Pets and People: Benefits of Having a Pet

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It goes without saying that 2020 and so far, 2021 has been exceedingly difficult and challenging to say the least, for many people.  Statistics show an increase in anxiety and depression in adults and children, suicides, drug, and alcohol abuse, as well as domestic abuse.  As we move through this unique time in our lives our goal should be to find ways to thrive, to be the best we can be both physically and mentally.  I want to explore the amazing health benefits of having a pet .  Moreover, people are exploring and utilizing the extraordinary healing powers that pets possess through therapy programs.  You see them in senior’s homes, hospitals, and schools. Not to mention their invaluable help as assistants for those with health challenges.

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Health Benefits

According to PIHHEALTH.ORG pets not only offer unconditional love and companionship but they also suggest:

Decrease stress – A study from the State University of New York noted that people experienced less stress when performing a task in the company of their pet than when a spouse, family or friend was close by.

Lower blood pressure – Owning a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure. This finding is associated with the decreased level of stress people experience while being around their pet.

Ease Pain – According to Mayo Clinic, pets have the power to help heal patients experiencing emotional or physical pain. Pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover and better cope with health problems.

Improve mood – People who own a pet tend to be happier, more trusting and less lonely than those who do not. Pet owners are also less likely to visit the doctor for minor issues.

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Social magnets – Pets attract people which can help you make connections more easily. If you are not the best at socializing, take your pet such as a dog to a nearby park and see how others naturally become drawn to your furry friend.

Prevent allergies and improve immunity – Pets spend much of their time outside and bring in all sorts of germs into the home, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The outside germs can help boost your immunity which will help prevent colds and other mild illnesses.

Improve fitness – All dogs need regular exercise to stay happy and healthy and coincidentally, we need exercise too! Dogs can give you that extra motivation to take a walk around your neighborhood or play Frisbee at a nearby park.

Long Term Health Benefits

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More recently, says Rebecca Johnson, a nurse who heads the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, studies have been focusing on the fact that interacting with animals can increase people’s level of the hormone oxytocin.

“That is very beneficial for us,” says Johnson. “Oxytocin helps us feel happy and trusting.” Which, Johnson says, may be one of the ways that humans bond with their animals over time.

But Johnson says it may also have longer-term human health benefits. “Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”

Alternatives

If you already have a pet give them an extra hug or treat in gratitude for how they’ve added to your life.  If you don’t have a pet but are considering it, keep in mind it is a big responsibility that must not be taken lightly because they need a lot of love and care and they need to thrive just as much as humans do.  But once you take that leap it is well worth it.  If you can’t have a pet, you can also explore some volunteer work.  Volunteers are always needed and much appreciated in any capacity when it comes to animals.  You will not only be helping people and animals, but you will gain all the benefits of being around animals too.

The Lockdown’s Effect on Mental Health

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Lockdowns, gyms being closed, holidays alone, and being separated from classmates, friends, and family members are just a few of the factors that have made the pandemic extremely hard on mental health. In fact, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic.

Let’s take a closer look now at the impact COVID-19 is having on mental health.

Anxiety and Depression During the Lockdown

Before the pandemic had even made it to the United States, it was wreaking havoc on the mental health of people in China. Half a dozen studies with more than 10,000 respondents showed that people experienced worse mental health problems than before the pandemic, including high symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Up to half of the respondents showed serious signs of depression, and 35 percent showed serious anxiety. Studies find that the stress and anxiety fueled by the pandemic also cause poor sleep, creating a vicious cycle. The more we lay awake worrying at night, concerned about the pandemic, the worse our mental health becomes.

Loneliness During the Lockdown

Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and travel restrictions have left people feeling more isolated than normal. 1 in 7 U.S. adults said they were often or always feeling lonely in April 2020, up more than 25 percent from 2018. However, we also saw a shift to more FaceTime calls and Zoom hangouts, and these things contributed to respondents in a separate study reporting feelings of “remarkable resilience.” So, not only did they not become lonely during the pandemic, but they gained a greater sense of community support.

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Domestic Violence During the Lockdown

Another unfortunate side effect of the pandemic and a major contributor to stress, shame, and anxiety is a spike in domestic violence worldwide. Sixty percent of people who were experiencing domestic violence pre-pandemic report the violence worsened during the pandemic. This is likely caused by increased stress, unemployment, spending more time at home, and shelters being forced to close their doors. The threat of abuse compounds the stress, anxiety, and fear that a lot of victims were already experiencing during the pandemic.

The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 are Worse for Disadvantaged Groups

Researchers worldwide set out to discover what else was making people vulnerable to mental health issues during COVID-19. They found that among the risk factors were people with poor health or chronic conditions who have a higher tendency of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Researchers also found education and income played a role. The less stable the income and education, studies showed, the more anxiety, depression, and stress experienced.

Vital Self-Care Tools

  • If you can’t physically see loved ones doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. Lean on virtual chats with tools like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime.
  • Physical activity is vital for mental health so make sure to make time for it even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. We can mental health, mental health awareness month, mental health services, mental health quotesnever underestimate the power of physical activity on our mental and emotional well-being.
  • Taking a moment each day for positive reflection will ensure that a part of each day has been dedicated to your well-being.
  • Don’t hesitate to create a support system with friends, family and others who can relate.  Seek out online support groups.
  • Talk to your health care professional who can guide you through these difficult times and give you more resources.
  • Eating a healthy well balanced diet will create a positive environment from inside out.

Effects of Lockdowns on Teen Nutrition

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Covid lockdowns have either been a hit or miss amongst teenagers. Some have taken these lockdowns as an opportunity to self-improve, while others have fallen into poor habits. Many have found themselves binge-eating and snacking frequently due to boredom, oftentimes these snacks are not the healthiest choices either. In addition, the lack of physical activity along with poor eating habits and nutrition will further result in a major increase in diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular pathologies, etc. in the upcoming generation of young adults.

Symptoms of Poor  Teen Nutrition

 

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Poor nutrition alone in teens can result in:

  • Skin problems (acne)
  • Poor bone health
  • Decrease in growth
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Mental health issues
  • Emotional health issues
  • Increased weight
  • Decreased energy

Furthermore, proper nutrition has been proven to help improve mental health and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and overall increase emotional health and energy. Being in lockdown, many teens have been experiencing a range of mental health issues, all of which can be bettered with proper nutrition. In a study conducted in 2013, it was found that teenagers who avoided eating processed foods and sugar while consuming a diet that consisted of a large number of vegetables, fruits, fish and grains had a 25-35% lower risk of developing depression than those who had poor nutritional diets.

How to improve teen nutrition and overall health

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The challenge is not only in the choices that teenagers are making, but also for parents and families to create a healthy food environment and help guide these adolescents to develop the fundamental skills of good eating habits and proper nutrition. Although poor nutrition can cause life-long damage, awareness and action can reverse/avoid many of those damages from carrying on into adulthood. Luckily, there are many ways that teens can improve their nutrition and overall health. Some ways to do so include:

  • Eating three balanced meals everyday with healthy snacks in-between.
  • Increasing the amount of fiber eaten. This is beneficial because fiber is more filling and will lessen the urge to binge eat or snack.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Limiting the consumption of red meat. Chicken and fish are great alternatives to red meat due to the fact that red meat contains more saturated fat.
  • Switching out juices and carbonated drinks for water.
  • Physical activity. It is important for teenagers to get at least 60 minuets of exercise daily. Exercise is essential because it helps with muscle gain, weight control, improve mental health, and reducing the risks of developing health conditions and heart diseases.

Snack Ideas

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To conclude, here are some examples of easy snack switches to help improve your nutrition.

  • Chips -> Kale chips
  • Chips/crackers and dip -> Vegetables and hummus
  • Cookies -> Fruit with nut butter
  • Ice cream -> Frozen Greek yogurt covered fruits
  • Chocolate -> Trail mix with dark chocolate

 

 

 

Immune-boosting Foods: Supercharge Your Body

The immune system is the body’s defense against attacks by external micro-organisms. When this defense fails, you fall sick, and at other times, your body successfully fights the germs and keeps you healthy. The immune system as the name suggests, is a collective system of cells, organs, and networks. It is not just a single entity. Scientists are still in the process of understanding how the immune system can be boosted as a whole.

They are still studying whether immunity booster tablets can help in boosting the immune system or do they have adverse effects.

We have compiled a list of immune-boosting foods to help fight against micro-organisms and supercharge your body.

Immune-boosting Foods

Blueberries

These tiny little berries are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in several other nutrients like vitamin A, C, K, fiber, manganese, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and so many more.

They provide essential micronutrients to the body, and their antioxidant properties help undo a lot of free radical damage done to cells.

These properties are said to have a substantial effect on the disease-fighting abilities of the body and help in keeping most diseases at bay.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help in healing the immune system after a germ attack due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

They also influence the functions of immune cells which makes them important for the overall performance of the immune system.

While it is known that fishes and fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, there are many options for vegetarians as well. Ensure that your diet is rich in nuts like walnuts, seeds such as flax seeds and chia seeds, soybeans, eggs, spinach, etc.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues. It heals wounds, plays an important role in keeping skin healthy, promotes bone growth, and helps perform many more important functions.

Its high antioxidant properties reduce the effect of the damage done to cells from free radicals, thereby helping in the prevention of diseases like cancer.

The body does not produce vitamin C, hence you must get them from fruits and vegetables.

You can get your daily dose of vitamin C from tomatoes, oranges, carrots, green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, potatoes, berries, pineapples, kiwi, mangoes, and many more

 

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Green tea

Green teas are rich in phenolics and antioxidants that help them undo some of the oxidative damage. They strengthen the immune system and help fight several infections that you might be at risk of.

Green tea helps speed up metabolism, detoxifies the body, and has weight loss properties.

Add some pure honey to your daily cup of green tea to multiply the effects, as honey is another powerful ingredient that can supercharge your immune system.

Foods rich in Zinc

Consuming foods with a high concentration of zinc can help prevent rashes, keep your immune system strong, and prevent infections while also promoting normal body growth. If you tend to catch a cold easily, Zinc might help you keep it at bay as they are said to treat the common cold.

Non-vegetarians can get their daily requirements of zinc from meat, poultry, oysters, and other shellfish, while vegetarians can consume legumes, seeds, dairy, whole grains, and mushrooms.

Garlic

Ideally, garlic tops the list of foods containing immunity enhancing antioxidants to supercharge your immune system. Garlic can help fight infections, heal wounds and treat cold and flu due to its antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Since ancient times, eating a clove of garlic is said to provide various health benefits and promote overall good health.

The compounds present in garlic help boost the disease-fighting responses in cells in the body boosts your immune system. boosts your immune system.

Immune-boosting Tips

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  • Keep yourself hydrated at all times. It helps your body flush out toxins, catalyzes different bodily functions, and also facilitates repair in cells and tissues.
  • Sleep well and get 6-8 hours of sleep daily as when you sleep, your body does most of the repair and maintenance. Without proper sleep, your immune system may be susceptible to diseases.
  • Quit smoking and limit your consumption of alcohol.
  • Include probiotics and prebiotics in your diet that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.
  • You must also ensure that you get your daily dose of exercise through some form of physical activity. Exercise helps in maintaining good blood circulation, burns extra calories, and also catalyzes the process where toxins get flushed from your body.

Conclusion

The key is to lead a healthy and well-balanced life. You can boost your immunity by simply making a visit to your neighborhood grocery store rather than the supplement stores. Consuming these fresh fruits and vegetables will not cause any adverse effect that synthetic materials in supplements might.

Steer clear of artificial supplements, as there is insufficient information on the role they play and the side effects that they may cause in the long run.

Essential Oils: Benefits and What to look for

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What is all the fuss about?

There are entire stores dedicated to scent whether it’s a candle, diffuser, skin lotion, body spray, massage oils etc, you name it, and chances are you’ll find it.  I think we can all agree that, at the very least, scents have an affect on us, good or bad.  You walk into a bakery and smell freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and you can’t wait to take that first bite.  Or your partner puts on their favourite scent and if you smell that scent somewhere you think of them.  How many times have you smelled something and said to yourself “that reminds me of….”  That is the power of aroma so let’s take a look a deeper look at it.  Aromatherapy can be defined as the use of essential oils for the purpose of holistic therapeutic healing and essential oils are derived from plants.  There are different ways to use essential oils and you can visit aromadina.com to find out more.

What you need to know

Whether you just like the scent or you’re looking at it as additional support for conditions, it’s important to know a few things before you buy essential oils.

 

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  • Remember to always consult your healthcare provider first before using essential oils.
  • Ingesting, or swallowing, essential oils is not recommended. Taken by mouth, the oils can damage the liver or kidneys. They can also lead to interactions with other drugs, and they can undergo unexpected changes while in the gut.
  • They should never be used directly on the skin but instead mixed with a carrier oil or lotion.
  • Make sure to do your research when shopping for essential oils. Watch out for the quality of the product. There are EO’s out there that are not pure.  They should be tightly sealed in dark glass bottles.  Read the label to make sure it doesn’t say “fragrance” oil.  Fragrance oils will have synthetic ingredients or extenders.  It won’t contain the essential parts of real plants.
  • The quality also depends on the plants that were used which can be affected by weather, growing conditions and whether pesticides or other chemicals were used. Processing and packaging are also factors.
  • Read the label to check that the Latin name of the plant being used is clearly stated, which part(s) of the plant was used, how it was extracted and how it was grown.

Some Common Essential Oils and their Uses:

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  • Basil essential oil is used to sharpen concentration and alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. It may relieve headaches and migraines. It should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Bergamot essential oil is said to be useful for the urinary tract and digestive tract. When combined with eucalyptus oil it may help relieve skin problems, including those caused by stress and chicken pox.
  • Black pepper essential oil is commonly used for stimulating the circulation, muscular aches and pains, and bruises. Combined with ginger essential oil, it is used to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility.
  • Chamomile essential oil can treat eczema.
  • Citronella essential oil is a relative of lemongrass and acts as an insect repellent.
  • Clove essential oil is a topical analgesic, or painkiller, that is commonly used for toothache. It is also used as an antispasmodic antiemetic, for preventing vomiting and nausea, and as a carminative, preventing gas in the gut. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil can help relieve the airways during a cold or flu. It is often combined with peppermint. Many people are allergic to eucalyptus, so care should be taken.
  • Geranium essential oil can be use for skin problems, to reduce stress, and as a mosquito repellant.
  • Jasmine essential oil has been described as an aphrodisiac. While scientific evidence is lacking, research has shown that the odor of jasmine increases beta waves, which are linked to alertness.
  • Lavender essential oil is used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns and to enhance relaxation and sleep. It is said to relieve headache and migraine symptoms.
  • Lemon essential oil is said to improve mood, and to help relieve the symptoms of stress and depression.
  • Rosemary essential oil may promote hair growth, boost memory, prevent muscle spasms, and support the circulatory and nervous systems.
  • Sandalwood essential oil is believed by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.
  • Tea tree essential oil is said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities. It is commonly used in shampoos and skin care products, to treat acne, burns, and bites. It features in mouth rinses, but it should never be swallowed, as it is toxic.
  • Thyme essential oil is said to help reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.
  • Yarrow essential oil is used to treat symptoms of cold and flu, and to help reduce joint inflammation.

Light Therapy: Benefits of Vitamin D Lamps

Optimally, everyone should get at least 15 minutes of sun for three days a week to be in good health. Unfortunately, those that do not live near the equator may not have access to that amount of sun throughout the year. And in today’s busy climate, very few have the time to get into the sun enough to meet recommendations.  Light therapy is a great way to get the Vitamin D we need.  You may wonder how the sun is linked to vitamin D so here is a simple explanation. The sun’s UV radiation helps vitamin D precursors in the body to be converted into a usable form.

Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

 

Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and can combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which includes emotional and physical changes due to change in seasons. Lack of vitamin D may also lead to several complications in the body, including rickets, a reason why you need an alternative source of Vitamin D especially when sun exposure is low. An excellent way to always ensure you get Vitamin D is by using vitamin D lamps.

Vitamin D Lamps for Light Therapy

Vitamin D lamps are sun lamps used for phototherapy. They are fluorescent lamps that produce high-intensity ultraviolet-B (blue) rays. These rays trigger vitamin D production in the body. Here are the benefits of using a Vitamin D lamp:

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  1. Provides you with vitamin D during the winter season, a season when there are less available foods containing vitamin D
  2. Gives you a refreshed morning- Even with no sunrise, you get to experience ‘sun’ for a few hours in the morning.
  3. Boosts vitamin D deficiency as researchers have found that it can significantly increase serum Vitamin D levels even more than when using other supplements.
  4. Great for those who have problems using oral supplements due to side effects such as inflammatory bowel disease and cystic fibrosis.
  5. Improves sleep in people struggling with insomnia. Helps regulate melatonin, allowing the body to control the sleep-wake cycle.
  6. Helps ward off seasonal depression by regulating the serotonin which relays signals to the brain and enhances your mood.
  7. Phototherapy is used to treat people with dementia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  8. The vitamin D lamps are adjustable and can be placed in any position. They are also portable hence easy to carry when travelling. This means that you can get your Vitamin D anywhere, anytime.
  9. Helps boost vitamin D facilitating the absorption of calcium in the body, promoting healthy bone growth and reducing the risk of related health conditions such as rickets.
  10. Helps modulate the immune system, regulate gene and cell growth, prevent frequent infections, and promote fast wound healing

Vitamin D Deficiency

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With the following signs and symptoms, you could start phototherapy with guidance from your healthcare practitioner.

• Fatigue and muscle weakness
• Bone and joint pain
• Slow wound healing
• Frequent infections

Tips when using a vitamin D lamp for light therapy

• Position the lamp 2-3 feet away from where you are to allow better concentration and dispersion of the light.
• Start with 30-40 minutes per day. If you don’t see changes, increase to an hour.
• Be consistent with your light therapy to see the above health benefits.

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Bottom line

With a Vitamin D lamp, you can still get the right amount of Vitamin D that your body needs even when there is reduced sun exposure. Get yourself a lamp and say goodbye to insomnia, seasonal depression and other related conditions. Always consult with your health practitioner, especially if you have any underlying health conditions, to know the right Vitamin D lamp to purchase.

Resources

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2008-05-10-0805090323-story.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-health-the-best-light-therapy-lamp-2020-20200813-wdbrnaby6ff2bazsu7mbhsixxm-story.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-health-8-products-that-will-combat-seasonal-affective-disorder-20190108-story.html

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-sun-lamps-best-to-improve-your-winter-mood/

 

Arthritis: Natural Remedies

 

Joints do not age the same way that people do. Joints can age due to overuse, also known as wear and tear. In the United States, 23% of all adults—over 54 million people—have arthritis. About 24 million adults are limited in their activities from arthritis, and more than 1 in 4 adults with arthritis report severe joint pain.

 What Does Arthritis Pain Feel Like?

 “Arth” means joint, and “itis’ means inflammation of. It makes perfect sense that arthritis is the inflammation of the joint. It is not a specific type of pain or disease like many might think. The joint swells and is red and hot. When this swelling occurs over a long period of time, pressure is created, which then causes pain. If it is left alone, the joints are damaged and destroyed over time.

 Can Arthritis Happen Suddenly?

Pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints are common symptoms. Depending on the type of arthritis, symptoms can develop suddenly or gradually over time. Symptoms may come and go or persist over time.

 What Are the Early Signs?

Symptoms of can include…

  1. Joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness.
  2. Inflammation in and around the joints.
  3. Restricted movement of the joints.
  4. Warm red skin over the affected joint.
  5. Weakness and muscle wasting.

The Three Most Common Types

  • Osteoarthritis the most common form.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks parts of the body—especially the joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis affects the skin and joints.

What Can You Do to Naturally Treat Arthritis?

There are numerous approaches to arthritis treatment. It can include:

  1. Chiropractic care,
  2. Diet reduction of foods known to increase inflammation in the body,
  3. Nutritional supplementation,
  4. Acupuncture,
  5. Exercise, and
  6. Weight management.

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Can a Chiropractor Help Prevent Damage with Arthritis?

 Chiropractic care is a great option to manage pain that comes with having arthritis. It is a safe, nonsurgical, natural alternative to pain treatments. Chiropractors are skilled in detecting and correcting misalignments and joint issues with gentle and specialized adjustments.

Chiropractors work with the joints of the spine and extremities. When inflammation is present in the body, certain chemicals are released by the body and it starts to deposit calcium in the joint, causing bone spurs and other problems that cause the joints to break down.

We will be the first to admit that arthritis cannot be cured, even by chiropractic intervention. What we can do is prevent the damage arthritis creates. If a joint is fixated and out of alignment, it is not working the way it should. The stuck or uneven surfaces will begin to grind. This grinding causes inflammation, leading to arthritis, and if left untreated, joint damage results.

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The Crucial Time Frame

If we can allow for proper alignment and function, we will have stopped the process that can cause the arthritis in the first place. Studies show that when a joint is stuck for seven days or longer, it causes microtears in the disc. These tears mean the disc is breaking down and decaying, thereby causing arthritis.

We will make sure your joints are never fixated for more than those crucial seven days, preventing deterioration. We suggest arthritis patients see us regularly, and we will make your personalized recommendations for care after thoroughly assessing your case.

Top Supplements to Help Treat the Pain

  1. Curcumin (from turmeric root) Evidence suggests the turmeric root has anti-inflammatory properties. …
  2. Vitamin D. If you have arthritis pain or are at high risk for arthritis, your nutritionist may recommend a vitamin D supplement. …
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids. …
  4. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

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 In the Kitchen with Arthritis:

 Foods that are known to cause inflammation are best to be avoided, some include …

  • Processed foods. Avoid processed foods, such as baked goods and prepackaged meals and snacks.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Sugar and certain sugar alternatives.
  • Red meat and fried foods.
  • Refined carbohydrates.
  • Cheese and high-fat dairy.
  • Alcohol.

 

Fibromyalgia Pain: Combat the Cold

Fibromyalgia pain

Fibromyalgia-what is it?

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. It can have a complex collection of symptoms that can include muscle, tendon, and ligament pain; fatigue; multiple tender points; and depression. Cold weather can make these symptoms worse and it can be felt deep in the bones, tightening the joints and cause a feeling of achiness.

Why is Fibromyalgia pain worse in winter?

While winter is a season that brings balance to all living things and prepares the earth for creatures to enjoy when spring arrives, it’s not the case for everyone. For some, winter means more difficulties, aggravated pains, mood disorders, cognitive dysfunction (fibro fog), and stress. The flare-ups in symptoms are widely associated with cold, damp days and a drop in barometric pressure. So, how and why does cold weather aggravate pain for people with fibromyalgia?

 

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When a patient gets chilled, it can be extremely hard to warm back up. The cold seems to penetrate bones and cause muscles to contract; therefore, triggering chronic pain. According to medical science, a potential reason for aggravated pain and fatigue is abnormally high numbers of hypersensitive sensory nerves in the nervous system. The hypersensitized central nervous system for people dealing with fibromyalgia pain misinterprets cold as a pain signal. This misinterpretation tends to increase the pain and provoke other symptoms like fatigue, forgetfulness, decreased concentration, and sleep disturbances. Even with these claims, scientists are yet to find a viable and robust association between cold weather and pain in fibromyalgia.

Despite some researchers claiming there is no direct link between cold weather and fibromyalgia symptoms, most patients tend to experience the worst during colder months. Health professionals claim that the worsening of fibro symptoms is likely due to the fact that people tend to be less active during the winter. Lack of exercise can result in physical de-conditioning, translating to intense pain and fatigue.

According to Dr. Robert Bennett, worsening fibro symptoms can also be triggered by other pre-existing conditions. He identifies the conditions as co-morbid and co-existing conditions.

  • Co-morbid conditions: These are unconventional co-existing disorders that tend to occur often alongside other medical conditions; therefore, making the situation worse.
  • Co-existing conditions: These are medical conditions that co-occur in a patient without any significant co-morbidity relevance. Primarily, co-existing conditions weaken the immune system making other disorders seem more prevalent.

Dr. Robert suggests that patients should keep an eye on other disorders when diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia. Some co-existing and co-morbid conditions also tend to be affected by cold weather, making the situation severe.

Fibromyalgia often co-exists with other conditions, such as:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Migraine and other types of headaches
  • Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome

How can you combat the symptoms during winter?

Fibromyalgia patients need to improvise ways to stay warm and welcome anything to help keep the chronic pain and other fibro symptoms at bay. The good news is there are ways to weather the symptoms during the cold season!

 

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As scientists continue to study the disorder, people with fibromyalgia need to bundle up and avoid the winter chill. Here are some other tips to explore to get through the winter season:

  • Get quality sleep: remove any of your electronic devices from your bedroom, try to got to bed at the same time every night, don’t eat a heavy meal or drink alcohol before bed and avoid exercise right before bed.
  • Reduce stress: try yoga or meditation, don’t try to take on more than you can handle.
  • Eat healthy: certain foods can trigger symptoms so try to track those foods and cut them out of your diet. Common triggers can be sugar, gluten and dairy.  Supplementing with Vitamin D is also beneficial.
  • Light therapy: reduced daylight in winter can trigger depression which is often associated with Fibromyalgia.  Re-creating sunshine with a light box can help.

 

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  • Find support: there are many resources that can offer help.  Local support groups and online communities can be a great way to get the emotional support you need.

 

 

At Home Fitness: Expectations vs. Reality

At Home Fitness

Why do we want to get fit at home?

Everyday we are challenged with the busyness of life: taking care of our families, going to work or school, taking care of our home, making time for friends, the list goes on. But how do we take care of ourselves? One vital component is physical exercise. The list of benefits is endless but, in a nutshell, it promotes strong muscles and bones. It improves respiratory and cardiovascular health. Staying active can also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and reduce your risk for some cancers. Exercise can help with your mental well being too. So now, how do we achieve these goals with at-home fitness?

What are your at-home fitness goals?

For those who have already begun the journey, the challenge right now may be how to get fit at home. For those just getting started, the additional challenge may be what to do, how to get started. For everyone, I think it’s important to remember the why behind what you’re doing. Setting goals- a vision for yourself will keep you on track.

 

How to get fit at home?

Everyone’s goals are different and most importantly we must remember to not compare ourselves to anyone else. The only comparisons we should be making is between workouts or within the goals you set out for yourself. We are all unique and therefore to compare yourself to someone else will be fruitless and frustrating. Write down your goals to help keep you on track and stay focused on your vision for yourself. In these times, when you’re trying to get fit at home, perhaps a different set of goals is needed because the challenge will be- how do I achieve my goals without the resources I had before the lockdown? Changing your goals, even if it’s temporary, is okay. If you’re used to working out at a gym where you had all the resources and equipment at your disposal, your challenge may be to let go of the goals you had set out for yourself pre-pandemic and setting new goals for your fitness at home.

How do I achieve at-home fitness?

If you already have equipment, great! But for some, the option of equipment may be out of the question because of lack of space or because buying equipment is too expensive. So, for cardiovascular fitness, walking, running or biking outdoors is a great way to work towards your goal. If can’t do any of these there are options like walking or running up and down a staircase (tip: gradually add weight to make it more challenging), or dancing to your favorite tunes. And, since you are at home you can check out the enormous library of online workouts that are geared to suit your needs and your goals without the use of equipment.

 

Fitness At Home

Strength training at home is achievable you just have to get creative if you want to use equipment. Ever thought of things like jugs of water, bags of rice, cans of food, or even kitty litter? Yes!! All these things can be used for weight training. I bet your wondering “I don’t have a cat so why would I buy kitty litter?” Well, along with doing yourself some good you can do your local animal shelter some good too! When you are back to your normal routine at the gym you can donate anything you don’t need.  Click here if you’re interested in building strength

But remember it’s not always the amount of weight that makes an exercise challenging or stimulates muscle growth. Using lighter weight correctly will cause that muscle to burn!! Try this, take a weight (whatever it may be) and really slow down the movement. There are a couple of ways to do this. If an average count for a bench press (for example) is 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down, then try a 4 second count up and 2 seconds down. Try the opposite or slow down the count for both up and down. The idea here is, to use a variety of counts to challenge your muscles AND always change it up. Your muscles have a memory so they will adapt quickly to an exercise. So, the goal is to change the way a muscle is challenged and if you can’t do it by increasing the weight you use because you don’t have that option then change the intensity of the exercise by changing the speed with which you do it.

There are a variety of strengthening exercises that just require your own bodyweight. And, believe me, when done correctly they are incredibly challenging. You can checkout examples of exercises online.

Fitness at Home – How do I get started?

If you are just starting on your  at-home fitness journey, the important thing to remember is to start out slow and build up. If you start out too aggressively chances are you will quit because you will be sore and feel horrible. Keep a journal so you can track your progress, be accountable and stay focused. Always start by a warming up. This could be a light walk or even dancing. A warmup will allow the blood to start flowing to the muscles and lubricate the joints in preparation for the demands you will be placing on your body. It is also a good idea to do some stretching before and after.

CBD For Fibromyalgia Relief

CBD For Fibromyalgia Relief

Approximately 6% of the world’s population suffers from Fibromyalgia. Although there is no said “cure”, all hope is not lost. In fact, there are a variety of treatments and techniques currently being researched to help manage fibro symptoms and pain. Gaining in popularity is CBD oil for Fibromyalgia relief, here’s why.

what is fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia – What is It?

Fibromyalgia is considered a chronic condition. It’s main symptom includes widespread musculoskeletal pain which is usually accompanied by:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Migraines
  • Insomnia

Those who suffer from this condition often have amplified sensitivity to pain. Some researchers believe it’s the result of an abnormality within the central nervous system affecting pain signals.

what is cbd oil

What Is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 120 cannabinoids that are extracted from the cannabis plant. This type of cannabinoid contains only a tiny amount of THC. As such, cannot result in a euphoric ‘high’ commonly experienced with using cannabis.

CBD is capable of interacting with receptors found in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a molecular signaling system that is responsible for enhancing wellness through the regulation of biological systems.

The ECS is associated with the regulation of a variety of physiological and cognitive processes such as:

  • Memory
  • Mood
  • Appetite
  • Inflammation

It’s easy to see why Fibromyalgia patients are so interested in learning more about the benefits of CBD.

Is Cannabis Effective for Fibromyalgia? Dr. Michele Ross

CBD Oil For Fibromyalgia

First, let’s be clear. CBD does not deal with fibromyalgia directly. Rather, it works by targeting multiple pain receptors that are located in the peripheral and central nervous system (CNS). In fibromyalgia patients, this pathway is usually distorted resulting in the amplification of pain.

Therefore, to understand how CBD helps in managing pain associated with fibromyalgia, it’s important to know how the human body perceives pain. When you experience sensory damage such as a cut or  burns for example, the peripheral sensory neurons (nociceptors) inform the brain. This in turn responds by making you feel pain.

How It Works

Cannabidiol works to reduce the pain. It does this by interfering with the action of serotonin receptors. These receptors usually influence pain as a result of the spinal processing of nociceptive information.

In addition, the activation of CB2 receptors in skin cells also contribute to the reduction of pain, inhibiting the reception of pain signals from nociception information.

Alternatively, your body produces an endogenous cannabinoid referred to as anandamide. This is responsible for suppressing pain initiation. However, there lies a problem. This cannabinoid is usually eliminated fast from the body by the enzyme known as ‘fatty acid amide hydrolase’ (FAAH).

This is where CBD comes in.  It eliminates this problem by inhibiting FAAH resulting in a slower rate of anandamide decomposition. The effect of this is further suppression of pain, giving relief to fibromyalgia patients.

What Does Cannabis Do? The Endocannabinoid System

Is CBD Really Effective For Fibromyalgia Pain?

CBD has been shown to make chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia more manageable. It does so by interacting directly or indirectly with pain receptors found in various sections of the body.

Cannabidiol also has the ability to influence the levels of serotonin and anandamide. It can also affect opioid receptors. All of which contribute to the reduction of pain.

As such, CBD is considerably effective in the management of pain resulting from fibromyalgia.  in fact, countless patients that have used CBD to treat fibromyalgia have experienced positive results.

Even though the compound does not treat fibromyalgia completely, it does a great job as far as reducing pain is concerned. Greater understanding is needed as to why CBD works better for some patients compared to others in terms of managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

cbd research

CBD For Fibromyalgia Research

Although CBD has been said to be effective in relieving fibromyalgia symptoms, it’s not exactly clear why it’s able to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms.

Additionally, there is also some confusion as to why the compound works so well in some people but not others. Nonetheless, research on this topic is still ongoing, and therefore, we can expect more conclusive information as time goes on.

Side Effects Of CBD For Fibromyalgia

Side effects of using CBD are rare however can include:

  • Changes in the liver enzymes that process drugs
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Mood alterations
  • Becoming lightheaded
  • Sleepiness

These side effects are considerably rare. In fact, CBD is considered to have more positive side effects then negative. Especially when compared to ones experienced using prescription drugs. In addition, CBD is not addictive since it does not contain the compound that is responsible for the ‘high’ feeling.

how to take cbd

CBD For Fibromyalgia Treatment Options

There is an ever-growing market for CBD, and a large variety of options when it comes to getting CBD into the body in order to suit almost everyone.  The most common include:

  • Tinctures

    This option is easy, effective and ideal for patients who want a precise dosage. It involves placing oil drops under the tongue using a dropper, for fast absorption into the circulatory system.

  • Smoking Or Vaping

    Smoking CBD involves the flower of the cannabis plant or oil being burned to produce smoke. Vaping involves heating the oil to produce vapor which is then introduced into the body via one’s lungs. These two are the best options for those who are seeking immediate relief as the effects are usually rapid. However, vaping is considered to be the better of the two options as it lacks toxins that are created during combustion.

  • Topicals

    This option is the best for persons with skin conditions, joint aches, and muscular pains. It involves the use of balms, salves, and creams that contain normal skin ingredients that are infused with CBD oil. Topicals are usually applied to a site of infection or pain, to act specifically on that spot.

  • Gelcaps/Capsules

    This is the best option for those who are after accurate dosing. The capsules are available in different strengths. There is also a capsule option for vegetarians.

  • Edibles

    It’s also possible to consume CBD through edibles such as chocolates, delicious cake, gummy bears, and more. This option is best suited to those who feel that the taste of cannabidiol is too strong for them.

  • Intranasal

    A special spray bottle is used for breathing CBD oil into the nose. The thin mucosa then absorbs the oil, resulting in fast action.

  • Oromucosal

    For this method, the CBD is sprayed into the mouth and gums, allowing for quick absorption into the circulatory system.

Final Thoughts

Although anecdotal evidence from patients has shown that CBD can be used to manage fibromyalgia successfully, more conclusive research is needed. However it’s clear that CBD is considerably effective in helping to manage the pain associated with fibromyalgia.

Now, before using CBD for your fibromyalgia symptoms, be sure to talk to your physician for medical advice. Take time to research the differences in CBD products before purchasing. Also, start small and slow. You can always gradually work your way up to find the dosage that works best for you.