Understanding And Overcoming Asthma

Asthma is one of the most aggravating diseases that humans may suffer. It involves the very breath of life. One of the characteristic features of this disorder is that between attacks the victim may appear and feel as normal as anyone else and yet in a very short time may be in an attack so severe as to cause him to wish for the end of life.

Asthma is a paroxysmal difficulty of breathing resulting from sudden spasm of the bronchial tubes or their minute branches, or sudden swelling of the mucous membrane of these tubes. What produces the hypersensitiveness of the respiratory membrane, which is necessary to the production of asthma, may be difficult to determine. It is associated, however, with heart disease (cardiac asthma), kidney disease (renal asthma) or some outside irritant (hay asthma), or from minor causes. A protein sensitization often underlies the condition. Bronchial, nervous or essential asthma is a form for which a leading cause cannot be discovered, though usually there has been inherited a neurotic temperament.

The symptoms of asthma are comparatively similar in the majority of cases. The spasmodic attacks come on suddenly, but without regularity as a rule. Any condition which gives rise to excitation of the nervous system may cause the attacks. Sometimes these paroxysms develop more gradually and are preceded by a sensation of oppression in the chest or frequent or increased urination or a belching of gas, etc. When the attack comes on, breathing is very difficult, particularly the exhalation of each breath. In severe cases the patients often sit with elbows on a chair or desk or table or stand with the elbows elevated by some object in order to be able to use to the fullest all of the auxiliary muscles of breathing.

In these severe attacks the lips become blue and the cheeks pale, the nostrils are dilated and the eyes bulged and the entire facial expression is one of anxiety. The pulse is rapid and the perspiration is copious. The breathing is not rapid, but is difficult and wheezing. There is a sensation as if one is being choked or smothered. Often it is necessary to open a window, or to sit in the open window to secure all the fresh air possible. There often is a cough, which may continue for quite some time before any matter is brought up for expectoration. This matter is tenacious and stringy.

The attacks may subside gradually, but often pass quite suddenly. Their duration may be a few minutes only or many hours. They may be repeated every night or quite frequently or not for several weeks or even for several months. Irritating vapor or fumes or a damp atmosphere may help produce or prolong an attack. Attacks frequently come on at night.

Hay asthma is quite different from the ordinary varieties. It is excited by such irritating substances as plant pollen, dust, animal emanations and such. The first symptom resembles an acute catarrh of the respiratory passages, which causes sufficient swelling of the mucous membrane to interfere with breathing.

Asthma primarily is a nervous disease, but when continued for many years in a severe form the patient may become gaunt, sallow and hollow checked, and the chest may become deformed.

Treatment. This is another constitutional disease, hence must have constitutional treatment. Because of the underlying neurotic or highly nervous temperament this condition may respond less readily than do many other diseases, but there have been numerous cases where all symptoms have disappeared permanently. Numerous factors may be necessary in the treatment, but diet will be the first factor in most instances. In any case it will be necessary to build up the nervous energy and to detoxicate as completely as possible.

The most reliable treatment is an absolute fast, which if necessary may continue for as long as twenty, thirty or more days, depending upon the patient’s weight, strength and energy. After the fast or in cases where the fast cannot be used the citrus fruits, particularly the grapefruit, will be of very great benefit. This fruit particularly seems to aid in clearing the bronchial tubes of accumulated mucus and in bringing new mucus-forming elements to the tubes by the blood-stream.

After the fast or fruit diet the milk diet may be used with considerable benefit by a great many patients, particularly those who are below normal in weight and those whose nervous energy seems much below normal. But in a fair percentage of cases this diet seems to disagree. Temporarily it does tend to cause the throwing off of mucus, through its effect in speeding up the circulation, alkalinizing the system and aiding in throwing out waste products. But this eliminative effect is so pronounced occasionally that the patient’s breathing is interfered with to such an extent that another diet may have to be considered.

There is no specific diet for treating this disease, but a great many cases do well with two or three light meals a day of the simplest combinations of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals and milk. The whole grain cereals preferably should be in the form of dry toast. This diet should include citrus fruits, berries and melons, but white sugar should be rigidly avoided and brown sugars should be used sparingly, and all of the fruits and berries should be used wholly unsweetened.

It is necessary that asthmatics live as nearly as possible out of doors. Not only must their lungs receive an abundance of fresh air, but they must be lightly enough dressed that the entire body is air-bathed regularly. However, it is important that they avoid chilling. Warmth of the body is important to prevent an internal congestion that may light up or aggravate an attack. Clothing should be loose at all points – no constriction even of the extremities being permissible.

Between attacks moderate exercises will be very beneficial. No specific exercises are required, but all active sports that the patient can indulge in or general setting-up exercises that involve deep breathing and the arm and chest muscles should be used. Spinal compresses and massage and spinal manipulations, particularly those in the nature of osteopathic treatments, will be of great benefit in many of these cases. Many attacks of asthma cm be checked or shortened by properly given packs or manipulations. Packs over the front of the chest, over the upper half of the back, or the cross-chest pack over the shoulders and involving the entire rib area, may be used with great relief and benefit. These cross-chest packs should be applied cold and covered thoroughly with dry flannel. Heat by any continuous means to the upper spine or the upper chest will give relief as a rule. The drinking of an abundance of hot water is relaxing and often will help to abort or shorten an attack. Inhalation of steam from a tea-kettle by the use of a suitable funnel may be of help in relieving the spasms.

In many cases it is necessary to avoid cold applications until considerable general improvement has been secured. Many attacks have been produced by cold applied to the chest or upper back, and yet some of the best ultimate results have been obtained where this treatment has been employed. Much depends upon one’s individual response to such treatment. If it can be used without starting an attack it can be considered a very beneficial type of treatment. The electric cabinet bath relieves very quickly in many cases because of its sweat-producing, relaxing effect. It should be followed by a tepid shower or sponge, terminated by the cold shower or sponge if possible.

The use of vapors for the specific effect of quieting an attack of asthma should be avoided if possible, also the injection of adrenalin chloride. These remedies for the attacks have no effect upon the underlying conditions and often interfere with the progress of the case under natural treatment. However, there are attacks so severe or patients in such an exhausted condition that such relief is preferable to a continuation of the attack when any natural procedure will not give the desired relief. Adrenalin is an internal secretion production, hence is not wholly foreign to the body and may be considered much better than the leaves and powders that arc used by burning.

As invaluable for their palliative effect as these remedies are in relieving acute attacks, constitutional treatment as outlined is vitally important and must be depended upon if a permanent cure is to be established. In a great many cases all that is required is the proper diet and adequate elimination, with improved skin activity. It is necessary also that the patient should cultivate relaxation, not only physical but mental and emotional. This will help a great deal in preventing attacks, and during an attack. If the patient can secure mental relaxation much will be done towards hastening the termination of the attack.

Dealing With Headaches

Who in the world has not suffered from the glitches of headaches? A headache is defined simply as a pain, which could occur in any area inside the head. They are sometimes felt at both sides of the head, while sometimes the headache is restricted to a single zone of the head. It may happens that a wave of pain emerges from a single point in the head and get spread across the whole head.

Symptoms:
Headaches can be felt in the following ways:

· A sharp, piercing pain.

· Dull, persistent and throbbing sensation.

· A gradual or sudden pain.

· Pain lasting from minutes to hours

Causes of Headaches:
A headache is not a pathology; rather it is a symptom manifesting the psychological or physiological pathologies. There could be a hundred f reasons behind a simple head ache but broadly headaches are divided into two main categories. They are:

Tension -oriented headaches:
Seventy percent of the population suffered from tension oriented headaches. This is common in both male and females; however adult’s especially elderly people are more prone to such type of headaches.

The muscles of head and neck contract intensely with a painful stimulus. The causes for such a muscle contraction includes

· Stress

· Fatigue

· Pre and post -menopausal hormonal changes

· Eye sight overload

· Nicotine addiction

· Alcohol addiction

· Over stimulation of sensory nerve like via loud noise, intense lightings

This type of headache results from any significant stress, however, constant fatigue will lead to chronic headaches persisting for longer durations.

Migraine: About twenty percent of the population is suffering from Migraine. The underlying cause of migraine is still unknown. Migraine can be defined as an unbearable pain at a side of the head with over all feeling of illness. Nausea, vomiting and intolerance of lights and sounds are the typical symptoms of migraines. The factors triggering the migraine associated headaches involve:

· Female hormonal imbalance

· Nicotine and alcohol usage

· Genetic factors

· Extensive muscle stretching or stress

· Insomnia

· Other lifestyle irregularities

· Use of oral contraceptives

Some foods also enhance the migraine pain intensely. Common dietary elements leading to migraine are:

1. Chocolate,

2. Dry fruits

3. Fermented condiments,

4. Tyramine containing compounds like aged cheese or smoked fish

5. Preservatives and artificial sweetener containing diets

The chemicals from the above food groups are either trigger the migraine pain or the cravings for such food are responsible for this tender

Remedies to Treat Headaches:

Finger pressures:
Exerting pressure on the pressure points like where the bones of your thumb or the index finger connects help to reduce pains of all categories. It’s amazing that the harder you put the pressure from the finger on your head, the more you feel comfortable and your pain is gone.

Towing hair:
Slowly pick some hair over your nape and pull it then continue pulling more hair in your fist closer to the scalp. Use both the fists to pull a bunch of hair. Pull for three seconds and then release the pressure, continue the process until you reach the forehead. Then repeat the procedure at the back of the ear. This procedure will ease the pain for at least ten minutes.

The Temperature Gradients:
You can treat the headaches by hot or cold techniques. If you are considering for a warm solution, take a hot bath or use hot water bottle to massage your head, you can use heating pads either, On the contrary if you need some cold remedies, put some ice packs on your head, you can use frozen vegetables as packs on skin to lower your headache and nourish your skin simultaneously.

Work-outs:
Work outs as alternative healing has been found very effective in reducing muscular or skeletal pains. Here also stretch work outs can help you to get rid of the head ache fast. The most functional types of stretches include

· Neck movements like chin forward, upward, and revolving toward each shoulder

· Shrugging the shoulders up, forward, up and back

· Press your palm on your forehead and hold for a while then press the palm on each side of the head this technique is known as neck isometrics

A twenty minutes, twice a day workout will be enough to get rid of headaches and perform these exercise by alternative holding and releasing the stretch for five minutes each and a single stretch is repeated two to three times per session.

Foot Bath:
It might sound ridiculous that foot bathing will relief the headache but it works; a hot water basin in which your feet are immersed for a suitable length of time will draw blood flow to the lower portion of your body, thus releasing the tension in your forehead blood vessels.

Aerobics:
Oxygen is vital for life and this oxygen will help in reducing headaches. Deep breathing can help you get rid of the head ache; you can exhale or inhale with deep breaths few times a day. An authentic medical research has proven evidences that regular aerobic exercises can reduce migraines and other form of headaches. These exercises include swimming, cycling or a simple few miles walk.

Meditation:
When you are in deep thought or in a meditative state you are not feeling any pain. Your mind is totally focused at a point and you couldn’t be distracted further. However, the significant relation of meditation on relieving pain is not established.

Reflexing:
Rubbing your feet relaxes your body and relieves the pain. The pressure points, all over your sole will trigger the pain zones to reduce the stress. Children are treated more effectively through such technique. You can rub your feet yourself or can ask somebody to give your feet a slightly pressured massage.

Dietary and Aromatic Home Remedies:

Peppermint tea:
Peppermint tea is the most effective home remedy to eliminate headaches. A cup of peppermint tea relieves the migraine, effectively. Moreover, you can press the used peppermint tea bags, at the site of the pain to get an instantaneous relief from the cool and soothing aroma of the peppermint tea.

Lavender oil:
Lavender oil is an essential oil. Few drops of lavender oil in a cup of boiling water will release the steam full of lavender aroma which soothes the headaches. Massage the oil on the forehead. This oil is not used orally.

Caffeine:
Drinking caffeine lowers the swelling of blood vessels which helps to cure headaches. Withdrawal of caffeine is one of the causes of headache. Drink a cup of tea or coffee if you are feeling pain in your forehead.

Cinnamon and Sugar:
A good home treatment for curing headache is cinnamon and sugar solution. Take some bits of cinnamon and ground it to a powder. take a cup of boiling water and add this cinnamon powder with two teaspoon sugar. boiling water will release the ingredients from cinnamon and sugar into the air. Sniff the fumes to lessen the sinus oriented and stress based headache, pour this cinnamon sugar solution into an air tight zip locked bag. Hold against the pain spot and press gently to remove the pain

Fish Oil:
it is said that ingestion of omega 3 fatty acids will reduce inflammation, lowers the blood pressure and inhibits blood from clotting; this overall physiology will eventually exert less stress on the head and treat headaches.

Apple and Apple Cider Vinegar:
Both apple and apple cider vinegar balance the body pH. And thus relieves the tense headaches, even aroma from green apple reduces the headaches. Add four table spoon apple cider vinegar in a cup of boiling water and smell the scent.

GINGER ROOT:
Ginger root is a miraculous home treatment as it has potent therapeutic effects. ginger root acts by inhibiting the Prostaglandin synthesis in the body thus reducing the pain upshot.

Take three to four quarter sized ginger root slices and add them in a cup of water. let it simmers for half an hour. Keep the cup closed to retain the flavor. Drink this amazing solution for prompt relief.

Here’s What Every Headache Sufferer Needs to Know About Headaches

If you are a headache sufferer do you ever have to hide away in a dark, quiet room just to avoid anything that could aggravate your headache? Do the headaches affect your ability to enjoy a fulfilling life? If you answered yes, you are not alone.

Research reports that up to 59% of people get headaches.

30% of headache sufferers get tension type headaches while 17% get migraine type headaches.

As a doctor of chiropractic, I have had many conversations with many headache sufferers. What strikes me is that many headaches suffers have one thing in common…

Most people who get headaches resort to taking medications for headache relief, whether it be an over-the-counter drug or a prescription drug.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Jane, a 38 year old woman I met at a community outreach. Jane tells me she has suffered for headaches for over 10 years.

I asked Jane, “What have you done to relieve your headaches?”

Jane says, “I take two pain killers every time I get a headache.”

I reply, “So, you take pain killers for your headaches, but if you stop taking this medication, does your headache ever permanently go away or does it eventually come back?’

Jane says, “No, it will eventually comes back, my headache, and when it does come back I take more painkillers.”

I tell Jane, “I understand that the pain medication helps relieve the headache and helps you cope temporarily, but do you really want to be taking these medication for the rest of your life?”

Jane says, “No. I don’t like taking these pain killers but it’s the only thing that helps me get by and I can’t function when I have a headache.”

That’s when I said, “Jane, if you can get rid of your headaches and live the rest of your life without headaches, would you want that? And if you can avoid not having to depend on drugs for your headaches would you want that too?”

Jane replies, “Yes”.

That’s when I told Jane the biggest missing piece to the widespread headache dilemma. Read on…

You see, when someone has a headache, there must an underlying problem that is causing the headache. The headache is merely a body signal or a symptom of the true underlying problem. And while medications do relieve symptoms, they never correct the underlying problem of the headache. This is why Jane has never truly resolved her headache dilemma during the past 10 years because the underlying problem was never fixed.

What is one of the most common underlying causes of headaches? It’s something that, as a headache sufferer, you are probably unaware of. And if you knew sooner, you most likely would have had the headache problem resolved sooner.

One of the most common causes of headaches is a devastating spinal condition called vertebral subluxation (subluxation). A subluxation is also called a spinal misalignment.

Why is this important to know for a headache sufferer?

Because if you can determine that your headache is caused by a subluxation(s) or a spinal misalignment, then there is a viable solution to help correct this problem. I’ll explain the solution in a moment. And it does not involve taking dangerous drugs.

The truth is that almost all my patients tell me they don’t want to take drugs or that they don’t like to take drugs. Many people are looking for a more natural and more permanent solution to their headaches. Just like Mike was.

Mike comes into my office one day complaining of headaches that have been haunting him for over 5 years. He says he tried the drugs but doesn’t like them, even though they give him some relief.

As a chiropractor, I make sure I thoroughly assess Mike’s spine for any misalignments or subluxations. The area that I really put a lot of attention on in my examination is the neck, especially the upper neck area. There are seven bones or vertebrae in the neck and on the side of each vertebrae there are spinal nerves.

What most headache sufferers don’t know is that the nerves of the upper neck travel into the head region. Therefore, any little abnormal alignment, aka misalagnment of the spine, can truly irritate the delicate nerves of the neck causing headaches.

A chiropractor’s assessment may include a posture analysis, a spinal examination, range of motion testing, nervous system tests, and x-rays of the spine.

Mike had a significant subluxation in his neck. He received chiropractic care which focused on correcting the subluxations in his neck. This was done for as long as it was necessary to make good spinal corrections.

Today, Mike has no more headaches.

You see, finding and correcting the underlying cause of the headaches is crucial. And this is what chiropractic aims to do. This is why chiropractic is the missing piece of the problem for many headache sufferers.

If the headache is caused by subluxations or spinal misalignments, then chiropractic could be a viable option for finally getting rid of headaches in your life, as it was for Mike.

The only way to know if you have subluxations and to see if subluxations are the cause of your headache it to get checked by a chiropractor.

Living with headaches is not fun. Suffering with headaches can truly put a damper on your quality of life.

Chiropractic can be the saving grace for headache sufferers. Mike is happier today, healthier, has more energy, and is enjoying life fully.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are usually taken care of by primary care physicians such as specialists in family medicine, or pediatrics. In complicated cases, an ENT doctor may be consulted. In the case of an infection, you may be referred to a specialist in infectious diseases.

Can the symptoms be treated at home?

Although there are several home remedies that work to treat sinus headaches and infections, it is important to seek medical care as early as possible if you are uncertain about the cause of your symptoms or if there is considerable severity of the infection. Symptoms of a severe infection may include high fever, if high pain persists or if there is swelling in the face.

How is a sinus headache diagnosed?

In some cases, a CT scan will be taken to get images of the sinuses but most of the time a physical examination and medical history are usually enough to make a diagnosis. Some doctors may advise you to do a CT scan anyway to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any other possibility.

Self-care at home through the use of home remedies, as well as prescription medications to control pain and inflammation is all that is needed to treat most cases of sinus headaches.

Some things you can do to alleviate the pain and help in recovery are:
• Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids and sipping on water throughout the day.
• Use salt water (saline) nasal sprays.
• Breathe humidified air by using a humidifier (devices that emit water vapor or steam to increase humidity) if you live in a particularly dry place.
• Nasal irrigation which flushes out mucus can help relieve symptoms.
• Use of over-the-counter medications that can be prescribed to you by your primary care physician

If your symptoms do not show any signs of improving even after the treatment or if symptoms get worse, you should definitely get in touch with your doctor as the problem could be more severe than initially presumed.

Tips for preventing sinus headaches

There are a few things you can do to minimize the risk of suffering from the symptoms associated with this condition:

Practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands often can help to prevent colds and infections in the upper respiratory system.

Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and using an air humidifier can also help promote efficient drainage of fluids from the sinuses minimizing the risk of infection.

Avoiding allergic triggers will greatly help prevent sinus infections for people with allergies

My Headaches Have Gone With a Salt-Free Diet

The two deadliest things we can put into our bodies are salt and sugar. It took me years to learn of their toxic nature. The hours of suffering endured because of severe headaches over many years were avoidable if only these facts were known. One of the symptoms of high blood pressure from salt toxicity is increased headaches, but that’s not all. To understand what else occurs when too much sodium is consumed took more research.

Causes of High Blood Pressure:

A larger than normal intake of salt which makes the body hold more water. With that retention of water, the blood pressure is elevated and the liver is affected. Over time heart, brain, and kidney problems may also develop.

The average daily intake of salt should be between 1500 mg and 2300 mg. Unfortunately, one serving of bread can be as high as 450 mg and that allows two sandwiches, using four slices of bread, can equal the daily dose. No matter what filling is in the sandwich, however, many will still give a shake or two of salt, and sandwich bars always do.

It is recommended that around 140 mg of salt per serve is the optimal amount. That means monitoring the amount in everything one eats.

How to Avoid Salt Toxicity:

One of the first things to do is to stop buying supermarket bread. You can make your own by using the recipe book and a bread maker machine. Buying wholemeal flour from a health food shop is also wiser than buying a prepared mixed one. All one needs is yeast, flour, small amount of salt (half a teaspoon is plenty) a little sugar, vegetable oil, and water.

Stop adding salt to food as it doesn’t need it. Good quality fresh food prepared by you in your kitchen is far safer than that purchased from others. Always check the salt content before buying take-away or frozen foods. Prepare and cook your own meals and avoid the salt by using herbs. Believe me you won’t even miss it.

Use Flavonoids instead of Salt:

Most argue that sale brings out the flour in food. That’s not true! All food has some flavour and the use of flavonoids will do more for you than salt.

Grow your own herbs, such as rosemary; sage; parsley; time; mint; basil; bay leaves; and so on. There are so many to choose from and most can be grown in a shared vessel. Other herbs to use are celery; ginger; onions; bananas; and chives. Garlic and onions go well together and with them add just a hint of salt and any meal will turn out great.

My recipes usually include at least five of he above mentioned herbs. Always delicious my meals are now salt free. That means there are no headaches and blood pressure is normally between 110-120 over 70-80. Aim for this and stay healthy. Avoid the salt and the many problems it generates.

How to Control Acid Reflux

Heartburn usually kicks in when you lie down to sleep, especially after a heavy meal.

You wake up in the middle of the night with a fire in your throat and a sour taste in your mouth. A blob of something vile pops up from your stomach and you have to spit it out.

After you get rid of it, your throat feels sore and you sound hoarse when you talk. Sometimes you start to cough or your chest sounds wheezy.

What you have experienced is heartburn… which has nothing to do with your heart.

It happens when stomach acids, which you use to digest your food, flow back into your oesophagus (the long tube between your mouth and your stomach). These acids irritate and burn the lining of your oesophagus and throat.

Everyone experiences some heartburn now and then. But it can become chronic, ie recur constantly. If you experience heartburn a few times a week, it is likely you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known in short as GORD (or GERD if you are American).

The chronic condition should be treated with seriousness for several vital reasons.

What chronic acid reflux (GORD) does to your body

The constant backflow of stomach acid into your oesophagus can lead to:

[1] Dental problems… stomach acids in the mouth can wreak havoc on tooth enamel, requiring more trips to the dentist than usual.

[2] Voice and throat problems… stomach acid in the throat can cause hoarseness and laryngitis, and even changes in the voice. However these problems tend to resolve easily when GORD is treated.

[3] Asthma … studies have found that up to 80% of patients with asthma also have chronic acid reflux. Whether asthma causes GORD or chronic heartburn causes asthma is not known, but some medical scientists are of the opinion that acid that backs up from the stomach can get into the airways and damage them.

[4] Other respiratory problems… GORD has been statistically linked to other respiratory conditions including… chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, chronic sinusitis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis (scaring of the lung), and recurrent pneumonia.

[5] Narrowing of the oesophagus… chronic acid reflux can, over time, produce scarring (strictures) that narrow the opening of the oesophagus. This can make swallowing difficult. It can also cause oesophageal spasms that can mimic a heart attack (a frightening experience).

The weird thing is that people who develop strictures find a bit of relief from their heartburn… as the narrowing stops the stomach acids from refluxing into the oesophagus.

[6] Oesophagitis… the sensitive lining of the oesophagus can be injured by refluxing acid and this can cause a painful inflammation called oesophagitis. Eventually the acid causes bleeding which, if it is heavy enough, it can pass into the digestive tract and show up as dark tarry stools.

Oesophagitis can also cause painful ulcers on the lining of the oesophagus.

[7] Barrett’s oesophagus and cancer… in a small number of people, long-term acid reflux can lead to a condition (Barrett’s oesophagus) in which abnormal cells take the place of cells damaged by the acid. These cells have the potential to turn cancerous.

Persons with Barrett’s oesophagus have an increased risk of cancer of the oesophagus. This risk is increased if you smoke, are obese or are a white male over the age of 50.

A few decades ago, most cancers of the oesophagus were caused by cigarette smoking and alcohol. But over the last 15 years oesophageal and other cancers of the upper digestive tract caused by GORD have been developing into an epidemic. This is likely caused by changes in diets in the modern world.

Whatever the cause, it is obvious that putting a stop to the backflow is vital. There are many ways in which this can be done successfully once you understand what is going on.

What causes heartburn?

Your oesophagus joins your pharynx (at the back of your throat) to your stomach. A ring of muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) controls the junction between the oesophagus and the stomach. The LES acts like a valve, opening and closing the entry to the stomach.

When you swallow the LES opens to allow the food or drink coming down the oesophagus to enter the stomach. The LES then closes to prevent the food and your digestive juices flowing back up the oesophagus. Each time you swallow, the LES relaxes and allows the food into your stomach.

Certain medical conditions can weaken the LES and prevent it from closing properly after you swallow. These include:

Hiatal hernia (an abnormality where a part of the stomach slides up into the chest cavity)
Obesity
Some asthma medicines
Pregnancy
Smoking
Diabetes
Delayed stomach emptying (a consequence of nerve damage, often due to diabetes)

Acid reflux statistics

In both Europe and America, chronic heartburn is becoming extremely widespread, affecting about one-third of the populations on both continents.

There is a strong link between chronic heartburn and being overweight. Research shows that people who are overweight are 50% more likely to have GORD compared to persons who are at a healthy weight. Persons who are obese are 200% more likely to have the disease.

Diabetics are also likely to suffer from GORD. A study published in 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that about 40% of people with diabetes suffer from chronic heartburn.

The researchers also found it to be more common in people with diabetes who also had neuropathy or nerve damage due to diabetes. In addition, the study showed that people with both diabetes and neuropathy were more likely to have the disease, regardless of their weight, compared to people without neuropathy.

Medical treatments for heartburn

Conventional doctors have several approaches to treating chronic heartburn.

Antacids such as Tums®, Maalox® and Rennies® are very popular. These products come in the form of tablets that you chew or dissolve in your mouth. They work by using simple mineral salts such as calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate to neutralize stomach acid.

You do get temporary relief from your symptoms… but they treat the symptom, not the cause. Using them, however, is unlikely to damage your health.

Some doctors prescribe H2 blockers (more properly called histamine H2-receptor antagonists) such as like Zantac®, Tagamet® and Gertac®. These medications block the action of histamine, which normally stimulates the secretion of stomach acid. Personally, I have found that Gertac®, which contains ranitidine, to be gently effective in reducing GORD.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, also block the production of stomach acid. These drugs target the last stage in the production of stomach acid and the blockage is irreversible. These drugs are significantly more effective than H2 blockers and reduce the secretion of gastric acid by up to 99%.

With more than 100 million prescriptions written for these three medicines every year, Big Pharma makes a cool US$14 billion a year on just these drugs. Many professional organizations recommend that people take the lowest effective PPI dose to achieve the desired therapeutic result when used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease long-term. In the USA, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has advised that no more than three 14-day treatment courses should be used in one year.

For good reason… here is why blocking the production of stomach acid is not a smart thing to do:

Why you should NOT use proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)

The parietal cells in your stomach secrete the stomach acid used in the digestion process. The secretion of the acid is governed by proton pumps which provide energy for the process.

Proton-pump inhibitors prevent the proton pumps from working and so reduce the amount of acid produced by the parietal cells. This prevents acid reflux (no acid, no reflux!).

The problem is that proton pumps are present in just about every cell in your body, not just the parietal cells in the stomach. These proton pump systems are necessary for the production of the energy used in a wide variety of your body’s processes. Though this energy can be produced in several ways, without proton pumps them these processes could not work at their best.

While proton-pump inhibitors are designed to interact specifically with the proton-pumps in the parietal cells in your stomach, research suggests that it is likely that their effects are not limited to the specific acid producing cells of the stomach.

There are many other good reasons why you should not use proton-pump inhibitors:

(1) Stomach acid is a critical part of your immune system

PPIs reduce the acidity of your stomach. This is dangerous as certain harmful bacteria thrive in low-acid environments. Examples include H Pylori, which is a major cause of stomach and duodenal ulcers, gastritis and can even cause gastric cancer (according to a report in Drug Safety in 2003).

Several recent studies have shown that PPIs alter the micro-organisms in the gut by reducing its overall diversity. As a result, dangerous pathogens, such as Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli, tend to be more prevalent in the guts of PPI users.

As stomach pH becomes less acidic, many ingested microorganisms that get in through the mouth but which would normally be destroyed are able to make their way into the gut. Those who use acid blockers increase their chances of acquiring Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, and pneumonia compared to persons using other medications.

(2) PPIs impair the absorption of nutrients

Stomach acid is essential for the digestion and absorption of food, both macro- and micro-nutrients. Studies show that persons who use PPIs have an increased risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Persons who use acid blockers can also end up with achlorhydria (a lack of stomach acid). This, combined with atrophic gastritis (stomach inflammation), allows bacteria, which compete with the host (you!) for the consumption of micronutrients such as vitamin B12, to flourish.

Studies have found an association between the use of PPIs and the total number of bone fractures in the elderly. The association was significant enough for the FDA in the USA to issue a warning in 2010. A more recent study has shown a similar association between PPI use and bone fractures in young adults.

(3) PPIs damage the cardiovascular system

A study published in May 2016 found a link between proton-pump inhibitors and the premature aging of blood vessels, with the cells losing their ability to split into new cells.

Other recent studies indicate that PPI users have a significantly greater risk of heart attack compared to person using other antacid medications.

PPIs reduce the production of nitric oxide, a nutrient that increases lung power, helps your heart pump blood and oxygen to your cells, and even helps with erectile function by allowing blood vessels to expand and relax when you are on the job.

PPIs also affect lysosomes. Those are acid-producing cells in your body that clear up unwanted debris. Without enough acid to remove the waste, the cells protecting your blood vessels age rapidly. That can lead to a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.

(4) PPIs harm the kidneys

Patients using PPIs were compared to patients using H2 blockers, another common antacid drug in a study published in 2016.

The study indicated that, over five years, the PPI users were 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease and 96% more likely to develop end-stage renal disease.

(5) PPIs harm cognitive function

A study published in 2015 that assessed cognitive function in users of PPIs compared to controls found statistically significant impairment in visual memory, attention, executive function, and the working and planning function among the PPI users.

Another study in 2016 found that regular PPI users had a 44% increased risk of dementia compared to non-users.

Why this is so is not known. However, communication between brain cells requires the action of proton pumps. It may be that the proton pumps in the brain are affected by PPIs that target stomach acid.

(6) Rebound reflux

When your body senses a reduced production of stomach acid, it produces gastrin, a hormone that stimulates the secretion of gastric (stomach) acid by the parietal cells.

As a result, the individual parietal cells expand in size. Larger parietal cells have more proton pumps and can produce larger amounts of stomach acid. An overproduction of stomach acid caused by PPIs is called rebound hyper-secretion.

Rebound hyper-secretion illustrates why getting off PPI therapy is so difficult once you start using them… long-term use fundamentally changes the physiology of stomach cells.

The basic problem with PPIs is that they treat the symptoms of a condition (the production of acid that flows back up the oesophagus) rather than the underlying cause (a weakness in the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES)).

There are two main approaches you can take to dealing with chronic heartburn that focus on the underlying causes:

Heartburn avoidance techniques
Natural remedies for heartburn

How to avoid heartburn

Here are some simple ways you can prevent heartburn:

Eat smaller meals… this makes digestion easier and reduces the pressure in your stomach that causes reflux.
Eat slowly … digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food thoroughly reduces the likelihood of reflux.
Avoid tight clothes… tight clothes can put pressure on your stomach, pushing food back up into your oesophagus.
Don’t smoke… smoking irritates the membranes of the throat and oesophagus. Nicotine also weakens the oesophageal valve, allowing stomach acid to come up to your throat.
Avoid certain foods… chocolate, tomatoes, fatty or fried foods, fatty meats (choose lean cuts), synthetic dressings (use olive oil), spicy sauces (choose mild or avoid), alcohol, cola and other sodas as well as caffeine are all contributors to LES malfunction.
Avoid certain spices… hot spices as used in curries and other hot Eastern foods, as well as cinnamon, can irritate your stomach and oesophagus causing pressure that forces acid back up through the LES.
Avoid peppermint tea… as it tends to relax the LES and allow acid to flow back up the oesophagus.
Raise the back of your bed… use short planks of wood between the legs of the bed and the floor to raise the pillow-end 4 to 6 inches higher than the foot-end; by sleeping with your head lightly higher than your feet you will be using gravity to reduces the chances of stomach acid flowing back up to your throat… this really does work in my experience.

Persons who take these simple steps to prevent acid reflux experience fewer and milder bouts of acid reflux.

Natural remedies for heartburn

There are several natural remedies for heartburn that actually work:

D-limonene
Magnesium
Ginger
Baking soda

Some of these ‘cure’ acid reflux for a time at least if not permanently. Others provide temporary but effective relief.

D-limonene

D-limonene is an extract from orange peel which is safe to use as a food additive or supplement.

Research at WRC Laboratories in the USA indicates that a daily intake of one 1000mg capsule of d-limonene every second day for 20 days reduces or eliminates acid reflux in most people for at least six months. This is supported by anecdotal evidence among researchers and further research that has yet to be published.

D-limonene is a cell rejuvenator yet scientists don’t know why it is so effective. Researchers have speculated, however, that as d-limonene is lighter than water, it floats to the surface of the gastric juices in your stomach.

The minor burping you experience with d-limonene causes it to be carried directly into the oesophagus. By coating the oesophagus, d-limonene may protect it against the caustic contents that are regurgitated during acid reflux. This would help heal and strengthen the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) and heal erosion in the oesophagus.

It is also thought that d-limonene may promote quicker movement of food and gastric juices out of the stomach so that these oesophageal irritants promote less reflux.

Scientists also suggest that d-limonene may provide a barrier in the oesophagus and stomach against bacterial infection, such as helicobacter pylori, which are ingested in food or water. H pylori attack the lining of the stomach eventually causing ulcers and even stomach cancers.

The generally accepted opinion (or shrewd marketing) suggests that the best d-limonene, which is available in health food stores, is the Jarrow Formulas D-Limonene.

I recently took a 1000mg capsule of the Jarrow Formulas D-Limonene (sourced online through Amazon) each day for 30 days. There were no side-effects and it appears to have cured my acid reflux.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a calming and relaxing mineral. It is an ingredient in several antacids.

This mineral helps your LES to relax so that it can close properly, thus preventing the backflow of stomach acid that causes heartburn.

Magnesium chloride is absorbed better than other compounds of magnesium and is thus more likely to be effective in relieving your heartburn.

Take 450 to 500mg once or twice a day to see if it helps. Each dose should contain about 150mg of magnesium and about 350mg of chloride.

Ginger

Ginger is prized for its health-giving qualities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Most of the health benefits of ginger are in the woody root of the plant, the rhizome.

Ginger is absolutely loaded with antioxidants. It has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-parasitic properties. It can relieve the discomfort of heartburn without side-effects.

Fresh ginger is best, though you can use dried ginger. When buying ginger root, make sure it feels firm and fresh. Fresh ginger, provided it is unpeeled, can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three weeks or in a freezer for up to six months.

You can peel ginger with a paring knife and add it to cooked dishes, mix it into a stir-fry or drop it into homemade chicken soup. But taking it as a supplement is not recommended as the ginger in capsules is not easily absorbed or used by your body.

In Uganda, doctors and herbalists use ginger tea to treat heartburn. The root’s anti-inflammatory properties speed up the digestive process, preventing the build-up of gas, and helping to regulate bile and gastric juices.

Adding a simple ginger tea to your daily diet will tighten your LES and help prevent the backflow of acid from your stomach according to a report by the Thai Medical Association in 2010.

Here’s an easy recipe:

Remove the skin from a piece of fresh ginger root and chop it into small pieces or slices
Fill a small pot with two cups of water and boil
Add the ginger and cover.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes
Strain the tea

You can drink it hot or cold. You could try adding a pinch of cinnamon to boost the flavour.

I make a batch twice a week, store it in the refrigerator and drink a chilled glass first thing in the morning.

Bicarbonate of soda

Sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, offers a very quick remedy when you are having an attack of acid reflux.

Just mix a flat teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water, stir and wait for it to dissolve and then drink it down. Relief will be fairly immediate.

Baking soda works because it contains bicarbonate which neutralises the acid in your stomach.

This is not a permanent solution for chronic heartburn. But it works a dream for a quick fix and there are no side effects.

Your Blood Pressure Reading May Predict Diabetic Retinopathy

In July of 2017, the online journal Scientific Reports (Nature) published an article on diabetic retinopathy and the importance to people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes of keeping on top of their blood pressure reading. Workers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil studied five hundred and forty-four Type 2 diabetics who were at high risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, a severe eye disease. Over the course of six years, the participants had an annual eye examination. Their blood pressure reading was taken as they went about their normal routines. Their aorta (artery from the heart to the rest of the body), was examined for stiffness. By the end of the study, one hundred and fifty-six of the participants either developed diabetic retinopathy or saw the condition grow worse. They had…

a higher blood pressure measurement,
a longer duration of having Type 2 diabetes,
a stiffer aorta,
poorer blood sugar control, and
higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol measurements.

than the participants without diabetic retinopathy.

Diastolic (lower number) blood pressure and high LDL were the measurements most strongly linked with diabetic retinopathy.

To lower blood pressure…

engage in physical activity several times a week.
take your dog to the park.
go swimming.
walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
park at the farthest reaches of the parking lot and walk to the shops.
normalize your weight or keep it in a healthy range.
take the blood pressure medication prescribed by your doctor.

To lower LDL…

eat different fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole wheat products.
avoid fatty foods such as meat and dairy products.
cook with extra virgin olive or other vegetable oil instead of butter.

Diabetic retinopathy develops when sugar in the blood damages small arteries in the back of the eye. New, weak, incompetent blood vessels proliferate. Sometimes there is bleeding into the eye’s center. The condition often goes unnoticed until it has advanced sufficiently to cause sight issues. Usually, dots or lines (floaters) can be seen, problems with different colors are noticed as well as loss of vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed by an ophthalmologic exam, which is one reason why regular eye exams are essential. When retinopathy is diagnosed, laser surgery can cauterize or stop troublesome blood vessels developing.

One study put together thirty-five earlier individual studies showing how much diabetic retinopathy exists in the world. The results showed about 34.6 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have the condition. Preventing or controlling Type 2 diabetes protects many important parts of your body, and your eyesight is one of them. Unfortunately, many Type 2 diabetics fail to take their condition seriously because it does not hurt. Your eyes are two good reasons to keep your blood sugar and body weight under control.

Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.

For nearly 25 years, Beverleigh Piepers has searched for and found a number of secrets to help you build a healthy body

6 Signs That You Must Visit A Dentist

For an overall dental hygiene, an appointment every six months functions as a vital pillar. However, there are many instances where we feel that our mouths are not at their very best. And whether 6 or 60, dental visits become a must in such scenarios.

Be it your busy schedule or hectic social life, if you’re one of those putting off that much-needed dentist visit, you could seriously regret it later in life.

Additionally, here are a few sure shot signs that you should definitely knock your dentist’s door:

1. Tooth ache: Tooth ache is, in fact one of the most common, yet one of the most ignored indications that you immediately require a dental visit. Although it hits seriously hard, and is often too difficult to ignore, it could be something more serious than you perceive, and thus it’s mandatory that you seek dental consultation.

2. Inflamed gums: Medically known as gingival inflammation, gum inflammation is a condition wherein the gums are swollen and red. It has the potential to contribute to periodontal infection such as gingivitis. This is generally caused by hardened plaque that accumulates under the gum line. If untreated, it can also lead to altered teeth structure, tooth loss and cardiac problems.

3. Tooth sensitivity: This is another sort of tooth pain and occurs whenever you take in something colder, hotter or sourer. Further damage can be easily ruled out if one chooses to diagnose it on time. Sensitivity is indicative of tooth decay. The earlier you check out with your dentist, the better it is for your oral health.

4. Dryness within mouth: There are many reasons that can contribute to this condition. That said, there is, however, no explanation for a sudden dry mouth syndrome. Mouth dryness can contribute to tooth decay, and ultimately, to other oral disorders as well. It is, therefore, important to visit your dentist if the condition persists.

5. Oral Ulcers: Canker sores are quite a common sight, and often not a cause for concern. However, if it is one of those which doesn’t heal, you need to immediately seek dental attention. It could easily turn out to be an oral ulcer and is also indicative of oral cancer.

6. Headaches: Not most people know, but headaches and oral care are very closely related. Frequent headaches are often a sign of teeth grinding which, contrary to what most people believe, is a cause for concern. Grinding can cause additional damage and further expose your teeth to contamination.

Miniscule issues, if resolved early into their life, can prevent major oral diseases from forming up. Timely dental care is all you need.