Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Hazard Checklist

Lights, decorations and toys are a wonderful part of the holidays. But if you have young children, you need to take special precautions to make sure they're safe. Here are expert tips to ensure that your family's holiday season is happy, healthy and hazard-free.

The holidays should be a magical time for children. Yet each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 8700 people for injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees.

Keep the season merry with this list of safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Safer Trees and Decorations
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use nonflammable holders and place candles out of children’s reach.
  • Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food, which may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial-snow sprays.
Bright Ideas for Lights
  • Indoors or outside, always use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory that indicates conformance with safety standards.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Friendlier Fireplaces
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result, as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area.
  • Check to see that the flue is open.
Trouble-Free Toys
  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. If the toy is appropriate for your child, show him how to use it properly.
  • Follow recommended age ranges on toy packages. Toys that are too advanced could pose a safety hazard for younger children.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons.
  • Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
Outdoor Play

  • Make sure your child’s gloves and shoes stay dry. If either becomes wet, change your child into a dry pair.
  • Sledding on or into the roadway should be prohibited. Look for shallow slopes that are free of obstacles, such as trees and fences.
  • Most skiing and skating injuries involve twists, sprains and strains. Prevent injuries by providing your child with competent instruction, proper equipment and appropriate supervision.

Happy Visiting

  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
  • Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
  • Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222.
  • Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Trying to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.

Food Safety

  • Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
  • Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
  • Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
  • Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Ten Christmas Tree Safety Tips

I want you to have a safe holiday season. Did you know that Christmas trees can kill? Not by falling on you, but by burning down your house. Between 2006 and 2010, about 230 home fires per year were responded to by U.S. fire departments, killing an average of four people each year and injuring many more.

Though not common, Christmas tree fires usually cause serious and costly damage. Eighteen percent of these fires were caused by a heat source too close to the tree. Improper disposal of the tree is also implicated as a cause. Here are tips to prevent this very preventable type of residential fire.

  1. Choose fresh over cheap and dry. The fresher the tree, the less likely it will pose a fire hazard. Look for flexible needles that don't break, and a trunk with sap.
  2. Keep the water coming. The tree stand should contain a continuous source of water and be sturdy enough to resist toppling by kids or pets.
  3. Don't choke the cord. Attach only three maximum strings of lights to any one extension cord, then place cords along walls to prevent a tripping hazard. Never run them under rugs or carpets.
  4. Trees don't need warmth. Keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles and even a TV.
  5. Not any lights will do. Use low energy, safe lighting that's been certified by a safety testing lab. Don't use damaged or frayed cords.
  6. Shut off the lights. Never leave the lights on overnight. Same goes for any appliances not in use when you are home or away.
  7. Don't keep a dry tree around. Dispose of it at this point properly. Don't even keep it in the garage.
  8. Artificial tree safety awareness. Artificial trees should be flame resistant and have a seal for an approved safety testing laboratory if the tree contains a built-in lighting set.
  9. Death by artificial tree. If the tree is metal, never use electric lights, as they can charge the tree and lead to electrocution.
  10. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure everyone knows its location and how to use it.

Poisonous Holiday Plants

Some popular holiday plants can be poisonous or toxic, especially to children and pets. Here's a look at some of the most common poisonous holiday plants and also reassurance about plants many people think are poisonous that really aren't that dangerous.

Poinsettia - Not That Bad
The beautiful poinsettia is not something you want on a salad, but this Euphorbia is not particularly dangerous. If you eat a few leaves, you may feel ill or vomit. Rubbing the sap from the plant into your skin can give you an itchy rash. Beyond that, this plant is unlikely to cause a problem for either humans or pets.

Mistletoe - Poisonous
Mistletoe is a name given to one of several plants, all potentially dangerous for kids and pets. Phoradendron species contain a toxin called phoratoxin, which can cause blurred vision, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood pressure changes, and even death. The Viscum species of mistletoe contain a slightly different cocktail of chemicals, including the poisonous alkaloid tyramine, which produce similar symptoms. All parts of the mistletoe plant are poisonous, though it is the berries that may be most attractive to kids. Eating 1-2 berries probably will not cause a problem for a child, but a small pet could be endangered by eating a few leaves or berries. If your child or pet eats mistletoe, it's a good idea to seek medical advice.

Holly - Poisonous
A child can eat 1-2 holly berries (Ilex) without harm, but around 20 berries can cause death, so eating holly berries is a serious concern for children and pets. Though the berries are the part that is most commonly eaten, the bark, leaves, and seeds are toxic. What is the poison? Interestingly enough, it is theobromine, an alkaloid that is related to caffeine. Theobromine is found in chocolate (and is toxic to dogs even at the lower concentration), but there is much more of the compound in holly berries.

Amaryllis and Daffodils - Poisonous
An amaryllis bulb is a common holiday gift. Amaryllis, daffodil, and narcissus bulbs may be forced indoors to produce showy holiday flowers. Eating the bulbs (and leaves, though they are less toxic) can cause abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, and convulsions. The plants are more likely to be eaten by pets than children, but the alkaloid poison lycorine is considered toxic to humans, too.

Cyclamen - Poisonous for Pets
Cyclamen (Primulaceae) is a flowering plant commonly seen around the winter holidays. Cyclamen tubers contain triterpinoidsaponins, which can cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and paralysis. This plant is more of a concern for pets than humans. In fact, some cyclamen cultivars are favored for their delicate flavor and use in tea.

Christmas Trees - Not a Major Concern
Cedars, pines, and firs are very mildly toxic. The biggest concern here is the possibility of puncturing part of the gastrointestinal tract from eating needles, though the tree oils may cause irritation of the mouth and skin. Toxicity might be affected by whether the tree had been sprayed with a flame retardant. People don't usually eat Christmas trees. Even a dog is unlikely to eat enough of the tree to cause a problem.

Jerusalem Cherry - Poisonous
The Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) is a species of nightshade that bears poisonous fruit. The primary poison is the alkaloid solanocapsine, which can cause gastric upset and vomiting in people, but generally is not life-threatening. However, the fruits are extremely toxic to dogs and cats and some birds. The fruit resembles a cherry tomato, both in appearance and flavor, so kids and pets may eat enough to cause illness, or in the case of pets, even death.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

15 Sunscreen Questions Answered

If we lived in pristine, temperature-controlled labs, SPF 15 would be adequate—if not optimal—protection against sunburn (caused by UVB rays) and skin aging and cancer (caused by UVA and UVB rays).

But we live in the real (sweaty, splashy, windy) world, and we don't use as much sunscreen as we should. In fact, the protection most of us get from SPF 15 is more like SPF 3 to 7. That's why the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using broad-spectrum SPF 30.

It's great advice, but it doesn't clear up all the sun-safety confusion. So we asked the experts to solve your toughest quandaries, one by one.

1. What's the highest SPF?

If you apply sunscreen correctly (see question 3), SPF 50 offers the maximum protection necessary. You're seeing SPF 80 and even SPF 110 on shelves because of "marketing, marketing, marketing," says Bruce Katz, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Companies know that higher numbers make you think you're getting a significant surplus of protection, even though you're not. But the FDA has caught on to this strategy and proposed a rule making "50+" the highest SPF value allowed. The rule hasn't been approved yet, but many manufacturers are probably betting it will—they're already distributing products labeled SPF 50+, even as they continue to sell higher numbers.

2. Should I protect my hair?

The sun can change your hair color, but products with UV filters or antioxidants may keep your hue from fading or turning brassy. If you like the color you've got (or spent good money to get it), a spray like Paul Mitchell Sun Shield Conditioning Spray ($18; for salons), shown above, helps. Will it prevent cancer? No—and cancer commonly forms on the scalp, says Dr. Katz. You should still wear a hat or use traditional SPF on your part (or your entire scalp if your hair is thin).

3. What are the basic rules for applying sunscreen?

Remember 30-20-2-1:
  • 30: The minimum SPF you should use (other must-haves water resistance and a broad spectrum formula). 20: The number of minutes before you go out in the sun that you should apply sunscreen. That is, unless your lotion has titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which are effective immediately.
  • 2: The number of hours you can go without reapplying if you're not sweating or in the water.
  • 1: The number of ounces you need to coat your body with enough product (a 0.002 mm layer) to provide the SPF listed on the label. If you're using lotion, that's about the amount that would fill a shot glass; if you're using a clear, continuous spray, that's 30 to 90 seconds of spraying—enough to create a visibly glossy sheen as it goes on.
4. How do I keep sunscreen out of my eyes? It burns.

That burning is usually caused by chemical sunscreens (ingredients listed on the Drug Facts label that end with-ate,-ene, or-one, such as ho-mosalate, octocrylene, or oxybenzone). Instead, look for a water-resistant product with physical (sometimes called mineral or natural) sunscreen, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Even with those guidelines, it can take time to find the right formula, since fragrance can also sting. We tried a few dozen, and the clear-eyed winner was—MDSolarSciences Natural Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 40 ($13;

5. How long does the SPF in my moisturizer last?

If you don't plan to work up a sweat or be outside long, the protection should last 2 to 4 hours, says Amy Wechsler, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. However, if you work outside or plan to spend the day in the garden or at the beach, you really need a water-resistant face sunscreen in addition to—or instead of—your moisturizer. Try one of the new lightweight, liquid sunscreens (they come in small bottles you need to shake before using); L'OrĂ©al Paris Sublime Sun Liquid Silk Sunshield for Face SPF 50+ ($11; drugstores) smoothes on as easily as moisturizer and has anti-aging antioxidants to boot.

6. Any advice for applying sunscreen to your own back?

Reaching up and over your shoulder, you should be able to get the job done with a clear, continuous spray that works upside down. Aveeno's HydroSport Sunblock Spray SPF 30 ($10; drugstores) propels about 2 feet and should reach even the center of your back. If you're not flexible enough for the reach-over, slip on a tank top with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor). You can make your own by washing a top you like in SunGuard ($2;; it coats clothing with an un-detectable layer of UPF 30 that lasts up to 20 washes.

7. Can I get skin cancer again?

Skin cancer survivors are much more likely to develop a second skin cancer, says Erin Gilbert, MD, PhD, a dermatologist in New York City. That's because they've already accumulated enough UV harm near the original cancer (dermatologists call it field damage) to make getting another likely. For survivors, skin exams every 6 months are essential. Everyone else should get one yearly—sooner if you have a suspicious mole.

8. Can my diet make me burn less?

Certain nutrients, especially phytochemicals, improve skin's ability to ward off damage. One study found that supplementing with lycopene (a pigment in red fruits and vegetables) may prevent UV damage; another showed that people taking a supplement with alpha-and beta-carotenoids (in orange and yellow produce) were less likely to have skin damage after UV exposure. It's possible eating a rainbow could delay sunburn, but that doesn't mean a salad is equal to sunscreen.

Be on the lookout for an SPF pill: British scientists are working to create sunscreen in pill form, after discovering that coral in the Great Barrier Reef creates its own UV protection by consuming a compound in algae. Human testing hasn't begun yet, but someday we may be able to swallow our sunscreen.

9. Is sunscreen residue bad for marine life?

Yes. Some ingredients in sunscreen can awaken viruses that kill coral's food supply—and ultimately the reefs themselves and the animals that live there. The common ingredients that are most damaging include oxybenzone and the preservative butylparaben. For an eco-friendly option, choose a product that uses the physical sunscreen ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide because they "break down more readily in nature," says Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist in New Jersey.

10. I have rosacea. Should I be using regular sunscreen on my face, or do I need something special?

Rosacea makes skin sensitive and more likely to react to certain ingredients in sunscreen—but the sun itself is one of the biggest flare-up triggers, so going unprotected is not an option. Robin Schaffran, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles, suggests avoiding chemical sunscreens, and Dr. Wechsler also tells her patients with rosacea to say no to fragrance. Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Daily Sunblock SPF 50 ($14; drugstores) is a good option. Or try Colorescience Sunforgettable Face Primer SPF 30 ($50;, which has a tint that helps hide redness.

11. Can you recommend a natural sunscreen that doesn't look like toothpaste?

The purest options are those without chemical sunscreens, retinyl palmitate, fragrance, or para-bens. That leaves products that use physical sunscreens, which typically don't rub in as easily and sometimes leave skin with a whitish cast. After trying pretty much every natural sunscreen that meets these guidelines (for a list, go to sunscreen), we found the least toothpasty, most pleasing picks were Banana Boat Natural Reflect SPF 50+ ($11.50; drugstores) and All Terrain TerraSport SPF 30 Spray ($14;

12. Should I wear SPF clothing?

As Leeann Brown, a spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group, wisely points out: "Even the best sunscreens should not be your primary defense against the sun—minimizing time outdoors, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses are going to be more effective than sunscreen alone." Unfortunately, not all clothing protects against the sun. White cotton only has about UPF 5 or 7 (UPF is like SPF, but for clothes); colored cotton has UPF 10; and heavy black velvet or dark blue denim can have up to UPF 50. But, really, who wants to wear head-to-toe denim—not to mention velvet!—in summer? Instead, look for sweat-wicking clothes with at least UPF 30; Athleta, Columbia, and Patagonia all have great options.

13. Can chemicals in sunscreen hurt me?

Use the sunscreen. Although a few studies have raised questions about the safety of oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, two ingredients found in some sunscreens, they are entirely avoidable if you read labels. So, what are potential concerns about those two components? Oxybenzone has been shown to cause hormone disruption in studies of cancer cells (however, a study on its effect when applied to skin did not show any statistically significant change in hormone levels). Retinyl palmitate has been linked to skin cancer when applied topically in very large doses to mice (however, the species of mice used in the study were far more susceptible to skin cancer than humans, and there aren't any human studies showing the ingredient causes cancer, according to Steven Q.Wang, director of Dermatologic Surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ).

14. I want to make sure I get enough vitamin D. Does it still get through if I wear sunscreen?

When you have sunscreen on, your body's ability to produce vitamin D—which keeps bones healthy and may prevent some forms of cancer—is inhibited. "But even people who are very good at using sunscreen almost never wear enough of it enough of the time - to prevent adequate vitamin D production," says Robin Schaffran, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles. Even if you were to wear sunscreen every single day, it's highly likely some UV light is still getting through. If you're worried you're not getting enough vitamin D from your diet, all the experts interviewed for this article recommended the same thing: "Take a supplement." A daily dose of 600 IU daily should do it.

15. Are sport sunscreens really waterproof?

First, ignore the word sport on labels; it may imply some sort of water or sweat resistance, but the government doesn't regulate the use of the term, so you can't be sure. What you can be sure of is this: "No sunscreen is truly waterproof or sweatproof," says Dr. Katz. That's why in June 2011, the FDA passed a rule banning the use of the terms waterproof and sweatproof. After a June 2013 deadline, the most water-and sweat-resistant sunscreen you can get will be labeled "water-resistant (80 minutes)," like Coppertone Sport Pro Series SPF 50+ ($11; drugstores). Some sunscreens may continue to use the term "sweat-resistant" as well, but even if they don't you can assume the water-resistance will keep you protected through 80 minutes of heavy sweating, too. (After all, perspiring can make your skin as wet as if you took a dip in the pool!)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Health Tips for April 13

Diabetes Tx
The most important treatment for diabetes is to adhere to a zero sugar, low carb diet.

Eating Disorders Tricks
Throw away the scale! Weight is a number. Being healthy is what really matters.

Healthy Cooking Recipe
Cube potatoes. Par dry. Add chopped garlic and rosemary to olive oil. Coat potatoes and roast at 425 F. until browned.

Heart Failure Myth
Heart failure may be a misleading term. The heart squeezes less effectively, but it can be managed.

Kidney Failure Fact
Limiting fluid due to kidney failure? Try lemon drops to increase saliva production.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Health Tips for April 12

Acne Fact
There are more people over the age of 18 with acne then under the age of 18. Adult acne is common.

Fibromyalgia Fact
Minimizing stress in your life may help your fibromyalgia pain.

COPD Prevention
Make sure your get a pneumovax and influenza shot.

Dental Health Fact
Floss strips are a great way to floss every day.

Depression Fact
If you depend on exercise to manage your mood, always have a backup exercise in mind.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Health Tips for April 11

Diabetes Fact
You need to see an eye doctor for a dilated retinal exam at least once a year.

Eating Disorders Tx
Eating disorders are extremely hard to treat. You need the right professional and the right medicine.

Healthy Cooking Fact
Don't "bread" things. It carries extra calories and fat.

Heart Failure Fact
Ask your doctor about ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and/or ARBS (angiotensin receptor blockers).

Kidney Failure Fact
Hemodialysis puts one at risk for vitamin C deficiency.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Health Tips for April 10

Acne Fact
Adults can get acne even if they never had acne as teenagers.

Fibromyalgia Myth
Fibromyalgia isn't a real medical problem.

Stay physically active as directed by your doctor to strengthen respiratory muscles and increase endurance.

Dental Health Fact
The plaque found on your teeth is home to more than 300 different species of bacteria.

Depression Fact
Some people need talk therapy or medication and some people might need both.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Health Tips for April 9

Strange but True Health Tips

Call Dr. Pepper
Next time you nick yourself in the kitchen, reach for the black pepper. Run cold water over the wound to clean it, using soap if you were handling meat. Then sprinkle on the pepper and apply pressure. In no time, the bleeding will stop. Turns out, black pepper has analgesic, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Pepper doesn't sting, either—but don't tell that to your audience.

Shave Your 'stache and Sniff Less
If you're prone to allergies and have a mustache, wash it twice a day with liquid soap. One study found that patients who did this used fewer antihistamines and decongestants. Reason: Cleaning got rid of stuck pollen grains.

Pet Away High Blood Pressure
To lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, get a dog. Numerous studies show that petting a dog keeps blood pressure under control when you're stressed.

Flush Away Trouble
Ever notice how satisfying it is to flush a toilet, especially if it's one of those airport monsters? Think of this next tip as a stress laxative—a bit strange, but guaranteed to be gentle and effective: Before you go to bed, put some small strips of flushable paper and a pencil in the bathroom. The following morning, take a seat and write down the names of all the people or situations in your life that are causing you angst. Then throw them in the bowl and flush. You'll be amazed at how great this feels and works.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Health Tips for April 8

Strange but True Health Tips

Skip the Antibacterial Soap
There's absolutely no reason to buy antibacterial soaps, according to the American Medical Association. While close to 50 percent of soaps sold in the States contain antimicrobial agents, the AMA claims there's no solid scientific proof that these soaps are better at preventing infection than regular soap. In fact, the group argues that antibacterial soaps may be doing more harm than good—by making bacteria stronger and more resistant to existing germ killers.

Straighten Your Drive
Taking a long drive? Pretend someone poured a cold drink down your back—notice how your shoulders pull back and your spine curves? That's the position your back should be in when you're rolling down the highway.

Disinfect a Wound with Honey
Pour a dab of honey on a cut before covering it with a bandage. Believe it or not, honey has powerful antibacterial properties. A recent study found that it was capable of destroying almost all strains of the most common wound-infecting bacteria.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Health Tips for April 7

Strange but True Health Tips

Accuse Others of Taking Your Keys
Research suggests there's a marked difference between how younger and older people interpret misplacing their car keys. A young guy usually blames it on someone else: "Who took my damn keys?" An old man typically blames it on himself: "I must be getting old. I misplaced my keys again." Never use your age as an excuse for anything like this—and see if you don't remain younger longer. It's an effective mental trick.

Scratch the Other Limb
For itchy skin under a cast, try scratching the same place on the other arm or foot. This may trick your brain into thinking you're scratching the real itch.

Break a High Fever
Anything up to 102°F is mild and can be treated by drinking plenty of fluids. But to quickly bring down a reading above that, put an ice pack under your arm or near your groin. Icing either spot will cool your body's core. It's uncomfortable, but it works fast. Then see a doctor.

Keep the Willies at Bay
If you get claustrophobic in small spaces such as subways, elevators, and that closet of an office they stuck you in, visit your local fruit stand. A sniff of green apple may help relieve claustrophobic sensations. Carry one with you. Also, if you're selling your house, placing a basket of fresh green apples on the table may make potential buyers perceive the house as larger.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Health Tips for April 6

Strange but True Health Tips

Change Your Name
People with "positive" initials—ones that spell out things like J.O.Y. or W.O.W.—live nearly 4 1/2 years longer than people with neutral initials. D.U.D.'s and A.S.S.'s live nearly 3 years less. Other initials that may shorten life: I.L.L. and D.E.D.

Use the First Stall
After analyzing 51 public restrooms, experts found that the stall closest to the restroom door consistently had the lowest bacteria levels (and the most toilet paper!). The first stall probably sees less traffic because it's near the door and people want privacy. And when you're finished, stand before you flush. When toilets are flushed, a fine mist of water containing contagious bacteria sprays up. You can catch intestinal bugs and hepatitis from it.

Splint a Broken Arm with a Magazine
To make an impromptu cast, place your wrist palm-down on top of a thick magazine. Roll the magazine into a U-shaped cradle and secure it with tape, an ace bandage, or long strips torn from a shirt. Then please remember to renew your subscription.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Health Tips for April 5

Diabetes Fact
Diabetics are at a higher risk for glaucoma, cataract, and retinopathy.

Eating Disorders Fact
See a professional for counseling. Many eating disorders require lifelong therapy.

Healthy Cooking Fact
Walnuts have the highest antioxidant levels of any nut. 1 ounce of walnuts two times per week may drop the risk of diabetes by 15%!

Heart Failure Haiku
Shortness of breath, edema; If the pump won't work; I weigh more and can't lay flat.

Kidney Failure Fact
If recommended by your physician, maintain a lower protein diet if you have kidney failure.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Health Tips for April 4

Acne Fact
Diet factors do not contribute to acne. Acne is bacterial or hormonally based.

Fibromyalgia Tx
Treatment priorities: 1) Sleep quality, 2) Mood management, 3) Pain medications. Do light exercise.

Talk with your physician about when you should have the pneumococcal vaccine.

Dental Health
Brush and floss daily.

Depression Prevention
Learn how to lower stress through mindfulness meditation and rhythmic movements.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Health Tips for April 3

Depression Treatment
Psychotherapy can be very helpful for people with depression and medications may not be needed.

Eating Disorders Do's and Don'ts
DO: Tell your doctor all dietary supplements, vitamins, medications, laxatives and diuretics you take.

Healthy Cooking Fact
Reduce added fats as you can. Flax can substitute for eggs and applesauce for oil.

Heart Failure Fact
The heart pumps blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to go around the world twice.

Kidney Failure Fact
Proper diet, proper sleep and proper exercise can improve your health and your kidney function.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Health Tips for April 2

Acne Fact
Approximately 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 experience at least minor acne.

Fibromyalgia Fact
Ask your doctor if he can test you for undiagnosed food allergies, including wheat allergies.

COPD Treatment Fact
Home aerosol machines are better than hand-held inhalers.

Dental Health Fact
Proper brushing and flossing, along with a healthy diet will save you thousands over your lifetime.

Diabetes Fact
For adults over 65, super strict blood sugar control may be associated with more harm than good.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Health Tips for April 1

Diabetes Care Tip
Put your meters where you need them. For example, put one by your bed for bedtime checks.

Eating Disorders Tip
Journal about life events, stressors, emotional impact and how eating is impacted.

Healthy Cooking Tip
Like French fries? Give sweet potato slices a light olive oil rub and bake. Kids love these, too.

Heart Failure Fact
Heart failure with normal ejection fraction is present in ~50% of heart failure patients.

Kidney Failure Symptoms
Elevated blood pressure, and hand or leg swelling can be signs, but only a physician, urine and blood tests can detect it.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Health Tips for March 31

Acne Prevention
Hormones play a great part in acne, but you can help by keeping a clean face.

Fibromyalgia Myth
Some doctors doubt it exists, but spinal fluid analysis shows changes in neurotransmitter chemicals.

If you have severe COPD, ask your doctor about the need for home oxygen.

Dental Health Tip
Make sure you get a full soft tissue examination for cancer screening at every dental checkup.

Depression Tip
Daily exercise has been shown to be as effective as antidepressant medications in fighting depression.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Health Tips for March 30

Five More Tips to Look Young and Healthy

Think Positively
Your mental health directly affects your physical health. Adopt a positive attitude towards life. It's the way to look young and healthy.

Morning Walk
A morning walk is a must. It's one of the most effective ways to attain good health and youthful skin.

Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Carrots contain beta-carotene, a natural ingredient that fights wrinkles and fine lines. Eat at least one carrot daily.

Yoga is one of the best exercises for fresh skin and a healthy body.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Health Tips for March 29

Four More Tips to Look Young and Healthy

Benefits of Apple Juice
Drinking apple juice promotes healthy skin. Also, apply fresh apple juice to your skin daily. Apple juice is helpful in removing fine lines and wrinkles.

Use of Glycerin, Lemon Juice and Rose Water
Use glycerin, lemon juice and rose water in equal amounts. Mix and apply to your face, hands and neck, before going to bed at night. This solution is very effective for younger-looking skin.

Aloe Vera Gel
Apply aloe vera gel as a face mask on your face, neck and hands. Let it dry for 20 minutes then wash your face with cool water. If you have dry skin, add vitamin E oil to the gel and blend it well before applying.

Steam Bath
Take a steam bath at least once a week. This will help your body remain healthy and young.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Health Tips for March 28

Four More Tips to Look Young and Healthy

Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is very important for general health as well as the health of your skin.

Use Natural Skin Products
Use products that contain natural ingredients and herbs which are good for the skin.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is one of the most effective anti-aging agents. Enrich your daily diet with foods containing vitamin E. Use skin care products that are enriched with vitamin E.

Vitamin A
Use of Retinol A; a pure form of vitamin A, can help to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Health Tips for March 27

Four More Tips to Look Young and Healthy

Sunlight damages and dehydrates your skin. Apply a good sunblock, according to your skin type, at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun.

Avoid Smoking
According to medical researchers, smoking enhances the aging factor 45 percent. Avoid smoking to stay healthy and young.

Drink Enough Water
Take plenty of water to have fresh skin. Water helps to hydrate the skin and removes impurities from the body.

Forget Stress and Stay Happy
Stress not only impacts your mental health, it damages overall health. Those who are happy and avoid stress, look younger and healthier.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Health Tips for March 26

Four Tips to Look Young and Healthy

Sleep is very important for good health and for healthy skin. If you want to attain and retain fresh and soft skin, get 6-8 hours sleep daily. Enough sleep helps to regulate your body's metabolism and is a natural way to remain young.

Regular exercise is a must for good health. If you exercise daily, your body will remain active and function properly.

Eat green olives daily to look younger.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Having enough fruits and vegetables in your diet will surely result in fresh, younger skin and a healthy body.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Health Tips for March 25

Five More Foods to Help You Snooze

Popcorn with Cheese
Popcorn with cheese is a good combination of carbohydrates and dairy. Dairy contains tryptophan which helps in releasing sleep hormones and the carbohydrates in popcorn help to absorb the tryptophan.

Chia Seeds
Eating chia seeds raises the level of melatonin and serotonin in the blood that enhance stable sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is rich in melatonin which regulates sleep patterns.

Turkey Burger with Spinach on a Whole Wheat Bun
It's a best meal for perfect sleep; plenty of tryptophan and serotonin. And spinach contains iron which is known for the relief of restless leg symptoms.

Valerian Tea with Honey
A cup of valerian tea with honey before going to bed may help you sleep. The tea contains natural compounds that help to decrease the amount of time taken to fall asleep. The glucose in honey helps you to relax.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Health Tips for March 24

Five Foods to Help You Snooze

Warm Milk
A glass of milk can help you sleep better because it contains tryptophan, a sleep-inducing substance. Almost all dairy products are rich in tryptophan.

Whole Wheat Products
Whole wheat products contain magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. All these nutrients are sleep-friendly.

A German study shows that vegetables like lettuce, spinach, broccoli and kale contain vitamins that fight stress and induce peaceful sleep.

Carbohydrates can make you fall asleep sooner by speeding up the release of tryptophan.

Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium which help to relax muscles and give a peaceful night's sleep.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Health Tips for March 23

Conception Tip
Keep an accurate calendar of your menstrual cycle to predict ovulation days.

Healthy Skin Tip
Expensive skin creams are not better than classic, inexpensive Nivea cream. Save skin and money!

Osteoporosis Tip
Extension-based exercises such as golf are good for maintaining spinal bone health. Avoid flexion.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Tip
Keep your weight under control. Inflamed joints do not tolerate unnecessary trauma.

Vitamin Tip
Make sure any Vitamin E in your supplements is natural Vitamin E.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Health Tips for March 22

Diabetes Myth
There is no such thing as "mild" diabetes. The important question is, "Is it controlled?"

Eating Disorders Tip
Talk with a therapist. Eating disorders may signify an underlying psychological problem.

Healthy Cooking Fact
About 30% of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented with the Mediterranean diet.

Heart Failure Fact
The most common cause of right-sided heart failure is left-sided heart failure.

Kidney Failure Fact
The leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Health Tips for March 21

Acne Fact
Eat what you want. No food has been proven to make acne worse or better.

Fibromyalgia Fact
Fibromylagia means algia (pain) in your fibers (connective) and myofascial (muscle) tissue.

All people with COPD are smokers. Most are, but there are other causes.

Dental Health Fact
The average person brushes for 45-70 seconds a day. The recommended amount of time is two minutes.

Depression Tip
If you lose all interest in things you normally enjoy, you could be depressed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Health Tips for March 20

Diabetes Tip
Diabetics should keep their feet moisturized regularly, especially in cold temperatures.

Eating Disorders Tip
Don't listen to the negative comments your mind tells you! Your weight/size does not define you.

Healthy Cooking Tip
Myth: Fat-free is healthy. Fat-free usually means a lot of sugar which can also cause weight gain.

Heart Failure Tip
Asparagus is a natural diuretic.

Kidney Failure Tip
Ask your MD what your GFR (glomerular filtration rate) is, and what should it be?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Health Tips for March 19

Acne Tip
Avoid touching your face and further damaging your skin.

Fibromyalgia Myth
A person can simply "get over" fibromyalgia with the passage of time or wishful thinking.

Coughing plays a protective role in COPD and routine use of suppressants is not recommended.

Dental Health Tip
Teeth with composite bonded fillings are generally less sensitive to hot and cold than amalgams.

Depression Tip
When fighting a bout of depression, structure your time. Have something on the calendar each day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Health Tips for March 18

Osteoporosis Tip
Don't smoke cigarettes. It decreases bone density.

Peripheral Vascular Disease Tip
Myth: Amputation is inevitable.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Tip
It is not a myth. Falling barometric pressure (usually indicating rain) will increase joint pain!

Tip on Vitamins and Supplements
Myth: That they are always safe to use because they are "natural."

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Tip
Surgery is not inevitable if you are proactive with your inflammatory bowel disease.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Health Tips for March 17

Depression Tip
Regular exercise is a stress reducer and helps to relieve depression. Besides, it is good for you.

Diabetes Tip
Check to see if you can get a free pair of custom diabetic shoes covered through insurance.

Healthy Cooking Tip
In eating healthier, think of meat as a condiment instead of the main part of the meal.

Heart Failure Tip
Proper diet, proper sleep and proper exercise can be beneficial to those with CHF.

Kidney Failure Tip
Doses of many medications must be adjusted for kidney patients, or those with poor kidney function.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Health Tips for March 16

Cardiac Tip
Unless the doctor instructs otherwise, drink eight glasses of water a day while taking water pills.

Kidney Health Tips
Control blood pressure, Consume a low salt diet. Avoid those NSAIDs!

Acne Tip
Wash your face daily or twice daily, but do not scrub. Scrubbing will irritate your skin.

If you have advanced COPD, ask your doctor if you are a candidate for lung volume reduction surgery.

Dental Health Tip
If you know you clench or grind your teeth, ask your dentist about the use of a night guard.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Health Tip for March 15

Dental Health Tip
Missing teeth should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent shifting and other problems.

Depression Tip
It's true that rainbows; never rise in sunny skies; tears are part of living.

Diabetes Tip
With challenging weather, be sure to have enough diabetic supplies at home and in an earthquake kit.

Eating Disorders Tip
Listen to those that love you. Purging, laxative use, and fear of eating are signs to get help fast.

Healthy Cooking Tip
Cooking vegetables like spinach provides more antioxidants than eating them raw.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Health Tips for March 14

Healthy Cooking Tip
Rather than frying breaded food, try baking in a convection oven.

Healthy Heart Tip
Check the labels of prepackaged foods. You may be surprised at the amount of sodium.

Acne Fact
80% of the population has acne at any given time. You're in good company!

Fibromyalgia Tip
Regular practice of Tai Chi can be more effective than medications for treatment of fibromyalgia.

Air hunger is not lack of oxygen. It is the build up of carbon dioxide. Breathe out longer and deeper.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Health Tips for March 13

Fibromyalgia Tip
Opioid narcotics are not an effective management tool for the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.

Oxygen therapy causes dry eyes. Use artificial tears four times a day.

Dental Health Tip
Chewing gum too often may contribute to TMJ pain and discomfort.

Depression Tip
Exercising outside in the morning can help with your depression by exposing you to sunlight.

Diabetes Tip
Take your socks and shoes off so your doctor can look at your feet at every visit.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Health Tips for March 12

Living with Fibromyalgia
A pristine diet, free of sugar, food additives, fried foods and other toxins is needed for fibro treatment

Healthy Cooking
Buy foods in as close to their natural state as possible, not packaged or processed.

Dental Health
Use a soft bristle brush angled against your gums in a circular motion to clean teeth.

Acne Treatment
Benzoyl peroxide 5-10% topical treatments are the best over the counter medicines for acne.

Heart Failure Facts
Survival is improved by beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and aldosterone blockers.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Health Tips for March 11

Eating Disorders
If there is a history of bulimia, be sure to have your teeth checked for enamel damage.

Healthy Cooking
When thickening soups, add pureed (blended) artichoke hearts. They're low fat and healthy.

Kidney Failure
If you have CKD (chronic kidney disease), ask about transplant options long before you need one.

Heart Failure Haiku
Monitor your blood pressure regularly; Take your meds religiously; Cut back on the salt fervently.

Living with Depression
Learn how to nurture yourself by writing a journal, exercising and taking time with good friends.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Health Tips for March 10

Cardiac Care
Be careful of preprocessed foods. Check the sodium content. You will be surprised.

Healthy Cooking
Grilling foods allows the fats to drip out, leading to lower calorie intake.

Living with Depression
Exercise is a natural antidepressant.

Diabetes Care
If you have tingling, burning, numbness or other odd sensations in your feet, ask your doctor about neuropathy.

Skin Care
If your cleanser tingles and stings, that's a bad sign. Do not use the product.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Health Tips for March 9

Heart Fact
Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood to the body.

Healthy Cooking
There is no such thing as a canola plant. Use coconut or olive oil which are healthier.

Diabetes Care
Know your latest Hemoglobin A1c (the lower, the better).

Dental Health
Tie floss in a circle instead of wrapping it around your fingers.

Living with Acne
Lower stress. If you obsess about your skin, you will make it worse.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Health Tips for March 8

Fibromyalgia Fact
A majority of fibromyalgia patients also have sleep apnea.

COPD Treatment
Ask your doctor whether you would benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation.

Dental Health
Have a travel pocket toothbrush and a sample of dental floss with you for midday meals and snacks.

Diabetes Care
At least yearly dilated eye exams are recommended for diabetic patients.

Healthy Cooking
Overcooking your vegetables destroys their nutritional value. Eat your veggies lightly cooked.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Health Tips for March 7

Have Some Honey
Research suggests that honey may be more effective than over-the-counter cough syrup at quelling nighttime coughing. Use a medicinal-grade variety such as manuka honey and take up to 2 teaspoonfuls at bedtime.

Eat Broccoli
For healthy gums, put this green vegetable on your grocery list. It's an excellent source of vitamin C and provides calcium as well, both of which have been linked to lower rates of periodontal disease.

Bone Up on Calcium
Studies have found that supplementing with 500 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily may ease premenstrual symptoms. Other research suggests that getting calcium from foods (low-fat dairy, whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, spinach, and beans) may also ease PMS.

Seek Out Slippery Elm
To soothe a sore throat, try slippery elm, which can help ease pain by coating irritated tissue. Look for slippery elm lozenges and suck on them as needed.

Drink Green Tea
Hot or iced, green tea can help rev up your workout. Its catechins, antioxidants, and caffeine help increase the metabolic generation of heat. Drink a cup about 10 minutes before exercising.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Health Tips for March 6

Find Friendly Fungi
The medicinal mushroom cordyceps has traditionally been used to promote lung strength, and some studies show that it may improve symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Look for capsules or tinctures of cordyceps; follow package directions.

Break Out the Duct Tape
Stick it to warts with this unusual remedy. Some research found that applying the tape over problem areas for about a week helped clear up warts as well as conventional treatment. Duct tape may work by irritating the skin, triggering an immune reaction that fights the infection typically responsible for warts.

Wash Up
To fend off colds, washing your hands well and often is the best step you can take. Use plain soap and water and scrub for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday to You" twice.

Try a Tincture
For that most unpleasant of stomach upsets, diarrhea, blackberry root tincture can help. This herb contains tannins, substances that have astringent effects on the intestinal lining. Look for the tincture at health food stores or online. Take 1 teaspoon of it in water every two to four hours until symptoms subside.

Chew Some Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are considered a carminative, a substance that helps relieve gas. Chew and then swallow about half a teaspoon of the seeds after meals.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Health Tips for March 5

Drink Cranberry Juice
Cranberries contain a substance that appears to keep bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract and has been shown to help prevent UTIs. Because cranberry cocktail is high in sugar, drink unsweetened juice diluted with water or take capsules of powdered cranberry extract.

Swab Your Soles
Are you tired of having stinky feet? Kill odor-causing bacteria quickly by soaking a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and wiping your soles as needed.

Drink Mint Tea
Ease occasional indigestion by sipping a cup of peppermint tea after your meal. Peppermint improves the flow of bile, which moves food through the digestive tract more quickly. Use peppermint with caution if you have acid reflux; it can make that problem worse.

Get Your Daily D
Get your vitamin D level checked with a simple blood test. D is at least as important as calcium for strong bones, and most Americans don't get enough. Get a minimum of 1,000 IU a day through supplements and food.

Try a Tongue Scraper
To combat bad breath, consider investing in this inexpensive plastic or metal device to remove bacteria from the back of your tongue. Some studies suggest that adding tongue scraping to your regimen may be slightly more effective at eliminating breath odor than just brushing your teeth.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Health Tips for March 4

Watch Your Carbs
Trying to reduce belly fat? Pay attention to your carbohydrate intake and avoid artificial sweeteners. Sugary snacks and other refined carbs spike blood sugar and cause pounds to settle in your midsection. Choose whole grains, beans, and vegetables instead.

Use Calendula Products
To ease acne, forgo benzoyl peroxide for lotion or soap made from calendula flowers, which may have antiseptic effects.

Cayenne Pepper
To warm up cold feet, sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper into your socks. This folk remedy may help warm your toes by increasing circulation and improving blood flow.

Use Licorice
Treat canker sores, painful spots on the inside of the mouth, with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), which appears to soothe mucous membranes. Buy in powder form and mix with a little water to make a paste; apply it to the sore as needed.

Call a Friend
Keeping your social networks alive and well may help benefit your ticker over the long term. Social support has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, and people who do have heart attacks fare better if they are socially connected.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Health Tips for March 3

Go Natural
Avoid products that can damage or dry out your fingernails, such as formaldehyde-containing polishes and acetone-filled removers.

Eat Japanese Food
In addition to following good dental hygiene, you can help prevent cavities by adding more shiitake mushrooms and wasabi to your diet. Both foods contain compounds that help fight the bacteria that cause plaque and cavities.

Consider Black Cohosh
Evidence is mixed, but several studies have found that women who take the herb black cohosh during menopause may experience fewer and milder hot flashes. Talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you; if so, choose a well-studied brand such as Remifemin.

To treat an acute migraine, drink a full glass of water -- dehydration can trigger headaches. Even if you need to take a medication for the pain, try wrapping your head with an Ace bandage so that it covers your eyes, then lie down and breathe deeply. This often helps the pain pass more quickly.

Try Acupressure
Calm a queasy stomach with this quick acupressure trick: Use your index and middle fingers to press down on the groove between the tendons that run from the base of your palm to your wrist. Wristbands that apply pressure to this spot are available at drugstores and online.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Health Tips for March 2

Try Triphala
Avoid constipation and stay regular with Triphala, an Ayurvedic blend of three fruits that is believed to help tone the gastrointestinal tract. Look for capsules of Triphala and follow package directions.

Make Small Talk
Engaging in casual conversation with others may help keep you as sharp as doing a word puzzle, according to some studies. Just 10 minutes of daily chatter appears to improve mental function and preserve memory.

Befriend a Bottle
For heel and arch pain, try stretching your foot by rolling it over a rolling pin or a bottle.

Arm Yourself with Arnica
Homeopathic creams, gels, and ointments that contain arnica, a flower similar to the daisy, have long been used to relieve swelling and bruising. Rub into the affected area, but stop using if you develop skin irritation.

Go for GLA
If you've ruled out other causes of hair loss, such as stress, overuse of hair-care products, and certain medications and diseases such as hypothyroidism, consider supplementing with evening primrose oil. It's a good source of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that's needed for hair growth and is hard to get from your diet. Experts recommend taking 500 milligrams twice a day; expect to wait eight weeks to see results.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Health Tips for March 1

Try Tea Tree Oil
For athlete's foot, reach for tea tree oil, an extract of the leaves of an Australian tree. It appears to have antiseptic properties and may work as well as or better than over-the-counter antifungal products. Apply a light coating of the oil to affected areas two to three times a day; continue for a week or two after symptoms disappear.

Take Tulsi
Research suggests that this Ayurvedic herb, also called holy basil, may help manage levels of the stress hormone cortisol, helping to boost your mood. Look for teas and supplements in health-food stores and follow package directions.

Eat Avocados
For dry skin, incorporate more avocados into your diet. They're rich in monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, both of which promote healthy skin. Try them on salads and sandwiches, and even in smoothies.

Keep Echinacea Close
If you feel a cold coming on, consider reaching for this age-old remedy. A 2007 meta-analysis showed that the herb can reduce cold symptoms. Aim for three grams daily in tincture or capsule form, starting at the first sign of symptoms.

Invest in a Neti Pot
Plagued with sinus problems? Rinse your nasal passages twice a day to flush out pollen and other irritants. Put saline solution (a 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup warm water) in a plastic squirt bottle or a nasal irrigator, a spouted container that allows you to pour water directly into your nose. The solution should fill your nasal cavity and spill out the other nostril. Gently blow your nose afterward.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Health Tips for February 28

Eat Bananas
People whose diets are rich in potassium may be less prone to high blood pressure. Besides reducing sodium and taking other heart-healthy steps, eat potassium-packed picks such as bananas, cantaloupe, and oranges.

Love Lavender
To ease stress and prepare for bed, soak in a hot bath spiked with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Play soothing music while you bathe to unwind further.

Keep Capsaicin Cream on Hand
For sore muscles and joints, apply a cream or ointment that contains capsaicin, the active ingredient in chile peppers, two or three times a day. The heat from the peppers has been shown to help relieve pain.

Get a Massage
Certain trigger points -- spots of tension in musculoskeletal tissue -- can cause back pain. Ask a massage therapist or other bodyworker who specializes in myofascial release or neuromuscular therapy to focus on these points during a massage.

Go for Garlic
Adding raw or lightly cooked garlic and onions to your meals may help keep you healthy this winter. Both foods appear to possess antiviral and antibacterial properties and are believed to boost immunity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Health Tips for February 27

Sniff Rosemary
According to some research, catching a whiff of this aromatic herb may increase alertness and improve memory. To stay sharp, try smelling fresh rosemary or inhaling the scent of rosemary essential oil before a test or meeting.

Embrace Bitters
Combat a yen for sugar by following a Chinese medicine approach: Eat foods such as endive, radicchio, cooked greens, and olives.

Fish for Dry Eyes?
If you suffer from dry eyes, up your seafood intake. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which the body uses to produce tears, among other things. Research suggests that people who consume higher amounts of these fats are less likely to have dry eyes.

Pop a Probiotic
To keep yeast infections at bay, head for the vitamin aisle. Supplementing with "good" bacteria (for example, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium) may help restore the balance the of bacteria living in the female genital tract and inhibit the growth of yeast in women with recurrent infections. Foods such as naturally fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, as well as yogurt with active cultures, also contain these bacteria.

Benefit From Bilberry
Studies are mixed, but some have found that bilberry, a relative of the blueberry, may improve night vision. During World War II, fighter pilots reported better night vision after eating bilberry jam. Take 25 to 50 milligrams of bilberry extract; expect best results within the first few hours.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Health Tips for February 26

Oolong Tea for Eczema
Research suggests that people with mild eczema who drink oolong tea three times a day may show improvement in itching and other symptoms. Compounds in the tea called polyphenols appear to be responsible.

Herbal Treatment for Varicose Veins
For varicose veins, try horse chestnut, an herbal extract that's been shown in studies to strengthen veins and reduce swelling. The herb is also available in topical creams, though there's not as much evidence for these.

Tame Tension Headaches
Tame tension headaches by rubbing peppermint oil, Tiger Balm, or white flower oil into your temples. All three remedies contain menthol, which has analgesic properties.

Ginger for Congestion
The volatile oils in ginger have long made it a useful herbal remedy for nasal and chest congestion. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over a 1-inch piece of peeled, grated ginger; steep for 10 minutes; and strain. Add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to the water and drink as needed.

Get a Good Pair of Sneakers
Is your energy lagging? Though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you're tired, exercise -- even a brisk walk -- can be more effective than a nap or cup of coffee at fighting fatigue.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mediterranean Diet's Benefits Confirmed

The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as healthy. Now a study released Monday of the effects of a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, vegetables, fruits and fish confirms that.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the diet can reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by 30 percent.

Such a diet may seem like common sense, but researchers say the findings are significant because of the study's size and scientific rigor. It followed more than 7,400 people at risk of heart disease for nearly five years and measured the effects of the Mediterranean diet against a group that was assigned a low-fat diet.

"This study backs up what we thought we knew with science, and the results were pretty dramatic," said Dr. Rita Redberg, a UCSF cardiologist specializing in heart disease in women. "If this were a pill, people would be clamoring for it."

Redberg, who was not involved with the study, said one of the diet's main benefits is that it's not only heart-healthy, but it also promotes a way of eating that people can follow for a lifetime rather than just a few months. "This is a diet that's pretty doable, particularly for people living in Northern California, where we certainly have access to plenty of fruits and vegetables and grains," she said.

High-risk group

The study, which was conducted in Spain, involved people between 55 and 80 who did not have heart disease but were at risk of developing cardiovascular problems because of various factors, such as being overweight, smoking, having a family history of the disease, or having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Participants were assigned to one of three groups. People in two of the groups were required to follow a Mediterranean diet - in other words, meals rich in vegetables, fruit, fish and legumes. Those in the Mediterranean diet groups were instructed to add at least 4 tablespoons a day of extra-virgin olive oil to their daily diet. Those in the other group supplemented their meals with a combined ounce of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts each day.

Participants in the control group, which was being compared against the groups eating the Mediterranean diet, were encouraged to lower their fat intake by eating lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Midway through the study, its authors said, they intervened to offer more specific guidance about what the participants should eat and how to prepare their foods.

Clear results

The results were so clear that the study was ended early. The two groups assigned to the Mediterranean diet had fairly similar results, with 3.4 percent of the group that ate extra nuts suffering major cardiovascular problems, compared with 3.8 percent in the olive-oil group.

Meanwhile, 4.4 percent of participants in the control group had major cardiovascular problems. Reduced stroke risk, rather than lower heart attack risk, accounted for most of the difference between the Mediterranean groups and the low-fat group.

While the findings were heralded by many in the health care community, not everyone was impressed.

Dr. Dean Ornish, UCSF professor and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, criticized the study, contending that the control group was not monitored carefully enough and wasn't assigned a truly low-fat diet.

"A Mediterranean diet is a healthier diet than what most people are eating," Ornish said. "The problem is they claim (the study) was comparing it to a low-fat diet, and it wasn't."

Ornish said the American Heart Association recommends a diet with fewer than 30 percent of calories coming from fat, but the control group's levels edged closer to 40 percent. Ornish, who promotes his own heart-healthy diet, urges people trying to reverse the effects of heart disease to cut that figure to as low as 10 percent.

Easy to follow

Dr. Cesar Molina, co-founder of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, said the study promotes a diet that people can easily follow.

"You just have two fists of cooked vegetables per day; one fist - or the size of a tennis ball - serving of fruit each day," he said. He advised people to make olive oil their primary choice of dietary oil and have about 12 nuts daily - preferably walnuts, because they are a source of the healthful omega-3 fatty acid.

The study noted that some authors had financial ties to food, wine and other industry groups, and foods were supplied by olive oil and nut producers in Spain, as well as the California Walnut Commission.

Dennis Balint, chief executive officer of the California Walnut Commission, said walnut growers represented by his group provided a daily half-ounce of walnuts to the group that supplemented the Mediterranean diet with nuts.

Balint said he was surprised by the magnitude of the study's results, but not that the diet with nuts proved healthful. "Every nut has its strong suit. Our strong suit is the fact that walnuts have plant-based omega-3," he said.


To read the New England Journal of Medicine study, visit:

Health Tips for February 25

Eat Healthy
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
  • Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Eat a balanced diet to help keep a healthy weight.
Be Active
Physical activity helps to:
  • Maintain weight
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer
  • Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability
  • Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls
  • Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
Protect Yourself and Your Family
  • Wear helmets, seat belts, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  • Wash hands to stop the spread of germs.
  • Avoid smoking and breathing other people’s, or (second hand), smoke.
  • Build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends.
  • Be ready for emergencies. Gather emergency supplies. Make a plan. Be informed.
Manage Stress
  • Balance work, home, and play.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Stay positive.
  • Take time to relax.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Make sure kids get more, based on their age.
  • Get help or counseling if needed.
Get Check-Ups

  • Ask your doctor or nurse how you can lower your risk for health problems.
  • Find out what exams, tests, and shots you need and when to get them.
  • See your doctor or nurse for regular check-ups and as often as directed. Get seen if you feel sick, have pain, notice changes, or have problems with medicine.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Health Tips for February 24

Did you know that you can get more oxygen if you breathe out through pursed lips? Try when walking.

Have a Healthy Sex Life?
For a healthy sex life, treat your partner as lovingly in the kitchen as you do in the bedroom.

Sugar and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Avoid sugar in your diet. Sugar causes inflammation and will make your arthritis worse.

Aging Gracefully
Getting older does not mean avoiding exercise. Be safe, but stretch, walk, and use your muscles!

Trying to Conceive?
Only take medications that your OB/GYN recommends.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Health Tips for February 23

Heart Fact
Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood to the body.

Living with Dialysis
Home dialysis can greatly improve the quality of your life. Ask your kidney center about training.

Hair and Skin Care
To maintain healthy skin and hair, don't wash too often! This can strip protective oils.

Preventing Cancer
While cancer can be caused by many things, you can improve your health and minimize risk of cancer by not smoking, having a healthy diet, watching calorie intact, most things in moderation, avoid and learn to manage stress, and stay hydrated.

Diabetes Care

  • Learn all you can about proper diabetic nutrition.
  • Try to avoid being uncontrolled. An A1c less than 6.5 is optimal and achievable if you put in the work. Even with medication, an A1c greater than 7 for prolonged periods will ultimately cause debilitating problems.
  • Take your medicines.
  • Get your labs done every 3-4 months.
  • Get your annual eye and feet exams.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Health Tips for February 22

Acne Treatment
Give any new or change in treatment a good 6 weeks or so, before you decide if it worked or not.

Fibromyalgia Fact
A majority of fibromyalgia patients also have sleep apnea.

Eye Health and Diabetes
At least yearly dilated eye exams are recommended for diabetic patients.

Exercise and CHF
Proper exercise can strengthen your heart and reduce your CHF symptoms.

Tanning and Beauty
Wear a big hat and sunscreen for beauty. Tanning is not the way to become more beautiful. UVA rays cause wrinkling and the dark color. UVB rays cause skin thickening and cancer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Health Tips for February 21

Dental Health
The average American spends about 38 days brushing teeth over his or her lifetime.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Reduce flairs with a bowel regimen. Your goal should be two soft bowel movements daily.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Less than four percent of all arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis.

After they reach the age of 70, men are more likely to experience low bone mass and fractures.

If you lose your cool with your kid, take time to apologize. "I'm sorry" is extremely powerful!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What to Keep in a First Aid Kit

A Proper Container
Your first aid kit should be portable and easily accessible. A small plastic tackle box or art supply box makes a good first aid kit, or you can use something as simple as a resealable freezer bag.

Where to Store Your First Aid Kit
Keep your home first aid kit in a central location so that it will be accessible during emergencies. Remember to keep it out of reach of small children. It's a good idea to maintain two different first aid kits: one for the home, and another for the car. Some practical places to store first aid kits include:

  • bathroom or kitchen cabinet
  • car (glove compartment is most accessible)
  • workshop
  • garage

The Most Important Item for a Car First Aid Kit
Your car first aid kit must have a cellular phone. There is no better tool in the event of an emergency.

Cellular phones must have enough battery power to turn the phone on, but you don't need a current contract with a service provider to call 9-1-1: federal law mandates that cell phones must be able to reach 9-1-1 anytime the number is dialed, regardless of the service agreement. So take your old cell phone that you don't use anymore and put it in your first aid kit for emergencies. If you don't have an old cell phone, you can find one via various programs that unite old, unused cell phones with people who need them for emergencies.

Items for Your First Aid Kit

  • first aid manual
  • acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • tweezers
  • splint
  • alcohol wipes
  • antiseptic wipes
  • antiseptic hand cleanser
  • medical adhesive tape
  • sterile gauze (four inch squares are best)
  • elastic bandages
  • thermometer
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • several sizes of adhesive bandages
  • insect bite swabs
  • triple antibiotic ointment
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • safety pins
  • calamine lotion
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • bandage scissors
  • triangular bandages
  • instant cold packs
  • exam gloves
  • barrier device for CPR
  • list of emergency phone numbers and important family medical info
  • blanket (stored nearby)

After You've Stocked Your First Aid Kits

  • Read the entire first aid manual so you'll understand how to use the contents of your kits. (If your kids are old enough to understand, review the manual with them.)
  • Check the kits regularly. Replace missing items or medicines that may have expired.
  • Check the flashlight batteries to make sure they work.
  • If you're flying, be sure to pack the first aid kit in your checked luggage. Many of the items won't be permitted in your carry-on bags.

Health Tips for February 20

Trying to Conceive?
Avoid all alcohol/drug use when trying to conceive, in case you do get pregnant.

Living with Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
Avoid "cured meats." They contain nitrates and nitrites which can make your PVD much worse.

Want Healthy Kidneys?
Your kidney's job is to filter your blood. Drinking enough pure water will help them function better.

Depression can be caused by undiagnosed thyroid disease. Make sure your MD checks you for it.

Healthy Cooking Tip
Boil or poach your eggs to preserve the nutritional content of the fats and vitamins within them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to tell a cold from the flu

The common cold and flu are caused by different viruses but can have some similar symptoms, making them tough to tell apart. In general, the flu is worse and symptoms are more intense.

COLDS: Usual symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat and sneezing. Coughs are hacking and productive. It's unusual to have fever, chills, headaches and body aches, and if they do occur, they are mild.

FLU: Fever is usually present, along with chills, headache and moderate-to-severe body aches and tiredness. Symptoms can come on rapidly, within three to six hours. Coughs are dry and unproductive, and sore throats are less common.

PREVENTION: To avoid colds and flu, wash your hands with warm water and soap after you've been out in public or around sick people. Don't share cups or utensils. And get a flu vaccination — officials say it's not too late, even in places where flu is raging.

TREATMENT: People with colds or mild cases of the flu should get plenty of rest and fluids. Those with severe symptoms, such as a high fever or difficulty breathing, should see a doctor and may be prescribed antiviral drugs or other medications. Children should not be given aspirin without a doctor's approval.