January 29, 2018

Fertility Options and Treatments

Many people are seeking new treatments for infertility and related symptoms. In addition to the psychological effects that infertility presents, there are also other considerations. One such consideration is the effect that infertility can have on relationships and marriages. This is especially true when the relationship is already strained due to previous arguments or other causes. Sometimes one partner really wants a child while the other doesn't and infertility can seem like an "in your face" type of struggle. Regardless of the cause or situation, people are seeking treatment for infertility at alarmingly high rates these days. Part of this can be explained on our current living and lifestyles. This is because more and more people are becoming sick, diseased, or otherwise disabled. Some of which is due to avoidable circumstances, while some is not. Things such as inactivity, poor dietary choices, etc can also contribute to infertility and other symptoms. In addition to these things, people are often lacking in vitamins and minerals. This is partly due to poor soil conditions that crops grow in, as well as the abundant use of fast food in the environment. One solution is to take a supplement specially formulated for this situation. In addition to this, you can also try taking a specially formulated multivitamin. It's important to avoid multivitamins with inactive forms of vitamins and minerals. This just forces you body to work harder to convert them to the "usable" format, which some people can't even do.
October 22, 2017

Antioxidants and Aging: a New Theory: Role of Free-Radical Fighters and Oxidative Stress Questioned

Recent research also turns on its head the long-held idea that antioxidants are helpful in fighting the effects of aging. This new theory is disturbing to many people, especially those who are involved in marketing antioxidants and those who take them to ward off the ravages of advancing age.

What is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress is a condition that occurs when there is an abundance of free radicals and/or when the level of antioxidants in the body is low. Free radicals (collectively known as reactive oxygen species, or ROS) are highly reactive molecules that are a byproduct of normal metabolism.

Free radicals contain at least one unpaired electron, which causes them to constantly seek electrons from other molecules, a process that disrupts normal cell functions and causes damage to cells (oxidative stress). Antioxidants are substances, such as certain vitamins and other nutrients, that protect the body against free radicals and oxidative stress.

The New Theory of Aging and Antioxidants

Dr. Siegfried Hekimi of McGill University’s Department of Biology notes that the older an organism appears, the more it seems to be the victim of oxidative stress. This observation has been the basis of the prevailing theory, which is that oxidative stress is a cause of aging. Researchers at McGill are proposing the opposite: that oxidative stress could be the result of aging.

They developed this theory for several reasons. One, they say clinical trials have not shown that antioxidant therapies provide statistically significant benefits in many cases, although improvements are evident in some studies. Two, their recent work shows that some organisms live longer when ROS and oxidative stress levels are elevated.

Dr. Hekimi and his associate studied worms (Caenorhabditis elegans, a commonly used model for aging) in which they disabled genes that are involved in the production of a potent antioxidant called superoxide dismutase (SOD). Although previous studies had shown that decreased production of SOD shortened an organism’s life, Dr. Hekimi’s work found that it did the opposite.

The researchers emphasize that their findings do not suggest that oxidative stress and ROS is good for the body. However, the study does indicate that they are not responsible for aging.

This is not the first study to arrive at this conclusion. A study conducted at the Institute of Healthy Aging at the University College in London found that removing SOD from the bodies of C. elegans did not reduce the lifespan of the worms. Similar results were found in a University of Texas study that used mice.

October 22, 2017

Anemia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Anemia

Anemia is a condition that occurs when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to transport adequate oxygen to the organs. There are over 400 types of anemia; however, the most common types occur from lack of iron or essential vitamins in the body. Anemia can also be a symptom of a more dangerous disease, so it is important to know the symptoms and see a doctor if anemia is expected. Although many cases of anemia can be easily treated, if severe anemia is left untreated it can become life-threatening.

Causes of Anemia

Anemia can occur due to many different reasons. Blood loss from menstrual bleeding, bleeding ulcers, hemorrhoids or the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or ASPIRIN® can result in anemia. Anemia can also be caused by faulty red blood cell production due to iron or vitamin deficiency, bone marrow and stem cell problems or other health conditions. Another cause of anemia is having too few hormones in the body for red blood cell production. Conditions that cause this type of anemia include hypothyroidism, kidney disease and chronic conditions such as cancer, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Anemia may also be caused by heredity such as sickle cell anemia, which affects people of African-American descent. Many other causes of anemia exist; however, the most common forms of anemia are due to iron deficiency or vitamin deficiency. Infants, children who are going through a growth spurt and women who are in their childbearing years are the most at risk for developing iron or vitamin deficiency anemia.

Symptoms of Anemia

According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of anemia include:

  • pale skin
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • cold hand and feet
  • cognitive problems
  • chest pains

The National Anemia Action Council lists the above symptoms of anemia along with the additional symptoms of:

  • brittle nails
  • depression
  • low blood pressure
  • yellowing of eyes and skin
  • changes in stool color
  • desire to chew ice or eat non-food items such as starch, paper or clay

It is important to see a doctor if one or more of these symptoms is present. In many cases, anemia can be easily treated but in some cases it may be an underlying symptom of a more serious disease.

Treatment of Anemia

Anemia can be easily identified by the doctor taking a blood sample and checking a complete blood count. According to the Mayo Clinic, the size, shape and color of the red blood cells can tell the doctor if the patient has iron deficiency anemia or vitamin deficiency anemia. Once anemia is determined, the doctor may do more tests to check if there is an underlying cause of the anemia. Treatment will then be given depending upon the type of anemia the patient has. In many instances, taking an iron supplement or a multi-vitamin is all that is necessary to treat anemia. If other issues are causing the anemia, the doctor will treat those health concerns.

Anemia is the most common blood condition in the U.S. and nearly 3.5 million Americans are affected by it. Knowing the symptoms of anemia is the first step to getting treatment. It is important to see a doctor about anemia symptoms because, although it is not dangerous in many instances, in some cases anemia can be life-threatening. In the majority of cases, anemia can be treated so it no longer affects the patient’s everyday life.

October 22, 2017

An Herb’s Uses are Endless

An herb's uses are what make the plant so valuable. Twelves centuries ago, Emperor Charlemagne compelled his citizens to grow herbs and declared, "An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks." That statement is as true today as it was then. People continue to enjoy many of an herb's uses such as its culinary and medicinal properties as well as the beauty and fragrance it adds to any home.

Get to Know the Many Herb Uses

Ultimately it is a plant's usefulness that classifies it an an herb. And herb uses are endless. Soothing teas, aromatic sprigs of lavender in sachets, thyme simmered in a comforting stew, and the multitude of ailments that can be healed with herbs remind us that nature has provided for our needs. In addition to their many practical uses, growing herbs can beautify your garden with their lovely foliage in soft grays and greens. Their delicate flowers compliment every plant around them. They also have pest-repelling abilities while attracting beneficial insects which will chase out other harmful insects throughout the rest of your garden.

Knowing the intended use of herbs will help determine which ones to grow. To minimize confusion, before planting read up on the different types of herb uses and make a list of favorites. Decide between an indoor or outdoor garden and the amount of space that will be needed.

Harvesting and Using Herbs

Once planted, the herbs will begin to grow and soon it will be time to harvest them. Harvesting and using herbs is one of the most gratifying aspects of gardening. Harvest only the parts of the herb you intend on using. The herb parts used are leaves, flowers, seeds and roots. Some herbs utilize only one part while others use all four.

Harvesting Leaves: Most of the time it is the foliage and stems that are harvested. Use pruning shears to cut leaves midmoring after the dew has dried. Rinse them carefully and put them straight to use. If planning to store the foliage for later use wait for an overcast summer day and cut the foliage mid to late morning when their essential oils are at high levels.

Harvesting Flowers: The best time to gather flowers is just as they begin to open at midday. Snip each flower separately but for flowers on a stalk like the lavender herb, snip the whole stem. Be careful not to touch the flower petals being harvested. Do not harvest wilting or damaged flowers.

Harvesting Seeds: Ripe seeds are beige, brown, or black. They will have no green showing. Harvest them before they begin to fall off the plant by shaking, cutting or individually picking the seed heads and placing them into a paper sack or bucket.

Harvesting Roots: Loosen the soil around the plant and lift the roots out of the ground. Trim off the roots extending from the root ball. Wash them carefully to remove manure or compost to prevent E. coli or other bacteria.

The many herb uses available to us can quickly make us addicted to herb gardening! We may start by growing the smallest of culinary gardens and soon discover we're expanding our gardens to accommodate the many different types of herbs we need for the many uses we have in mind for them.