An Introduction To Obesity

Obesity results when too much fat accumulates in the body. A person is normally considered obese when his or her weight is 20% over the normal body-weight for height and age and the Body Mass Index (BMI) measures 30 or more. Now recognized as a serious medical problem, obesity affects about 30% of adults, and about 14% of children and adolescents in the United States.

Obesity may be caused by a number of social, cultural, behavioral, physiological, metabolic, and genetic factors that are beyond the person’s control. Symptoms of obesity usually show up in the form of breathing trouble, excess accumulation of fat, insulin resistance, increase in size or number of fat cells, rise in blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and back pain.

A variety of treatments exist for obesity that includes diet and behavior therapy to medicine and surgery. The treatments usually depend on the levels of BMI, while others may be an individual choice. While diet therapy involves a prescribed diet and exercise plan, behavior therapy teaches new behaviors that promote weight loss. If a person’s condition demands so, a doctor may recommend a combination of both. For a person having a BMI of 40 or a BMI of 35 to 39.9 accompanied by serious medical problems, doctors usually recommend gastrointestinal surgery.

The old adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds true in the case of obesity also. While many genetic factors that may cause obesity are beyond a person’s control, the other factors can be prevented through education, knowledge, a good diet, and exercise. If you teach your children healthy eating and exercise and make them aware of the dangers associated with obesity, it is highly likely that they will carry this knowledge and these behaviors into their adulthood and avoid obesity.

Aloe – Uncover The Healing Properties Of The Herb

Aloe is genus containing approximately 400 species of succulent herbs. Aloe is common in tropical and subtropical areas of South Africa, Madagascar and Arabian peninsula. Aloe is often grown as ornamental plant in pot. The herb has been used for medical purposes throughout history and is proven to be of great help when dealing with various health problems.

The plant has a stem that grows to a height of 4 meters. The stem might have either few or no branches. The fleshy and thick leaves are up to 20 centimeters. The cluster of aloe blossoms is at the top of the plant. The simple perianth is usually orange, white or rosy-yellow. However, aloe flowers rarely.

The most common species used for medical purposes are krantz aloe, aloe striatula, aloe vera and aloe ferox. You should collect leaves of the herb and use them within 24 hours after collecting. You can juice the leaves, as well, and use either fresh juice or vaporized juice as a part of compound remedy. Keeping the leaves in a dark and cool (at a temperature between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius) place for 12 days produces various biochemical changes in them. As a result, the leaves obtain biostimulation properties, such as, the ability to regenerate cells and tissue.

  1. Aloe leaves contain emodin, mucilaginous substances, vitamins, ferments, bitter substances and other biologically active substances.
  2. Aloe possesses bile-moving and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, the herb is proven to facilitate intestinal peristalsis, cause diarrhea and stimulate the movement of digestive apparatus. Aloe increases the protection ability of the body.
  3. Aloe juice can be used to stimulate your appetite, improve digestion, get rid of constipation, treat damaged skin and mucous membrane, and strengthen your body after diseases. Simply take a teaspoon of the juice 3 times a day half an hour before meal. Weakened patients and children should make a remedy by mixing 100 grams of aloe juice, 500 grams of granulated walnuts, 300 grams of honey and juice of 3 or 4 lemons. Take a teaspoon of the mixture 3 times a day half an hour before meal.
  4. Juice aloe leaves and use the juice externally, as well, to treat purulent wound, ulcer, burn, frostbite and trophic ulcer. Diluted juice is a great remedy to deal with oral inflammation, gingivitis and pharyngitis.
  5. Aloe juice and remedies made of it are not advisable for pregnant women, people suffering from bleeding piles and women during their periods. It is due to the biologically active substances the remedies contain. These substances stimulate the rush of blood to the pelvic area. Before using any aloe remedy, you should talk to your doctor.

Extract, tincture and juice of aloe leaves are used to make various cosmetic products and medicament.

Lupus Symptoms In Women – The Lupus Rash

Approximately 9 out of 10 lupus patients are women. Lupus symptoms in women are wide-ranging and can affect nearly every part of the human body including the skin, joints, and internal organs. Approximately 85% of lupus patients will experience changes to their skin. One of the most common skin symptoms characteristic of most forms of the disease is a lupus rash.

Cutaneous or discoid lupus, which only affects the skin, is often associated with several different kinds of skin rashes and lesions, but these are also commonly present in people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Most rashes are extremely photosensitive, meaning they are made worse by exposure to ultraviolet light like that from the sun.

Other lupus symptoms in women may include ulcers inside the nose and/or mouth, extreme fatigue, headaches, fever, dizziness, chest pain, hair loss, sleep disturbances, and internal damage to areas of the body such as the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

The poster-child rash of lupus disease is the butterfly rash. This rash occurs on the face and gets its name from the characteristic “butterfly” shape it usually forms in. The body of the butterfly is made by the bridge of the nose and the wings are created by light pink and/or bright red markings that extend across the cheeks underneath each eye.

The areas of red may be large and solid or they may be blotchy. A butterfly rash may also be scaly in texture, and itching is a common complaint from lupus patients with this type of rash.

A second common lupus rash is the discoid rash. The term “discoid” refers to the shape of this rash which is often oval or disk-like. Discoid rashes commonly occur on the scalp, face, and neck along with other areas of the body exposed to sunlight. They are extremely photosensitive and may become very itchy.

Discoid lesions, discoid sores, and subacute cutaneous lesions are also common and may leave scars as they heal. These lesions are generally coin shaped and can cover large areas of the body if the skin becomes exposed to sunlight. Some discoid lesions start out looking like red pimples whereas others start out as flat lesions and get bigger by expanding outward.

Approximately 20% of SLE patients will experience what are known as chronic discoid lupus lesions. With these lesions, the central area becomes depressed and forms a scar which can be very disfiguring. Chronic discoid lesions require immediate and aggressive medical attention.

Many rashes may also be coupled with muscle and joint pain, fever, and overall discomfort. Since virtually all lupus rashes are made worse by sun exposure, sun screen becomes an extremely important prevention measure.

Sore Penis – Top 5 Causes and Treating Common Penis Health Problems

What many men don’t realize is that, while some penis problems are serious and should be treated by a medical professional, many common penis issues can be treated, or even prevented, by knowing penile health tips, using care, cleanliness and, in some cases, applying a penis crème containing penis vitamins and minerals. Most health reports indicate that men are often uncomfortable talking with their doctors about penis health problems, electing to deal with pain or discomfort rather than endure the embarrassment of discussing penis issues, such as a sore penis, with a health care provider. Five of the most common causes of a sore penis are described here, along with hints for keeping the penis skin smooth, supple and healthy.

1. Frequent masturbation or aggressive sex – Rough handling is one of the primary reasons that most men experience a sore penis from time to time. Vigorous sexual activity or masturbation, especially without proper lubrication, can leave the penis skin sore and sensitive for days. Ensuring that the skin is properly moisturized and well-nourished through the use of crèmes containing penis nutrients such as vitamins A and D can help to alleviate the soreness caused by friction and promote overall healthy, attractive penile skin.

2. Dry penis skin – Dry and flaking skin of the penis can often lead to soreness if left untreated. Dry skin can occur as the result of friction from sex or from sensitivity to certain cleansers and the spermicides that are often found in condoms. Treating the skin with a moisture-rich formula (shea butter is often recommended by dermatologists for sensitive penis skin) can help to keep the skin smooth and supple and to retain its natural hydration.

3. Penis rash – Penis rash, which may result from dry skin, sensitivity to chemicals such as soaps or spermicides, or fungal infections, may cause soreness, itching and discomfort. Boosting the body’s natural immune ability through treatment with a nutrient-rich penis crème containing vitamins C and B5 can increase resistance to infection and allow the skin to heal quickly after minor surface damage.

4. Infections of the penis skin – Minor infections of the skin are common, especially in the warm, moist environment of the genital area. Bacterial and fungal infections can lead to inflammation, causing a sore penis that is tender to the touch. Keeping the skin moisturized can prevent small fissures from forming in the outer dermal layer which may allow harmful bacteria to enter; vitamin-rich penis treatments that moisturize and protect are recommended for maintaining a healthy penis.

5. Peyronie’s disease – Over time, masturbation, sex, and minor injuries to the skin may result in a buildup of scar tissue under the outer dermal layer of the penis skin, which can cause the penis to bend or curve whenever an erection occurs. This condition, known as Peyronie’s disease, can lead to a sore penis and discomfort during sex. Although there is no known cure for this unpleasant problem once it develops, men of all ages may prevent it from occurring by keeping the penis skin in top condition through the use of penis-specific nutrients that work to prevent minor damage to the delicate dermal tissue of the penis.

Preventing sore penis and other penis health problems

In order to prevent common penis issues such as sore penis, dry and flaking skin, infections, rash, and other uncomfortable penis problems, it is important to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, consuming a nutritious diet, and practicing good hygiene. Men should also be selective in their choice of sexual partners and use appropriate protection during sex.

In addition, treating the skin with a nutrient-rich penis health crème (most health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) that is formulated with penis-specific vitamins and minerals on a daily basis can help to ensure that the penis skin stays smooth, supple, and responsive to stimulation.

What is Psoriasis and What to Do About This Disease

Psoriasis is a non-contagious chronic skin condition characterized by thick discolored patches of skin. It most typically affects adults, but younger children and teenagers can have it, as well. Because of its unsightly nature, people with psoriasis often feel very ashamed and embarrassed about having it and go through great lengths to cover it up in public. Understanding how to treat psoriasis is crucial in learning how to properly manage its symptoms. Having a general understanding of what it is and what causes it helps in understanding the treatment methods available.

Pronounced “suh-ry-uh-sus”, psoriasis is caused by an overreaction of the immune system, which then causes skin inflammation and skin flaking. Normally, in skin where psoriasis is not present, new skin cells grow and are shed within about 4 weeks. Skin cells affected by psoriasis, however, grow at a much faster rate and do not shed like healthy skin cells should. The result is a build up of excess skin, which is referred to as psoriasis plaques.

Many fear that psoriasis is contagious, but it is not and there is no chance at all of it being spread by coming in contact with a person who has it. Psoriasis may be hereditary, as it does seem to run in some families. However, researchers are not yet sure of exactly how it is passed through family members.

Once a person has psoriasis, there are certain conditions that trigger its flare-ups. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

· Stress

· Certain types of mental illness (and certain medications used in treatment)

· Cigarette smoking (particularly in women)

· Certain medications (especially high blood pressure medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

· Cold and/or very dry weather

Psoriasis symptoms can seem to come and go, even without treatment. Also, some people only have a very mild case while others experience far more severe symptoms. When symptoms do arise, the following are the most recognizable:

· Thick skin rash (generally located on the hands, feet, knees, elbows, scalp or lower back areas)

· Rash may be red, white or a silver looking color

· Itchiness

· Tender skin

In more severe cases of psoriasis, people can experience arthritic symptoms known as psoriatic arthritis. People with this type of psoriasis commonly complain of swollen, painful joints. Severe psoriasis even sometimes causes a loss of finger and toe nails as a result of dead skin building beneath both surfaces and pushing the nail out of the nail bed.

Psoriasis treatments largely consist of managing and controlling flare-ups by reducing the probability of them through lifestyle changes. Therefore, it is important that a person with psoriasis take the following daily precautions:

· Avoid stress as much as possible

· Maintain a healthy diet and a healthy weight

· Keep the immune system strong and avoid infections, such as strep throat, which can trigger a psoriasis outbreak

· Avoid excessive exposure to the sun (and especially avoid sunburns)

· Avoid all skin injuries (including even minor injuries to the skin surrounding the fingernails and toenails)

· Avoid medications that trigger or increase psoriasis symptoms

· Avoid cigarette smoking

· Avoid alcohol consumption

Proper skin care is always in order for those with psoriasis. This includes keeping the skin as moist as possible throughout the day. A person with psoriasis should make an effort to discover which bath and skincare products work best in this effort and use those products regularly. For some, products containing Aloe Vera gel may be particularly soothing to the skin.

If psoriasis appears in the scalp, there are over the counter shampoos that can help with this condition. Psoriasis shampoos are normally found alongside dandruff shampoos and are known to be very effective. Regular shampoos may contain alcohol and other ingredients, which deplete the skin’s moisture and should, therefore, be avoided by those who suffer from psoriasis.

Although over exposure to sunlight can cause sunburn or otherwise trigger symptoms of psoriasis, short daily exposure to the sun or other ultraviolet lighting is recommended in controlling psoriasis. Regular sunlight exposure for approximately 15 – 20 minutes at a time may help. If this amount of time begins to irritate or dry skin too much, consider reducing it to a level that feels more comfortable.

Skin patches that appear during a psoriasis flare-up are often itchy and uncomfortable. It is never recommended that these be scratched, however, as this could cause further injure the skin, cause a worsening of symptoms or infection. Instead, a person can try to moisturize and soften the patches before attempting to pull them from the skin. However, never forcefully tear patches away, as this could further damage skin and cause conditions to worsen.

Psoriasis is considered a chronic condition and, though it can go into remission for long periods of time, it is generally one that people must live with forever. However, with adequate skin care and by avoiding conditions that trigger flare-ups, a person with psoriasis can manage the condition well and help minimize its occurrences. When psoriasis symptoms do surface, following the simple steps outlined above are beneficial and should be regularly practiced for best results. In severe cases, including those that are accompanied by psoriatic arthritis, medical treatment can provide relief.

Those with more severe cases of psoriasis are often noted to experience bouts of depression and feelings of low self-esteem. Research has even shown that people with severe symptoms often report problems engaging in daily activities in the same ways that are recognized among cancer patients or those with heart disease. Because stress largely contributes to psoriasis, these conditions can lead to seemingly never-ending cycles of psoriasis flare-ups. If you or someone you know is emotionally affected by psoriasis, it is important to note that support groups for people living with psoriasis or emotional counseling with a qualified therapist may help. Even in the most severe cases of psoriasis, there are empowering steps, such as those previously described, which a person can and must make in order to improve their overall quality of life and largely reduce the impact that psoriasis can have on daily living.

Candida Fungus – Forget What You’ve Been Told

Candida albicans is essentially a type of fungus which lives on the human body, usually on the skin and mucous membranes. However, when there’s an imbalance involving the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria, Candida fungus can become an infectious agent as the fungus begins to multiply uncontrollably.

If you’re currently under the impression that this poses no real threat, or if you’ve been told that a candida fungus isn’t serious, then you need to forget what you’ve been told, because the infection can spread to such an extent where it will eventually be able to enter into the bloodstream.

Interestingly enough, the vast majority of candida infections concerning the vagina, penis, skin, and mouth, tend to happen out of the blue and for no obvious reason. However, people who have been on a course of antibiotics are at greater risk of getting a candida infection simply because the antibiotics tend to destroy a lot of beneficial bacteria, in addition to harmful organisms for which the antibiotics were intended.

The Different Types of Candida Fungus

Throat (thrush)

Vagina (vaginalitis moniliasis – yeast infection)

Penis (Penile infections are more prevalent between men who are uncircumcised )

Skin (diaper rash for example)

Nails (candidal onchomycosis)

Symptoms of Candida Fungus:

Throat – A throat infection (thrush) usually manifests itself in the form of whitish patches on the tongue, the lining of the mouth, and quite often, also the throat.

Vagina – Vaginal infections will more often than not involve a burning sensation when urinating, redness, itchiness, and a white or yellow discharge.

Penis – The symptoms of a penile yeast infection are practically the same as those experienced are a woman, although men may also develop sores on the head and shaft of the penis.

Skin – skin infections are usually characterized by redness which is often also scaly in appearance, such as is to the case with diaper rash for example.

Nails – when an infection attacks the nails, they become red and painful. Swelling a round the immediate area is also common, and in some cases those with the infection may also experience pus developing.

As touched upon earlier in this article, candida can enter into the bloodstream and infect the internal organs such as the kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain. Fortunately however, this rarely happens to otherwise healthy people, unless the immune system has been weakened by some or other illness such as AIDS or leukemia.

Candida Fungus Symptoms Regarding the Internal Organs

Kidneys – in most cases there will be traces of blood in the urine.

Heart – this condition can cause severe valve damage and murmurs.

Lungs – mucus discharge with possible traces of blood.

Brain – severe mood swings, inability to concentrate, and even severe seizures.

Treating Candida Fungus

The vast majority of infections can be treated at home, using prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, or one of the many different natural yeast infection remedies. One should however bear in mind that most available treatments focus solely on the symptoms of the infection, rather than on the root cause itself. Furthermore, simply choosing to use the first treatment you come across online may not always be a very good idea, considering that some of them can be downright dangerous. Likewise, many of the medications which are available carry the risk of possible side effects.

Remember, if you decide on one of the common treatments, and it fails to address the root cause, the condition will simply reoccur at a later stage, or it will get progressively worse. Once the condition has reached a certain stage, none of the regular treatments will be able to help you, and at that point you will need to receive treatment in the form of intravenous injections.

Considering just how serious a candida fungus infection can become, why would you possibly want to take a chance at gambling with your life, when there is in fact a perfectly natural cure which provides almost instant results, and not only that, but it cures the condition for good.

Why Am I Having Allergies During Menopause?

Menopausal changes that occur during change of life have been linked to over 34 symptoms, some of which are quite unusual. Unlike the familiar menopausal symptoms of hot and cold flashes, heavy unusual sweating, irritability, mood swings, and lapses in memory, for example, many menopausal women are experiencing unexpected allergic reactions. And so, instead of seeking relief from the predictable symptoms, some women find themselves asking, “Why am I having allergies during menopause?

Change of Life Reactions to Substances And Pollens

Allergy is described by Webster’s Dictionary as, “Abnormal or pathological reaction to environmental substances as pollens, foods, dust, or microorganisms.” Pollen is described as, “Dustlike, usually yellow grains containing the male reproductive cells of flowering plants.” Many people, especially children may suffer from various reactions to pollens. However, for many women, any substance during menopause is their first encounter.

Reacting to various substances during change of life is of great concern to the women who are affected. Some of the frequently reported symptoms include: bouts of severe hay fever that present like the common cold; reactions from various foods, fragrances and or perfumes; and asthmatic attacks. I was surprised when a close friend recently told me that her doctor prescribed “an Asthma-pump” for her. With further inquiry, she revealed being thrown in a quandary when she developed frequent bouts of asthma. She said no one in her family has asthma, and she had no prior history herself. However, after many years of being menopausal, she had several frightening experiences with difficulty breathing; tightening in her chest; and wheezing. After various potions and remedies, she was referred to a Pulmonary Specialist who has been added to her list of doctors.

Another acquaintance related a similar story of developing unusual skin reactions during change of life. After months of being menopausal, she reported breaking out in hives and itchy skin on several occasions. Concerned, she visited several doctors, and finally, an Allergist, who determined that her reaction was to fish. The doctor informed her that these reactions during change of life were becoming quite common; and that her skin condition was due to the fish with a hormone-menopause connection. Her avoidance of fish has relieved her symptoms.

The Allergy-hormone Connection

Some women might never experience allergies during menopause. However, for women who do, they can be assured that although the symptoms might be subtle and challenging to diagnose, many doctors are making the connections between these unusual hormonal responses change of life. Women are therefore being encouraged that a visit to the doctor should not be rushed. Time should be spent to explain to the doctor (a) any physical, mental, or lifestyle changes that occurred since her last visit (b) all symptoms being experienced – no matter how mild (c) ask what the doctor thinks might be causing the changes (d) if the doctor suggests treatment, ask for explanations and for alternate treatments (e) explain any past, present and family history that might be related to the allergies. The information you provide your doctor might assist in making a connection between the possible causes of your allergies during menopause.

Perimenopause Symptom – Irritability

You used to be such a peace-loving person – quiet when a co-worker stabs you in the back to get a promotion that’s supposed to be yours, so patient when the kids are running around the house screaming their lungs out, smiling when you mistakenly roast your chicken to a perfect even-colored black. So you don’t understand why the littlest detail irritates you to no end. And you let everyone in your path know about it.

Ah, perimenopause irritability. Let me count the ways …

While some women are not affected by any mood swing at all (lucky them), most women consider this perimenopause symptom very, uh, irritating. When you have trouble sleeping, an increase in stress (either via family or work or even neighbors), over-reacting to situations that needn’t be so, and you feel you are intolerant of people around you, then you are definitely someone who is feeling the effects of perimenopause.

The main cause (as always!) of irritability lies in a female hormone imbalance. Your estrogen levels have an effect on the brain. Other perimenopausal symptoms can also cause irritability like hot flashes, night sweats, decreased libido and vaginal dryness to name a few.

Make no mistake, those aren’t the only causes. A major change in your life (like transferring from one house to another, or getting another job), stress, excessive intake of alcohol and caffeine, combined with a poor diet makes for one irritable perimenopausal woman. Serious causes however, require you to be checked by a doctor, just to rule out any serious illnesses (like anemia, cancer, viral infections, diabetes and hypoglycemia).

Irritability can be lessened by simply lessening the stress in your life – easier said than done. So try to make some alone-time for you. Surround yourself with people who see life in a positive way, so that they can rub some of their calmness on you. Use stress reduction exercises like yoga, breathing exercises and meditation. Listen to soothing music. While you’re at it, have some tea. Some of these like peppermint and chamomile have soothing effects and works wonders on a stress-free body.

Alternative medicine or processes (like acupuncture, massage therapy, aromatherapy or hypnosis) is also an effective means to alleviate the symptoms of perimenopause. These usually targets to fix the hormonal imbalance of your body. If you are into herbs, it would be wise to consult an herbalist to make sure that the mixes of certain herbs are just right.

When everything else fails, always remember that your friendly neighborhood doctor is just around the corner. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most common way suggested by your doctor, but try to discuss other methods with him as well if you’re uncomfortable with it.

There is a solution for everything, and irritability is no exception. With the right diet and exercise, you’re on your way to living perimenopause the way it should be – stress and irritability-free.

Depression – Am I Crazy?

Let’s talk about happiness. Most of us want to be happy, all the time, no matter what is going on around us! It’s plain and simple. But, being happy, how do you do that, get there, be that?

Maybe happy is not really what you are looking for. After all, happy is just like any other emotion… it comes and it goes. Perhaps what you seek is the ability to feel joy. Not just alive and surviving, but energized, excited, and living the life of your dreams. Imagine feeling joy beyond your wildest dreams as you live in your body, glad to be you, putting energy into your life’s work, and creating stimulating experiences. Joy also means accepting your human emotions, experiencing the ups and downs of life, while learning to breathe and let things pass in their own time.

So how do we gain this feeling of joy? As paradoxical as it may sound, perhaps for some of us the path to joy leads us first through depression.

What does depression look like?

Let’s imagine we have a friend named Jane. Lately Jane just doesn’t feel like herself. She lacks energy and doesn’t have enthusiasm for much of anything. Jane lies around a lot, feeling empty and not sure which way to go. Decisions seem overwhelming. She often cries although nothing in specific is wrong. Jane feels shame, wonders what is wrong with her, and thinks she must by crazy. Everyday she asks herself, “why do I feel this way?” and “why can’t I make this go away?” She musters up enough energy to make it through the day and creates a happy facade so people will not see the pain she is in. Jane is depressed.

Depression is not the same thing as feeling sad, blue, or down. Most of us have our ups and downs, our good days and bad. Everyday events, and our reactions to them, sometimes interfere with our peace of mind. Some unhappiness, the blues, or an occasional low mood is common when disappointed. This sadness is all part of life.

In contrast, depression affects the entire body, not just the mind. It can lead to an imbalance in the delicate chemistry of your brain and affect your emotions, feelings, thoughts, behaviors, physical functioning, and health. It can also affect the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you see the world. With depression, the misery can be so great, and persist for so many weeks without relief, that a person may begin to think that life is not worth living anymore.

Symptoms of Depression

o Depressed mood for most of the day

o Persistent sad or “empty” feelings

o Loss of appetite or loss of weight

o Eating more than usual and gaining weight

o Trouble sleeping, insomnia, or oversleeping

o Anxiety

o Feeling tired all the time or finding everything is an effort

o Not caring anymore about work, hobbies, friends, or sexual activity

o Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly, or indecisiveness

o Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

o Feelings of worthlessness

o Excessive or inappropriate guilt

o Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

Other problems people experience during a clinical depression may include:

o Frequently feeling on the verge of tears

o Waking up early in the morning, with difficulty returning to sleep

o Feeling worse in the morning

o Feeling anxious or irritable

o A gloomy view of the future

o Physical pain or headaches

o Cravings for certain foods

Overcoming depression is extremely challenging and not something that happens overnight. But overcoming depression is do-able. It is entirely possible to move beyond the dread and sadness of each day and reclaim a peaceful, fulfilling, and meaningful life. Below are some enlightening insights that will help you view depression from a higher perspective and some tips that will help you through your journey.

Accepting Depression

If you are struggling with depression, you may have tried countless therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, energy healers, self-help books, and programs. You may have practiced the power of positive thinking, studied the law of attraction, practiced meditation, or looked into religion for you answers. Through all these strategies, you have been at war with your depression, doing everything within your power to get rid of it. Pharmaceutical companies convince us that depression is an illness caused by an imbalance in brain chemicals. If we simply take medication, we can quickly get back to feeling better again. If only the answer were so simple. Perhaps there is a gift beyond depression that can only unfold if you dare to first accept your experience as important and valuable instead of trying so hard to make it disappear.

Depression and Personal Growth

An easy start to shifting depression is to entertain the idea that depression is not dysfunctional, not a mental illness, but instead deeply meaningful. Consider that depression may be a naturally arising expression on your journey of evolutionary growth. Yes, depression is dark, and a time of misery and suffering. Yet, it also a time when we ask deeply personal questions:

Who am I?

Why am I alive?

What does it mean to be me?

What makes my life worthwhile?

Should I continue to live?

Why should I continue to live?

Is depression really something that we should avoid, or an illness that we should ‘cure’ with drug therapy alone? Should our profound questions be pushed down into silence with medication and drug therapy?

The distress you feel is real, the suffering immensely painful, and there is a very real risk of ending your own life. However, what if you are in emotional suffering but yet not ill? When you look inside, do you really believe, on a soul level, that your pain is simply due to a chemical imbalance – or might there also be a meaningful spiritual component to your journey through depression?

Why Does Depression Occur?

Depression often occurs when we are at the edge of personal and spiritual growth. In some ways, depression can be compared to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. You once lived life as a caterpillar and everything was fine. Then it was time to change and become something new. During this transition, you offer yourself an opportunity to throw off old heavy energies, outdated perceptions about life, self-doubt, and self-limiting beliefs. It’s a time when we entertain a spiritual desire to be more than we were in the past. We wish to be more alive, more self-confident, and more authentically engaged in life. During depression you are going through an expansion process, an unfolding, a readiness to release certain agreements you made in the past.

Depression, however, is the middle ground between here and there. Old tried and true ways of living are now outdated and limiting. They create stress, emptiness, avoidance of being in touch with your own authenticity, and narrow ways of dealing with life’s challenges. On the one hand you are ready to come out of your cocoon and adopt new ways of being true to self, but on the other hand your logical mind tells you that you are already doing the best you can and no other alternatives are possible.

Depression, and thoughts of suicide, happen when we are in turmoil, caught between the end of an old way of living and a terrifying desire to live in a new way. In this transition, we cannot feel the joy of being alive. Internal anxiety rises and there is nothing we can do to run or hide from the conscious realization that we feel alone. We feel lethargic, powerless, and trapped. It seems as if the pain exceeds our capacity to deal with it.

One Step Forward

If you have feelings of depression, you have those feelings for a reason. Accept that your depression is real, that you feel miserable, and that you are questioning whether you choose to continue living in the same way that you have always lived. Remind yourself that there is no mandate that you must be happy and content. Even though you would rather not be experiencing this part of life, it’s okay. You may eventually discover that your depression was more profoundly necessary that you can yet consciously imagine. Depression deals with a deeper relationship issue of becoming more true to self, the transformation of your physical body to become more alive, and a deeper connection to your spirit.

Depression Runs Its Course

If you are depressed, it is natural to want the pain to end. However, consider the idea that perhaps your pain is necessary. You feel the heartache, the loneliness, the despair of your life. For a while, perhaps your pain needs to run its course. It may just be a natural outcome of wanting to evolve and live your life differently, but at the same time being terrified, uncertain, and grieving for what you must let go in order to move forward.

At some point during your depression you will arrive at a decision making point. You can decide to release certain beliefs, adopt new ways of believing, and move forward with the new experiences your life will bring. Alternatively, you could decide to remain in your suffering for a long time. A third choice exists and that is to end your life as a way of ending the painful conflict. There is no right choice to make. It is your life and you must choose what feels right for you, not only in your mind and emotions, but also in your heart and soul.

Do You Choose Life?

During your time of depression, you are considering whether you choose to take the next step in your evolution. Do you decide to let go of self-doubt, move beyond the limitations of your former beliefs, and bring new balance to your mind, body, and spirit? Do you consciously choose to be alive in a new way? If so, for what purpose and meaning? When you accept that your depression is a time of change and release, you can begin to see that you are asking yourself to live in a new way. You are making a choice to release formerly held beliefs and discover what lies beyond those beliefs. Offer yourself compassion as you see that heading off into unknown territory is frightening.

Breathe

What to do if you are depressed? Breathe. If you can accept that your depression has deep personal meaning, if you can accept the experience in which you find yourself, and if you make the conscious decision to remain alive, then the best therapy is to consciously breathe.

You don’t need any fancy breathing techniques. Just breathe more deeply than you are right now. Breathing helps move the heaviness of depression. Breathe with intention to fill up with life. You already know that depression does not hold much light, not much energy. Breathing will arouse energy. You can’t just wait for energy to flow into you. You must decide to choose life, breath, and energy. If you can, get up and go for a walk outside. Get some fresh air and sunshine. Breathe. If you just arouse a little bit of energy, it will help you to generate a bit more energy, and that uplifts you and gets you moving one more step further out of the depression.

Depression involves the very real emotional despair of living day to day with real hopelessness. There is no one right way through depression. Your life is very important, including those times when you are in transition or depressed. Use the ideas above to help support yourself as you choose to bring new meaning into your life.

Cat Psychology – Does My Cat Have a Phobia?

Many of us will have suffered with or encountered someone suffering with a phobia. These are intense fears of something that persist over a long period of time and can have a debilitating effect on the person. In humans, phobias can occur due to a number of reasons and can be focused on anything we encounter or even know about. This range from spiders to thunderstorms to ice and much more. But can our cats have phobias?

Understanding phobias

Phobias come from an instinctual feeling of apprehension created by the specific stimulus – whether real or imaginary. You may be afraid of the ice because you have had a bad fall so a real event triggered the phobia, but not every patch of ice is going to cause a fall, yet you fear them all. The response created by the body comes from the autonomic nervous system and it is freeze, fight or flight. This response is a normal part of the instincts of both humans and cats and merely its context shows whether it is a normal or abnormal response. A normal response could be to be cornered by a vicious animal, an abnormal one could be when encountered a small, harmless spider.

In cats, phobias will often have a root within their experiences and are usually formed during kittenhood. A physical pain can cause anxiety and lead to the development of a phobia around the cause of the pain, for example. Changes in their bodies as they develop can also trigger the condition, as can an illness or injury. A traumatic experience is perhaps one of the most common causes of a phobia while kittens that haven’t had the right amount of socialisation at a young age can also be prone to such conditions. Being locked in a room or space can trigger phobias as can abandonment by parents and owners, having multiple homes.

Symptoms of a phobia

As with humans, phobias can have a range of quite debilitating effects on a cat, depending on the stimulus. General signs of fear can be seen in their body language including trembling, hiding, being withdrawn and unresponsive to their humans and being less active than normal. Signs of panic can include escape behaviour – trying to flee from a perceived threat as if it were potentially fatal. Running around, scratching and jumping can all be part of what is called out-of-context motor activity.

Signs that the sympathetic autonomous nervous system is active include diarrhoea, though this is also likely to be associated with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammation of the bowel and doesn’t exclusively point to a phobia. Anxiety related behaviours such as excessive licking or biting themselves may be seen.

Treatment

Treating a phobia in a cat is more difficult than in a human in some ways – they can’t talk through their fears with someone or rationalise them away. Sometimes medication may be needed to help calm the cat but the main cause will involve removing the trigger as much as possible then with your vet, slowly re-learning them not to fear the stimulus, though this often works best when they are young. Never try to treat the phobia yourself without consultation with a vet as you may make the problem worse.

Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks are very scary. During an attack you feel like you are choking, you feel nauseas, you arms and legs start tingling… Many people will think they are dying. It really is a terrible condition.

The reactions that happen during an anxiety attack are similar to what happens when we are in a situation of extreme danger. It is the way our body deals with a perceived threat. People who suffer from anxiety attacks usually have these reactions when there is little or no actual danger around them. Their minds just believe there is.

It is important to correctly identify an anxiety attack. Other conditions may have similar symptoms. In some cases knowing that it is just a panic attack and not a more serious malady may actually help a person calm down.

Usually this disorder is treated with medication. While this is effective, it will only deal with the symptoms and not the cause of the anxiety. They are not the best way to truly eliminate it form a person´s life.

A better way to deal with anxiety and panic attacks may be to try certain relaxation techniques. There exist a great variety of these like breathing exercises, Yoga an others. They should be able to help with the main symptoms and can even stop attacks completely.

It is also important to always think positively and not let negative and fearful thoughts control the mind. Anxious thinking can lead to an attack. Also try to get support from family and friends.

Anxiety attacks may be challenging to overcome, but it is far from impossible. With some willower and the right help anyone can do it.

Insomnia – 10 Tricks to Get to Sleep Fast

1. Try an easy type of meditation called candle gazing. This is done while sitting with your legs crossed in a comfortable position in a dim room, and gazing at a lit candle. While doing this try to keep your eyes open as long as possible, without blinking. Or gaze at the candle for a minute and then close your eyes and try to focus on the image of the candle flame that you see. Do this for about 20 minutes and slow your breathing down by counting your breaths.

2. Get into some relaxing yoga positions. Search online for yoga positions that help relax the body and mind. Because yoga is a physical movement, it works wonders for distracting the mind as you are busy focusing on maintaining a certain position with your body. There are several yoga positions that require no specific level of physical fitness but can be incredibly relaxing and sleep inducing.

3. Choose a book to read in bed that is not too boring, but not too stimulating. Business books work well for this, or you may want to try some other kind of nonfiction book. The goal is to get your mind interested enough in the subject matter to forget everything else, but then let your mind realize it is too tired to pay attention to the actual reading topic and that the only choice left is to fall a sleep. This is also an easy solution if insomnia keeps you up in the middle of the night. Just keep a book and a book light at your bedside.

4. Stop watching TV 1 to 2 hours before going to bed. Depending on what you are watching on TV, certain shows can get your mind or emotions racing and contribute to insomnia.

5. Have carbohydrates for dinner. If you have ever felt sleepy after consuming a meal laden with pasta or other carbohydrates, use that to your advantage by a having a meal with a little bit more carbohydrates a few hours before going to bed to head off insomnia. Or, try a carbohydrate snack right before bed and see if this helps induce sleepiness.

6. Stay cool. Studies have shown that it is easier to fall asleep and stay asleep when our core body temperature is reduced. Try sleeping in a cooler room, leaving the window open and using a light wool blanket. Wear socks if you need to keep your feet warm. Wool regulates body temperature more effectively than synthetic fabrics can.

7. Clear your mind of impending tasks. If you are feeling overwhelmed and can’t stop thinking about everything you have to do, try writing down a to-do list. Either write down an exhaustive to do list of every possible thing you can think of, or just write a to-do list of the most important items that you need to get done the next day. Large to do lists are notorious for causing insomnia.

8. Check in with your emotions. Perhaps sadness or depression are keeping you from golden slumber. If this is the case, write a gratitude list. Jot down as many things as you can think of that you are thankful for. This could be something as simple as being grateful that you laid your clothes out for yourself the next morning, or something much bigger like being grateful for your wonderful family and friends.

9. Try non-prescription drugs if nothing else is working. Some doctors suggest taking benadryl to induce sleepiness. Benadryl is a simple antihistamine and is worth a try before going to prescription drugs for insomnia. Many over-the-counter sleep medications contain benadryl or another antihistamine.

10. Find a holistic doctor; get tested for vitamin and hormonal deficiencies, and get their assistance to start experimenting with different supplements. There are herbs such as valerian, kava kava and passionflower that can induce relaxation; supplements such as inositol, taurine or melatonin that can induce sleepiness; and other substances like natural progesterone that may help if your insomnia is due to imbalanced hormones.

There are many things to try when it comes to alleviating insomnia. Test each of the items here and see if these help find your way to a better night of sleep.

How to Cure An Ingrown Fingernail

Curing an ingrown fingernail would be easy if you know how to do it correctly. It may be a bit painful when you are removing it, but that is the only way to free your hands from an ingrown fingernail. Here are some useful tips in curing your ingrown fingernail or toenail.

1. You have to soften your nail first, when removing the ingrown nail. It is easier for you to get rid of the ingrown nail when it is soft. You can do this by soaking your hands or feet in warm water with salt or baking soda. You can also use Epsom salt, if baking soda is not available. Leave your hands or feet in the warm water for 15 – 20 minutes.

2. After you have soaked your hands or feet, towel them dry and take extra care when drying them, so you won’t feel the pain. If you have an ingrown nail, it is painful to the touch.

3. It is now time for you to cut the portion of the fingernail that is embedded in your skin. Be prepared to bear the pain, as it is really painful when you are doing it. If you think your fingernail or toenail needs to become softer, soak it in the warm water again for 10 – 15 minutes. If it is soft enough, trim the nail straight across and avoid cutting in a curved shape.

4. If it is difficult for you to cut the portion that is digging into your skin, use a nail file to shorten and reduce size of the ingrown nail that is digging into your skin. Move carefully and softly. By doing this, you can reduce the pain, and you can take out the ingrown fingernail gradually.

5. To reduce pain, you can apply some coconut oil or olive oil. They also help the nail to grow properly. Apply some tea tree oil, too, because it is known for its ability to kill bacteria. Many experts believe that reducing or killing the bacteria will help you heal and cure the affected fingernail in a short period of time.

After you have finished following the above steps, massage your fingernail or toenail for immediate healing. Put small amount of cotton underneath your nail to encourage the nail to grow straight. You can also try dental floss. This is to ensure that the nail will not grow downward again. Keep in mind that you need to trim your nail straight across the next time, so that you won’t experience an ingrown fingernail all over again.

Is Toenail Fungus Contagious?

Is nail and toenail fungus a contagious disease? The short answer to that question is “yes”. If you are seeing signs of a toenail fungus, yellowing of the nails, green, crusty or bumpy in appearance, chances are, you picked up an infection from someone else.

Many people think toenail fungus is not a contagious disease and don’t worry too much about taking extra precautions of spreading it. But if you have it, you should be extra cautious especially amongst family members. You could spread it to anyone living at home and to any one in public.

Your responsibility as a toenail fungus sufferer should be to maintain a high level of hygiene. Refrain from visiting public facilities such as a community swimming pool. At your local gym for example, wear protective footwear. Don’t use the showers or walk around bare feet in places where others can come in contact with fungus bacteria. Manicures and pedicures should be out of the question especially if your routine is to visit nail salons often.

The highly contagious nature of nail and toenail fungus is spread to others in the form of bacteria (spores). The latest estimates say that over 35 million people are affected. If you’re wondering how you contacted this nasty disease, think about all the possible reasons where you could have contacted toenail fungus. Do you have a habit of visiting the same old nail saloon year after year? Did you visit a public facility where you walked around without shoes? Maybe someone else in your family has had toenail fungus recently. Its just like any other contagious disease for e.g. the flu, which is spread more often on surfaces that was touched by somebody who was sick. The same is true for toenail fungus.

Here are some important tips to remember in regards to the contagious nature of toenail fungus;

How not to re-infect yourself and others:

  • Don’t share your shoes, especially your flip flops with anyone.
  • Avoid walking in public places bare foot e.g. poolside, showers, public baths, around the house wear cotton socks so others do not contact the disease.
  • If you have to wear socks, change your shoes and socks frequently.
  • Dry feet thoroughly after showers or baths, and use an anti-fungal powder in your shoes then use a topical solution applied directly to the infected nail.
  • Avoid using nail polish.
  • Try to air your feet as much as possible – oxygen thwarts the growth of fungus.
  • Muscles Are Compromised After Ankle Sprains

    An ankle sprain is a tear of one or more ligaments in the ankle. The most common type of ankle injury is an inversion ankle sprain which results in tearing of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. When the ligaments don’t heal correctly, or they heal in a lengthened position, instability can result. In the past, the focus was on ligament damage in the ankle after a sprain, but new research has found that the leg muscles are also compromised. Researchers at Brigham Young University and University of Michigan evaluated muscle strength and response in 21 strong-ankled individuals and 21 weak-ankled individuals. The group with weak ankles had a history of prior ankle sprains and the strong-ankled group acted as the control group. The study participants walked down a runway hooked up to sensory equipment. The runway had doors built-in that would suddenly invert their ankle 30 degrees, enough to trigger muscle reaction and record the muscle response (particularly the peroneal muscles), but not enough to cause injury. They found that the muscles of the weak-ankled group had a slower response compared with the strong-ankled group. The muscles of the weak-ankled group also had less strength. The theory is that prior injuries leave muscle receptors with less sensitivity and this impairs their ability to react quickly and strongly. Further investigation on what factors contribute to ankle instability will help improve treatment and therapy.

    Palmieri-Smith R et al. Peroneal Activation Deficits in Persons With Functional Ankle Instability. Am J Sports Med. 2009 May;37(5):982-8.

    An ankle sprain is a tear of the ligaments in the ankle. The most common ligaments injured are on the outside of the ankle. This type of sprain is called an inversion ankle sprain and is shown in the picture to the right. Ankle sprains occur with simple activities like stepping off a curve or walking on uneven surfaces and are common in sporting activities like soccer, tennis, football, hiking and running.

    The initial treatment for mild to moderate ankle sprains is very similar and the general guidelines involve an easy acronym. P – R – I – C – E – E

    Protected walking: In the early stages of ankle sprains, when the ankle is still healing a lace-up ankle brace or air cast are a great way to support the ankle and allow for protected walking.

    Rest: Resting is especially important in the first 2-3 days to allow for the swelling to go down.

    Ice: Ice for 15-20 minutes every hour or two during the first 2-3 days.

    Compression: An ace wrap compresses the ankle and controls swelling. Too much swelling increases pain and delays healing.

    Elevation: Elevate the foot and ankle above the heart for the first 2-3 days after the sprain. Elevation helps keep the swelling and inflammation down.

    Early Mobilization: After the first 2-3 days of rest, ice and elevation, range of motion exercises should be initiated.

    Mild ankle sprains may only take a week or two for full recovery, but most ankle sprains will take about 6 weeks and full recovery may take up to three months. If you experience a severe ankle sprain, visit a podiatrist. If you have not healed from an ankle sprain after 6 weeks, make sure you see your doctor.