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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis (includes: 6 Things You Should Know About Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis)

Osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 27 million Americans, is a leading cause of disability in older adults. Because the general population is aging and obesity, a major risk factor, is increasing in prevalence, the occurrence of osteoarthritis is on the rise. Clinical practice guidelines issued by the American College of Rheumatology recommend aerobic exercise and/or strength training, weight loss (if overweight), and a number of pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities for treating OA of the knee, hip, or hand.

Many people with OA report trying various dietary supplements in an effort to relieve pain and improve function. However, there is no convincing evidence that any dietary supplement helps with OA symptoms or the underlying course of the disease. This issue of the digest summarizes current scientific evidence about several dietary supplements most often used by people with OA, including glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), and herbal remedies.
 

Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, or the Combination: Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate—taken separately or together—are marketed for supporting joint health. They have also been widely used for treating OA. The preponderance of evidence indicates little or no meaningful effect on pain or function. Independent clinical practice guidelines published in 2012 by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) [95KB PDF], and in 2010 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommend not using glucosamine or chondroitin for OA. Recommendations from Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) published in 2014 conclude that current evidence does not support use of glucosamine or chondroitin in knee OA for disease-modifying effects, but leave unsettled the question of whether either may provide symptomatic relief.

Efficacy

  • A 2009 Cochrane systematic review of 25 studies found evidence of improvement in pain and function in studies using one manufacturer’s preparation of glucosamine, not in studies using preparations from other companies.
  • Three reports from the NIH-funded Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), compared glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, the two in combination, celecoxib, and placebo. There were no clinically significant differences in pain or function following 6 months and 2 years of treatment. There was also no evidence that glucosamine, chondroitin, or the combination could prevent the progression of OA, based on joint space width measurements.
  • A 2007 meta-analysis considered 20 controlled clinical trials comparing chondroitin with placebo or n treatment in 3846 patients with OA of the hip or knee. The investigators concluded that “large-scale, methodologically sound trials indicate that the symptomatic benefit of chondroitin is minimal or nonexistent. Use of chondroitin in routine clinical practice should therefore be discouraged.”
  • A 2010 network meta-analysis analyzed 10 glucosamine and chondroitin trials involving 3,803 patients with knee or hip OA published similar results. The investigators concluded that glucosamine, chondroitin, or a combination did not significantly reduce pain or change joint space compared to placebo.
  • A 2014 double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial compared glucosamine, chondroitin, the combination, or placebo in 605 patients with knee osteoarthritis. While symptomatic improvement was seen in all four groups over the study period, there were no differences in symptomatic improvement. A very small but statistically significant reduction in joint space narrowing was seen in the glucosamine–chondroitin combination group at 2 years.
Safety
Glucosamine and chondroitin appear to be relatively safe and well tolerated when used in suggested doses over a 2-year period. In a few specific situations, however, possible side effects or drug interactions should be considered:

  • No serious side effects have been reported in large, well-conducted studies of people taking glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for up to 3 years.
  • However, glucosamine or chondroitin may interact with warfarin.
  • Although recent studies conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration show that high doses of glucosamine hydrochloride taken by mouth in rats may promote cartilage regeneration and repair, this dose was also found to cause severe kidney problems in the rats—a serious side effect of the treatment.


Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): DMSO and MSM are two chemically related dietary supplements that have been used for arthritic conditions. However, evidence does not suggest that DMSO and MSM are helpful for OA symptoms.

Efficacy
  • A 2011 meta-analysis of a small number of studies looked at topical (applied to skin) DMSO and oral (taken by mouth) MSM as potential products for OA of the knee. There was no evidence of significant reductions in pain compared to placebo.
Safety
  • Although there are limited safety data available, some side effects from topical DMSO have been reported, including upset stomach, skin irritation, and garlic taste, breath, and body odor.
  • Only minor side effects are associated with MSM in humans including allergy, upset stomach, and skin rashes.


S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe): SAMe is a molecule that is naturally produced in the body and is often taken as a dietary supplement. There is not enough evidence to support the use of SAMe for OA of the knee or hip.

Efficacy
  • A 2009 systematic review concluded that there was not enough evidence to use SAMe for OA of the knee or hip. The reviewers did indicate that small improvements in pain and function were seen in some but not all studies.

Safety
  • SAMe is generally considered safe.
  • Common side effects include gastrointestinal problems, dry mouth, headache, sweating, dizziness, and nervousness.

Herbal Remedies: Although some results suggest that a few herbs may be beneficial for OA symptoms, the overall evidence is weak. In addition, not all herbs have been studied or prepared in a consistent way, and conclusions among reviews of the literature provide conflicting interpretations. There is also a general lack of safety data available for many herbal medicines.

Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables: Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) are supplements made from avocado oil and soybean oil extracts and have been studied, mostly in Europe, for their effects on osteoarthritis.

Efficacy
  • A 2009 Cochrane review of two combined studies of ASU showed beneficial effects on functional index, pain, intake of NSAIDs, and global evaluation.
Safety
  • There are limited safety data available.


Other Herbal Remedies: The current evidence base on efficacy of other herbal therapies for osteoarthritis, such as willow bark and tipi tea, is limited to clinical trials reports and a systematic review.

Efficacy
  • Authors of a 2009 Cochrane review concluded that evidence for willow bark, topical capsaicin, and tipi tea is insufficient to support their use.
Safety
  • There are limited safety data available.

6 Things You Should Know About Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis—affecting 27 million Americans—and is an increasing problem among older adults. Treatments for osteoarthritis address the symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and reduced function in the joints. Nonmedicinal approaches involve lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight control, and rest. Conventional medicinal treatments for OA include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), acetaminophen (a class of pain reliever), and injections of corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory hormones). Many people with OA report trying various dietary supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin, alone or in combination, in an effort to relieve pain and improve function. However, there is no convincing evidence that any dietary supplement helps with OA symptoms or the course of the underlying disease. Here are 6 things you should know about dietary supplements for osteoarthritis:

1). The majority of research has found little effect of glucosamine or chondroitin on symptoms or joint damage associated with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Studies have found that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements may interact with the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drug warfarin (Coumadin). But overall, studies have not shown any other serious side effects.

2). Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) are two chemically related dietary supplements that have been used for arthritic conditions; however, evidence does not suggest that DMSO and MSM are helpful for osteoarthritis symptoms. Although there are limited safety data available, some side effects from topical DMSO have been reported, including upset stomach, skin irritation, and garlic taste, breath, and body odor. Only minor side effects are associated with MSM in humans including allergy, upset stomach, and skin rashes.

3). S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is a molecule that is naturally produced in the body and is often taken as a dietary supplement; however, there is not enough evidence to support the use of SAMe for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. SAMe is generally considered safe, but common side effects include gastrointestinal problems, dry mouth, headache, sweating, dizziness, and nervousness.

4). There is preliminary evidence that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), supplements made from avocado oil and soybean oil extracts, may have modest beneficial effects on symptoms of osteoarthritis. Safety information has not been sufficiently available.

5). Although some results suggest that a few herbs may be beneficial for OA symptoms, the overall evidence is weak, and conclusions among reviews of the literature provide conflicting interpretations. In general, herbs have not been studied or prepared in a consistent way.  There is also a general lack of safety data available.

6). If you take, or are considering taking, dietary supplements for osteoarthritis, tell your health care providers. They can do a better job caring for you if they know what dietary supplements you use.

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Disclaimer - Holistic Lifestyle Community Blog - Information
These statements have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Holistic Lifestyle disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this or any other information contained in this Web site. The information provided using the Holistic Lifestyle Web site is for educational use only. It is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. It is not Holistic Lifestyle’s intention to provide specific advice, medical or otherwise, but rather to provide users with information to better understand and manage their life, environment, personal health and wellness, and their diagnosed disorders. Holistic Lifestyle urges users to consult with a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and/or for answers to their personal medical questions. If you have a medical emergency call 9-1-1. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Holistic Lifestyle. Any mention in the Holistic Lifestyle Web site of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Natural Cleaning Solutions

Source: http://www.clipartlord.com/free-sponge-bucket-clip-art/.
There are many inexpensive, easy-to-use natural cleaning solutions that can safely be used in place of commercial products that contain harsh chemical ingredients. Here is a list of common, environmentally safe products which can be used by themselves or in combination with other natural non-toxic products.
  • Baking Soda (along with Borax below) is a great deodorizer and it scours without scratching.
  • 100% Natural Lemon Juice is a terrific disinfectant and one of the strongest food-grade acids, making it quite effective against most common household bacterias.
  • Borax* has a multitude of uses. It is a good all-purpose cleaner (mix 2 T borax and 2 cups water), deodorizer and disinfectant. It scours pots and pans without scratching (make a paste by mixing 1 T borax with warm water), helps to soften the water used to launder clothes (add one cup of borax to each load ), removes rust and oxidation from metals (make a paste by mixing borax with a little lemon juice), clean mildew off of outdoor furniture (mix 1 teaspoon dish detergent, 1 teaspoon borax and 1 quart warm water), sanitize your garbage disposal (put 3 tablespoons of borax down the drain. Let it sit for an hour and flush it with warm water), use it during Spring cleaning to clean painted walls and floors (mix 1/3 cup borax, 1 tablespoon ammonia and 1 teaspoon dish detergent into 1 gallon of water). Oh, and borax also works to repel ants, roaches and mice (sprinkle on the floor, along doorways, etc.)
  • White Vinegar cuts grease, removes mildew, neutralizes odors, removes wax build-up. NEVER mix vinegar with bleach, as potentially lethal vapors are released!
  • Liquid Dish Soap is good for use to add as a cleaning agent.
  • Washing Soda, also called SAL Soda, is a naturally occurring alkaline mineral. It is a hydrated sodium carbonate used as a general cleanser. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens hard water, and it cleans walls, ceramic tiles, and porcelain sinks and tubs. Use with care, as washing soda can irritate the sensitive tissues of the mucous membranes. Do not washing soda on aluminum!
  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol is a great disinfectant and it works to remove scuff marks off the floor (put alcohol on rag and wipe over mark), remove hairspray build-up from mirrors (spray the mirror with rubbing alcohol, and wipe it clean),  Remove water spots and fingerprint smudges from stainless steel appliances, keep car windows frost free (mix one part rubbing alcohol together with eight parts water, and apply the solution to your car windows), Clean your eyeglass lenses (mix equal parts Isopropyl rubbing alcohol and water, spray on lenses and wipe dry). Caution! Isopropyl alcohol is HIGHLY flammable - so, keep it away from heat sources and open flames!

*According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), borax is considered to be a mild skin irritant. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) lists borax as a health hazard 1, similar to that of baking soda. A health concern with borax is with its potential to disrupt the reproductive system. Human studies regarding this concern have not been done, however, potential reproductive issues in lab mice are suspected from high levels of 'ingested' borax. Use of borax for home cleaning formulas (where ingestion of borax has not occurred) has not been shown to pose a health hazard. Borax is a natural, eco-friendly substance that is non-carcinogenic, does not accumulate in the body, and is not harmful to the environment.

CLEANING FORMULAS

All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use to remove water deposit stains on shower walls, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.

Air Freshener: Did you know that commercial air fresheners help to mask odors by coating the nasal passages to diminish the sense of smell? Here's some ideas for natural air fresheners and odor absorbers.

  • Baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes absorbs odors around the house.
  • Houseplants can help reduce odors in the home.
  • Prevent cooking odors by simmering 1 tsp. vinegar in 1 cup water on the stove while cooking. To get odors such as fish and onion off utensils and cutting boards, wipe them with vinegar and wash in soapy water.
  • Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter.
  • Grind up a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal.
  • Simmer water and cinnamon or other aromatic spices on stove.
  • Place bowls of fragrant dried herbs and flowers in room.

Bathroom mold: Mold in bathroom tile grout can be a health concern. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using shower.

Carpet stains: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.
For fresh grease spots, sprinkle corn starch onto spot and wait 15 - 30 minutes before vacuuming.
For a heavy duty carpet cleaner, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum.

Chopping block cleaner: Rub a slice of lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface. For tougher stains, squeeze some of the lemon juice onto the spot and let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe.

Coffee and tea stains: Stains in coffee cups can be removed by applying vinegar to a sponge and wiping. To clean a tea kettle or coffee maker, add 2 cups water and 1/4 cup vinegar; bring to a boil. Let cool, wipe with a clean cloth and rinse thoroughly with water.

Deodorize:

  • Plastic food storage containers - soak overnight in warm water and baking soda.
  • In-sink garbage disposal units: grind up lemon or orange peel in the unit.
  • Carpets: sprinkle baking soda several hours before vacuuming.
  • Garage, basements: set a sliced onion on a plate in center of room for 12-24 hours.

Automatic Dishwasher Soap: Mix equal parts of borax and washing soda (increase the washing soda if your water is hard).

Hand Dish-washing Soap: Commercial low-phosphate detergents are not themselves harmful, but phosphates nourish algae which use up oxygen in waterways. A detergent substitute is to use liquid soap. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the warm, soapy water for tough jobs.

Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. For stronger cleaning power add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use non-aerosol spray bottle. (mixture is not antibacterial). To disinfect kitchen sponges, put them in the dishwasher when running a load or saturate them with water (squeeze out just so it is not dripping) and put in microwave on high for 1-2 minutes.

Drain Cleaner: For light drain cleaning, mix 1/2 cup salt in 4 liters water, heat (but not to a boil) and pour down the drain. For stronger cleaning, pour about 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, then 1/2 cup vinegar (it will bubble and fizz). The resulting chemical reaction can break fatty acids down into soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear residue. Caution: only use this method with metal plumbing. Plastic pipes can melt if excess boiling water is used. Also, do not use this method after trying a commercial drain opener, as the vinegar can react with the drain opener to create toxic fumes.

Floor Cleaner and Polish:

  • vinyl and linoleum: mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of baby oil in 1 gallon warm water. For tough jobs, add 1/4 cup borox. Use sparingly on lineoleum.
  • wood furniture: apply a thin coat of 1:1 vegetable oil and vinegar and rub in well.
  • painted wood: mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon (4L) hot water.
  • brick and stone tiles: mix 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon (4L) water; rinse with clear water.
  • Most floor surfaces can be easily cleaned by "damp-mopping" using a solution of vinegar and water.
  • wood floors (sealed): mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil; shake to mix.

Furniture Polish: For varnished wood: add a few drops of lemon oil into a 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and finish by wiping once more using a dry soft cotton cloth.
For unvarnished wood: mix two teaspoons each of olive oil and lemon juice and apply a small amount to a soft cotton cloth. Wring the cloth to spread the mixture further into the material and apply to the furniture using wide strokes. This helps distribute the oil evenly.

Laundry Detergent: Mix 1 cup Ivory soap or Fels Naptha soap, 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads.

Lime Deposits: Reduce lime deposits in your teakettle by putting in 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of water to your tea kettle. Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Rinse tea kettle out well with fresh water.  To remove lime scale on bathroom fixtures, squeeze lemon juice onto affected areas and let sit for several minutes before wiping clean with a wet cloth.

Marks on walls and painted surfaces: Many pencil, crayon, marker or ink spots can be cleaned from painted surfaces using baking soda. Apply baking soda to a damp sponge. Rub gently (don't scrub hard - you don't want to damage the paint or finish on the wall!). Wipe with clean sponge.

Metal Cleaners and Polishes:

  • aluminum: using a soft cloth, clean with a solution of cream of tartar and water.
  • brass or bronze: polish with a soft cloth dipped in lemon and baking-soda solution, or vinegar and salt solution. Another method is to apply a dab of ketchup on a soft cloth and rub over tarnished spots.
  • chrome: polish with baby oil, vinegar, or aluminum foil shiny side out.
  • copper: soak a cotton rag in a pot of boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 cup white vinegar. Apply to copper while hot; let cool, then wipe clean. For tougher jobs, sprinkle baking soda or lemon juice on a soft cloth, then wipe. For copper cookware, sprinkle a lemon wedge with salt, then scrub., A simpler method is to apply a dab of ketchup on a soft cloth and rub over tarnished spots.
  • gold (for metal only! Do not use this to clean diamonds or semi-precious/precious stones!): clean with toothpaste, or a paste of salt, vinegar and flour.
  • silver (for metal only! Do not use this to clean diamonds or semi-precious/precious stones!): line a pan with aluminum foil and fill with water; add a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Bring to a boil and immerse silver. Polish with soft cloth.
  • stainless steel: clean with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar, or olive oil. For stainless cookware, mix 4 tbs baking soda in 1 qt water, and apply using a soft cloth. Wipe dry using a clean cloth. For stainless steel sinks, pour some club soda on an absorbent cloth to clean, then wipe dry using a clean cloth.

Mold and Mildew: Use white vinegar or lemon juice full strength. Apply with a scrubber sponge and scrub the mold or mildew away. Repeat as needed.

Mothballs: Commercial mothballs are made of paradichlorobenzene, which can be harmful to the liver and kidneys. A safer alternative is to use cedar chips in a cheesecloth square or cedar oil in an absorbent cloth will work to help repel moths. The cedar should be 'aromatic cedar', also referred to as juniper in some areas. Cedar chips are available at many craft supply stores, or make your own using a plane and a block of cedar from the lumberyard.  Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made with aromatic herbs and plants such as lavender, rosemary, vetiver and rose petals.  Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent - simply tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet or put in dresser drawers.

Oil and Grease Spots: For small spills on the garage floor, sprinkle over with baking soda until spot is completely covered. Let sit for 2-3 hours and then scrub with wet brush. Repeat if needed.

Oven Cleaner: Moisten oven surfaces with sponge dampened with water. Use 3/4cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of table salt and 1/4 cup of water to make a thick paste. Spread the paste throughout interior of the oven (avoid bare metal, heating element, light bulb, and any openings). Let the paste sit overnight. In the morning remove paste with a plastic spatula and wipe interior clean with a sponge (you will have to rinse the sponge out several times in clean water). Rub any still-stuck-on spots gently with a fine steel wool pad.

Paint Brush: To reuse a paint brush or roller (for the same painting job) the next day wrap it snugly in a plastic bag, such as a used bread or produce bag. Squeeze out air pockets and store away from light. The paint won't dry because air can't get to it. Simply unwrap the brush or roller the next day and continue with the painting.

Paint Odors: Reduce paint odors by placing a small dish of white vinegar in the room or stirring a few drops of vanilla extract directly into the container of paint (it will not affect the color or quality of the paint).

Rust Remover: Sprinkle a little table salt on the rust, squeeze lime juice over the salt until it is well soaked. Leave the mixture on for about 2-3 hours. Use the leftover lime rind to scrub off the residue.

Scouring Powder: For cleaning without scratching the top of the stove, refrigerator (exterior and interior) as well as other surfaces such as sinks, tubs, etc., use baking soda. Apply the baking soda directly with a dampened sponge or make a paste of baking soda and water.

Shoe Polish: Olive oil with a few drops of lemon juice can be applied to shoes with a thick cotton or terry rag. Leave for a few minutes; wipe and buff with a clean, dry rag.

Stickers on walls: To remove, sponge vinegar over them several times, and wait 15 minutes, then rub off the stickers. This also works for price tag stickers and some types of wallpaper.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar (it will bubble and fizz), pour into basin and let it set for a few minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse. A mixture of 2 parts borax and 1 part lemon juice will also work.

Tub and Tile Cleaner: For simple cleaning, rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water. For tougher jobs, wipe surfaces with vinegar first and follow with baking soda as a scouring powder. (Vinegar can break down tile grout, so use sparingly.)

Wallpaper Remover: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and hot water, apply with sponge over the old wallpaper to soften the adhesive. Peel of the lifting paper and reapply the mixture to stubborn patches. Open the room windows or use a fan to dissipate the pungent vinegar smell.

Water Rings on Wood: Water rings on a wooden table or counter are the result of moisture that is trapped under the topcoat of wax, but not the finish. Try applying toothpaste or mayonnaise to a damp cloth and rub into the ring. Be careful not to run too vigorously so as not to mar the finish. Once the ring is removed, buff the entire wood surface.

Window Cleaner: Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 quart of warm water. Use crumpled newspaper
(use only the black and white newsprint not the colored ad inserts) or use a clean cotton cloth to clean the glass. Don't clean windows if they are hot from the sun shining on them, as they will dry too quickly and will streak.

HEALTHY CLEANING TIPS

Exchange Indoor Air
Many modern homes are so tight there's little new air coming in. Open the windows from time to time or run any installed exhaust fans. In cold weather, the most efficient way to exchange room air is to open the room wide - windows and doors, and let fresh air in quickly for about 5 minutes. The furnishings in the room, and the walls, act as 'heat sinks', and by exchanging air quickly, this heat is retained.

Minimize Dust
Remove clutter which collects dust, such as old newspapers and magazines. Try to initiate a 'no-shoes-indoors' policy (hand your guests a pair of slippers when they arrive). If you're building or remodeling a home, consider a central vacuum system which eliminates fine dust particles.

Use Cellulose Sponges
Most household sponges are made of polyester or plastic which are slow to break down in landfills, and many are treated with triclosan, a chemical that can produce chloroform (a suspected carcinogen) when it interacts with the chlorine found in tap water. Instead try cellulose sponges, which are biodegradable and will soak up spills faster since they're naturally more absorbent.

Keep Bedrooms Clean
Most time at home is spent in the bedrooms. Keep pets out of these rooms, especially if they spend time outdoors.

If You Must Use Commercial Cleaning Products, Use Gentle Cleaning Products
Of the various commercial home cleaning products, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and oven cleaners are the most toxic. If you are unable to use the formulas described above purchase those products labeled as 'green'  or 'natural'. Avoid products containing ammonia or chlorine, or petroleum-based chemicals; these contribute to respiratory irritation, headaches and other complaints.

Clean from the Top Down:

When house cleaning, save the floor or carpet for last. Clean window blinds and shelves first and then work downwards. Allow time for the dust to settle before vacuuming.
Image
Natural Wood Cleaner
Brew 5-10 teabags (use regular black tea only - do NOT use green or flavored teas) in two quarts of water. Strain and pour tea water in a large 2 gallon bucket. Add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar to the water. Fill remainder of the bucket with warm water. Make sure to wring-out the mop or cloth well so it is damp - not dripping wet, as you don't want to saturate the wood! The vinegar acts as a disinfectant helping to kill bacteria, and the tea adds a beautiful shine and helps to bring out the natural grain in wood.
Natural Wood Polish
(this step takes a bit of elbow-grease but the end result is a beautiful, lasting shine!)
Combine 1 tablespoon each of boiled linseed oil, 100% pure lemon juice, and turpentine in a glass container. Stir to mix. Moisten a soft cloth with water and pour a small amount of the mixture onto the cloth (or for ease of use, pour it into a spray bottle and spritz mixture directly onto the wood). Rub sparingly onto the wood. Allow it to dry for about 30 minutes, and then buff with a dry, clean, soft cloth. Note: When using the wood polish, I recommended that you wear some type of disposable gloves to protect your hands.
Disclaimer: These "natural cleaning solutions" are offered to help minimize your use of toxic chemical-laden cleaning substances in your home, and to help reduce the environmental impact caused by the manufacture of, use of, and disposal of toxic chemical cleaners. Results may vary and these "natural cleaning solutions" cannot be guaranteed to be 100% safe and/or effective on any surface. Before applying any cleaning formulas or products, test a small amount on a hidden area to check for any signs of discoloration, fading, etc., if possible. Always wear gloves to protect your skin when using any household cleaner, and use the utmost caution with any new cleaning product in your home. And, as always, make sure to keep all homemade and/or commercial chemical cleaning formulas well-labeled, and out of the reach of children and pets.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Silver Fox"

"Silver Fox" My silver hair.
A little bit about my story... 
(and yes, I can proudly say that this is an actual picture of my very own silver mane!)

As a natural, long haired brunette, I saw my first gray hair at the age of 17. I could not believe it and pulled it out. I absolutely cried about it. Then came more gray hairs, and yet more still. By the time I reached my 18th birthday I was full salt and pepper, and so I began to dye my hair. In the beginning it was costly visits to the hairdresser every four weeks.

 

After several years of expensive salon costs, I began to dye my hair myself...an (what I considered to be) arduous process that continued for nearly 3 decades!!!

As I reached my late 40's my what was long beautiful "brunette colored" hair began to thin out significantly, and on top of that some of it began falling out. My hair was severely damaged from umpteen years of chemical dyeing, and it was at that point where I made up my mind to stop dyeing my hair.

It has been several years now since I stopped dyeing my hair, and it still remains thin in spots, but overall it has pretty much regained its health and natural shine.

I love my silver hair!! Let me say that again...I love it!!

Ageism is rampant in this culture - it is stereotyping and discriminating. Our culture's infatuation with "beauty" and what a woman should look like is just one of the many reasons why so many women have such low self-esteem.

For me, aging naturally is a gift. I embrace my maturity, I am more confident, and I'm not afraid to show my true colors!!

Friends and strangers compliment me telling me they love my beautiful silver hair, and then, of course, there are a very select few who say I should dye my hair so that I'll look younger - If they only knew....

Choosing to not continue to dye my hair is a choice I made for me. To not dye my hair is not being lazy or a slob nor do I not consider it as 'letting myself go'.

I celebrate me. I embrace who I am. I feel good about who I am. I no longer want to be someone or something I'm not. 


I am a woman who has become stronger in her Self. I'm comfortable with who I am. I'm not afraid of the aging process. I do not associate my gray hair with age, I associate it with the art of being. I'm excited for and welcome whatever the future should hold.

Oh, and as for wrinkles? You bet your sweet bippy I've got my share of those too.

I've earned every single strand of my silver hair and I've earned every one of my wrinkles too!!

Because I have learned to accept myself, I find my self happier and smiling a whole lot more.

I love who I am and this "silver fox" looks forward to living a long, happy life!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Clever Tips to Simplify Your Life

Here are some clever tips for using common household objects to help simplify your life.
Office Clip and Phone Charger http://www.teamimhoff.com/2011/07/office-clip-phone-charger.html

Marshmallow As Brown Sugar Softener http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/new-uses-for-old-things/marshmallow-as-brown-sugar-softener-00000000021749/index.html

Convert an old canning jar into a container with a pour spout http://thecraftpatch.blogspot.com/2011/09/convert-old-canning-jars.html

Common Appliances, Uncommon Uses http://www.chow.com/food-news/54485/common-appliances-uncommon-uses/

The [new] secret to easy-to-peel boiled eggs http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2012/01/the-new-secret-to-easy-to-peel-boiled-eggs/
Hanging Art with Soda Pop Tabs http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/tried-tested-hanging-art-with-142868

Use a Coffee Filter to Clean Your LCD Screens http://lifehacker.com/5728887/use-a-coffee-filter-to-clean-your-lcd-screens

Slip-Proofing with Acrylic-Latex caulk http://www.marthastewart.com/272310/slip-proofing

Apple Puzzle - keep apples from turning brown with a rubber band http://athomewithrealfood.blogspot.com/2011/02/apple-puzzle.html

Remove a Stripped Screw with a Rubber Band http://lifehacker.com/5462520/remove-a-stripped-screw-with-a-rubber-band

Use a Parmesan Cheese Lid to Turn a Canning Jar into a Shaker http://lifehacker.com/5878204/use-a-parmesan-cheese-lid-to-turn-a-canning-jar-into-a-shaker

Repurpose a hanger into a chip clip http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/08/repurpose-a-hanger-into-a-chip-clip.html

Bobby Pin Magnetic Strip http://gabrielsgoodtidings.blogspot.com/2011/11/bobby-pin-magnetic-strip.html

Use Chalk To Rid Your Clothes Of Greasy Stains http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/use-chalk-to-rid-your-clothes-116878

Money-Saving Tip: DIY Sweater Shaving http://www.mommysavers.com/money-saving-tip-diy-sweater-shaving/

Tips for re-growing green onions from scraps http://www.domesticblisssquared.com/2013/05/tips-for-re-growing-green-onions-from.html

How to make Cinnamon Rolls in a Waffle Iron http://ahensnest.com/2011/09/waffled-cinnamon-rolls-recipe.html


Disclaimer - Holistic Lifestyle Community Blog - Information
These statements have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Holistic Lifestyle disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this or any other information contained in this Web site. The information provided using the Holistic Lifestyle Web site is for educational use only. It is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. It is not Holistic Lifestyle’s intention to provide specific advice, medical or otherwise, but rather to provide users with information to better understand and manage their life, environment, personal health and wellness, and their diagnosed disorders. Holistic Lifestyle urges users to consult with a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and/or for answers to their personal medical questions. If you have a medical emergency call 9-1-1. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Holistic Lifestyle. Any mention in the Holistic Lifestyle Web site of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

Stress and Relaxation Techniques (includes: 5 Things to Know About Relaxation Techniques for Stress)

Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life. Occasional stress is a normal coping mechanism. However, long-term stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. Stress may worsen asthma and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Some people use various relaxation techniques to induce the relaxation response, which helps release tension and may counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques often combine breathing exercises and focused attention to calm the mind and the body. Some examples of relaxation response techniques are autogenic training, biofeedback, deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and self-hypnosis.

In the past 30 years, there has been considerable interest in the relaxation response and how inducing this state may benefit health. Research has focused primarily on illness and conditions in which stress appears to play a role either as the cause of the condition or as a factor that can make the condition worse. In general, relaxation techniques appear to be safe.

Currently, there is some evidence that relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan for some stress-related disorders, including:

Anxiety - Studies have suggested that relaxation techniques may assist in the treatment of phobias or panic disorder. Relaxation techniques have also been used to relieve anxiety for people in stressful situations, such as when undergoing a medical procedure.

Depression - In 2008, a major review of the evidence for relaxation in the treatment of depression found that relaxation techniques were more effective than no treatment for depression, but not as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Headache - There is some evidence that biofeedback and other relaxation techniques may be helpful for relieving tension or migraine headaches. In some cases, these mind and body techniques were more effective than medications for reducing the frequency, intensity, and severity of headaches.

The results of research on relaxation to promote overall health or well-being or to treat other stress-related health conditions have been mixed or unclear. These conditions include:

Asthma - Several reviews of the literature have suggested that relaxation techniques, including guided imagery, may temporarily help improve lung function and quality of life and relieve anxiety in people with asthma. A more recent randomized clinical trial of asthma found that relaxation techniques may help improve immune function. However, more studies are needed to confirm this finding.

Heart Disease and Heart Symptoms - Researchers have looked at relaxation techniques for the treatment of angina and the prevention of heart disease. When a cardiac rehabilitation program was combined with relaxation response training in a clinic, participants experienced significant reductions in blood pressure, decreases in lipid levels, and increases in psychological functioning when compared to participants’ status before the program. Although studies have shown that relaxation techniques combined with other lifestyle changes and standard medical care may reduce the risk of recurrent heart attack, more study is needed.

High Blood Pressure - A 2008 review of evidence for relaxation techniques in the treatment of high blood pressure found some evidence that progressive muscle relaxation lowered blood pressure a small amount. However, the review found no evidence that this effect was enough to reduce the risk of heart disease; stroke, or other health issues due to high blood pressure. In a randomized controlled trial, 8 weeks of relaxation response/stress management was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure in hypertensive older adults, and some patients were able to reduce hypertension medication without an increase in blood pressure.

Insomnia - There is some evidence that relaxation techniques can help in treating chronic insomnia.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Some studies have indicated that relaxation techniques may prevent or relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in some participants. One review of the research found some evidence that self-hypnosis may be useful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.

5 Things to Know About Relaxation Techniques for Stress

When you’re under stress, your body reacts by releasing hormones that produce the “fight-or-flight” response. Your heart rate and breathing rate go up and blood vessels narrow (restricting the flow of blood). Occasional stress is a normal coping mechanism. But over the long-term, stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms.

In contrast to the stress response, the relaxation response slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases oxygen consumption and levels of stress hormones. In theory, voluntarily creating the relaxation response through regular use of relaxation techniques could counteract the negative effects of stress.

1.Relaxation techniques are generally safe, but there is limited evidence of usefulness for specific health conditions. Research is under way to find out more about relaxation and health outcomes.

2. Relaxation techniques include a number of practices such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. The goal is similar in all: to consciously produce the body's natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of calm and well-being.

3. Relaxation techniques often combine breathing and focused attention to calm the mind and the body. These techniques may be most effective when practiced regularly and combined with good nutrition, regular exercise, and a strong social support system.

4. Most relaxation techniques can be self-taught and self-administered. Most methods require only brief instruction from a book or experienced practitioner before they can be done without assistance.

5. Do not use relaxation techniques as a replacement for conventional care or to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem. Talk to your health care providers if you are considering using a relaxation technique for a particular health condition. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

External Links

Management of Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Reaction (VA/DoD)
Systematic Reviews/Reviews/Meta-analysis (PubMed®)
Randomized Controlled Trials (PubMed®)



Disclaimer - Holistic Lifestyle Community Blog - Information
These statements have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Holistic Lifestyle disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this or any other information contained in this Web site. The information provided using the Holistic Lifestyle Web site is for educational use only. It is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. It is not Holistic Lifestyle’s intention to provide specific advice, medical or otherwise, but rather to provide users with information to better understand and manage their life, environment, personal health and wellness, and their diagnosed disorders. Holistic Lifestyle urges users to consult with a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and/or for answers to their personal medical questions. If you have a medical emergency call 9-1-1. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Holistic Lifestyle. Any mention in the Holistic Lifestyle Web site of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

Complementary Health Approaches for Smoking Cessation (includes: 5 Things To Know About Complementary Health Approaches for Quitting Smoking)

Many smokers make quitting a New Year’s resolution. Nearly two out of three smokers want to quit, and about half of adult smokers attempt to quit each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most of the attempts to quit smoking are unsuccessful, but getting help through cessation advice by health care providers; individual, group, and telephone counseling; and cessation medications have been shown to be effective.

Recently, there has been emerging interest in the use of complementary therapies such as hypnotherapy, yoga, or mindfulness meditation to aid in smoking cessation. To date, several of these interventions have shown some promise in preliminary, non-randomized studies, but there is not enough evidence to establish if mind-body practices are as efficacious as other evidence-based smoking cessation treatments. A few studies have been conducted on the dietary supplements SAMe, silver acetate, and St. John’s wort for the treatment of tobacco dependence, but there is no current evidence that any natural product improves smoking cessation rates.


Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a mind-body practice which cultivates abilities to maintain focused and clear attention, and develop increased awareness of the present. Research has demonstrated that mindfulness-based approaches may help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.  To date, there have been a few randomized studies on mindfulness-based interventions for smoking cessation, but overall, there is not enough evidence to know whether mind-body practices are as efficacious as other more established smoking cessation treatments.


Research
  • A 2011 randomized controlled trial comparing mindfulness training with a standard behavioral smoking cessation treatment found that individuals who received mindfulness training showed a greater rate of reduction in cigarette use immediately after treatment and at 17-weeek follow-up.
  • A couple of studies have used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the effects of mindful attention on the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex in smokers, the areas of the brain associated with cravings and self-control. In one study, participants’ self-reported results demonstrated that mindful attention reduced cravings. In addition, the brain imaging results indicated that mindful attention reduced neural activity in a craving-related region of the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. In another study, a 2-week course of meditation (5 hours in total) produced a significant reduction in smoking, compared to a relaxation training control. Results of brain imaging showed increased activity for the meditation group in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex.

Safety
Meditation is considered to be safe for healthy people.  There have been rare reports that meditation could cause or worsen symptoms in people who have certain psychiatric problems, but this question has not been fully researched.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis (also called hypnotherapy) has been studied for a number of conditions, including state anxiety (e.g., before medical procedures or surgeries), headaches, smoking cessation, pain control, hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Strength of Evidence
Many studies have investigated the effects of hypnotherapy on smoking cessation.


Research
  • A 2010 Cochrane review of eleven studies compared hypnotherapy with 18 different control interventions. The authors found that hypnotherapy did not have a greater effect on 6-month quit rates than other interventions or no treatment. They concluded that there is not enough evidence to show whether hypnotherapy could be as effective as counseling treatment.
  • A 2012 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and aversive smoking increased smoking abstinence, but the patient population in the analysis was small and reports of smoking cessation were not validated by bio-chemical means.
  • A 2008 randomized trial of 286 smokers found that hypnosis combined with nicotine patches yielded long-term smoking cessation rates that were slightly higher than those for behavioral counseling and nicotine patch.

Safety
Hypnosis is considered safe when performed by a health professional trained in hypnotherapy.  Self-hypnosis also appears to be safe for most people. There are no reported cases of injury resulting from self-hypnosis.


Yoga

Yoga is a mind and body practice with origins in ancient Indian philosophy. The various styles of yoga typically combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. There are numerous schools of yoga. Hatha yoga, the most commonly practiced in the United States and Europe, emphasizes postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). Some of the major styles of hatha yoga are Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vini, Kundalini, and Bikram yoga.

Strength of Evidence
Only a few studies have been conducted on yoga for smoking cessation.


Research
  • A 2012 NCCAM-funded study examined the effect of yoga on smoking cessation. Results of this study provide preliminary evidence that yoga may be an effective adjunctive treatment for smoking cessation in women.
  • A 2011 study examined the effects of physical activity, including cardiovascular exercise and Hatha yoga, on craving to smoke and smoking withdrawal. Participants who engaged in physical activity reported a decrease in craving to smoke, an increase in positive affect, and a decrease in negative affect.

Safety
Yoga is generally low-impact and safe for healthy people when practiced appropriately under the guidance of a well-trained instructor.  Overall, those who practice yoga have a low rate of side effects, and the risk of serious injury from yoga is quite low. However, certain types of stroke as well as pain from nerve damage are among the rare possible side effects of practicing yoga.  Women who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma (a condition in which fluid pressure within the eye slowly increases and may damage the eye's optic nerve), and sciatica (pain, weakness, numbing, or tingling that may extend from the lower back to the calf, foot, or even the toes), should modify or avoid some yoga poses.


Acupuncture

The term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of points on the body using a variety of techniques. The acupuncture technique that has been most often studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.  Although millions of Americans use acupuncture each year, often for chronic pain, there has been considerable controversy surrounding its value as a therapy and whether it is anything more than placebo. Research exploring a number of possible mechanisms for acupuncture’s pain-relieving effects is ongoing.

Strength of Evidence
Several studies have been conducted on the effects of acupuncture or acupressure for smoking cessation.


Research 
  • A 2011 Cochrane review concluded that there is no consistent, bias-free evidence that acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy or electrostimulation are effective for smoking cessation, but firm conclusions cannot be drawn because of the limited quantity and quality of available evidence.

Safety
Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA, in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments.  When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs.


Tai Chi

Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation"—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply.

Strength of Evidence
To date, only a few studies have examined the effects of tai chi for smoking cessation.


Research
  • Findings from a 2013 study on the effects of tai chi for smoking cessation suggest that tai chi may be an effective method for enhancing mindfulness and awareness for breaking cycles of addiction and habit.

Safety
Tai chi is a relatively safe practice for most people. Those who are pregnant, or have a hernia, joint problems, back pain, fractures, or severe osteoporosis, may want to modify or avoid certain postures in tai chi.

5 Things To Know About Complementary Health Approaches for Quitting Smoking

Nearly 70 percent of adult smokers want to quit smoking, according to a national survey. Conventional quit-smoking treatments, including counseling and medication, can double or triple the chances that a smoker will kick the habit successfully. For more information on quitting smoking, visit smokefree.gov, the National Cancer Institute’s quit-smoking resource.  Some people also try complementary health approaches to help them quit smoking. Here are 5 things you should know about what the science says about several complementary health approaches for quitting smoking:

1). Current evidence suggests that several mind and body practices may help people quit smoking. A few studies have found that mind and body practices such as meditation-based therapies, yoga, and guided imagery (a relaxation technique) can help reduce cigarette use and cravings.

2). Research results on other mind and body practices, including acupuncture and hypnosis, show little evidence of benefit. A 2010 systematic review of the scientific literature concluded that hypnotherapy did not provide any greater effect on the rates of quitting than 18 other therapies or no treatment. A 2011 systematic review of acupuncture studies found no consistent evidence that acupuncture is effective for smoking cessation, but that firm conclusions can’t be drawn because of the limited quality and quantity of available evidence.

3). There is no current evidence that any dietary supplement helps people quit smoking. A few studies have been conducted on the dietary supplements S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), silver acetate, lobeline (from the herb Lobelia inflata), and St. John’s wort, but none have been shown to be effective.

4). The mind and body practices discussed here are generally considered safe for healthy people when they’re performed appropriately. If you have any health problems, talk with both your health care provider and the complementary health practitioner/instructor before starting to use a mind and body practice.

5). If you are considering a dietary supplement, remember that “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.” Some supplements have side effects, and some may interact with drugs or other supplements to produce adverse effects. In particular, St. John’s wort has been shown to interact with many drugs.
Resources

Systematic Reviews/Reviews/Meta-analysis (PubMed®)
Randomized Controlled Trials (PubMed®)
Mind and Body Approaches for Smoking Cessation: A Review
Pilot Study Suggests Yoga May Help Women Quit Smoking
Smokefree.gov
How to Quit (CDC)
Your New Year Quit Smoking Plan (CDC)
Free Help to Quit Smoking (NCI)
Quit Now (HHS)
Guide to Quitting Smoking (American Cancer Society)



Disclaimer - Holistic Lifestyle Community Blog - Information
These statements have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Holistic Lifestyle disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this or any other information contained in this Web site. The information provided using the Holistic Lifestyle Web site is for educational use only. It is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. It is not Holistic Lifestyle’s intention to provide specific advice, medical or otherwise, but rather to provide users with information to better understand and manage their life, environment, personal health and wellness, and their diagnosed disorders. Holistic Lifestyle urges users to consult with a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and/or for answers to their personal medical questions. If you have a medical emergency call 9-1-1. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Holistic Lifestyle. Any mention in the Holistic Lifestyle Web site of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

How to Strengthen Your Nails

There is no way to actually speed up the growth of your nails, because nail growth is linked to your genetics. There are, however, ways to make your nails stronger and less likely to break, which will make them appear as if they're growing more quickly.

Dana Stern, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist who specializes in nails and nail disorders say:

"Nails are composed of very small cells called onychocytes, which are mainly made up of keratin,  If you were to look at the nail under a microscope, it actually looks almost like layered roof shingles. So these cells are very delicate and the nail is actually extremely absorptive," she says. "It’s about 10 times more absorbent than skin", which is why when you take a long bath, your nails get super soft and bendy.


"It’s important to note that if your nails become extremely brittle out of nowhere, it could be a sign of a health issue, such as anemia, or a thyroid condition, says Stern. If that’s the case, you should see your doctor. In addition, those who suffer from an eating disorder or are undergoing chemotherapy may have chronic brittleness due to severe protein deficiency. If you don’t have any of these health woes but have had weak nails for as long as you can remember, it could be genetic. "If your mother has brittle nails there’s a good chance you’re going to have them, too," Stern notes.

According to Stern, here are three culprits that could be causing nail problems:

Water Exposure - When you wash your hands, or take a bath, or even when you get a manicure, water is absorbed into your nails. Eventually, that water diffuses back out. This constant change in water content causes the cells to expand and contract, straining them as they continually change size to accommodate more or less water.

Seasonal Weather Changes - In the winter, your days are spent going from a 70-degree indoor environment to a cold, below-freezing outdoor environment. And with the changing temperature also comes varying levels of humidity. Just like your body temperature adjusts to these dramatic temperature changes, so do your nails.

"The water content of the ambient environment is in flux, and so is the water content of our nails," Stern says, "which causes the same type of strain and weakening that water exposure does."

Chemical Exposure - Nail polish remover is the ultimate enemy.


"Polish remover is really a solvent – it’s strong, almost like a paint thinner – and it really dries out the nail," Stern says. "The most offensive chemical is acetone, but that doesn’t mean non-acetone removers are a whole lot better. "The non-acetone version requires more of the liquid and more exposure time," she points out. To date, no formal studies have been done on which is actually better, but Stern suggests that "forgoing acetone might be the better route."

"As for polish itself, Stern says that "it can actually help hold the delicate nail cells together, preventing the tips from peeling. The problem is that eventually you have to take it off. And you should never ever pick it off. The problem with picking off polish is you’re not only taking off the polish but you’re also taking off the top layer of nail cells," says Stern. Which can be an issue with gel manicures if you’re not going into a salon to get them removed properly."


Regain Nail Strength
It is fairly easy to protect your nails against these damaging factors. Try Stern's simple suggestions that can help create a healthy environment for your nails to grow long and strong:

  • Wear gloves when handling any chemicals, doing the dishes, or hand washing clothes to avoid water exposure.
  • Don't bite your nails. If you want to bite your nails, try sitting on your hands, if possible, until the urge passes, so you can't get at them so easily, or try putting a band-aid or a piece of tape on each nail for a couple of days, if possible. This will prevent you from biting them. Remember that severe nail-biting can also cause health problems. When you are biting your nails, you are constantly transferring bacteria from your hands to your mouth. Nail biting can also transfer pinworms [http://www.sesamecommunications.com/wp-content/PPNarticles/2011/10/nail-biting.html] or bacteria buried under the surface of the nail to your mouth (that right there should be enough to make you stop biting your nails!)
  • Steer clear of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. They’re very drying. Instead, wash hands with moisturizing soap.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream or lotion after washing your hands.
  • Keep your nails short to minimize surface area where water and chemicals can be absorbed.
  • Use cuticle oil or cream to avoid dry skin and hangnails. Cuticles help prevent water from getting into your nails, which can create an environment for bacteria to grow - so don’t cut your cuticles! - keep them moisturized and simply push them back g-e-n-t-l-y to avoid infection and let them do their job.
  • Take a 3 month nail-polish holiday. If you’ve tried other precautions and still are suffering from brittle nails, take a break from polish to give your nails some time to get back into shape.

"The only supplement that has any scientific evidence [to improve nail health] behind it is biotin," Stern says. "Nails take six months to replace themselves", so she suggests "taking biotin supplements for at least four months to see if it works."

Natural Ways to Strengthen Nails

Lemon Juice and Olive Oil - You can create a mixture out of really easy to find ingredients, lemon juice and olive oil, to fortify your nails. All you need is a few drops of the juice and about a tablespoon of the olive oil. Then all you have to do is rub the mixture right onto/into your fingernails. It's best to follow this up by pulling on some plain what cotton gloves. Ideally you should do this at night, because then you can leave the gloves on while you sleep! If you do this two times a week, your nails will soon be much stronger.

H2O - Drinking plenty of water is a great way to strengthen your nails. In fact, if your nails are brittle, dull, and weak, it might actually be a sign that you aren't getting hydrated enough. You need to drink at least 2 liters of water everyday, and not only will you notice an improvement with your nails, your hair and skin will improve as well.

Vitamins and Minerals - Vitamins and minerals are all necessary to keep your body healthy, strong and functioning properly. Deficiencies can cause a wide variety of symptoms, and in the case of nails
a vitamin/mineral deficiency can cause the nails to peel, weaken, become brittle, or develop ridges or spots.

Important vitamins and minerals that help to keep nails healthy include (but are not limited to):

Biotin (vitamin B7 or vitamin H - found in egg yolks, tomatoes, milk, yeast, liver, some fruits and meats, and some beans and nuts. The fatty acids help promote new cell growth, which may result in stronger and healthier nails, skin, and hair.),

Calcium (found in milk, yogurt, and cheese are the main food sources of calcium for the majority of people in the United States. Kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are fine vegetable sources of calcium. Fish with soft bones that you eat, such as canned sardines and salmon, are fine animal sources of calcium. Most grains (such as breads, pastas, and unfortified cereals), while not rich in calcium, add significant amounts of calcium to the diet because people eat them often or in large amounts. Calcium is added to some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy and rice beverages, and tofu. To find out whether these foods have calcium, check the product labels.

Zinc (found in oysters, which are the best source of zinc. Red meat, poultry, seafood such as crab and lobsters, and fortified breakfast cereals, which are also good sources of zinc. Beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products, which provide some zinc),

Iron (found in lean meat and seafood. Dietary sources of nonheme* iron include nuts, beans, vegetables, and fortified grain products).

You can get the recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals by eating a variety of foods, however, in the hectic world we live in, it is sometimes difficult to eat a proper balanced diet, so you can take a daily multivitamin/multimineral supplement to get the amounts your body needs to stay healthy.

*Dietary iron has two main forms: heme and nonheme. Plants and iron-fortified foods contain nonheme iron only, whereas meat, fish, and poultry contain both heme and nonheme iron.

Sources:
USDA National Nutrient Database, National Agricultural Library http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-VitaminsMinerals/


Tips
  • Start eating healthy foods more often.
  • Be patient. Your nails- like everything else in life- didn't become weak and brittle in a day, so nothing you can do will have lasting, real effects right away. Give it time, and you'll be pleased when you see your nails beginning to recover!
  • There are conflicting reports regarding the effectiveness of consuming gelatin to encourage stronger nails and longer hair. Some people swear by it, others say it's an old wives tale that has no basis in fact. Though if you enjoy eating jell-o, it couldn't hurt to try it. Applying unflavored, runny, gelatin topically to properly moisturized nails may help regain nail health.
  • Buffing natural nails often will cause weak and flimsy nails because remember you are taking OFF layers of your nail making it not as thick and strong.
  • Learn to love the natural look.
  • You may need to see a doctor. There are many reasons for weak fingernails.

Warnings

It is easy to buy into the promises that cosmetic companies make, but try to avoid polishes or lacquers promising to make your nails stronger or harder, or luring you in with phrases like "all natural", "growth complex" or "results guaranteed!" At the end of the day, these polishes are just that- nail polishes, filled with toxic and nail-harming chemicals. Stay away from them. Artificial nails (acrylic, gel, etc.) are great if you want long nails fast, but they can seriously damage your real nails and even lead to nail fungal infections. Strong chemicals can leech moisture out of your cuticles, and nail shapers can damage the nail plate (which is extremely painful!) What seems like a quick-fix can actually cause long-term damage to the nail!


Disclaimer - Holistic Lifestyle Community Blog - Information
These statements have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Holistic Lifestyle disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this or any other information contained in this Web site. The information provided using the Holistic Lifestyle Web site is for educational use only. It is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. It is not Holistic Lifestyle’s intention to provide specific advice, medical or otherwise, but rather to provide users with information to better understand and manage their life, environment, personal health and wellness, and their diagnosed disorders. Holistic Lifestyle urges users to consult with a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and/or for answers to their personal medical questions. If you have a medical emergency call 9-1-1. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Holistic Lifestyle. Any mention in the Holistic Lifestyle Web site of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.