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Friday, 5 December 2008
Allergies in Adolescents
Topic: Allergies

Allergic reactions occur in the body when the immune system perceives certain substances as being harmful to it. These substances are called allergens and normally pose no threat to most people. Examples of such allergens are plant pollen, dust, some types of medication and certain foodstuffs. Antibodies are produced by the body in response to the allergens (these antibodies allow certain cells and chemicals like histamine to mix in the body). These chemicals interact on the lungs, skin, eyes, nose and gastrointestinal tract resulting in symptoms related to allergic reactions. Each time a person comes into contact with allergens these chemicals will cause allergic reaction symptoms.

Symptoms can be mild, such as a runny nose, to severe symptoms like difficulties with breathing. Teenage asthma sufferers in many cases have allergic reactions to colds which result in asthma attacks. Certain types of allergies can trigger numerous symptoms and in rare instances cause a harsh reaction called "anaphylaxis" - the typical signs being dizziness, swelling of the tongue, throat and lips, difficulty in swallowing and breathing. Although these reactions happen immediately on exposure to allergens, they can be delays by up to 4 hours.

There are various causes of allergies including hereditary factors but that doesn't mean that children will automatically acquire allergies from affected parents. Some common allergens are insect stings and bites, certain foods, airborne particles, medicines and chemicals. Food allergies in infants usually disappear as they grow up - food allergens include milk and dairy products, eggs, seafood, wheat, peanuts and soy. In certain teenagers the venom in insect stings and bites can cause serious reactions which are anaphylactic while some teenagers can be allergic to particles in the air called environmental allergens, which are the most common of all allergens. Other allergens are antibiotic medicines, mold spores, dust mites, pollens, animal dander, ragweed, trees and chemicals found in cosmetics and laundry detergents which cause itchy skin rashes.

When allergists treat allergy problems they will ask questions relating to symptoms and possible hereditary factors and may require diagnostic skin and blood tests. The most effective allergy treatment method is total avoidance of substances which cause allergies but also bear in mind that treatment is available in the form of injections and medications.

People with food allergies can cut out or minimize consumption of foods like peanuts or foods that contain peanut ingredients. Airborne allergies can be kept to a minimum in the home by restricting the movements of pets inside the home, regular cleaning of the home, occasionally replacing carpets and rugs as well as avoiding items that can accumulate dust in the home.

The author Bob Cotto spent most of his life as a Sr. Sales & Marketing executive. Two years ago his wife of 43 years, Joanne was told that she had 4th stage cancer. Since then, Bob and Joanne have devoted all of their energy to assisting her in maintaining a high quality of life. Find out more about his efforts at his site 4-Ideal-Health and on his blog,

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Posted by morningstarportal at 1:53 PM EST
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Friday, 28 November 2008
Non-Surgical Treatments for Arthritis
Topic: Arthritis Treatment
By William Stillwell M.D.

The aging of the Baby Boomer Generation, the leading edge of which is now entering its sixties, brings with it a flood of degenerative diseases, including the various forms of arthritis. Because of the widespread pain and disability caused by arthritis, and the vast resources consumed in its treatment, arthritis is becoming a major health problem.

There are two main forms of arthritis--degenerative or osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis. OA is by far the more common disease, afflicting many of us as we age. Though commonly thought of as "wear and tear" arthritis, it's actually a much more complex biological problem, in which the protective coating of articular cartilage first loses water, then becomes soft, fragments and eventually erodes to expose the underlying bone. The "how" is well described, though the "why" is still unknown, save for cases where injury or trauma has caused cartilage damage. In response to this cartilage damage, the lining of the joint, the synovium, becomes secondarily inflamed, producing excessive joint fluid and joint swelling.

By contrast, inflammatory arthritis is a primary disease of the synovium. When this membrane becomes inflamed, it thickens and swells and produces destructive enzymes (erosive chemicals), which literally digest and ultimately destroy the articular cartilage, exposing the underlying bone. Another major difference from OA is that an inflammatory arthritis is a systemic disease, which affects the entire body, not only joints, but other connective tissues, as well. For this reason, they are often referred to as collagen diseases, named after the protein collagen from which the connective tissues are made.

There are a host of diseases classified as inflammatory arthritis, but the prototype for this group of diseases is Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA is theorized to be an autoimmune disease, that is, the body's own immune system erroneously behaves as though the body's own tissues are foreign and attacks them.

Though its cause is not known, it is likely there is a genetic predisposition to this disease, as it is more common in women and more common when a parent, or grandparent has had the disease.

If complete destruction of the articular cartilage has occurred within the joint, with broad surfaces of completely exposed, bare bone, nothing short of a total joint replacement will relieve pain, restore function and correct deformity. However, joint replacement is a major surgical procedure, with a number of potential risks. So it's best avoided until a joint is truly end stage and there is no other alternative. I believed that when I was actively performing those procedures, and I believe it now.

Fortunately, there are a number of other treatments and non-surgical methods from across the entire medical spectrum, including mainstream conventional, alternative and complimentary techniques. The object is to relieve pain, prevent or at least delay irreparable cartilage damage, and so avoid surgery, as long as possible. To this end, treatment goals are first, pain relief and then, restoration of function.

Pain is a result of chemical and mechanical stimulation of pain nerves within the subchondral bone and within the synovium and soft tissues around the joint. The cartilage itself has no nerves and can feel no pain. So to effect this, anti-inflammatory measures, combined with weight loss, behavior modification and analgesics help to relieve joint pain.

Actual weight reduction is helpful because for every pound of bodyweight lost, the force across the weightbearing joints (hip & knee) is reduced by three to four pounds. In addition, the use of a cane, crutches, or a walker can also lighten the load a joint carries, as well as providing stability. Appropriate bracing, with either custom or off-the-shelf braces can restore stability, optimal joint alignment and optimize distribution of joint forces. Well cushioned shoes are also effective as they absorb the shocks of walking. And avoiding those activities that subject the joints to increased joint forces and shocks, like running or jumping (eight to ten times bodyweight), will slow the degenerative process.

Anti-inflammatory measures are effective for both degenerative and inflammatory arthritis, because inflammation plays a role in producing pain in each. OTC NSAID's (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) like Advil or Aleve can be effective, as can their prescription strength forms. These drugs, however, MUST be taken with FOOD or MILK, to protect the stomach from excess acidity, reflux, ulcer production or bleeding, which are well known side effects of these medications. This also applies to Aspirin, which should NOT be taken with NSAID's, as they both share the same side effects.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) CAN be taken, though, as it relieves pain (and reduces fever, like aspirin), but has NO anti-inflammatory effects, nor the side effects of NSAID's. Stronger analgesics, like Codeine, Darvon, Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Percocet (Oxycodone), etc. are narcotics and are only available by prescription, under a physician's supervision. Their main downside is the potential for addiction. There are some non-narcotic analgesics, like Ultram, but these too are prescription drugs.

A number of Disease Modifying Agents, like methotrexate are especially effective in controlling the inflamed synovium of inflammatory arthritis. These medications, and others like Ridaura, Humera, and Enbrel or some combinations of these may be effective, but require close monitoring by blood tests and the close supervision of a physician, preferably a rheumatologist (specialist in arthritic diseases).

Dietary measures to relieve pain include avoidance of red meat and other sources of arachadonic acid, which is a chemical precursor to prostaglandins (chemical mediators of pain). The use of Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in Fish Oil or Flax Seed Oil is also effective, due to its intrinsic anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties, as well. Glucosamine sulfate, with or without Chondroitin sulfate has generated mixed reviews in a number of studies, in the US and Europe. But except for a tendency to elevate blood sugars in diabetics, it is harmless, may support articular cartilage and provide some pain relief. Various herbs, including ginger, turmeric, devil's claw, and enzymes like bromelain have known anti-inflammatory effects.

Topical measures include counter-irritants, like capsaician sprays and creams, derived from the oil of hot peppers, which can relieve pain. DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxone), a by-product of wood chips, has its own anti-inflammatory properties and in addition is a carrier molecukle--it can carry other substances through the skin to the tissues below, like steroids (hydrocortisone), or analgesics (morphine). Used by vetrinarians and athletic trainers with good effect for years, it is still not FDA approved for this purpose and must be used with caution.

Alternative methods include accupressure or accupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy modalities (like ultrasound, diathermy, iontophoresis, cold laser, hydrotherapy, and massage therapy) and of course, strengthening and stretching exercises, for long term joint support and optimal function.

All these methods are effective for some people, but often work best in combination. The trick is to find that individualized combination that works for you. Getting your doctor involved early in that process is probably the best thing you can do. But regardless which methods you and your doctor choose, as you can see, although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many non-operative ways that you can relieve pain and maintain or restore function, while avoiding, or delaying surgery.

(c) 2008 W. Stillwell, MD

Dr. Bill is the on-line handle for William Thomas Stillwell, MD, FACS, FICS, FAAOS, FAANAOS, FAAPGS, board certified orthopaedic specialist, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, Smithtown, NY and Associate Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery, SUNY at Stony Brook, NY; President & CEO of Dr. Bill's Clinic, Inc. and author of DR. BILL'S LITTLE GREEN BOOK FOR ELIMINATING KNEE PAIN, DR. BILL'S PAIN-FREE PROGRAM: EXERCISES TO PREVENT OR ELIMINATE KNEE PAIN and HOW TO AVOID KNEE SURGERY. For a FREE report: SECRETS TO RELIEVING KNEE PAIN, go to

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Posted by morningstarportal at 8:07 AM EST
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Friday, 21 November 2008
Preventing Frequent Headaches
Topic: Prevention
By Steven Milstone

Frequent headaches can be a debilitating problem, detracting significantly from quality of life. The medical community breaks headaches into a system of categories, with primary headaches accounting for the vast majority of headaches. Cluster and secondary headaches are far rarer, but can present the patient with severe pain and more serious neurological issues. Although never life threatening, primary headaches can still cause a serious level of discomfort, infringing on quality of life in many cases. Frequent headaches, even milder primary ones, can possibly hinder daily life.

How can frequent headaches be prevented? That depends on the source of the headaches. Primary headaches are frequently a symptom of tension, and can become frequent if the cirumstances responsible are a regular part of life. Tension headaches are brought about when the patient undergoes significant emotional or physical stress. This kind of stress causes the muscles that cover the skull to contract, resulting in pain from the pressure. This can be hard to treat at times. Over the counter medications usually work well to alleviate some of the issue.

Prevention is more about finding the situations that prompt headache and avoiding them. This kind of stress results directly in the contraction that is known to cause headache, subsequently causing sometimes serious headaches. Frequent headaches should be a signal that some life adjustments are needed. If emotional stress is thought to be behind them, consider visiting a doctor about this stress, or making lifestyle alterations that reduce the stress.

Frequent headaches that strike at random can be a sign of a more serious secondary problem. In these situations, a structural or chemical problem in the brain is to blame for the pain. This can signify a serious issue, like a chemical imbalance in the brain. Although this is rarely the cause, frequent headaches are a sign that doctor visit is in order.

Over the counter medications usually do a great deal to relieve a primary headache. Aleve and ibuprofen work very well to treat primary headaches. In more serious cases, some therapy may be needed to overcome the pain associated with frequent headaches. If none of these measures are effective, a specialist should be consulted.

Find the latest information on Causes Of Migraine Headaches as well as Frequent Headaches.

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Posted by morningstarportal at 1:51 PM EST
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Monday, 17 November 2008
Self-Massaging - A Simple Way to Remove Aches and Pains
Topic: Massage
By Caroline Tan

Do you know that the body is an amazing creation? Do you know that the body is made to heal itself? For example, when you fall down and scrape your knees, the skin will regenerate and heal on its own, leaving perhaps only a small scar as a reminder that you had hurt yourself. What's more interesting is that you can also heal yourself by using your innate healing powers.

What I am focusing on today is one method of healing - self-massage. Self-massage is probably one of the oldest method of healing the body which most of us have forgotten about. How do I know? Because I have been practicing it since I entered the 40s as my body has not been as strong as it has been when I was younger. Joint aches have become a part of my life today.

Most of us would have had shoulder aches, neck aches, headaches, joint aches on the hands and legs. What you can do is to note the aches and place your hands over the areas which are in pain (e.g., your shoulders) and gently massage by pinching and pulling the skin and muscle there. When you are doing it, concentrate on the area and feel the pain coming out. Slowly move the motion to the neck and up the head, behind the ears, onto the crown moving forward onto your face, gently pressing your eye area and ending with a pinch on the nose.

Similarly for your hands. Start the gentle massage at the forearm, working down towards the elbow and arm. When you are at the wrist, use your thumb with applied pressure to rub down the "crystals" which has formed over time and work it down into the palm of your hands. Then press back each finger starting with the pinkie to the pointer. If you have a lot of "crystals", your fingers will make a popping sound, releasing the blockage.

Finally the legs. Start the massage at the biceps above your knees and work your way down, using your hands and applying a bit of pressure with your thumbs, all the way down to your feet. End by pressing back the toes.

We tend to just complain about the aches and pains, and maybe take some pain relief medication or go to a masseur. What we often fail to remember is that we ourselves are our own masseur and healer.

I am a Yoga and meditation practitioner who is currently recovering from Major Depression, having suffered from it for 5 years. Most of what I do in self healing is self taught and my body is guided to heal itself in meditation. I am contactable by email I have a website and a blog

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Posted by morningstarportal at 8:57 AM EST
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Thursday, 13 November 2008
Essential Oils to Help Those Aching Joints at a Change of Season
Topic: Aromatherapy

By Linda Lee Smith

On cold winter mornings, it is not unusual for many people to get out of bed stiff and unable to move their joints very well. Inflammation and swelling add to the problem of stiffness and pain. As we grow older, cartilage that forms the cushions between two joints begins to break down causing bone to rub on bone. There may also be inflammation of the synovial membrane that lines the joint causing redness, swelling, stiffness and pain.

Can Essential Oils Reduce Inflammation and Pain?

There are some essential oils which are naturally anti-inflammatory like German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). The chamazulene compound found in German chamomile shows strong anti-inflammatory activity when used both topically and orally. The methyl salicylate found in wintergreen is similar in action to aspirin and has strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Another essential oil that has been researched for its anti-inflammatory effects is nutmeg. Nutmeg is a natural source of myristicin which works by inhibiting pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) oil exhibits similar action. Yet another essential oil showing great promise is Idaho Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea). This oil which smells like Christmas trees is made up of 98% monoterpenes making it an excellent choice for treating inflammation.

You may have heard of glucosamine and chondroitin. These are two very popular and powerful natural compounds for rebuilding cartilage. Using essential oils in conjunction with these two compounds can greatly decrease inflammatory joint problems.

How to Use These Essential Oils

All of the above named oils are safe enough to rub directly on the body. However, essential oils will quickly evaporate. To really rub the oils into the body, I suggest using 8-10 drops of the essential oil in a carrier oil like almond or a good vegetable oil. You could also use jojoba oil. All of these oils will be soothing. When there is inflammation present, use a cold compress.

BONUS GIFT And now I'd like to invite you to go to to get your free instant access to a Special Report on Five Biblical Oils when you subscribe to my free monthly newsletter on energy healing and aromatherapy.

The Institute of Spiritual Healing and Aromatherapy teaches courses throughout the United States. When you go to our website you will see a schedule of courses and a description of our two curriculums: The Healing Touch Spiritual Ministry Program and the Certification in Clinical Aromatherapy Program.

From Linda L. Smith, director of the Institute of Spiritual Ministry and Aromatherapy, Inc.

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Posted by morningstarportal at 10:41 AM EST
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