, Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2005; 97(2): 281–284
  4. Hosseinzadeh H and Khosravan V, Anticonvulsant effects aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Crocus sativus stigmas in mice, Archives of Iranian Medicine 2002; 5: 44–47.
  5. Abe K, Saito H, Effects of saffron extract and its constituent crocin on learning behavior and long-term Potentiation, Phytother Res. 2000; 14: 149–52.
  6. Zhang Y, Shoyama Y, Sugiura M, Saito H, Effect of Crocus sativus on the ethanol-induced impairment of passive avoidance performances in mice, Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 1994; 17: 217–221.
  7. Escribano J, et al., Crocin, safranal and picrocrocin from saffron (Crocus sativus) inhibit the growth of human cancer cells in vitro, Cancer Letters 1996; 100 (1–2): 23–30.
  8. Tarantilis PA, et al., Inhibition of growth and induction of differentiation of promyelocytic leukemia (HL-60) by carotenoids from Crocus sativus, Anticancer Research 1994; 14(5A): 1913–1918.
  9. Garcia-Olmo DC, Effects of long-term treatment of colon adenocarcinoma with crocin, a carotenoid from saffron (Crocus sativus): an experimental study in the rat, Nutrition and Cancer 1999; 35(2): 120–126.
  10. Abdullaev-Jafarova F and Espinosa-Aguirre JJ, Biomedical properties of saffron and its potential use in cancer therapy and chemoprevention trials, Cancer Detection and Prevention 2004; 28(6): 430–436.

 

Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D.

 

Brown Recluse Spider Bites

24 Oct

Spider bites can be deadly and painful. It’s important to be able to recognize spider bite symptoms quickly after they appear. Starting spider bite treatment early can make all the difference. By looking at some pictures of spider bites and reading a little advice you can be way ahead in the event of getting bit.

For everyone living in the U.S., I have good news:

There are ONLY three types of potentially deadly spider bites in the U.S.:

Brown Recluse spider bite

  • Brown Recluse spider bite
  • Hobo Spider bite
  • and the Black Widow spider bite

The brown recluse is found in the southern two-thirds of the country. It likes to hide in boxes, books, and other hard to reach places. So boxes do travel and the spider can be anywhere.

The hobo spider likes it out west. The black widow has been found in every state except Alaska.

DANGERMAP1

Here are a few on how to identify a spider bite.

1. Evaluate the Pain

If you feel pain when the spider bites, it’s likely a black widow spider bite, whose bite is often but not always painful. You may also develop severe body aches and fever.

A brown recluse spider bite is a slight sting at best. Most of the time you feel nothing. They hide in or under boxes, under your bed sheets, in your clothes. The first you know about it is the pain that develops several minutes to hours after the bite.

As a brown recluse spider bite progresses it takes a nasty turn.

recluse bite

This is the eschar—the black, leathery, dead tissue—that can form over the wound.

A hobo spider’s bite feels similar to a brown recluse’s, and the pain also occurs minutes to hours after the bite.

2.  Look at the Skin Damage

That’s the key to the brown recluse spider bite. You may not know when it bit you, but the bite area becomes red, blistered, or black. The area starts out small, and the redness spreads. A black spot of dead tissue develops in the middle of the redness. This dead tissue can be anything from small and superficial to deep and large—sometimes enough to warrant a skin graft when everything’s said and done. As the tissue dies, the area becomes very painful.

The hobo spider can cause skin damage, but less so than the brown recluse.

The black widow spider bite causes a red spot that’s sometimes hard to see. but while you may not see the spot another symptom will be much more obvious; It can cause plenty of muscle aches and cramping throughout the body for one to three weeks.

brownrecluse.jpg

 

Here are the symptoms of a Brown Recluse Spider’s bite:

* Severe pain at the site of the bite.
* Itching.
* Muscle and joint pain, coupled with weakness.
* Nausea, vomiting and fever.

Poisonous Spider Bite Treatment:

In his newsletter Alternatives”, Dr. David Williams says that the liberal application of DMSO [Dimethyl Sulfoxide] will inhibit the damage to skin and tissue caused by the bite of the Brown Recluse spider.
He wrote that a number of home repairmen, air conditioning service people, and plumbers are aware of this effect of DMSO and carry it with them when working in attics or wherever the Brown Recluse may be found.
I personally used DMSO for a spider bite and I applied it several times a day for three day.  I did also go to a doctor as the venom had spread up my legs. You need to see a doctor. DMSO helps but you need to be evaluated.

If you think the spider was a brown recluse or hobo spider:

Keep the wound cool and slow your breathing. This will help slow the venom’s spread: Apply ice, and keep the area at heart level or above.

Even though bites are rarely fatal secondary infections can quickly turn so. The next step you need to do is make sure you do everything possible to prevent infection.

As the black layer of dead skin (eschar) sloughs off, treat the wound as you would any other, by keeping it clean and covered and applying antibiotic ointment or honey. Some large wounds take several weeks to heal. If it starts looking infected, you’ll need oral antibiotics.

Treat the pain. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

If you think the spider was a black widow take a pain reliever like ibuprofen or aspirin for the muscle cramps.

Within minutes to hours, a black widow bite can lead to severe chest and abdominal pain mimicking appendicitis or a heart attack. It can make your blood pressure go up and may need to be treated. (Possible signs include an quickened pulse and a flushed face.)

Get to a doctor as soon as possible, apply DMSO directly to the bite (in most cases DMSO is diluted but not in the case of a spider bite), rest to try to lower the blood pressure. In worst cases, anti-venom may be given.

The good news is  that thanks to anti-venom, it’s extremely  rare to die from a spider bite and those that do are typically caused by an allergic reaction or a severe secondary infection.

Dr. Williams

Beat the Sweets: Tips for Lowering Blood Sugar

22 Oct

Whether you have diabetes or prediabetes, or simply want to reduce your risk for developing diabetes, lowering your blood sugar is an important part of maintaining overall health. This comprehensive action plan takes you beyond the basics of simply cutting out sugar, showcasing the dietary changes, food replacements, exercise regimens, and supplement information required to lower or stabilize blood sugar.

Stock up on protein

Including protein in your meals can help you feel more full for longer at the end of the meal and can offset the effects of refined carbohydrates that cause short-term spikes in blood sugar. By getting away from refined foods, you’ll have more stable blood sugar levels. Add peanut butter, quinoa, yogurt or a hardboiled egg to your meal. It’s especially important to include items like these in your mid-day meals. Lunches high in refined carbs like table sugar, corn syrup and fruit juice can you cause you lose steam and become cranky (an effect you might know as the “afternoon slump”).

 

3 Top Supplements for Cold And Flu

20 Oct

 

There is an endless list of natural approaches which people use to prevent or treat colds and flu, but not all have clinical evidence behind them. The following supplements, however, have shown an ability to help prevent or shorten a cold in most studies, and, in the case of vitamin D, to even reduce the risk of flu and pneumonia when it is used to correct a vitamin deficiency. In each case, you need to take the right supplement, at the right time, and in the right way to have the best chance of success. As I have said on the Dr. Oz Show in the past, you don’t always get what you want with dietary supplements, but my top picks, based on ConsumerLab.com’s latest tests, are listed below.

 Echinacea

Echinacea has a long history of use for treating respiratory infections. It’s not well understood how it works, but several studies show that echinacea can help you get over a cold faster and reduce symptoms.

Dr. Oz’s top picks are:

  1. Swanson Superior Herbs Elderberry Echinacea Goldenseal Immune Complex
  2. Gaia Herbs Echinacea Supreme Liquid
  3. A. Vogel Echinaforce

You need to be extra careful when choosing supplements with echinacea. Some herbal formulas list echinacea as part of a “blend” or “proprietary formula,” but fail to specify the amount or type of echinacea. All three of the products above list the right amount of extract from the types of echinacea which have been well studied.

The Swanson and Gaia products have also been checked by ConsumerLab.com to be sure they’re not contaminated with heavy metals, microbes and chlorinated pesticides. They also include ingredients, such as elderberry in the Swanson product, which may further help with colds. The A. Vogel product has not yet been tested by ConsumerLab.com, but a clinical study published after we completed our tests found it to reduce the number of cold episodes and their duration by 26% if taken throughout the cold season.

You should start using echinacea at the first sign of a cold, taking a total of about 900 mg of extract divided into two or three doses per day for one to two weeks. Echinacea should not be given to children under 12 and has not been well studied for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women. People taking immunosuppressants or with progressive systemic diseases like tuberculosis or multiple sclerosis or autoimmune conditions should consult a doctor before use.

Zinc
Zinc can be helpful for colds in two ways: First, your immune system needs zinc, so you want to be sure you’re not deficient – which is not uncommon in older people. Second, when taken as a lozenge, zinc works on the throat and can reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms. However, when used to treat a cold, zinc has to act directly on your throat where it may kill viruses. Just swallowing or even chewing a zinc supplement defeats the purpose. In fact, getting too much zinc may actually reduce your immunity.

ConsumerLab.com found the following three supplements contained the zinc they claimed without unwanted contamination from lead, a heavy metal which sometimes contaminates mineral supplements. Cold-Eeze has been clinically tested and found to work, providing 13.3 mg of zinc per lozenge and proper instructions on how it should be used. The ZAND lozenge has about half the zinc as Cold-Eeze, although it includes herbs which may be soothing on the throat. The last product is a zinc pill which would only be appropriate for treating zinc deficiency diagnosed by your doctor.

  1. Cold-Eeze Homeopathic Cold Remedy
  2. Zand Lemon Zinc Herbal Lozenge
  3. Vitamin World Chelated Zinc 50 mg

The Cold-Eeze lozenge should be taken at the first sign of a cold and allowed to dissolve in the mouth every two hours during the day. The lozenges should not be taken one after the other like candy, and should not be used for more than a week because the total daily dose of zinc is fairly high and would be unsafe if taken for too long. Note that recommended dosing may be different for children and pregnant women.

Vitamin D
3
Taking vitamin D3 is unlikely to help people who are not deficient in it. However, when vitamin D3 is given to people who are deficient, which is the case for as much as 40% of Americans, it does amazing things including reducing the risk of the flu and respiratory infections, including pneumonia. You’re more likely to be deficient if you don’t get out in the sun much (or if your extremities are totally covered with clothing or sunscreen when you do) and don’t consume much dairy or other foods with vitamin D. People with dark skin, the elderly, and those who are obese are more likely to be deficient.

You also don’t want to overdo it with vitamin D and, unfortunately, our tests have found some popular supplements to contain as much as 80% more vitamin D3 than listed. ConsumerLab has found the following to contain what they claim, plus, the dosage is moderate, they’re easy to take, and they cost just one to three cents per day.

  1. Vitacost Baby D3’s (400 IU per drop)
  2. Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 Drops (400 IU per drop)
  3. Spring Valley (Wal-Mart) D-3 (1,000 IU per soft gel)

The Baby D drops have no taste and it’s easy to add one or two drops (400 IU to 800 IU) to a food or beverage. By taking vitamin D with food, particularly those with fats or oils, you increase its absorption by as much as 50%. For people who normally don’t get enough vitamin D, 400 IU to 1000 IU daily may be needed year-round, and even higher amounts may be required to initially get levels up, such as 2,000 IU per day for several weeks – but check with your doctor. Ideally, your blood plasma level of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) should be 20 to 30 ng/mL. Each 100 IU should boost your level by 1 ng/mL, although, if you are obese, 200 IU is required for the same rise, as vitamin D is fat soluble. There is growing evidence that some of the benefits of vitamin D start being lost as levels rise past 35 ng/mL and may not be safe above 50 ng/mL. People with hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria as well as heart disease should be particularly sure to consult their doctor before use.

More details about echinacea, zinc, and vitamin D supplements, including test results for many brands not mentioned above, are included in ConsumerLab.com’s online reports, which you can access for a limited time with 24-hour pass for Dr. Oz viewers at ConsumerLab.com/DoctorOz.

Help You Gut

17 Oct

Everydayroots - 12 Home Remedies To Get Rid of Gas And Bloating

Let us launch our journey to digestive health and banishing the bloat by eliminating the Terrible Trio from the diet: sugar, gluten and dairy.

What to Eliminate

Sugar drives inflammation and adds the “empty calories” that make healthy weight almost impossible. By emphasizing whole foods, especially vegetables and fruits, we’re saying good-bye to processed foods with all their added sugar and potentially toxic chemical ingredients. That includes sugary sodas, sweetened drinks, teas, artificial sweeteners and fruit juice.

Gluten, a protein compound, is found in wheat and other common grains and virtually everywhere in the processed food supply. Lose it! For many people, especially women, gluten triggers an immune-system response that can result in digestive upset, bloating and symptoms that pop up anywhere in the body, including fatigue and depression.

Dairy is probably the most common food sensitivity, causing bloat, gas and IBS-type symptoms. We’ll find out if dairy is causing you problems by eliminating it for the first and second weeks.

What to Limit

Give your gut a vacation from potential irritants by limiting:

  • Grains: Only a couple servings of gluten-free grains a week. On the good-to-eat list are: brown rice, certified gluten-free oats, and so-called “pseudo-grains” like quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth.
  • Caffeinated beverages: No more than one 8-ounce cup of coffee or two cups of tea (green, white or black) a day, without milk or cream.
  • Alcohol: None

What to Embrace

FFP: Fiber, fat and protein. That’s how I sum up how you should be eating this first week, and for all four weeks of the plan. Whenever you can, load up on vegetables with a full range of colors. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and the fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, helping to protect and maintain digestive health. Also great for fiber, in moderation, are fresh fruit and some whole grains like steel-cut, gluten-free oats; quinoa; and buckwheat. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados can help make you feel fuller in between meals and give your digestive system time to cleanse itself. Wild fish is a great source of healthy fat and the protein you need for a balanced diet. Lean chicken, turkey and beef, in moderation, are also good sources of protein, B vitamins and minerals like zinc.

How Will I Feel?

Everyone is different, but during this first week many of my clients feel their sugar cravings lessen and their belly calm down, resulting in less bloat and gas.

Add  fermented foods into the mix, foods like unsweetened plain non-milk yogurt and kefir; miso, tempeh and tofu made from soy; and fermented veggies like cabbage (sauerkraut) and beets. The live bacterial cultures in these foods interact with our own gut bacteria. They start working together to help improve our cholesterol, our blood pressure, our immunity, even our mood and they can help us maintain a healthy weight and eliminate bloat.

Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN

Improve Your Health With Amino Acids

15 Oct

Improve Your Health With Amino Acid Supplements

When it comes to nutritional supplements, Dr. Whitaker is a firm believer that the most important one you can—and should—take is a high-quality daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. A potent daily multinutrient is the foundation of wellness, regardless of age or health status. Beyond a multi, Dr. Whitaker also recommend adding amino acid supplements for extra support. Here’s why.

What Are Amino Acids?

To fully appreciate the many health benefits of amino acids and amino acid supplements, it helps to have a basic understanding of the role these nutrients play in health and well-being. In a nutshell, amino acids are the essence of life. Using the genetic blueprint, DNA orchestrates the synthesis of amino acids, which link together to form proteins.

Proteins are the essential structural components of the body, making up about half of the dry weight of our cells, and the building blocks of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and other molecules that signal and regulate cellular activity. Every protein in the human body is made up of various sequences of just 20 genetically-encoded amino acids—other amino acids are modified from these 20.

Obviously, we require a steady supply of amino acids, particularly the eight that cannot be synthesized by the body. That’s why dietary protein is so important—if the cells don’t have access to all the requisite amino acids, protein assimilation falters.

Other Benefits of Amino Acids

In addition to their role in protein production, some amino acids are powerful natural therapies when taken in supplement form. As such, there are a few amino acid supplements, in particular, that I recommend adding to your nutritional supplement arsenal.

Amino Acid Supplements: GABA

Let’s start with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA acts as a neurotransmitter, relaying information from one nerve cell to another. It is an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, meaning that in contrast to “excitatory” neurotransmitters, which facilitate the initiation of nerve impulses in neurons, it blocks them. In fact, GABA is your central nervous system’s most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter.

GABA is active throughout your brain, especially in the limbic system, which is sometimes referred to as your brain’s emotional center, because it is where pleasure, passion, love, hate, fear, and aggression originate. If there’s one area of your brain that needs to find a balance between excitement and inhibition, it’s the limbic system. Whether it’s the euphoria of new love and passion or the black cloud of fear and anxiety, intense emotions arise in the limbic system.

Here’s where GABA supplements come in. When the limbic system is hyper-excited and anxiety, fear, anger, panic, or other negative emotions get the upper hand, GABA restores balance by occupying the receptor sites that calm things down. It simply tones down the emotional alarm bells. If you’ve ever “taken the edge off” by having a cocktail or popping a tranquilizer, you’ve already experienced what I’m talking about. Both alcohol and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax) work their magic by attaching to these same receptor sites.

However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have a huge abuse potential—and we all know the downside of too much alcohol. GABA supplements, on the other hand, are non-addictive, well tolerated, and have none of the drug side effects such as drowsiness, poor concentration and coordination, or a slowdown in reaction time. Available in capsule or powder form, GABA can be used for chronic or situational anxiety (some people take it before flying or public speaking engagements), as well as insomnia (it makes falling asleep easier).

Amino Acid Supplements: Glutamine

Another therapeutic amino acid supplement is glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in your body. Glutamine is especially supportive of the gastrointestinal system and is an excellent therapy for intestinal ailments. This is because it serves as the primary fuel for the enterocytes, the rapidly dividing cells that line the intestinal tract.

The lining of your gut is a highly selective barrier that allows only properly digested nutrients to pass through into the bloodstream while keeping everything else out. Unfortunately, bacterial overgrowth, chronic stress, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and other medications may irritate and damage this lining, creating spaces between the cells that allow larger molecules such as bacteria, toxins, and incompletely digested nutrients to pass through.

Known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome, this can set up a whole slew of problems, as well as further damage to the intestines, infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases as the immune system reacts to these foreign molecules in the blood. In fact, research has shown that glutamine supplements dramatically reduce infections and death rates in hospitalized patients. According to a meta-analysis conducted by Brazilian researchers, “Glutamine administration improves the prognosis of critically ill patients, presumably by maintaining the physiologic intestinal barrier and by reducing the frequency of infections.”

You don’t have to be critically ill to enjoy the benefits of glutamine. By restoring the integrity of the gut lining, glutamine supplements also help patients with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and food allergies. Glutamine supplements also protect against damage caused by long-term use of NSAIDs.

Amino Acid Supplements: Arginine

The third amino acid I want to discuss is L-arginine. Arginine has multiple functions in the body, from muscle maintenance to immune system enhancement to wound healing. Its claim to fame, however, is its effect on the cardiovascular system: Arginine is the precursor to nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide, produced in the endothelial cells lining the arteries, is a signaling molecule that protects the arteries and fights cardiovascular disease on a surprisingly broad number of fronts. It relaxes the smooth muscle cells and causes the arteries to dilate, increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Plus, it reduces inflammation, a primary cause of atherosclerosis. And if that’s not enough, it protects against free radical damage, while also blocking the adhesion of white blood cells to the arterial walls—an early step in plaque formation. All these benefits from one little molecule!

The pharmaceutical companies have long recognized the importance of nitric oxide to vascular health and have come out with all manner of drugs that increase nitric oxide levels, including nitroglycerin for angina and Viagra for erectile dysfunction. But guess what does all this and more? Good old inexpensive, over-the-counter arginine supplements.

Due to arginine’s close relationship with nitric oxide, it’s not surprising that arginine supplements have been shown in clinical studies to reduce angina, improve erectile function, and improve symptoms of patients with heart failure. Other benefits of arginine supplements include lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, enhancing immune function, and increasing levels of growth hormone.

Reap the Benefits of These Amino Acid Supplements

Now that you are aware of the many benefits of amino acids and amino acid supplements, here are my dosage recommendations for each one. Note: Because amino acids are best absorbed on an empty stomach, you should take them 30 minutes before or two hours after meals.

GABA supplements: To relieve anxiety, take 500–750 mg as needed, up to three times daily. For insomnia, take 750 mg an hour before bedtime.

Glutamine supplements: To support intestinal health or to help resolve the conditions mentioned above, take 2–3 grams, in divided doses, daily.

Arginine supplements: For cardiovascular support or help with the other conditions mentioned above, the suggested dose is 2–6 grams, in divided doses, daily. Do not take arginine supplements if you are taking nitroglycerin or another nitrate drug.

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever taken these or other amino acid supplements?

Dr. Whitaker

Beyond Sleep: Other Benefits of Melatonin

13 Oct

Beyond Sleep: Other Benefits of Melatonin

 

Chances are you know that melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland, is an effective natural sleep aid, but that’s not all it is. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant and anti-aging therapy that has been shown to help prevent or treat multiple medical conditions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other lesser-known benefits of melatonin.

Benefits of Melatonin: Help for Heartburn and GERD

Researchers have discovered that one of the benefits of melatonin is its remarkable ability to suppress stomach acid and protect the esophagus from the caustic effects of gastric acid. In one study, 351 people with moderate to severe heartburn were either given the acid blocker Prilosec or a supplement containing 6 mg of melatonin plus B vitamins and amino acids. Within one week, those taking melatonin reported some improvement, and, after 40 days, they had complete resolution of symptoms. Conversely, only 66 percent of the patients on Prilosec had complete relief.

As such, supplemental melatonin is a good option if you’re looking for a remedy for heartburn or a safe, effective method for preventing and treating GERD naturally. The recommended dose of melatonin for GERD is 6 mg, taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Be sure you’re taking a quality multinutrient supplement too, since B vitamins and amino acids appear to boost melatonin’s efficacy.

Benefits of Melatonin: Migraine Prevention and Treatment

Another one of the benefits of melatonin that isn’t widely known is its usefulness for migraine prevention and treatment. Research has shown that melatonin can help reduce the frequency and intensity of these bothersome, painful, and sometimes debilitating attacks.

In a study published in Neurology, researchers administered 3 mg of melatonin to 32 participants every evening, 30 minutes prior to bedtime. After three months of treatment, 78 percent of the subjects reported the frequency of their migraines was cut in half. None reported an increase in headaches. The study also found that the duration of migraines was shortened with melatonin.

If you want to give this safe, natural migraine therapy a try, I suggest following the study’s guidelines. Take 3 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before you turn in for the night.

Benefits of Melatonin: Cardiovascular Protection

Studies show that melatonin is also cardioprotective. Spanish researchers measured the nighttime melatonin levels of heart attack patients in a coronary care unit and then followed them for six months. They discovered that the patients who suffered a subsequent heart attack or sudden cardiac death during the follow-up period had significantly lower levels of melatonin than those who fared well. The dose of melatonin used in most of the studies was 3 mg, taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.

Benefits of Melatonin: Diabetes Prevention

You’re probably familiar with most type 2 diabetes risk factors and causes: excess weight, family history, poor diet, and inactivity. But researchers have uncovered another culprit: low levels of melatonin.

Scientists took a close look at 740 women enrolled in the landmark Nurses’ Health Study between 2000 and 2012, half who developed type 2 diabetes during that time and half who did not. Blood samples revealed that the 370 women who remained diabetes-free had markedly higher blood levels of melatonin. This led the researchers to conclude that low nighttime secretion of melatonin nearly doubles the risk of developing diabetes.

Benefits of Melatonin: Ward Off Macular Degeneration

Supplemental melatonin also shows potential in helping to prevent macular degeneration. Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, melatonin protects retinal cells against free radical damage.

In one study, researchers gave 100 patients with age-related macular degeneration 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime for three to six months. They found that the visual acuity in most of these patients remained stable, and there was far less retinal deterioration than expected.

Benefits of Melatonin: Alleviate Tinnitus

A study conducted at the University of Washington School of Medicine suggests that one of the benefits of melatonin is its ability to alleviate the bothersome symptoms of tinnitus—a condition that affects more than 15 million Americans and is characterized by a buzzing, ringing, or humming in one or both ears.

Researchers enrolled 24 patients, ages 18 to 70, who had been suffering with tinnitus for six months or longer and gave them 3 mg of melatonin every day for four weeks. During that time, and for an additional four weeks of follow-up, significant improvements in tinnitus were noted. An added, though not unexpected, bonus was that patients also reported better sleep.

Benefits of Melatonin: Cancer Prevention and Treatment

I want to close with one of the most exciting and promising benefits of melatonin: cancer prevention and treatment. One study showed that melatonin-depleted blood stimulates the growth of tumors in animals, while melatonin-rich blood reduces tumor growth. Canadian researchers also conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies involving patients with tumors of the breast, lung, brain, kidney, and skin who took 10 to 40 mg of melatonin a day. They concluded, “The substantial reduction in risk of death, low adverse events reported, and low costs related to this intervention suggest great potential for melatonin in treating cancer.”

Now it’s your turn: Do you know of, or have you experienced, any other benefits of melatonin?

Heal Your Body With Thermotherapy

10 Oct

Thermotherapy, or heat therapy, turns up in more than 26,000 scientific papers in the National Library of Medicine, and the list of conditions treated is diverse. That’s not surprising since people have been using heat to heal diseases and disorders for millennia. Hippocrates prescribed water and steam baths for pain and skin conditions, Native Americans sat in sweat lodges for rheumatism and other ailments, and cultures around the world have long recognized the healing properties of soaking in hot water.

The reason the benefits of thermotherapy are so diverse is because heat applied to specific areas or systemically to raise body temperature induces a number of physiological changes that result in significant healing throughout the body.

Heal Your Body With Thermotherapy

Benefits of Thermotherapy: Pain Relief

One of the most common applications and benefits of thermotherapy is natural pain relief. Raising tissue temperatures relaxes the muscles, reduces spasms and achiness, and improves range of motion. And because it also dilates the blood vessels, which boosts the delivery of oxygen and nutrients and the removal of metabolic waste products, it facilitates healing as well.

Showers, bathtubs, heating pads, moist towels, and reusable hot packs are great for treating yourself at home. However, as you know, your skin can only take so much direct heat.

High-intensity laser and infrared light therapy radiate specific wavelengths of light through the skin and into the underlying tissues, where they increase tissue temperatures, dilate blood vessels, and rev up cellular metabolism—all of which result in safe, effective pain relief.

Infrared light has a particularly good track record with neuropathy—an often-debilitating condition that is particularly prevalent in the lower extremities of people with diabetes—improving sensation, mobility, and quality of life. I had a patient with severe diabetic neuropathy who hobbled into the clinic on a cane. After treatment with infrared light plus hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the cane was history and he was able to get back on the golf course.

High-intensity laser, which penetrates even deeper, produces remarkable outcomes for all kinds of pain syndromes. A handful of treatments got rid of Louise’s sciatica, James’ plantar fasciitis, Elizabeth’s neck pain, and Teri’s knee injury, which had plagued her for five years.

Benefits of Thermotherapy: Help for Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer

Thermotherapy is also a promising treatment for serious diseases. Heating the entire body and raising the core temperature increases heart rate, cardiac output (the amount of blood being pumped), and circulation. It also triggers the production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that dilates the arteries and protects the vascular endothelium—the thin layer of cells lining the blood vessel walls, which plays a key role in hypertension, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular conditions.

Japanese researchers tested the benefits of thermotherapy in patients with high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity by treating them with two-week courses of 15 minutes of infrared sauna followed by 30 minutes under a warm blanket. Significant improvements were noted across the board—including drops in blood sugar and body fat!

Because the positive effects of systemic thermotherapy on nitric oxide, cardiovascular markers, and insulin sensitivity are remarkably similar to those of exercise, the researchers proposed that regular saunas or hot baths are not only an excellent adjunct therapy but may be a viable option for patients with heart failure, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes who are unable to exercise.

When it comes to the benefits of thermotherapy, the most intense area of research currently underway is cancer. Full-body thermotherapy mimics fever in the sense that it steps up the activity of natural killer cells, T-lymphocytes, and other immune cells. It also has direct effects on tumor cells, which due to their abnormal vasculature are more sensitive to high temperatures. Furthermore, it dramatically increases the uptake of chemotherapeutic agents by malignant cells.

Broad Benefits of Thermotherapy

All of us could use a little heat from time to time. Full-body thermotherapy that works up a sweat mobilizes toxins and facilitates their removal via the skin. Warm compresses relieve muscle aches and dry eyes and help clear up sties, pimples, and minor skin infections. And there’s nothing like a hot, relaxing bath to relieve stress and promote sleep.

Infrared saunas, which use radiant energy to warm the body directly rather than heating the air, feel great and are much more comfortable than conventional saunas. In addition to feeling great, I know I’m reaping multiple health benefits of thermotherapy.

Gaining the Benefits of Thermotherapy

Here is what I recommend for utilizing the different types of heat therapy and specific benefits of thermotherapy:

  • To relieve chronic pain, apply heating pads, compresses, warm water, etc., over the affected area. Do not use on acute injuries (as it may increase inflammation) and be wary of burns.
  • For full-body thermotherapy, soak in a hot bath or sit in an infrared sauna for at least 15 minutes several times a week. Home infrared saunas are relatively easy to install. . Caution: These therapies are not recommended for pregnant women.
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