Nicotine Withdrawal Duration

N-I-C-O-T-I-N-E. However  I spell it, this is the same thing my mother has been obsessed with all these years. She has been in a continual struggle to beat the addiction and I wonder when she will be able to finally conquer it. Each time I see her smoking, there is only one thing that comes across my mind—she is digging her own grave.

I have tried putting myself in her shoes and looking for answers to my questions as to how long it will take for her to overcome the plight and how she can completely unhook herself from the deadly bondage. Here is what I have come up with:

Duration of Nicotine Withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal duration depends on the individual; some endure a gradual and slow process while some only take a short period of time. The primary reason nicotine withdrawal is important is not the severity but rather the continuance. Numerous studies have shown that the average duration of nicotine withdrawal is about three weeks and that a significant percentage of smokers (40%), have withdrawal symptoms that last longer than the withdrawal span itself. It is the chronic and painstaking discomfort that impedes smoking cessation. Furthermore, many smokers who are still in irritable and anxious phase after three weeks believe this is how they will determine themselves without cigarettes. Faced with such tendency, it is apparent why many smokers would relapse. Studies earlier conducted that focused on the severity of withdrawal symptoms did not find that withdrawal could preempt cessation. The evidence thus supports the presumption that the duration of withdrawal is important.

Nicotine Withdrawal Stages

  • Pre-contemplation– This is considered to be the initial stage when someone is not yet serious in his decision to quit smoking.
  • Immediate Stage- The effects of nicotine withdrawal impact the smoker immediately. There have been reports that the signs of nicotine withdrawal appear as quickly as 30 minutes after the last cigarette was finished. The body’s physical reaction, for smokers who never fail to smoke a pack of cigarettes each day, includes feelings of anxiety after three hours without nicotine.
  • Three to Five Days-The exact nature of withdrawal symptoms vary on a person and the number of cigarette sticks smoked per day. Smoking and nicotine withdrawal symptoms reach a pinnacle at three to five days for most smokers. Physical symptoms at this stage may include cramps, nausea and headaches during the day, trouble sleeping at night and tension. Most people also feel being irritable and impatient. In extreme cases, the former smokers may go through panic attacks and temperamental episodes.
  • Two Weeks– The National Institute of Health showed some reports that after a week of avoiding smoking, addiction symptoms dwindle. Harvard’s Simon estimates that the major effects of nicotine withdrawal dissipate approximately two weeks after halting the smoking habit. Minor problems with depression are the most prevalent remaining withdrawal symptoms, along with anxiety and nicotine cravings.
  • Long Term– Depressive feelings, for instance, are magnified when people stop smoking.  This withdrawal risk will last for about six months from the time the person stops. The condition may be so severe that family members and friends may even encourage the smoker to start again to relieve the withdrawal condition.

I can only imagine how tedious it is for my mother to kick the deadly habit. However, if she does not do something to change her life, then only the worse has to be expected. Smoking in my opinion is the only vice that does not give any person any health benefits.

References

1. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: nicotine addiction. A report of the Surgeon General, 1988. Rockville, Maryland: Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, Office on Smoking and Health, 1988. (DHHS Publication No (CDC) 88-8406.)

2. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington: American Psychiatric Association, 1994.

3. Shadel WG, Shiffman S, Niaura R, et al. Current models of nicotine dependence: what is known and what is needed to advance understanding of tobacco etiology among youth. Drug Alcohol Depend 2000;59:S59-S62[Medline].

4. Shoaib M. Is dopamine important in nicotine dependence? J Physiol 1998;92:229-233.

 

Herbal Remedies for Gout

Gout

Gout complicated by ruptured tophi (exudate tested positive for uric acid crystals)

Gout is a debilitating condition caused by inflammation of certain areas of the body due to the accumulation of uric acid. It results in swelling, sensitivity, and intense pain, making even minor movements excruciating. High levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia) eventually accumulate as crystals (tophi) in body areas. This induces an immune response, resulting in inflammation which usually occurs in joints and tendons in close contact with blood vessels. Particularly common is the accumulation of tophi at joint of the big toe (metatarsal-phalangeal joint). Gout is an acute condition that reoccurs frequently depending on the uric acid levels in a person’s body.

The presence of gout limits mobility. It also causes intense pain and suffering to the patient. Gout pain manifests itself during periods of low body temperature, like during nighttime, making sleeping difficult.

Treatment of gout usually involves alleviating the pain on the affected joint, or preventing serum uric acid levels in the blood from becoming too high. Serum uric acid levels are increased by seafood, alcoholic drinks, meat and fructose rich food. These foods should be avoided to prevent raising the level of uric acid in blood. However, there are some foods that can help prevent gout as well as alleviate the pain associated with it.

Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C has been known to prevent the increase in serum uric acid blood levels.  Tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries, and leafy vegetables all contain high vitamin C levels that can help improve gout symptoms.

Cherries have long been known as a remedy for gout. Eating cherries or drinking cherry juice 2-3 times a day can reduce blood uric acid content and also reduce inflammation. Cherries and berries are rich in anthocyanins, preventing bone connective tissue from being eroded by tophi.

To flush out uric acid from the body, several herbs may be used in combination. Celery seed, parsley, and birch tree leaves can effectively remove uric acid from the body when taken together or separately. Celery seed can be taken three times a day, each dose consisting of two teaspoons celery seed extract in a cup of warm water. Stinging nettle is also an effective herb in removing uric acid from the body. It can stimulate the body to excrete uric acid when taken in 250 mg daily doses. Additionally, it can be applied on the surface of the area affected with gout, to minimize pain and inflammation.

Pine bark and grape tree extracts can help in alleviating pain from attacks of gout. Devil’s claw can also reduce pain at the same time reducing serum acid and cholesterol levels in the blood. Turmeric can likewise be used to treat gout pain and inflammation.

The medicinal herbs mentioned above have certain compounds, which when taken in large doses, or if mixed with certain chemicals, could do more harm than good. Children and pregnant women should not take herbal medicines unless specifically prescribed by an expert or a doctor. Several drugs can also cause complications when taken with some herbal medicines, particularly colchicine.

Gout is a particularly painful and inconvenient condition. It prevents one from enjoying a full lifestyle and also makes nights particularly unbearable. Prevention of uric acid to reduce accumulation in joints is the first step to avoid having gout. Avoiding and minimizing intake of uric acid rich food can go a long way in preventing attacks of gout. Relieving pain and preventing more attacks are the objectives when gout does occur.  Herbs, fruits, and vegetables can help with treating gout, but great care must always be exercised when using alternative medicine, especially in combination with prescribed drugs. Living with gout can be difficult but with the proper precautions and with knowledge of potential remedies, it can be made easier.

References

  • Choi, H.K. (2010). A prescription for lifestyle change in patients with hyperuricemia and gout. Curr Opin Rheumatology
  • Terkeltaub, R. (2010). Update on gout: new therapeutic strategies and options. Nat Rev Rheumatology

Herbal Remedies for Warts

Warts are dermal or skin structures that are manifestations of viral infections particularly of the human papillomavirus. Warts may look like skin protuberances, small crown like blisters or skin extensions that may occur singly or in groups. Lines of the skin avoid warts, not running through them but breaking off and resuming in another area. Warts may last for several weeks, but may frequently occur throughout a person’s life. Boosting one’s immune system could help prevent viral infections and prevent frequent wart outbreaks.

Wart removal can be done because of pain, chafing or aesthetic considerations. It should also be done when located in sensitive areas like near the eyes, mouth, anus and the genitals. There are numerous remedies that can remove warts:

Aloe vera can be used to remove warts. Application of several drops of aloe vera gel over the area every morning and evening may remove warts after a couple of days. Scraping off the fleshy white portion of the aloe vera plant and applying it to the warts would also work.

Potato extracts applied three times a day for several days can remove warts. Potato extract is made from squeezing the juice out of grated or crushed potatoes. Potato peelings can also be rubbed on the warts.

Citrus fruits are also effective in removing warts. Their peel can be used to scrape off, or soak warts for several days. Their acidic juice rich in vitamin C can kill off the HPV virus present in the area. Calamansi, oranges, and lemon fruits are highly effective wart removal agents.

Banana peel can be used by applying a piece over the warts and securing with tape or bandage. It can be changed daily, or every morning and evening.

Garlic is another great herbal remedy for warts. A garlic section can be applied overnight to an area with warts. It would lead to the blistering, which would remove the warts upon drying. Alternatively, obtaining the juice from garlic cloves and applying a cotton wad soaked from it over the wart area would also work.

Milkweed juice can also be applied to warts for effective relief.

Unripe black walnut juice is a highly effective wart herbal remedy. The juice can be obtained by slicing open a portion of the shell and squeezing the juice over the wart.

Radishes can also be used to remove warts. A thin slice can be used to cover the warts.

Grape seed extract is a remedy not only for warts but for other infections as well.

Dandelion sap is also an effective home remedy for warts.

A tincture derived from Thuja, containing thujanone can be used to remove warts. Simply apply a drop of this potent substance on the wart.

Papaya latex can be applied to warts for removal within a week.

Guava leaves, chewed and then applied to wart areas may hasten their removal. The same method could be done using cashew nuts. Rubbing the masticated plant parts into the warts would improve their removal.

Cabbage is a very effective herbal remedy. Simply cover or wrap a piece of cabbage over the area, for couple of minutes twice a day and wait for the wart to disappear after few days.

Castor oil can be applied to warts to facilitate their removal by either rubbing, soaking or puncturing the wart using a toothpick tipped with castor oil.

These are only among the numerous herbal remedies for warts.  Choosing what to use is determined on availability of the plant/herb, allergic reactions, and personal preference. Wart removal can be easily achieved by either using these remedies singly or trying a combination of them. However, warts can and do come back, so to prevent that, proper nutrition, rest, and exercise should be done to boost one’s immune system.

Reference

  • Sterling, J. C.; Handfield-Jones, S.; Hudson, P. M. (2001). Guidelines for the management of cutaneous warts. British Journal of Dermatology. British Association of Dermatologists.

The Pros and Cons of Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is a boon for mankind but there is a need to exercise restraint and prevent its misuse.

DNA_animation

DNA animation (Wikimedia Image)

How come you have the same beaming smile as that of your mother or the same passion for music as that of your father? It’s amazing how we are so much like our blood relatives. The reason is the presence of genes that all our family members, old and new, share. However, despite this commonality every one of us is genetically unique with a genetic pattern which may resemble that of our relatives but is not exactly the same.

There are around 20,000 to 25,000 genes which define the strengths and weaknesses of our bodies. An alteration in their normal functioning can lead to various complications like putting us at risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes or birth defect. Genetic testing can predict these risk factors and help us take precautions but there are several side effects that also come along. The mapping of total human genetic structure has also paved the way for targeted medicinal use. It can be found out which medicines will get the best results depending on your genetic makeup. Read on to know more.

Pros of genetic testing

Medical science is making progress at a fast pace that there are now several genetic tests available to help you know about your body as well as about your yet-to-be born child. In fact, prenatal genetic testing is increasingly being recommended by doctors to avoid several birth disorders including thalassemia, haemophilia, and mental and physical retardation. Carrier testing of parents and screening of fetus and newborns is becoming increasingly common. However, prenatal genetic testing can also pose risks like miscarriages.

Besides detecting medical conditions, genetic testing is also turning out to be beneficial in forensic science. For instance, identification of criminals by putting a hair strand or blood found on the crime scene through genetic testing.

Genealogical genetic testing can also be done to find links between you and another person even if there is a difference of several generations.

Pros of genetic testing even extend to those at risk of several diseases, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, to take precautions and delay the onset of these diseases. While cancer is known to be result of a gene mutation, heart disease and diabetes run in families for generations. If a person knows that he carries a gene for a certain disease, he will then take the necessary precautions to prevent or delay the development for such disease. For example, he can change his diet and lifestyle habits to delay or even prevent the development of the disease.

Genetic testing is particularly important in the emerging field of personalized medicine. You will be given the right treatment based on your genetic makeup. In this case, you and other patients may receive different drug and dosage for a particular illness.

Cons of Genetic Testing

While physical risks associated with genetic testing are not very significant, there are ethical, financial, and psychological issues that do get highlighted every now and then. It’s essential that those going for testing are given genetic counseling to prepare them for the outcomes.  There are also risks of genetic discrimination since insurance companies and employers can avoid offering services or jobs to those at risk of certain diseases. Thus, it’s essential that information from genetic testing is kept confidential at all costs to protect individuals from any kind of genetic discrimination.

Another addition in the list of cons of genetic testing is commercialization. With the high price of genetic testing, many cannot afford to avail the services of testing centers. In fact, genetic testing in some firms is overpriced but these firms are enjoying the profits they make every day. Genetic testing should be affordable to everyone whatever their economic conditions are.[ad#afterpost]

The Meaning of Low Platelet Count in Blood Test Result

Red_White_Blood_cells

Scanning electron micrograph of blood cells. From left to right: human erythrocyte, activated thrombocyte (platelet), leukocyte. (Wikimedia Image)

Platelets are components of our blood that primarily aid in blood clotting. Blood clotting stops bleeding in cuts or wounds; without it any wound we incur would lead to massive hemorrhaging and eventually death. Platelets are the most numerous component of our blood, though they only account for only twenty percent of our total blood volume. Together with red blood cells and some white blood cells, platelets are formed in the bone marrow by cells called megakaryocytes. However, the platelet itself is not a cell but simply cell fragments. They do however contain proteins on their surface that do a variety of functions to limit bleeding. Some proteins found in platelets allow themselves to stick together and block breaks in blood vessels while other proteins call or attract more platelet fragments to help block the breach. Since platelets are the lightest component of blood, they are shuttered away from the center of blood vessels and instead move along the sides, making their job of sealing breaks in the blood vessel easier.

Thrombocytopenia or low platelet count is a symptom of many diseases. It can be detected by undergoing a complete blood count test. The normal platelet count for humans is in between 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter (µL) of blood. Lower than 150,000 platelets would signify thrombocytopenia while higher than 450,000 platelets means having a high blood platelet count or thrombocytosis. Extremely low platelet counts may lead to bleeding from gums, bruises, rashes, and skin irritation.

There are several meanings of a low platelet count. It could be an enlargement of the spleen. This small organ plays a role in cleaning the blood for old red blood cells, as well as for removing phagocytosed intruders. An enlargement of the spleen may be caused by infections and other factors that would lead platelets to be gravitated towards it, reducing the amount circulating in the blood.[ad#co-1]

A platelet usually has a lifespan of only 10 days. When platelet production is reduced, the amount of platelets available in the blood may run out after 10 days. Platelets are produced in the bone marrow, thus a multitude of diseases such as leukemia, AIDS, and anemia may limit the number of platelets produced. Aside from infections, the production of platelets can be hampered by toxic substances, radiation, and heavy alcohol consumption.

Another meaning of low platelet counts is that the body’s immune system may be consuming platelets. Platelets can be consumed or utilized by the body faster than it can be manufactured. Pregnancy in women lowers platelet counts. Bacterial infections may destroy platelets at a fast rate, lowering their numbers in the blood. Dengue fever causes drop in platelets due to hemorrhaging and the body’s attempt to cope with the disease. Another severe cause of low platelet count is thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura or TTP. It is a condition in which platelets attract one another, forming blood clots. Another condition is Ideophatic thrombocytopenic purpura. In this condition, the antibodies of a person attacks platelets, diminishing their numbers. Some drugs, particularly those used for chemotherapy or those that damage the bone marrow may also deplete platelet counts in the body.

The first step in treating low platelet counts is identifying the root cause. Usually, treatments are at a case to case basis, and if the cause is life threatening, other symptoms may be addressed first before treating low platelet counts. Some herbs like tawa-tawa, papaya leaves and Neem leaves are said to be able to augment the body’s platelet counts, particularly after dengue fever.  A healthy lifestyle is always the first defense against platelet disorders.[ad#afterpost]

Reference

  • Loscalzo, Joseph; Fauci, Anthony S.; Braunwald, Eugene; Dennis L. Kasper; Hauser, Stephen L; Longo, Dan L. (2008). Harrison’s principles of internal medicine. McGraw-Hill Medical

Health Benefits of Yohimbe

Yohimbe bark

Yohimbe bark

Aphrodisiac, sexual performance booster, libido enhancer, these are just some of the touted health benefits of yohimbe. Yohimbe is the name of an evergreen perennial tree under the genus Rubiaceae. Formerly called Corynanthe yohimbe, Pausynistalia yohimbe is a tree whose bark is utilized by natives as a sexual performance booster. There are thirty two yohimbane alkaloids found in yohimbe, with one in particular, yohimbine which has many medicinal uses.

The tree can be found in Western Africa, particularly in Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo. Its bark is usually obtained on the onset of the rainy season, when the alkaloids present in it are at their maximum level. Obtaining the bark to get yohimbine would generally kill the tree, and with the high demand for sexual performance drugs, yohimbe tree numbers are experiencing a sharp decline.

Yohimbe has many health benefits. It has been touted as an aphrodisiac due to the potency of yohimbine and other alkaloids found on it. There are some clinical studies that verify yohimbine’s role in sexual performance. In fact, yohimbine hydrochloride is used to treat erectile dysfunction in the United States. It is effective in some but not to all who take it. However, if the person’s problem is non-physical, the effectiveness of yohimbine increases dramatically. It is also taken to enhance, increase and extend libido. Since it is such a promising drug and improvement of sexual performance is such a lucrative business, various studies have been performed with varying results. In animals, it has been shown to reduce after sex recovery time, improve the ability to perform again, and increase the semen load ejected. It has also been tested for its ability to cure orgasmic dysfunction.

The health benefits of yohimbe are said to include fat loss and displacement. It increases lipolysis rates, and it is sometimes applied topically to fat prone areas. However, there is lack of scientific studies to back this claim.

In Africa, yohimbe has been used as a treatment for depression as well as a hallucinogen. This uses have translated into modern times, with yohimbe being used to treat post traumatic stress disorder by aiding in recall of difficult memories. Yohimbe has a synergistic effect with the antidepressants fluoxetine and venlafaxine, improving their potency. However, taking yohimbe if you have depression and mental disorders may further aggravate your condition.

To achieve the health benefits of yohimbe, doses of 10 mg to 30 mg per day is recommended. The aphrodisiac properties of yohimbe are due to its role as a vasodilator.  However, it can have many side effects. Palpitations, seizures and kidney damage can be caused by large doses of yohimbe. Other associated side effects of taking yohimbe include dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, and increase in heartbeat rate and blood pressure. Due to the potency of its compounds, yohimbe should never be taken by children, pregnant women and the elderly. Additionally, those with heart, kidney and stomach problems should not take this drug too. Yohimbe can aggravate cases of mental instability. Taking yohimbine or yohimbe should be done under a doctor’s supervision or guidance since there is a narrow avenue between correct and over dosage.

Although it has a multitude of health benefits, the use of yohimbe should be dealt with carefully. Its potency as an aphrodisiac may also lead to several complications that would, needless to say, prematurely terminate any sexual situation. More studies should be performed on the components of yohimbe that bestow upon it such benefits. Proper extraction and purification methods should be researched to improve quality and dosage, so that someday, the health benefits of yohimbe would be enjoyable to all.___

How Many Calories Does Bikram Yoga Burn?

The specific yoga postures done in a hot and humid room can bring you benefits of an aerobic workout.

Bikram yoga

Bikram yoga

One look at a yoga practitioner and you wish your body could also manage those difficult poses to attain flexibility and control. The age-old tradition from India has been so appealing that millions of practitioners across the globe dutifully get on to their yoga mats every day to seek wellness of both body and mind.

As several yoga masters moved from India to the West, the healing exercise also went along and the support it enjoyed from celebrities like Madonna, Meg Ryan and Ricky Martin turned yoga into a cult.

From Hatha Yoga to Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga, and now famous Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga, the original form has undergone several variations thus attracting so many followers. While some learn the poses for overall wellbeing, others see it as a means to lose weight.

Rigid form of yoga

Bikram yoga, developed by yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, originated from Hatha yoga which consists of different poses. It was developed by Bikram with the help of his master to recover from a debilitating knee injury. The successful recovery led to Choudhury opening schools of Bikram yoga all over India and in other countries.

Bikram yoga is much more rigid than any other form. It consists of a set of 26 particular poses to be done within 90 minutes in a room set at a temperature of 105 degrees and 40 per cent humidity level. In fact, even the classes are held in rooms which need to have specific interiors to the liking of Bikram Choudhury.

Warming up with a breathing exercise, the participants move on to 12 standing postures believed to be good for strengthening focus and concentration. Another 12 postures, this time done on the floor, are performed next before ending the session with another breathing exercise.

The postures have to be done only in this particular sequence within the time period of 90 minutes to reap maximum benefits of the stretching muscles and ligaments.

Students are supposed to avoid changing the sequence and use the mirror in front of them to maintain the correct posture. Despite being different in style, several of the poses being done in Bikram Yoga are common to other forms of yoga. Pranayam, eagle pose, cobra pose, triangle and tree poses are just some of these postures.

How the heat helps

The heat and humid atmosphere of the room allows the body to warm up quickly thus helping perform wide stretches and reducing the risk of injury. The profuse sweating also helps in aiding cleansing of harmful toxins from the body.

It is believed that combination of high temperature and yoga poses recreates the cardiovascular intensity as with any aerobic workout.

Participants of Bikram yoga are suggested 10 sessions within a month to get maximum benefits.

However, the calories burned by Bikram yoga would depend on the practitioner’s weight, fat to muscle ratio and the intensity of exercise. It can range from anywhere between 500 to 1,200 calories. In comparison, an hour and 15 minutes of running can burn 600 calories. This is the reason why Bikram yoga has turned out to be a good weight loss programme which, unlike running, does not impact the joints.

Besides helping you shed the pounds, Bikram yoga is also believed to be helpful in relieving joint pain and promoting flexibility, stamina, and strength besides offering the benefits of meditation.  In fact, many of the participants rely on Bikram yoga more as a healing exercise to keep ailments of the body and mind away with regular practice. That calories burned by Bikram yoga add up to a big number is a bonus for them.

The Health Benefits of Seaweed

Nori

Nori, an edible seaweed

Seaweed is a generic term for a variety of marine plants that have played a vital role in human diet, civilization, and health throughout history. Seaweeds encompass members from many taxa of algae including brown algae (Phaeophyta), green algae (Chlorophyta), and red algae (Rhodophyta).  Most seaweed can be obtained along the coast, near estuaries or in shallow to deep water near coastlines and islands. Edible seaweed is either eaten raw, dried, or cooked usually by boiling and frying.

Seaweeds are rich in minerals derived from the sea. Iodine is a particularly abundant element in seaweeds. It prevents the occurrence of goiter in humans. It is responsible for thyroid maintenance, ensuring that hormone production remains unhampered. Calcium content of seaweeds is also very high. This mineral is responsible for maintaining bone health and other body functions. Iron and magnesium, two important minerals, are also found in seaweeds at significant amounts. These minerals increase red blood cell production.

Seaweeds have been known to protect against infection by viruses and bacteria.  Sufficient intake of seaweed can lower inflammation in certain body regions. Seaweed has sufficient amount of potassium chloride that can alleviate the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies.

Kelps (Laminaria digitalis and others)

These cold water plants are excellent sources of iodine. They are used as food and medicine in various countries. They are good dietary sources of B vitamins, particularly folate. They contain essential minerals like iron and magnesium. They also contain compounds that ease digestion while reducing fat absorption. Their high growth rate and large size make them easily harvestable, allowing many people to enjoy their health benefits. People in Scotland, Japan, China and Korea all have kelp in their respective cuisines.

Carrageenan or Irish moss (Chondrus crispus)

This plant has been heavily utilized by the food industry due to its capability to form gels. It is a prime component of gelatinous desserts. It is a favorite in western European cuisines, being made into blancmanges. It is a primary source of retinol, as well as iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron and other ions. It is utilized throughout the history of Western Europe as a treatment for tuberculosis, common cold, and urinary disorders. It has also been used to alleviate diarrhea and treat infections.

Dulse/ Dilisk/ Sol (Palmaria palmate)

 

Palmaria (Rhodomyna) palmata is known as dulse in Scotland, referred to as dilisk in Ireland, and named sol in Iceland. It is widely used as edible seaweed both for human and animal consumption. It contains a significant amount of protein as well as other vitamins and minerals. Of particular note is its beta-carotene content, the precursor of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that keeps the skin and eyes healthy. The seaweed is also a component of several facial products that invigorate the skin and limit wrinkles.

Nori (Porphyra)

Nori is an integral part of Eastern Asian cuisine. It is usually rolled into mats and served with rice and other ingredients to make sushi. Nori is particularly rich in potassium and vitamin A. It also contains vitamin C, magnesium, and riboflavin.

Conclusion

Throughout history, western and eastern cultures have recognized and enjoyed the health benefits of seaweed. Being the primary source of goiter treatments, seaweed has proven invaluable to civilization. The various health properties of seaweed are significant: it gives essential vitamins and minerals, reduces fat absorption, provides low fat, and treats human illnesses.  Humans from the past until the present have availed themselves of the health benefits of seaweed. Why not join them and experience the impact of seaweed on your health.

References

  • Chapman V.J. (1950) Seaweeds and their uses. London Methuen.
  • Smith, G.M. (1944). Marine Algae of the Monterey Peninsula, California. Stanford University., 2nd Edition.

Normal Cholesterol Levels in the Blood

Cholesterol

Space-filling model of the Cholesterol molecule (Wikimedia Image)

Cholesterol is a steroid alcohol found in all the cells of our body. It is usually mistaken as fat because it appears waxy but in truth, it is considered as an alcohol. It is needed by our cells in order for them to function well.  Our body uses cholesterol to make various hormones, vitamin D, and certain substances that aid the body for proper digestion. Cholesterol can be found in some of the food we eat.

The levels of cholesterol in our body show an overall picture of our health. Although this is not used for diagnosing diseases, it is useful in determining current and long term risks of heart attacks and strokes.

For better understanding of cholesterol, we must bear in mind that although it is a vital component of cells, uncontrolled levels of it is detrimental to our health. To give us a more vivid illustration, think of blood as water and think of the cholesterol as oil. And when these are put together, they obviously do not mix. In order for the cholesterol to pass through the bloodstream, it must be carried by small packages that are medically known as lipoproteins. As their name implies, lipoproteins are made up of fat (lipo/lipid) and  protein. There are two types of lipoproteins that transport cholesterol throughout our body:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

We commonly call this type of cholesterol as the bad cholesterol. We can also call it as the lousy cholesterol for better recollection (L=LDL ; L=lousy). The normal value is less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams of LDL cholesterol per deciliter of blood). Continued high levels of blood LDL cholesterol lead to the buildup of cholesterol that attach on the walls of the arteries, called plaques. These plaques eventually block the bloodstream or in other cases, get dislodged and flow along the bloodstream and impede circulation once it gets stuck on smaller blood vessels. The higher the level of lousy cholesterol is, the greater is the risk of developing a heart disease. Avoiding a diet with high carbohydrates and processed foods is a great way of decreasing LDL levels.[ad#co-1]

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

We call it as the good cholesterol. For easy recollection, we can call this the happy cholesterol (H=HDL; H=happy). A good cholesterol value of greater than 39 mg/dL indicates a healthy heart. HDL cholesterol is  the kind of cholesterol we want to keep elevated. It has the task of carrying cholesterol from all over our body back to the liver where it would be processed for excretion. The higher the level of happy cholesterol is, the lesser is the chance of having a heart disease. Eating more saturated fats and proteins, and eating fewer carbohydrates will increase HDL levels.

The following also appear on a routine lipid profile and are noteworthy to be discussed:

Triglycerides are fats in the blood that are being stored and burned for fuel or energy. The normal value should be less than 150 mg/dL. High levels of triglycerides indicate that the body is not using them for fuel. Coronary artery disease has been linked to high triglyceride levels in the blood. Therefore, to avoid this disease, triglyceride level should be decreased. A diet low in carbohydrates and fats can dramatically decrease triglyceride levels.

Total Blood Cholesterol is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components of the blood. The recommended value should be less than 200 mg/dL.

Conclusion

It is important to have normal levels of both LDL and HDL cholesterol to keep the body healthy and free from risks of getting cardiovascular diseases as well as other complications. Decreasing our cholesterol levels also decreases the dangers of plaque build-up. A high blood cholesterol level does not usually manifest symptoms of the condition unless it has accompanying diseases. That is why regular lipid profile examinations are advisable. Do not hesitate to approach your physician when results show abnormalities. Or better yet, have a lifestyle check. Don’t wait for your cholesterol results to deviate from the normal values before you live a healthy way of life.[ad#afterpost]

How To Heal Scars Naturally

Minor scar

A minor scar from a cut to the forearm, approx. one year since the wound. (Wikimedia Image)

I can only imagine the embarrassment you might be putting up with each time someone asks you if your father is a carpenter, because he can see those huge “nail heads” on your legs. Do not give up hope, there has got to be a way on how to eradicate those scars without costing you so much.

Scars, being a result of the healing of wounds, are an austere part of our life. Most wounds result to a certain degree of scarring. Scars can be caused due to accidents or skin conditions like pimples. These marks can be erased with the help of some natural ingredients.

Natural Ways of Healing Scars:

  • Aloe Vera Juice– This natural ingredient can greatly help in erasing scars. Just rub it on your skin at least twice a day. You can see a conspicuous improvement in a few days’ time. Apply it incessantly on your skin until your scars disappear.
  • Garlic– Raw garlic rubbed on the affected part of the skin many times a day is beneficial for healing scars naturally.
  • Vitamin E oil or capsules– These are recommended for healthy and vibrant skin. Applying Vitamin E oil can heal scars. Within a few weeks of the application of vitamin E oil, scars can vanish.
  • Blanched tea– This is also a great alternative in curing scars. Take a cotton ball, soak it in blanched green tea and then dab it on the scar.
  • Olive oil or tea tree oil– You apply either kind of oil on your scarred skin, either one can also diminish the traces of acne scars naturally.

[ad#728-90 after post]

  • Mint leaves– Crushing a few mint leaves and tying them in muslin cloth to extract the juice helps in lightening the traces of your scars. Apply it all over the face to eliminate scars.
  • Ice– This can also help reduce scars. Application of ice on the face will definitely decrease the burning sensation and inflammation associated with acne scars.
  • Lemon juice– This has been known to be the classic way to get rid of scars effectively and naturally. Apply lemon juice on the scar using a cotton ball, twice a day, until the scar disappears. A freshly cut lemon, when rubbed on the skin, can help make it clear and healthy.
  • Cocoa butter– Another gift of nature than can also be helpful for healing scars naturally is the cocoa butter. You can apply cocoa butter daily for maximum efficacy.
  • Topical honey– This is by far the best way to eliminate scars everywhere in your body effectively. This has been used for centuries to heal wounds and burns. It should be applied several times in a day for its healing benefits. Due to its antibacterial properties, honey can completely remove scars within a few months of use.

All those natural ingredients plus a little massage therapy on your scars can guarantee you, maybe not immediate, but visible results over time. Fret no more. You can rely on what nature has to offer when it comes to getting rid of your scars. Topical creams do not completely get rid of scars, yes, not as advertised! If none of these ways help, it might be best to see a dermatologist so you can get a professional advice. In the meantime, it does not hurt to try any method or natural ingredient mentioned above to alleviate the awkwardness brought about by the presence of those ugly scars. You should also keep in mind that caring for your wounds as early as possible can also help eliminate the possibility of the appearance of scars.[ad#afterpost]