Natural Tonics for Health and Wellness

I'm a great believer in natural tonics to strengthen or invigorate the healing system. – Dr. Andrew Weil

The American Heritage Dictionary says that a tonic is …

… an agent, such as a medication, that restores or increases body tone, an invigorating, refreshing, ororative agent or influence. And a tonic is for producing or stimulating physical, mental, or emotional vigor.

Tonics are typically liquid preparations that have a combination of herbs, vitamins, minerals and other ingredients. No tonic has any magical healing effect on any disease. That may seem to be a strange thing to say in an article about Natural Tonics for Health and Wellness . Let me explain.

The only thing that can heal a body is the body itself. Nature has designed a self repair system for the human body that will accomplish the seeming miraculous. Most of the time all we have to do is stay out of the way.

Sometimes a toxic agent, biological or chemical, can overwhelm the body's capacity to heal itself. Medical science can assist by removing any overload. The body itself then takes over and does the actual healing. A tonic acts to supply the body's repair mechanism with missing nutrients so that it functions at its best.

Is it possible to help the body by supplying things it needs to do its job? Of course it is. Ordinarily these nutrients come from the foods we eat. Often our foods do not contain all the nutrients they should, for whatever reason. This is why we are beginning to see the medical profession suggesting we take a good multi vitamin and mineral supplement daily. Before this, our ancestors learned through experience, the value of getting certain substances into the body. They made tonics to supply these substances. Natural tonics can fill the gaps in our nutrition. Our own bodies will then do the rest.

You can find recipes for tonsics that are made with just about any thing under the sun. Usually natural tonics are made with some single herb or a combination of herbs. Some of the more common are garlic, ginseng, ginger, and green tea. Mushrooms are also used as tonics. Chinese caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis) improves athletic performance and increases energy. Species like reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), shitake (Lentinella edodes), and maitake (Grifola frondosa) are used to boost immunity.

Even plain water can be a tonic for someone who is suffering from dehydration. After all, the human body is made up of 55 to 75 percent water.

It would seem the best way to incorporate all the minerals your body needs is to have a tonic made with something like seawater, but you can not drink seawater. The salt content will kill you.

If you went to school in the 1960's you might remember watching an educational film called Hemo the Magnificent . Hemo was the cartoon god of blood and with the real-life Dr. Frank C. Baxter, they made several films for Disney. Hemo proclaims that he's the mysterious source of life, and the good doctor informs him, "You know what you are? You're just seawater!"

So like the seas that are essential to all life on earth, our blood is essentially seawater too. Science speculates that life began in the sea. Amniotic fluid is almost identical to seawater.

Rene Quinton, a French physicist, performed a famous study on the effects of seawater. Quinton experiments proved seawater and blood plasma are remarkably similar in composition. As a result, Quinton said, "All living organisms are in fact a marine aquarium." He said seawater should be used to heal.

Because of the complete nutrient content of seawater, sea vegetables, growing in clean seawater, supply all of the minerals necessary for life. Sea vegetables have more minerals than any land plant. Between 7 and 38 percent of the dry weight of sea vegetables are minerals.

Any kind of high quality natural tonic made with sea vegetables should supply the body with every mineral it needs to function at its best. That just makes sense does not it?

Many illnesses can be traced to mineral imbalances in the body. Minerals are responsible for many functions in our bodies, such as helping to keep our body repair systems working. Adequate minerals should be ingested every day.

Unlike medicines, which can have an immediate effect on symptoms, you may not see immediate results with tonics. Allowed your body to heal itself may take some time. Use a tonic regularly for a few months. You are letting your body do what it knows how to do. Give it what needs and trust it to heal itself.

See if you have an increased sense of well-being or more energy when taking a tonic. Even if you do not notice immediate effects, pay attention to how you respond to physical and emotional stress. See if you become less susceptible to illnesses. Give natural tonics an honest try.

Health Risks Of A Non-Ergonomic Environment

Can working in a non-ergonomic office be bad for your health? Yes, say some advocates of the ergonomic way of life. But, let’s face it; people have worked in traditional offices for years without risking their health and well being. Of course being smart about how you work can help increase your chances of staying safe and well.

The truth is that overly stressing any part of your body, albeit a set of muscles and tendons, your immune system or even your mental health can all be dangerous, and since ergonomics relies on bringing the physical, mental, emotional and technological beings together in better alignment and harmony it can only help create a healthier and more comfortable work environment.

Without an ergonomically designed workspace you could be setting yourself up for a myriad of physical ailments including:

  • Carpel tunnel syndrome – this can be avoided by using better aligned keyboards and other office tools
  • Tendonitis – finding a better fit in office equipment can help alleviate this painful disorder
  • Fatigue – something as simple as putting a glare filter on an annoying computer screen can ease eye strain and help alleviate mid-day fatigue
  • Chronic colds and flu – stress can lower the immune system. Ergonomics helps to find ways to lower physical and emotional stress by improving the way people view their job tasks and finding better (and easier) ways to accomplish them. Another way to avoid more physical ailments is to make your work environment more physically comfortable in terms of temperature. People who feel too cold or hot in the office may be more apt to suffer with the sniffles or worse on a regular basis. Regulating temperatures and the like can help alleviate these problems once and for all.
  • Mental health – psychological issues too can be avoided lowering stress levels, frustration and feelings of incompetence

So, now that you better understand the dangers of working in a non-ergonomic environment what can you do about? First, make sure the equipment and tools you use (computers, desks, chairs, etc), are comfortable to use. Be sure chairs and desks are at the right height to prevent neck and back strain; install extra lighting to stop eye strain; and use keyboards that are specially designed to prevent wrist and hand problems.

Next, make sure the outdoor environment is comfortable. Get rid of plants that may be causing allergy symptoms; lower or raise the temperature in your office or cubicle for the most comfort and add some soft music if that helps you relax more and concentrate better.

Finally, find ways to complete tasks in an easier manner. If you are having hand pain from folding newsletter and brochures, either enlist some help or try to talk your boss into buying a folding machine. You aren’t always going to be able to incorporate the best ergonomics ideas and designs into the workplace, but the key is to find as many as you can to make your work life easier and more comfortable.

Important Updates Regarding the H1N1 Flu

A presidential advisory panel recently informed that the H1N1 virus, formerly known as swine flu, could cause up to 90,000 deaths in the US this year, which is a substantial increase from the 64,000 individuals who usually die during flu season. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has also reported that the H1N1 flu could infect between 30 and 50 percent of the US population this fall and winter, and the government is urging the American population to take this threat seriously.

While health officials ensure us a vaccine for the H1N1 flu is being tested, one is not likely to become available until mid-October, which leaves us particularly vulnerable as we head into flu season this year. The following tips are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to reduce your risk of illness and help prevent the spread of H1N1 flu.

Wash hands periodically through the day with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time

Alcohol-based hand cleaners can be an effective way to ward off germs as well

Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose

Always cough and sneeze into a tissue and then immediately throw the tissue away

Stay at least six feet away from people who are sick, and if you're sick, limit your contact with others

If you become ill, stay home and stay there for at least 24 fever-free hours without the aid of medications

Improve your immune system by eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly

Keep updated on the availability of the H1N1 vaccine, and get your seasonal flu vaccination as soon as it's available

H1N1 flu symptoms are much like other flu viruses: fever, cough, sore throat, runny / stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have also reported diarhea and vomiting. It's important to remember that the H1N1 flu is still the flu and panicking will not help anyone. No, you can not catch it from eating pork and no, racing to the nearest emergency room is not necessary. As a matter of fact, a visit to the emergency room could have exposed you to the very germs you should avoid. If you are seriously worried, always call your doctor's office first and listen to their instructions. You should especially call your doctor if your fever is unusually high or has lasted longer than three days, if you're having difficulties breathing or producing fluid, if your fever returns after a few days, or if you've developed dark spots on your hands or mouth.

Understanding Alopecia – Causes and Treatment

You see that you're losing tremendous amount of hair and this worry you too much. You think you're healthy and the hair loss just freaks you out. What gives? At some point of every individual's lives, hair loss is most likely to occur. Hair loss or alopecia occurs to both genders. Alopecia, for those unacquainted with it, is the widely-used medical term to describe hair loss in women. However, alopecia can be further differentiated into two more medical conditions which are alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia.

What do you think are the causes of alopecia? A less commonly-known cause of alopecia is the fluctuations in the female hormone estrogen which is acknowledged to contribute to lush hair growth. Women who are close to their menopausal years may find that their estrogen levels tend to fall at this time, so their hair does not grow out in the same volume as in previous years. Actually, it is quite difficult to make the distinction between alopecia caused by heightened testosterone levels and alopecia triggered by a drop in estrogen levels because they have almost the same symptoms.

There are actually 2 identifying state undering in alopecia and both are worth considering for:

1. Alopecia areata

This is caused by a malfunctioning immune system that tends to target your hair follicles. The main symptom of this type of hair loss is losing hair in patches around the scalp. This type of alopecia is rather unstable because sometimes the hair will grow back again even without medical attention, while in other cases the hair loss is permanent and may even progress further. One source attributes alopecia areata to an under-functioning thyroid gland that has also been targeted by the immune system. The problem is, even when the thyroid has been properly trated that will not bring back your lost hair.

2. Androgenic alopecia

This second sub-condition is caused by malfunctioning hormones and happens to occur quite commonly nowdays – one estimate places incidence at 20% of the entire female population. It is attributed to the overproduction of the androgenic hormone called testosterone which usually is produced in large quantities in male bodies but not to a very significant degree in women under normal conditions. When there is too much testosterone in men, they start to lose hair on their scalp but grow more hair on their bodies, for some strange reason. Women who have too much testosterone may find themselves losing hair on their scalp, growing facial hair and body hair to an alarming degree, and experiencing an outbreak of acne because their skin produces to the heightened testosterone levels.

Regardless of what causes alopecia or hair loss in women or to what degree, it is very traumatizing for women anyway because the hair on a woman's scalp is her crowning glory. A plain-looking woman with healthy hair can seem more beautiful than a pretty woman who is balding. That is why, when women start seeing the symptoms of alopecia on their heads, they will probably try to seek medical help as soon as possible.

If you do seek medical attention, your doctor may ask for a wait and see period to check if you are simply going through a phase where you experience a faster degree of shedding of hair (called telogen effluvium), or are really suffering from alopecia. Your doctor may prescribe certain treatments that aim to increase hair growth in your scalp again. One is to lower testosterone levels by consumption of oral contraceptives. Another is to take medicines that can halt the production of testosterone. Washing your scalp with a hair re-growth solution minoxidil is a third option. But bear in mind that all treatments have their own special effects so you need to be cautious about pursuing any hair re-growth program, particularly if you are pregnant.

3 Business Opportunities As an RN Wellness Coach

As an RN or nurse, you are in a great position with expert knowledge and access to the healthcare systems that becoming a health and wellness coach should be a career choice to consider.

Here's 3 business opportunities for nurses have when considering a career as an health and wellness coach.

  • Work from home – This is a great opportunity for nurses to work from home, owning their own business as an RN wellness coach. When you participate in most health and wellness training programs they will also teach about marketing your business. This should be enough to get you started and if you need help here feel free to contact me, I'd be happy to help.
  • Work with other health care practices – Look for business opportunities in massage clinics, chiropractic services and therapy centers. Many health and fitness centers are also looking to hire RN health coaches as an added service for being a member of the club for a total health and wellness experience for their clients.
  • Work in the Corporate world – Big name businesses are now hiring their own wellness coaches as a means to help manage health care costs as well as lower the absent rate among their employees. This is an opportunity for nurses in work in the corporate world helping CEOs live a healthy lifestyle.

You could also do this on a part time basis to supplement your current income or to "test out the waters" to see if becoming an RN health and wellness coach is for you. The business opportunities are there for nurses to become successful RN health and wellness coaches.

An Herbal Approach to H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu)

Over the last few days, I have watched the media accelerate in alerting us to the possible shortage in the H1N1 Swine Flu vaccinations. We are warned that the H1N1 virus will hit this winter in pandemic proportions. Many of us are quite frankly confused as to the prevenitive / treatment approach for ourselves and family members. As practicing herbalist, I have been asked my opinion on this provocative issue.

Vaccinations are sometimes necessary. The elderly, persons with a compromised immune system and very young children should be protected. Caregivers are needed and are often not enough. Therefore, caregivers and educators should consider getting vaccinated. With that being said, the decision to be vaccinated should be weighed carefully. Are there sensible and easy options to protect you and your family without being vaccinated, while the choice is still ours? Sure there are, and one choice is to use an herbal approach.

Herbalism like prevention, is all about personal responsibility, responsibility to yourself and others. If you are sick, prevent others from being so by self quarantining. Most employers have viewed the H1N1 virus as a serious enough threat to encourage their employees to utilize their sick days when feeling ill. Some have even allowed employees to take days even when you have exhausted your sick time.

Prevention in this case and all other health concerns, is the most worthy consideration. Specifically for this flu season, building your immune system should be your utmost concern.

Herbs that build the immune system and can be taken prior to feeling ill are:

A stragulus (Astragalus Membranaceus) – A potent immune enhancer. Best taken before cold and flu season strikes, it builds the body's resistance.

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus Senticos) – Has anti-viral properties and boost the immune system.

Codonopsis Root (Codonopis pilosulae) – For immune deficiency and frequent infections

Schizandra Berries (Schizandra chinensis) – Boost the body's immune function

Reishi Mushroom – ( Ganoderma lucidum) – Stimulates the immune system

All of the herbs listed above can be taken as a tea or a tincture during this flu season on a preventive basis.

What to do if you are feeling ill:

Know your body and recognize the symptoms of illness. Everyone begins to feel ill in a different way; fatigue, sore throat, headache, nausea, chills, etc. The first hour of an illness setting in is most important in treating that illness. An herbal approach to treatment of the flu includes all of the following: clearing toxins and excess conditions by increasing sweating, killing germs and reducing fever, pains, stiffness and congestion.

His is accomplished by stimulating a natural immune system response.

At the first signs of the Flu – a diaphoretic remedy such as Osha Root ( Ligusticum porteri) which can be taken, it will encourage sweating and help to eliminate toxins. Osha Root was first used by Native Americans to treat colds, flu and upper respiratory infections. It is a powerful, antimicrobial, anti-flamatory and antiseptic herb. An Osha tea or tincture can be taken in small doses every half hour to an hour.

If your cold symptoms become inflammatory, take an herbal antibiotic or anti-microbial – such as Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis) or Echinacea ( Echinacea purpurea ) in tea or tincture of up to 7 days. These are both powerful herbs and should be considered as such.

If you are confused, have a cough or phlegm present – use an expectorant, astringent, and antispasmodic herb. Echinacea can kill germs and dries phlegm. Echinacea can be a drying herb, so you should not take when you have a dry cough. Use an herbal steam of Peppermint (Menta piperita ) and Eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus globules ) to help with the congestion. Other herbs that can help are: Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium ), Mullein ( Verbascum thapsus ) and Wild Cherry ( Prunus serotina ), Elecampane ( Inula helenium ) and Thyme ( Thymus vulagris ).

For a sore throat – use a soothing demulcent (an herb which provides moisture) such as Marshmallow Root ( Althaea officinalis ) and Slippery Elm ( Ulmus rubra ). Osha can also be taken to reduce inflation, it will soother and anesthezie. A gargle can be made with Yarrow, Sage ( Salvia officinales ) and or Echinacea.

For Ear Infections – An ear infection usually begins in the throat and spread to the inner ear via the Eustachian tube. Use an anti-microbial such as – Garlic, Echinacea, Mullein or / and Meadowsweet ( Filipendula ulmaria ) for the pain.

For a Fever use an herb that is febrifuge (brings down a fever) and diaphoretic (promotes sweating), such as – Ginger, Boneset – treat aches and pains, Peppermint, Elder Flowers, Catnip (especially great for young children) and Yarrow .

here is also much to be said about using herbs topically to prevent the spread of infections. According to the story, in Toulouse, France during the time of the plague four thieves were robbing and stealing from the dead, without falling ill from the plague. When they were finally apprehended, and sent to death for their deeds, a judge allowed them their lives if they reveal their secret of how they were able to handle the diseased bodies and remain immune themselves. Their secret was a formula of herbs and essential oils that is antimicrobial, astringent and antiseptic properties!

ou can easily make similar formula to use as a room spray and hand sanitizer to protect yourself and others from getting ill. Use two ounces of distilled water to 1/2 ounce vodka, and add 30-40 drops of any of the following essential oils: Sage, Thyme, Frankincense, Pine, Lavender, Rosemary or Oregano. Shake well and spray on surfaces, in the air and on hands.

Above all use common sense when feeling ill; avoid cold, raw foods, dairy products, dress warmly, and get the rest your body needs. Do eat lots of garlic in your diet, miso soups, and organic vegetable broths. Take care of yourself and each other this flu season!

"The above information is not intended to diagnose or treat the flu, and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration"

Alopecia Areata Treatment – Part 3

Saw Palmetto for Baldness

This herb has the ability to inhibit 5-a-reductase, the same enzyme that Proscar and Propecia affect. In several double blind studies, saw palmetto has been shown to improve symptoms of benign prostate enlargement. One 3 year trail comparing saw palmetto with Proscar showed significantly greater improvement with the herb than with the prescription drug.

If saw palmetto can prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT by blocking enzymatic activity, then there is a reason to believe, that this herb could be at least as good as Propecia in growing hair.

Aromatherapy

Some people think that aromatherapy is sniffing aromatic herbs. The Scottish dermatologist who did the research with this treatment says that aromatherapy "involves the use of essential oils and essences derived from plants, flowers, and wood resins, which are generally massaged into the skin."

They point out that "Cedarwood, lavendarm thyme, and rosemary oils have hair growth-promoting properlytied These oils have been anecdotally used to treat alopecia [baldness] for more than 100 years.

People in the study had been diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition in which hair loss occurs in patches. It may affect as many as 1% of people in Western countries and is not limited to male or female, old or young. In many instances, hair growth recurs at any time, but treatment is difficult and the condition can be psychologically damaging.

For this study, 84 people were randomly assigned to either of 2 groups. One group of people received a placebo mixture of 3 ml of jojoba oil and 20 ml of grapeseed oil and were told to massage it into the scalp each night for 2 minutes. The head was then wrapped in a warm towel to enhance absorption of the oils, with the addition of essential oils of thyme, lavender, rosemary, and cedarwood. The study lasted for 7 months.

Follow-up was done with photographs and computer analysis of tracings of bald patches at 3 months and again at 7 months. Of those using the essential oil mixture, 44% had measurable improvement, while only 15% of those using the placebo oil improved. This difference was statistically significant. They even provided before-and-after photos that were nothing short of amazing .

None of the people in this study experienced negative effects from the oils. This gives the aromatherapy treatment a better safety record than the pharmaceuticals often used to treat this condition. That does not mean such a concoction is safe for everyone. Some people may be sensitive to one or another of these essential oils and experience a rash or dermatitis.

Although this study focused primarily on alopecia areata, one of the individuals in the study also had male pattern baldness, known medically as androgenic alopecia. This is the most common form of hair loss. The researchers noted "some moderate regrowth of hair loss." Whether other men with this problem would benefit remains to be determined.

Ways to Make Your Wounds Heal Faster

You might already know how to take care of your wounds for them to heal. But, there are methods that you can use in order to hasten the healing process. Once your wounds are healed, it may be easier for you to resume your activities of daily living. You will not have to worry about tending to your wounds.

Once you have been cut or injured, you have to decide whether or not you are going to seek medical treatment. Minor wounds can be taken care of with the first aid kit that you have at home. These wounds are not life threatening. There might be no need for you to visit a doctor or a clinic at any given time. Major wounds, on the other hand, may put your life at risk. These wounds can make you lose a lot of blood. If you suffer a burn injury, you may lose lots of fluids from your body at a very fast rate. These wounds will require you to go and see a doctor as soon as possible.

After emergency treatment measures have been given and you are now out of immediate danger, the next focus will be on how to heal your injuries. Doctors and medical professionals will first try to avoid more complications like a wound infection. You may be prescribed with the necessary antibiotics to avoid such things from happening.

On your own end, you need to take care of your wounds. Dressings keep your wounds from getting in contact with contaminants. But, remember to regularly change your wound dressings. Once they are soaked, you need to change to new ones as soon as possible. And if you no longer notice a great amount of drain from your wounds, you still have to regularly change your wound dressings. Some amount of dust and other debris might be present. Fresh dressing materials will make sure that your wounds will be kept away from infection.

Wounds that have dried can be freed from the dressing materials. Once the wounds are closed and dry, there will be no danger in letting them out in the open. This can even hasten the healing process as oxygen in the air can get to your wounds at a much better rate. Sometimes, using more aggressive methods to introduce oxygen into the body is something that you can do. There are oxygen therapies that you can undergo.

Disinfect your wounds using the right products. Soap and water can be effective for some wounds. However, for those who suffered huge and open wounds, this method might not be ideal. Instead, a wound disinfectant such as an iodine solution or a topical antibacterial agent is applied to the affected part.

As much as possible, do not touch your wounds. At a late healing phase, most wounds would itch a lot. Resist the urge to touch the affected part. Your hands can carry potentially dangerous organisms. Sometimes, scabs may be accidentally removed and will only cause you to suffer permanent scars once the wounds are completely healed.

Eye Doctors Have Genetic Tests For Glaucoma – What Is Available For Your Eye Exam and Diagnosis

Glaucoma is a complex disease caused by multiple factors. In plain English, that means it is not one disease and not caused by one factor only. Recent knowledge has made us acutely aware that eye pressure is not the determining factor in the diagnosis of glaucoma. When the pressure inside the eye was above 21 in the past glaucoma was thought to be present. Today we know that some individuals will never develop glaucoma even though their eye pressure readings may stay in the 30's while other patients can not tolerate normal pressures without sustaining sight loss. Glaucoma is more of a vascular disease of the optic nerve of the eye. When the auto-regulation of the blood supply starts to fail, vision begins degrating. High eye pressures do cause compression of the blood vessels supplying the nerve, but healthy blood vessels with good auto-regulation mechanisms can sustain very high pressures. Eye pressure is not static and can vary throughout the day. When we read it once when we are at the optometrists office it is only a thin slice of what your pressure range could be over a 24 hour period.

The Human Genome Project mapped the human gene structure and was an intensive undertaking completed in 2003 taking 13 years and sequencing over 3 billion codes of base pair information. This has opened the doors to tremendous future strides in treating all diseases. There is a chromosome with a gene that codes for the production of a protein that makes up part of the structure of the mesh work in the anterior chamber of the eye .. This mesh work is responsible for keeping the fluid balance in check by allowing continual drainage. When something goes awry with the drain the pressure goes up increasing your risk for developing glaucoma. One company has developed a test for defects in the gene that makes this protein. Unfortunately, this gene is only responsible for about 4% of the cases of glaucoma. It can be useful when there is a suspected family history since patients with this genetic marker tend to have rapidly developing glaucoma and should be treated more aggressively. It also tends to be more commonly associated with glaucoma under the age of 40. One other glaucoma gene has also had mutations that appear to be associated with open angle glaucoma, the form that is responsible for 95% of the cases of glaucoma. One other gene has reportedly been associated with an increased incidence of glaucoma in patients with normal pressures. An uncommon form of glaucoma know as exfoliation has also seen the development of a genetic marker test, but due to the rarity of this condition it is not widely used.

All together, probably less than 10% of glaucoma has a direct genetic cause, and due to the expense of genetic testing it is rarely utilized. The complexity of testing is compounded by the fact that numerous defects at each gene can occur, and sometimes it may take two or more genes with flaws to create glaucoma. Even the most accepted genetic factor may cause glaucoma from defects in areas other than the mesh work. It is very early in the age of genomics. Perhaps the greatest benefits will not be in diagnosing glaucoma but in tailoring treatment and actually curing some forms of glaucoma in the future.

General health issues are the most important risk factors, and some you can control. Smoking and cardiovascular diseases are high risk factors for developing glaucoma. Make sure you stay fit and have well controlled blood pressure. Keep preventative appointment and regular eye exams to monitor the eye pressure. Age is a risk factor but consider it a good one. A longer life is usually better all things considered! Most vision insurance plans like Vision Service Plan, Medicare, and many others cover preventative annual eye examinations.

Health Care Reform and Coordination of Benefits

The current discussion of expanding health care options through federal legislation deals primarily with big issues – like how to pay for the new coverage and how proposed reforms would change the current medical care system. One of the smaller questions not showing up on many radar screens is how health care reform would impact coordination of benefits issues.

The current method of paying for health care in the US is contracted of many different medical coverage "silos". Any given individual- depending on the nature of the disease or injury and how it is arose- may be entitled to have medical treatment paid for by any one of many different plans that provide for payment of medical expenses: group health, workers' compensation, automobile no-fault, homeowner's, liability and a government-sponsored plan like Medicare or Medicaid.

When Uncle Larry was hurt in a motor vehicle collision while making a delivery for his employer, the hospital that treated his broken arm could have conceivably billed Larry or Larry's employers 'workers' compensation insurance carrier or Larry's group health insurer or Larry's auto no-fault insurance carrier or Medicare. Traditionally, those potential payers have operated within separate silos, with little or no sharing of information between them about who had coverage for Larry and about the circumstances of Larry's arm getting broken. Any one of those health coverage plans could have ended up being billed for and paying the hospital charges.

Under the existing Medicare Secondary Payer statute Medicare is not obliged to pay Larry's hospital bill and would only be liable for payment if none of the other coverage was in force. Any workers' compensation, liability, no fault and group health plan or policy in effect for Larry must pay before Medicare is obligatory to pay.

Currently, systems are in place for Medicare to discover what other health care coverages are in effect for its beneficies, to find out what payments other health coverage have made on behalf of its beneficies and to recover reimbursements for Medicare payments made when a primary coverage is in effect. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency tasked with administering the Medicare program, has a rather robust system in place for enforcing the secondary non-paying rules and minimizing the number of cases in which Medicare pays for treatment that another payer is obliged to pay .

Medicaid, on the other hand, is administrated by state agencies. Due in part to very low-income-eligibility standards, the typical Medicaid beneficiary would not have other, private medical payment coverage in force. Accordingly, there is no single, effective process in place to coordinate benefits between Medicaid and any other medical treatment payers available to a Medicaid beneficiary.

The health care reform proposals now being debated in Congress would-very very terms- expand health care coverage in four ways:

o increasing the number of people who qualify for Medicare (eg decreasing eligibility age from 65 to 55)
o increasing the number of people who would qualify for Medicaid (eg increasing maximum income levels to 150% of the federal poverty level)
o accelerating qualification requirements for existing private insurance policies, and
o creating a new publicly-administered health insurance plan.

Clearly, enactment of legislation expanding the number of people covered by health insurance will increase the incidence of overlapping or duplicative coverage. That will increase opportunities for payment of medical expenses by the wrong payer. That will increase the need for effective information sharing among the non-paying silos and enforcement of payment priorities.

One aspect of the health care reform movement that will be particularly helpful in the coordination of benefits is an expansion of electronic data exchange between the health care payers. If the hospital that treated Uncle Larry's broken arm was able to put Larry's social security number and a few other key data elements into a web-based database accessed and fed by all potential health expenditure payers, it could be a pretty simple process to determine who the bill should be sent to, avoid payment by the wrong payer and find opportunities for reimbursements when payment is made by the wrong party.

Federal law (42 USC 1320d-2) already requires CMS to develop a system for electronic data exchange of health information for the purpose of improving the operation and reducing the costs of the health care system. The principle health care reform bill pending in Congress – HR 3200- covers over 1,000 pages of text. One sentence of that bill deals with coordination of benefits:

"Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall promulgate a final rule to establish a standard for health claims attachment transaction described in section 1173 (a) (2) (B) of the Social Security Act (42 USC 1320d-2 (a) (2) (B)) and coordination of benefits. "

Bingo.

Get everyone on the same (web) page, and make sure that includes Medicaid (since expanding eligibility for Medicaid will increase opportunities for duplicative coverage and need for coordination.)

Low Back Pain And Sciatica – Functional Limitations

The problem with low back pain and sciatica, is that the lower back itself and surrounding area is so important with regards to any movement or activity you become involved in. It is not like when you have injured an arm or a leg, where you can rest the arm in a sling or use some crutches for your leg in order to allow healing to take place, with low back pain you are not afforded that luxury.

With regards to functional activities, the first thing which needs to be addressed is to divide them into two categories:

i) Those which cause or aggravate your low back pain or sciatica.

ii) Those which cause you no pain or do not increase your pain at all.

The chances are that there is a common factor linking the components of each of these two groups.

For example, let’s say sitting down aggravates your low back pain yet keeping upright and a small amount of walking eases your pain. We are going to be thinking along the lines of flexion activities being the aggravating factor for your low back pain and extension type activities being the easing factor.

With this above example, first and foremost we need to modify or temporarily avoid the aggravating factor i.e. sitting down. Now I am not suggesting you do not sit down at all during the day, but rather you try and sit in a more upright chair, with say a rolled up towel for some support for your lower back. In addition to this, I would also recommend that you spend no longer than a maximum of 15-20 minutes sitting down without break i.e. getting up out of the chair.

Moving on to encouraging the easing factors, and once again using the above example, I would suggest you try to have a little walk a few times during the day. This can be anything from a few minutes to say 20 or 30 minutes, depending upon the severity of your pain. The important thing is your low back likes this activity and therefore it is important to provide it with it, as it will be providing you low back with the optimum conditions for it to heal itself.

NB. You can get too much of a good thing, therefore do not just walk for the sake of it. For example, if your low back pain eases after 5 minutes walking, but becomes aggravated after 10 minutes, feel free to walk for 5 minutes, but not too much longer (otherwise you will be simply interfering with the healing process again).

With regards to aggravating and easing factors, it is important to be as specific as possible. Therefore,using the example I have just given, walking for 5 minutes is an easing factor, yet walking for 10 minutes is an aggravating factor.

The main principle is little and often throughout the day. Tying in the above two, the logical thing to do with regards to sitting, is every 15 minutes or so stand yourself up and have a walk up and down the living room. By taking on board the above principle, it will result in less stress being placed across the structures responsible for your low back pain and therefore give your body a chance to heal itself. As healing takes place, the structures responsible for your pain will become stronger, and if they are stronger you will find you can begin to do more and more.

A positive cycle will now result, whereby encouraging the easing factors will promote more healing, which itself will result in your low back becoming stronger and therefore less easily aggravated. If it is less aggravated, it means more healing will take place and therefore you can become more active and your back will become stronger…. and so on.

Sound too simple?

Well there is no doubt I have simplified things a little just to highlight a point. However, it is not too difficult either as the underlying principle is the same. The all important aspect is firstly analysing your day-to-day activities and then dividing them into aggravating and easing ones. When you have established this, begin by temporarily avoiding/modifying the aggravating activities and encouraging the easing ones. As you do this, your low back pain or sciatica will begin to ease and you will be able to become more active.

At this stage, it will be important to consider addressing any muscle imbalances which are present (as it will almost be certain there are some). A simple but effective exercise programme to strengthen any weak muscles and stretch any tight ones will soon have you performing those functional activities you are finding difficult at the moment pain-free…

Otitis Media And Ear Pain Relief

Inflammation of the inner ear (OM) is extremely common in children as well as affecting quite a few adults. Recurrent, protracted ear inflammation causes severe pain, restlessness and muffled hearing, which can hamper development and prejudice learning. Ear infection is one of the main reasons for visiting the doctor or the emergency room.
Blockage of the Eustachian tube (OT) which links the middle ear cavity to the oral cavity can be a main cause of inflammation or a secondary factor – caused by inflammation and swelling of the mucus membrane of the ear and blocking the Eustachian canal.

Opening the Eustachian tube is an important and even essential step towards healing the inflammation. Blockage of the canal prevails drainage of the fluids secreted by the mucosal membrane of the middle ear and predictions equalization of the atmospheric pressure on either side of the eardrum. This increases the pressure inside the ear cavity and pushes the eardrum outwards, leading to pain, muffled hearing, and occasionally problems with balance. Moreover, increased pressure in the middle ear cavity prevents the absorption of medication into the region via local osmosis (eardrops) or systemically (via the blood).

Prevailing medical treatment – until now, treatment has involved the use of steroids and pseudo-epinephrine to reduce edema, with antibiotic cover for primary bacterial infection or secondary complication. If medical treatment failures and inflammation recurs constantly extended antibiotic treatment, the usual practice is to perforate the tympanic membrane and ensure that it remains open by inserting tiny drainage tubes. This allows the contents of the middle ear cavity to drain out, equalizing pressure, improving hearing, stopping pain, and permitting medication to enter locally and heal.

The newly invented device is called the EarDoc (Figure 1). EarDoc is a small, low cost electrical device for treating and opening the Eustachian tube. It works by producing vibrations at a sub-sonic frequency. The instrument head is specifically designed so that when positioned behind and resting on the base of the ear, the bulge on the head of the device lies against the mastoid bone and the pointed front section rests against the base of the ear.

The front of the head of the device causes the cartilage of the ear base to vibrate along the outer ear canal to the tympanic membrane. The vibrating membrane produces tiny pressure waves affecting the air and pressurized fluids of the middle ear cavity. The previously constant pressure inside the middle ear cavity is converted into cyclical waves, which acting as shock waves exert pressure on the walls of the narrowed or blocked Eustachian tube. In addition, the vibrations from the head of the device via the mastoid bone to the wall of the middle ear cavity produce vibrations in the swollen mucus membrane of the middle ear canal and the Eustachian tube, reducing edema. This combined action tremendously improves the possibility of opening the canal and enabling trapped air and fluids from the middle ear cavity to drain into the mouth.

Adjusting the frequency helps to improve the efficiency of the device in several ways: the optimum operating frequency is different for each individual depending on the size of the middle ear cavity and the Eustachian tube, which naturally vary. Frequency adjustment also enhances the oscillation of the mucosal membrane. It is recommended that the patient should gradually adjust the frequency to cover the entire frequency range. EarDoc should be used for 3-5 minutes approximately six times a day when the canal is narrowed or blocked. This improves the likelihood of opening the canal and ensuring it positions open, and provides instant pain relief, improved absorption of medication, and healing of the inflammatory.

Air travel and diving – Blockage of the Eustachian tube is a commonplace consequence in air travel and underwater diving. Fluctuating differences in atmospheric air pressure on both sides of the tympanic membrane induced reduced pressure in the middle ear cavity, swelling of the mucus membrane cells in the inner ear, and increased fluid secretion. This produces a vicious circle in which the greater the difference in pressure, the narrower the Eustachian tube becomes and the less effect it can drain fluid and equalize air pressure. Impaired functioning of the tube causes insufficiency in the canal and blockage. Inflammation of the pharynx and upper respiratory tracts leading to early boiling of the mucosal membrane exacerbate the phenomenon and risk of blockage. Use of EarDoc during flights and following diving sessions can reduce pain and produce healing as described above.

Sinus inflammation – like the middle ear cavity, when the sinus drain is blocked due to swelling or inflammation of the sinus cavity mucus membrane, EarDoc can help by resting it against the bone adjacent to the sinus in order to open the closed opening and allow drainage and healing.

Display Homes

The days are gone when you used to listen to plans and designs, or tried to understand them through some lines put down on a large sheet of paper. Times have changed and the technologies once limited to corporates only are now available for individual use. If you have a dream house in mind or are trying to find out your dream home; you can now have a look at display homes in Australia!

What are display homes?

A display home is a fully constructed home, used by builders and construction companies for the preview of their prospective customers. In other words, if you are trying to find a house that best fits your taste and requirement, you may ask your service providers to show you their display homes in Brisbane or the Sunshine coast. This will be a thoughtful help in your quest for a new home. The preview of these homes will help you make up your mind easily about your idea of ​​an ideal home.

What to expect when inspecting a model home?

When previewing a display home, your focus must be beyond the aesthetic value of the home. Of course, the look of the house matters. It matter how many bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens it has. What is the arrangement of rooms inside the house and how spacious are the corridors and Porches. Neverheless, there are other issues of vital importance like does the building meets the codes of construction specified. Is it safe for you in terms of proper ventilation and no moisture intrusion?

History of Pipette and Pipetting

The pipette which is the most commonly used equipment in laboratories for extracting samples has a history of more than sixty years. Liquids and semi-solids are transferred using pipettes. Genetics, microbiology, chemical research such as pharmaceuticals etc are some other areas that make use of pipettes very frequently.

In earlier 50’s one of the major challenges faced by the laboratories was transferring of ideal volumes of liquid, but later in 1958 the revolutionary invention of pipette was done by one of the German scientist named Heinrich Schnitger but this invention was having a lot of limitations. The working of the pipette was by adding a spring to the syringe that would stop according to a set volume and the syringe’s needle was replaced with a plastic tip. The first pipette was called as Marburg pipette and it was supplied by the eppendorf medical supply company.

The first mechanical adjustable pipette was invented by Warren Gilson the Founder and Managing Director of Gilson medical electronics in the year 1978. The mechanical one is having strong resemblance with the one which is used in the labs now. This new invention led to increased accuracy, comfort, variable volume adjustments and lead to the invention of gilson pipetman. The first autclavable pipette was invented in 1984 by Capp Denmark manufacturers. More than 80% percentage of the pipettes used in the market today is autoclavable. Volume control knob was also invented by the same Denmark manufacturers. In 2002 the Vista labsystems technologies founded a new pipette which used state of art ergonomics. Vista lab also founded the first Ovation Bio Natural Pipette which actually reduced the risk of CTS and all other types of musculoskeletal disorders. Now the electronic pipette is replacing the mechanical pipette with ergonomics, precision and safety becoming an important factor in pipette usage.

The Safety of the pipette and the safety of the user using the pipette is given high importance now by the manufacturers. Each brand pipette is different to each other, the advantage now the customers have is that there is large varieties of pipettes in different brands, price etc. The customer can buy pipette according to his use and even some of the companies are making customized pipettes according to the orders from the customers. Never choose a pipette by looking on the price of the pipette. Buy the pipette according to the use of it first of all try to understand the differences between each pipette the main thing in that is the recalibration time for each one and free warranty of each pipette. If you are using pipettes frequently it is important to calibrate the equipment once in three months even if the The manufacturer claims that their product is having permanent calibration but if it is used frequently it will surely need recalibration in every 3 months. Almost every brand’s is giving warranties for their pipette. Clarify all the doubts regarding the warranty of the product at the time of purchase itself, mainly the time period of warranty and what all things comes under warranty.

Diabetes and Wound Healing Woes

Diabetes is a disease the effects the body's ability to process glucose. Either the pancreas stops producing insulin, as in Type 1 Diabetes, or the body becomes resistant to its own insulin, as in Type 2 Diabetes. In either case, sustained damage can be done to the cells and tissues of the body due to prolonged elevation of the blood glucose levels.

There are many negative side effects that can happen as a result of elevated blood glucose levels. These side effects include poor circulation, micro-vascular damage, damage to the eyes, kidney damage and increased likelihood of heart disease and strokes. Many complications can also arise for diabetics because their bodies have a very hard time with wound healing.

Wound healing is a major health issue for diabetics. Because of elevated glucose levels and a compromised immune system, the diabetic body has a very hard time fighting infections. This becomes a vicious cycle, since infections raise blood glucose levels, making it harder over time for the diabetic body to heal. One of the reasons amputations are so common among the diabetic population is precisely because fighting infection and wound healing is such a challenge for diabetics.

In order to assist with wound healing, diabetics should consider taking all natural oral supplements in addition to insulin and / or other prescribed medications. Supplements containing SOD / Gliadin have proven to be effective in assisting with the wound healing process. SOD / Gliadin has been shown in numerous studies to decrease oxidative stress under extreme duress, reduce lactic acid blood concentration during and after exercise, enhance the immune system, and have a general anti-inflammatory effect while functioning through a nitrous oxide (NO) pathway .

While a healthy diet and exercise can greatly help regulate blood glucose levels and minimize the risk for diabetic complications, they will not reverse the damage already made to cells and tissues by elevated blood glucose levels. For this reason, all those with diabetes or at risk for diabetes should look into natural herbs and supplements as a way of helping their bodies reverse the negative effects of diabetes.