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  • Nerve Damage: Causes, Symptoms, and Complications

    Nerve Damage: Causes, Symptoms, and Complications

    There are tens of thousands of nerves in your body. They play a very important role, serving as the body’s wiring system. Their main task is to carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

    While some nerves are responsible for carrying messages from the brain to the muscles in order to make the body move, there are other nerves that send messages about pain, pressure, or temperature from the body to the brain.

    To help carry the messages properly, each nerve has small fibers bundled inside it, covered by an outer layer that insulates and protects them.

    However, at times, nerves become damaged. An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral nerve damage, also known as neuropathy, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

    Causes of Nerve Damage

    There are many possible causes of nerve damage. It can be due to too much pressure on a particular nerve, caused by stretching, a cut, or a muscle tear.

    Other causes and contributing factors include:

    • Diabetes
    • Repetitive motion
    • Lyme disease
    • Excessive smoking
    • Excessive drinking
    • Aging
    • Vitamin deficiencies
    • Exposure to toxins
    • Infections
    • Autoimmune disorders such as hepatitis C, diphtheria, HIV, Epstein Barr virus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome

    Key Signs that Show You Might Have Nerve Damage

    Irrespective of the reason behind the nerve damage, the signs and symptoms generally develop slowly. But sooner or later, you will experience certain symptoms that give a clear indication that you might be suffering from nerve damage. If you notice such signs or symptoms, consult your doctor right away.

    Here are some common signs of nerve damage.

    1. Numbness in Hands or Feet

    When it comes to sensory nerve damage, first signs that you may develop are numbness and tingling sensations, especially in the hands, fingers, legs, and feet.

    The sensory nerves are responsible for transmitting sensations. When these nerves are injured or damaged, you may experience some tingling sensations in the hands or feet that can eventually result in numbness.

    If not treated, the numbness could spread to other areas of the body. The numbness usually starts out being transient and in varying patchy distributions on the skin.

    Over time, the problem can become severe, ultimately interfering with your daily routine or your sleep.

    Some other reasons behind numbness in the hands and legs are constant pressure on your hands or feet, exposure to cold, temporary nerve compression, a sedentary lifestyle, and a nutritional deficiency of vitamin B12. or magnesium.

    2. Pain in Hands or Feet

    Another common sign of nerve damage is sharp, stabbing, or burning pain. This kind of pain usually develops in the hands or feet and feels different than other types of pain.

    You feel the pain due to an injury to the sensory nerves that carry sensations to the brain. When the nerves are damaged, the transmission of sensory signals between the brain and the skin is not up to the mark, resulting in moderate to severe pain in the affected areas.The area of pain may be widespread (diffuse) or limited to a single nerve or several nerves. Also, this kind of pain often becomes worse at night.

    A study published in Current Neuropharmacology reports that neuropathic pain quality rekindles the psychophysical experience of peripheral nerve intraneural microstimulation, i.e., a combination of large and small fiber sensation that is temporally distorted in comparison with the physiological perception evoked by natural stimuli.

    Aside from nerve damage, you may develop nerve pain due to diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, or an injury to the brain or spinal cord.

    3. Muscle Weakness

    There are some nerves that give you the ability to move. Any kind of injury to nerves that carry motor signals causes some amount of muscle weakness and loss of muscle control.

    First of all, the damage will disrupt the signals that are transmitted via the nerves between the brain and the particular muscle group. This can cause difficulty walking or problems with fine motor skills such as those needed to pick up something or grip something tightly.[

    Second, when the affected muscle group is used less due to nerve damage, the muscles weaken (atrophy) over time. This ultimately causes more difficulty performing certain motor functions.

    Aside from nerve damage, you can have muscle weakness due to myasthenia gravis, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, slipped discs, and even stroke.

    4. Cramps or Twitching

    Any kind of damage to motor nerves can cause frequent muscle cramps or twitching.

    Because the motor nerves are interlaced with the muscles, even minimal nerve damage can result in muscle cramps. At the same time, cramps and twitching can further pull on the nerves, potentially causing more damage.

    While muscle cramps are caused by the continuous firing of multiple motor nerves, twitching is caused when one or a few motor nerves misfire.

    Cramps or twitching associated with nerve damage can vary in severity from mild to intense and extremely painful.

    Muscle cramps can also occur due to over-exercising, dehydration, or a mineral deficiency.

    5. Excessive or Less Sweating

    Damage to nerves that help the organs and organ systems function can cause a condition called autonomic neuropathy. When the autonomic nerves are affected, it can result in perspiration problems.

    While some may experience excessive sweating, particularly in the upper body and head, others may notice less sweating, which can prevent regulation of body temperature during rigorous physical activity.

    A study published in Deutsches Arzteblatt International found that sweating may be peripherally increased at the onset of polyneuropathy and may disappear as nerve damage progresses.

    6. Overactive Bladder

    When suffering from nerve damage, your bladder may become overactive and you may have to go to the bathroom a lot.

    A good number of muscles and nerves must work together for the bladder to hold urine until you are ready to empty it. Nerve messages go back and forth between the brain and the muscles that control bladder emptying.

    When there is some kind of nerve damage, the muscles may not be able to tighten or relax at the right time. Moreover, damaged nerves can give your bladder faulty messages, so you feel like you have to use the bathroom more often.

    Women who have given birth to a child vaginally or people who have diabetes can also have bladder problems.

    It is important to note that not all bladder problems originate from nervous system defects. They can also occur from mechanical and obstructive problems. Patients are advised to seek an evaluation by a specialist physician.

    7. Intense Headaches

    If you are experiencing brief, severe headaches that feel like electric shocks, it could be a sign of nerve damage.

    In fact, you may be suffering from something called occipital neuralgia, a condition that can occur when a nerve in your neck gets pinched. This can be due to inflammation in one of the 12 cranial nerves coming from the brain that control the muscles and carry sensory signals to and from the head and neck.

    In this case, the pain will be felt along the upper neck and back of the head. The pain may be described as throbbing, aching, burning, or sharp and stabbing.

    8. Loss of Balance

    Another common sign of nerve damage is the loss of balance. You must not ignore this symptom because it can make you increasingly prone to accidents and injuries by falling.

    In addition, these symptoms can be caused by pressure on the spinal cord, which necessitates urgent attention. It is important to have these symptoms evaluated by a spine surgeon.

    When the nerves that control sensations are damaged, it can lead to a lack of coordination between your brain signals and body movements. This failure to adequately assess the positioning of your body can lead to falls and more frequent injuries.

    Loss of balance can also be due to a condition like Parkinson’s disease, in which the nerve cells in your brain tend to become damaged.

    Complications Related to Nerve Damage

    Peripheral neuropathy can give rise to the following complications:

    • Loss of sensation: Nerve damage can cause gradual numbness in certain parts of your body, such that you are unable to feel temperature changes or pain. As a result, you become more vulnerable to burns and skin trauma that the body is unable to detect at the time of its occurrence.
    • Falls. Nerve damage often renders your body too weak, numb, and out of balance, which is associated with an increased incidence of falling accidents.
    • Infection: People with peripheral neuropathy, particularly those with prolonged diabetes, experience reduced sensitivity in areas of the body that are susceptible to injuries such as the feet. Because they remain unaware of the pain and irritation on account of the numbness, wounds, and injuries often go untreated for a long time, paving the way for ulcers and infections. In addition, people with prolonged diabetes already have compromised wound healing ability.

     

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  • Different Ways to Consume Aloe Vera for its Health Benefits

    Different Ways to Consume Aloe Vera for its Health Benefits

    Overview

    Gone are the days when aloe vera was just a potted plant sitting on your windowsill, jazzing up your home décor. Conventionally used to soothe the skin of rashes and burns, aloe vera has etched its place for good reason in our daily lives.

    Aloe vera is a succulent plant with thick green leaves that grows best in tropical conditions. With little or no effort involved, growing aloe vera is fairly easy as long as you don’t overwater it. According to Egyptian folklore and stone carvings dating back to 6000 BC, aloe vera was known as the “plant of immortality” and gifted to the Pharaohs.

    Keeping in mind all that it offers to benefit the human body, aloe vera is a treasure trove of properties. Aloe has been used for centuries for beauty and health to help treat inflammations, infections, burns, indigestion, and swelling, and the list goes on.

    The multiplicity of benefits that aloe vera is associated with makes it an unparalleled home remedy that is trusted to include a range of ailments under its cure umbrella.

    Caution: Always consult a doctor before considering aloe vera juice, gel, powder, or supplements as a remedy to treat a condition.

    Nutritional Content of Aloe Vera

    The markets are brimming with aloe vera products: aloe vera juice, gel, powder, and even supplements. The slimy translucent gel in the aloe vera leaves is composed of 96% water and provides vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, 7 key enzymes, and 20 essential amino acids required by the human body. These are reasons enough to make it a “prized possession” of the health and beauty industry.

    The presence of an organic phenol known as anthraquinone makes it a natural laxative and helps treat irregular bowel movements.

    Nutritional value of aloe juice per 100 grams:

    • Water – 96.23 g
    • Energy – 15 kcal
    • Carbohydrate – 3.75 g
    • Sugars – 3.75 g
    • Calcium, Ca – 8 mg
    • Iron, Fe – 0.15 mg
    • Sodium, Na – 8 mg
    • Vitamin C – 3.8 mg

    How Safe is it to Consume Aloe Vera?

    Aside from the topical application of aloe vera, it can also be consumed to tap its inherent benefits on the human body.

    The yellow latex below the outer skin contains an anthraquinone, aloin, known for its laxative properties. Aloe vera gel is found in the center when you slice through a leaf. The gel is usually considered the richest part of the aloe vera leaf, but it contains less amount of aloin.

    Although the presence of aloin accredits the use of aloe vera to relieve constipation, healthcare professionals have a conflicting outlook on this. Excess intake of aloe latex or its extract can result in serious side effects such as depleted levels of potassium, weakness, stomach cramps, and even diarrhea.

    Caution: Consult a doctor if consumption of aloe vera is having adverse effects on your health, such as allergies, increased diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

    Scooping Out the Aloe Vera Gel

    1. Choose the aloe vera leaves from the produce aisle of a supermarket or your home plant. Look for thick, green leaves.
    2. Wash the leaves to remove all the dirt and oozed-out gel from the leaves.
    3. Using a sharp knife, strike off horizontal sections of about 3-4 inches. If you have a small to medium sized leaf, you may skip this step.
    4. Cut off the spiky ends from each section.
    5. Take to the flat side of the aloe leaf and start scraping the greenish peel of the aloe leaf until you see the translucent slimy gel layer.
    6. Scoop out the gel using a spoon.

    Ways to Consume Aloe Vera

    1. Eat It Raw

    You can scoop out the gel from aloe leaves and consume it directly. Alternatively, you can also blend aloe vera gel into your smoothies and juices. The mild flavor and slippery texture of aloe vera can also go well in your homemade salad dressings.

    2. Drink It as Aloe Juice

    Aloe vera is loaded with nutrients that are considered anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Drinking the juice of aloe vera alone may be a way to get the benefits of aloe vera easily.

    Just cut off the spiked edges and blend the aloe gel and aloe meat with water to prepare the juice of aloe vera.

    After it’s blended, you can dive into a glass of aloe vera juice.

    3. Stir-Fry or Poach the Aloe Gel

    Stir fry the aloe vera gel sprinkled with turmeric powder and season it with salt and roasted cumin seeds. Use it as spread in your sandwiches or as a starter in your meals.

    Gently steam or poach big pieces of aloe vera gel. The delicate watery texture of the aloe vera leaf causes it to shrivel as it releases water and become softer when it is cooked. This preparation can be mixed with other sautéed or steamed vegetables.

    Note: Always look for a safely tested organic aloe vera juice labeled as purified, decolorized, and low in anthraquinone to avoid any toxicity.

    Benefits of Aloe Vera

    Although lacking strong evidence, aloe vera is considered by many to have potential benefits.

    • Improves Digestion: The latex of aloe contains aloin, which confers laxative properties that may help bowel regularity according to a study with ratsA 2018 review corroborated the use of aloe vera as a safe and effective measure to treat the patients with IBS against a placebo.

    Drinking aloe vera juice may help provide relief and prevent gastric ulcers and other digestive disorders.

    • Soothes the Skin: The topical application of aloe vera gel can soothe and help expedite healing for skin issues such as wounds, rashes, acne, and eczema.
    • Heals Wounds: Aloe vera has perhaps been used the most through the ages to heal wounds for sores, including those of burns and sunburns. The application of aloe gel may help accelerate the process of healing.

    A study highlighted the effectiveness of aloe vera gel and aloe extract on cell proliferation, differentiation, development, and wound healing of the predominant cells in the epidermis.

    • Relieves Heartburn: Aloe vera can help control acid reflex, the primary reason behind heartburn, by reducing the secretion of gastric acid.
    • May Lower Blood Sugar: Preliminary research on diabetic and prediabetic patients suggests aloe vera may help with glycemic control while also lowering blood cholesterol levels.

    However, more research is needed on aloe vera and its effects on blood sugar.

    • Reduces Joint Pains: Aloe vera may help reduce the pain and swelling in your joints from arthritic pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

    The juice of aloe vera can help calm your sore joints by inhibiting the inflammation associated with arthritis and may help repair arthritic tissue and tendonitis.

    • Maintains Oral Hygiene: The antibacterial properties of aloe vera make it a healthy alternative to treat dental and gum infections and injuries.

    Soothe your gums by using aloe vera powder to brush your teeth and ward off any infections, mouth ulcers, and even dental plaque. To keep up the health of your gums, gargle your mouth with aloe vera juice before swallowing.

    • Reduces Dandruff: Aloe vera has antifungal and moisturizing properties that make it a feasible solution to lessen dandruff. Clinical trials indicate that the regular application of aloe twice daily for 4-6 weeks can minimize dandruff.

    Precautions and Side Effects of Consuming Aloe Vera

    The imperative to evaluate the side effects of aloe vera is mandatory especially because there is not much scientific evidence to back its use as a treatment.

    Moderation and precaution are the key to reap the benefits of aloe vera in every sense of the word. In general, speak with your doctor before adding aloe vera to your diet.

    • Avoid the use of aloe latex or whole-leaf aloe products if you suffer from a digestive ailment like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis as it can irritate your bowels.
    • Consuming aloe juice in hemorrhoid patients can worsen their condition.
    • Excessive use of aloe vera juice can cause constipation.
    • An inappropriate dosage of aloe vera latex can result in kidney and liver problems.
    • The presence of anthraquinone in aloe vera can cause diarrhea in lactating women and children below 12 years of age.
    • The purgative and irritant quality of aloe vera can stimulate uterine contractions in pregnant women and lead to miscarriage and even birth defects.
    • Drinking aloe vera juice is related to an increased production of adrenaline, which can be harmful to people suffering from heart ailments.
    • Intake of unprocessed aloe vera juice is known to cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in the body. It also changes the color of urine to pink or red.
    • Aloe latex is not recommended for children and elderly people as it can deplete the potassium levels from the body, particularly the cells of the intestinal lining. This can cause weakness, soft muscles, and irregular heartbeat.
    • Aloe vera juice consumption for more than a year can cause pseudomelanosis coli, a likely cause of colorectal cancer. Consuming high doses of aloe vera or other similar laxatives has been associated with an increased risk of colon cancer.
    • Restrict the use of aloe vera about 2 weeks before surgery as aloe vera can alter the blood sugar levels during or after surgery.

    Drug Interactions

    Consumption of aloe vera can cause serious implications for people taking certain medications. Consult your doctor if you wish to consume aloe vera while being on a medication for:

    • Diabetes: Aloe vera juice can have interactions with drugs prescribed for diabetes.
    • Hypoglycemia: Aloe vera juice is known to bring down the levels of blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance.
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The copious amounts of laxatives in aloe vera juice may further worsen IBS in some people.
    • Oral Medicines: Aloe vera can interact with oral medicines and affect their efficiency.
    • Digoxin (lanolin): Aloe vera juice when consumed with lanolin can enhance its side effects.
    • Sevoflurane: Aloe vera juice can prevent blood clotting, and when it interacts with sevoflurane (an anesthetic), it can cause increased bleeding during surgery.

    Final Word

    The gel of aloe vera can be used topically as a soothing relaxant, and its juice can be used for multiple purposes due to its nutrient-dense supply of anti-inflammatory compounds, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

    The unprecedented use of aloe vera to address various health issues including rashes, blood sugar, constipation, and dental plaque makes it a top brass of home remedies.

    Despite the manifold benefits it offers, you should be vigilant when consuming aloe vera as it is riddled with potential side effects and drug interactions.

    It is best to consult a doctor before you include aloe vera in your regime, especially if you fall in any of the risk groups or take medications.

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  • Honeydew Melon: Origins, Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

    Honeydew Melon: Origins, Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

    Honeydew melon makes for a sweet-tasting and refreshing treat that can take the sting out of the sweltering summer heat.

    Honeydew belongs to the vine-growing Cucurbitaceae family of fruits or the muskmelon family and is a close kin to other popular melons such as watermelon and cantaloupe.

    Honeydew melons come in different sizes, ranging from small to medium, and are typically round or oval shaped.

    Honeydew melons usually have a smooth rind that is tinged with hues of yellow or cream. The flesh enclosed within is usually pale green. However, some mutated varieties boast an extra-sweet orange flesh and are referred to as the “temptation melon.”

    Another rather distinctive variant is the golden honeydew, which possesses a bright golden-hued rind and crisp, white flesh.

    Much like other popular types of melon, honeydew has a high water content figuring at about 90 percent. It also offers a healthy dose of soluble and insoluble fiber, while containing almost no fat and zero cholesterol.

    A cup serving of this fruit has only 64 calories, most of which are in the form of simple sugars: fructose and glucose. This serving also provides about 1.4 grams of fiber.

    Honeydew is also an exceptional source of the antioxidant vitamin C and the electrolyte potassium, which plays a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance in the body.

    Due to its low calorie count and high nutritional density, this succulent fruit has all the makings of a healthful pool-side snack.Thus, unlike other fried and salty snacks that dry out your mouth, digging into honeydew’s delectable and juicy flesh can help you cool off, quench your thirst, and invigorate your senses with a burst of energy.

    Nutritional Value of Honeydew Melon

    Nutritional Value of Honeydew per 100 grams:[1]

    • Water – 89.82 g
    • Energy – 36 kcal
    • Protein – 0.54 g
    • Total lipid – 0.14 g
    • Carbohydrate – 9.09 g
    • Dietary fiber – 0.8 g
    • Sugars – 8.12 g

    Minerals

    • Calcium, Ca– 6 mg
    • Iron, Fe – 0.17 mg
    • Magnesium, Mg – 10 mg
    • Phosphorus, P – 11 mg
    • Potassium, K – 228 mg
    • Sodium, Na – 18 mg
    • Zinc, Zn – 0.09 mg

    Vitamins

    • Vitamin C – 18.0 mg
    • Thiamin – 0.038 mg
    • Riboflavin – 0.012 mg
    • Niacin – 0.418 mg
    • Folate – 19 mcg
    • Vitamin A – 3 mcg
    • Vitamin E – 0.02 mg
    • Vitamin K – 2.9 mcg

    Picking Your Melon

    You may slice into a promising piece of honeydew melon expecting a sweet and juicy delight but end up with a bland disappointment. The taste of honeydew watermelon hinges on whether it is ripe enough or not.

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    Not everyone has an eye for picking the right kind of produce, but anyone can don the connoisseur hat if you know what to look for. The foremost thing to remember is that the longer a melon ripens on the vine, the sweeter it will be.

    • When scouring through the farmer’s market for that perfect melon, look for ones that are heavy for their size and have smooth, undamaged skin with a slightly waxy feel.
    • You don’t want to buy a piece that has a fuzzy rind, is overly soft, or feels moist at the stem end. This could mean the melon is overripe.
    • Another way to assess whether the melon has matured sufficiently or not is to smell its stem. Melons that give off a slightly sweet, almost honey-like aroma are a safe bet.
    • A premium-quality melon should yield slightly when you press the surface opposite of the stem end.
    • For added assurance, you should gently tap the side of the melon several times with your ears close by. An ideally ripe melon would produce a deep-pitched tone or sound hollow.
    • A high-pitched, dry tone, on the other hand, indicates an underripe melon, whereas a monotone dead thud is associated with overripe ones.
    • If you happen to bring an unripe melon home, worry not. Let it sit at room temperature until it meets the necessary ripening markers, and store it in the refrigerator thereafter to keep it from turning mushy.
    • Once you have cut open the melon, always stash the pieces in an airtight container for refrigerated storage. However, try to finish the batch within 3–4 days, as the fruit is likely to go bad after that.

    Essential Health Benefits of Honeydew Melon

    Although its greatest appeal may be its flavor, honeydew is also nutritious and may provide several benefits.

    Here are some surprising benefits of honeydew melon.

    1. May Reduce High Blood Pressure

    Honeydew melon boasts an impressive potassium and water content along with low sodium levels, which make for an ideal combination for lowering elevated blood pressure.

    Although hypertensive individuals are typically mindful about cutting back on sodium, sufficient potassium intake is also just as important. Honeydew melon provides a similar amount of potassium[2]as an average-sized banana, but with half the calories.

    Potassium is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in numerous body functions, such as maintaining a fluid and electrolyte balance and facilitating proper nerve conduction and muscle contraction.

    A potassium-rich diet is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of.[15]

    Besides potassium, this sweet-tasting treat is also richly supplied with fiber, vitamin C, and choline content, all of which support heart health.[1]

    2. Beneficial for Pregnant Women

    Pregnant women have to be extra careful about what they eat to ensure not just their own health but also that of their baby.

    Nurturing a life inside you can be quite exacting for your body, which requires an increased intake of nutrient-rich foods to sustain a healthy fetus.

    Another consideration for pregnant women is that their immunity is lowered during the gestational phase, which further necessitates the need for disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

    Given its nutrient-dense and low-calorie composition, honeydew consumption can safely tackle a wide array of health concerns that become all the more threatening during pregnancy.

    It can provide you with an instant spurt of energy, increase absorption of plant iron, and maintain optimal blood pressure levels by providing potassium. It may also help prevent leg cramps.

    This succulent fruit is also rich in folate, which is touted as a holy-grail dietary element for expecting women.[1] Folate is essential for the healthy growth of the fetus and helps prevent neural tube defects and certain other birth defects.[3]

    3. Promotes Heart Health

    Honeydew melon can be considered a heart-healthy food, and there is enough scientific evidence to vouch for this claim.

    One of the prime culprits for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease is an excess of homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid mainly derived from meat, which when elevated can trigger heart and kidney diseases as well as bone mineral loss.[16][17]

    Honeydew melon contains considerable amounts of folate and vitamin B6, both of which can help break down homocysteine and protect the body from its harmful effects.

    Moreover, research suggests that an increased intake of carotenoids, such as the beta-carotene found in honeydew, can prove beneficial for safeguarding your heart against disease and degeneration.[4]

    These heart-friendly carotenoids help bring down non-HDL plasma cholesterol levels, prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, and improve insulin sensitivity.[5][4][6]

    The cardioprotective promise of honeydew is only made more profound by the high levels of potassium present in it. Insufficient levels of this essential nutrient can lead to an irregular heartbeat or subpar blood circulation throughout the body.

    4. May Improve Eye Health

    Lutein and zeaxanthin are two potent phytonutrients that play a vital role in maintaining healthy eye function.[7] Honeydew melon contains both these natural ocular aids in significant amounts.

    Eating foods high in these eye health nutrients, including honeydew melon, may help lower the risk of eye-related problems such as cataracts, age-related blindness, and age-related macular degeneration, among others.[8]

    5. Hydrates the Body

    Hailing from a melon fruit family, honeydew too is characteristically high in water content.

    Besides the fact that it is 90 percent water-logged, this fruit is also rich in potassium, an essential electrolyte for countering the harmful effects of sodium and maintaining fluid balance in the body.[1]

    Thus, honeydew has all the makings of an ultimate thirst-quenching fruit, which can simultaneously hydrate the body at a cellular level.

    No wonder that the juice of this honey-flavored succulent makes for a popular drink, particularly during the long, sweltering summer days.

    6. May Boost Your Immunity

    Honeydew melon provides the immune-boosting antioxidant vitamin C.[1] In fact, a 1 cup (177 gram) serving of honeydew can supplement over half of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of vitamin C, making it a great value addition to your daily diet.

    Vitamin C plays a critical role in strengthening and supporting your body’s natural defenses along with promoting healthy brain function, aiding collagen production, and combating free radical activity.[9]

    Some research even goes on to suggest that the risk of respiratory and systemic infections, such as pneumonia and the common cold, may be lowered by maintaining a sufficient vitamin C intake.[10]

    7. Aids in Digestion

    Honeydew can pass quickly through the stomach and into the small intestines for digestion because it is mainly water and carbohydrates.

    It consists of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, both of which bind with the body’s waste products and facilitate their easy and speedy elimination through proper digestive channels.

    Solvent fiber accounts for its low glycemic properties as it slows the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream. This effect helps keep blood sugar within a healthy range after eating.[1]

    Moreover, soluble fiber reduces cholesterol absorption in the bloodstream by excreting it in the form of bile with the feces. This action pertains mainly to the bad kind of cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

    Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and keeps nourishment moving all through the digestive framework. It provides the necessary roughage to our dietary intake, which ultimately helps bulk up our stools and ensures smooth and timely bowel movements.

    All in all, insoluble fiber is a crucial dietary component for preventing digestive issues in addition to a few sorts of gastrointestinal ailment.[11]

    8. Nourishes the Skin

    Honeydew melon supplies you with a good dose of skin-enhancing nutrients, namely vitamin C and copper.

    Vitamin C is renowned for its antioxidative effects that help counter free radical damage on the skin by external pollutants and normal metabolic processes. Moreover, it helps shield the skin from UV damage induced by prolonged sun exposure.

    Another key attribute of vitamin C is that it stimulates collagen synthesis, a major structural protein that is vital to the nourishment, maintenance, and repair of skin tissues and blood vessels.[1][12]

    Thus, maintaining healthy collagen synthesis can help beautify your skin on a cellular level.

    Similarly, the trace mineral copper has been attributed with the ability to enhance skin and tissue regeneration.[18]

    If you want to optimize these beauty perks to impart your skin a healthy glow, eat plenty of honeydew melon.

    9. Strengthens Bones and Teeth

    Honeydew melon contains several bone-strengthening minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, which is yet another reason to give this fruit a try.

    Eating a balanced diet high in bone-building nutrients can promote the production of structural bone protein and help keep your skeletal structure young and strong over the years.[1][13]

    Honeydew also contains another vital micronutrient, folate, which can offset the adverse effects of homocysteine on bone mineralization. Elevated levels of homocysteine have been associated with hampered bone mineral density,[17] thereby paving the way for osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women.

    Thus, incorporating honeydew melon in your daily diet may help potentially delay or even reverse bone loss.

    10. May Aid in Weight Loss

    Anyone who is looking to shed extra weight can benefit from increasing their fruit and vegetable intake. Honeydew melon is one such fruit that can be considered weight-watchers’ friendly food.

    It contains minimal calories and low levels of sodium in addition to being virtually fat-free and cholesterol-free.

    Add to that its fiber and high-water content, which promote satiety.[1] Thus, regularly incorporating such high-volume, low-calorie foods into your diet can help you cut back on unnecessary and unhealthy snacking.

    The fibrous nature of this fruit allows for proper digestion of your food intake, resulting in regular and smooth bowel movements. Additionally, eating fiber-rich foods such as honeydew is an easy way to trim your daily fat intake as it fills you up relatively quickly, thereby reducing your appetite.

    Because fully ripe honeydews are characterized by their honey-like sweetness, this fruit can also offer a healthy alternative to high-calorie desserts to quell your sugar cravings.

    11. Diabetes-Friendly

    Diabetes is essentially an inability of the body to produce enough insulin or efficiently utilize insulin, which is needed to process glucose in the body.

    The sugary-sweet taste of honeydew melon may lead you to believe that it is totally off-limits for people with diabetes. However, this fruit can actually help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

    The fruit is packed with soluble fiber, which causes a slower rate of glucose absorption. It is on account of this effect that honeydew figures low on the glycemic index and is a safe bet for satisfying the sweet cravings of those with or at the risk of diabetes.[14]

    Moreover, honeydew is a diuretic by nature due to its 90 percent water content, another property that works in favor of people with diabetes. By increasing urine flow, honeydew intake can go a long way in balancing and regulating insulin production as well as avoiding fluid retention in the body.

    To make sure that honeydew does not contribute to undue spikes in blood sugar, its best to consume it with a protein, such as nuts, low-fat cottage cheese, or low-fat Greek yogurt.

    Moreover, try to limit your portion size to one serving to keep your carb intake in check.

    How to Prepare and Enjoy Honeydew Melon

    A Few Quick Serving Ideas

    • Whip up a delightfully rejuvenating drink to beat the summer heat by simply adding some sparkling water to a glass of freshly squeezed honeydew juice.
    • Another mouthwatering honeydew preparation involves pureeing the fruit along with peeled soft peaches in a blender or food processor. Once the paste is ready, dilute it with a bit of honey and lemon juice and you have yourself a delicious bowl of cold soup.
    • Honeydew slices with yogurt and chopped mint on top also make for a delectable snack.
    • Cut half horizontal melon wedges, scoop out the seeds, and use each half as a basket in which to serve fruit salad. Remember to always wash the melon before cutting it.

    Risk and Precautions

    Balance Out Your Overall Diet: Honeydew melon makes for a good addition to your meal plan, but the fruit alone cannot be expected to fix all your health concerns. For honeydew to make a worthwhile difference, it is essential that you pair it with a variety of other nourishing foods in a well-balanced eating pattern.

    Cleanliness is Key: Moreover, always make it a point to wash and scrub the outer surface of the fruit before cutting it open. Such sanitary practices are an essential prerequisite to healthy eating. For one, cleaning the fruit beforehand helps decrease the risk of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella transferring to the flesh of the melon.

    Keep Potassium in Check: People with heart disease are generally prescribed beta-blockers, a type of medication that can cause spikes in the blood potassium level. Because honeydew melon also contains considerable amounts of potassium, those on beta-blockers are advised to consume it in moderation to avoid undue excesses in blood potassium levels.

    Consuming too much potassium can have adverse implications, particularly for those with compromised renal function. Consult your health care team before adding honeydew to your diet if you have impaired renal function or are on beta-blocker medication.

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  • Pegan Diet 101: What to Eat and What to Avoid

    Pegan Diet 101: What to Eat and What to Avoid

    The pegan diet is an eclectic eating plan that includes the healthiest elements of both the paleo diet and veganism. With the world becoming increasingly health conscious, people are willing to try out all sorts of different diets.

    Healthy and clean eating is considered no less than an art form, and paleo and vegan diets have emerged as the mainstream favorites.

    There is no one best way when it comes to eating for health. You must take into account your individual fitness goals, nutritional needs, and health concerns before zeroing in on a diet plan.

    What works for one may not work for another. Everyone is unique with varying nutritional needs. This uniqueness is referred to as bio-individuality and is the reason why everyone should enlist the help of a trained nutritionist to personalize their diet to meet their needs.

    Dr. Mark Hyman is the founder of a new age diet that has gained a lot of traction in recent times –the pegan diet. This diet incorporates elements from the paleo diet and veganism, creating a healthy hybrid eating plan that guarantees wholesome nutrition and improved body function.

    The pegan diet offers the right balance of essential nutrients, healthy fats, and other vital compounds that keep your body at the peak of health.

    What is the Pegan Diet?

    The nomenclature of the pegan diet is indicative of its roots and can be traced back to two parent diets: paleo and veganism.[1]

    The paleo diet principally includes foods that can be dated back to the Paleolithic era, some 2.6 million years ago, before the advent of agriculture. Those who follow this diet are allowed to eat vegetables, nuts, fruits, fish, and meat, while swearing off dairy, grains, oils, salt, caffeine, alcohol, and legumes.

    A vegan diet,[5] on the other hand, lays emphasis on plant-based eating. It includes vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits, and other foods made from plants. Because vegans cannot consume any form of animal-based products, including dairy and poultry, choices for eating out are quite limited.

    The paleo diet may offer a little more flexibility with regard to what you can and cannot eat. However, as the food choices are not clearly demarcated, it can get quite confusing to determine what counts as paleo and what does not.

    The pegan diet is a more convenient alternative to these standard approaches, one that is more moderate and healthier than either plan individually. The cornerstone of this eating plan is to limit the consumption of empty carbs or high-glycemic-index foods, which often cause your blood sugar to rise and make appetite control increasingly difficult.

    No wonder there are so many takers for the pegan diet as it helps to ensure complete nutrition along with healthy weight management.

    How Does the Pegan Differ from the Vegan and Paleo Diets?

    A cursory understanding of the vegan and paleo diets will have you believe that two are antithetical. The former advocates for the removal of dairy, meat, and fish from your diet, whereas the latter encourages eating meat and fish.

    Despite these obvious differences, both these dietary interventions essentially share the same premise, that is, to encourage the consumption of whole foods and plants.

    Dr. Hyman designed the pegan diet with a similar objective in mind.[2] This unique diet proposes the consumption of fresh, organic whole foods to increase your vegetable intake. Additionally, the pegan diet lays emphasis on high-quality organic produce to promote clean eating.

    What to Eat

    Here’s what makes the list of a pegan diet:[3]

    Consume Fruits and Vegetables

    A standard meal should comprise mostly of fruits and vegetables with a side helping of meat. A plant-based main course should account for two-thirds to three-fourths of your plate, while meat should be served as a side dish.

    The pegan diet recommends eating a whole range of fresh and minimally processed produce that includes fruits and vegetables of all shapes and sizes.

    It is best to focus on nonstarchy veggies, adding starchy vegetables and fruits to fill in the gaps.

    Eat Foods Containing Healthy Fats

    The pegan diet places a great deal of importance on foods that are enriched with healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. It also emphasizes the use of the healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados.

    Unlike veganism, this diet also makes room for animal-based products that contain saturated fats, such as butter or ghee that has been derived from grass-fed or sustainably raised cattle.

    This diet also allows for the use of organic virgin coconut oil or coconut butter, both high in saturated fats.

    Keep the Glycemic Load Low

    The paleo diet[4] does not allow the consumption of grains, whether whole or refined. However, this stipulation can deprive you of many of the long-term health benefits that are associated with whole grains.

    The pegan diet, however, is not so strict in this regard. Although most grains are outlawed by the pegan school of thought, it does make a concession for gluten-free whole grains that are high in complex carbohydrates and do not drastically affect your blood sugar.

    Pegan dieters can consume about a half cup of quinoa, oats, and black or wild rice per day, which is a serving about the size of a lightbulb.

    Use Meat as a Condiment

    There is a lot to be said about the health merits of nonindustrial meat sources. This type of meat contains a plethora of beneficial vitamins and minerals, in addition to a high dose of protein. However, one cannot discount the fact that most meats contain saturated fat.

    According to the nutritional philosophy behind the pegan diet, vegetables and fruits should be given center stage, while meat should be treated as a side dish. Your meat servings should be no more than 4 to 6 ounces per meal.

    Moreover, it may help to use meat as a condiment rather than a separate dish altogether. When adding meat to your dishes, make sure that it remains a quarter or less of the total recipe.

    The pegan diet advises against the use of conventionally farmed meats or eggs. Instead, it places emphasis on sustainably raised, grass-fed sources of meat and gives precedence to lean poultry or harvested low-mercury fish.

    What Not to Eat

    Gluten is Off the Table

    Gluten-containing grains and products are strictly off the table for anyone following the pegan diet. Thus, if you want to do it right, you must give up on whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta.

    Instead, you can supplement your meals with gluten-free grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal, but make sure that your daily consumption remains limited to half a cup, tops.

    Avoid Dairy

    Dairy products are excluded from both paleo and vegan diets. Health experts do not acknowledge dairy as a substantial health food and suggest that you can do without it.

    A lot of people misguidedly tilt towards dairy products to fulfill their calcium needs. However, there are plenty of nondairy calcium-rich foods such as collard greens, broccoli, sardines, and salmon.

    Keeping in mind that dairy products are not well tolerated by many, getting your calcium from other sources may be your best option. Additionally, consuming large volumes of whole-fat dairy may contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

    In order to reap the benefits of dairy products while avoiding the pitfalls, the pegan diet calls for limiting your overall dairy consumption.

    If you are a fan of dairy, you can enjoy your occasional yogurt, kefir, grass-fed butter, ghee, and even cheese. It may also help to stick with goat or sheep products, which are lower in lactose than the high-lactose-containing cow dairy.

    Stay Away from GMO Foods and Foods Exposed to Pesticides, Antibiotics, and Hormones

    The pegan diet emphasizes the need for clean eating, which entails eating organically grown, quality foods that are devoid of chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, artificial sweeteners, or other junk ingredients.

    Eat Legumes Sparingly

    Pegan dieters do not give up on legumes entirely, but they have to limit their consumption to small-sized portions. Lentils are generally preferred over beans as the former are easier to digest.

    Additionally, the larger-sized starchy beans have been shown to increase blood sugar in diabetics or prediabetics.  However, one cannot look past the fact that beans are a good source of fiber, protein, and minerals.

    All things considered, the consumption of legumes and beans should be kept to 1 cup or less per day, as stipulated by the pegan diet.

    Treat Yourself to Sugar Only Once in a While

    Minimize your sugar intake if you wish to maximize the health benefits of the pegan diet. You can consume something that contains sugar occasionally, but do not make a habit out of it.

    Eliminate Processed Modern Food-Like Substances and Fats

    The pegan diet does not permit the consumption of processed carbohydrates, as they are high on the glycemic index and consuming them can lead to excessive insulin production.

    Similarly, the diet prohibits the use of refined vegetable and seed oils such as canola and sunflower oils, which are regarded as pro-inflammatory and can account for a large chunk of your regular calorie intake.

    Instead, peganism recommends the use of small amounts of expeller or cold-pressed nut and seed oils such as macadamia, sesame, and walnut oils as condiments or flavoring. For cooking on a higher-temperature, avocado oil is a good choice.

    Benefits of the Pegan Diet

    1. Helps You Avoid Health Risks

    The pegan diet discourages the consumption of lactose-containing dairy products, which some people find hard to let go. However, if you look at the bigger picture, you will see how this particular dietary restriction works in the interest of your overall health.

    People who consume a lot of dairy products are at a greater risk of prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 1 diabetes, which should convince you to ease up on dairy and make the transition to the pegan diet a lot easier.

    2. Encourages Clean Eating

    Most fad diets that have come and gone over the years are formulated with a myopic view of what nutrition really is. They are mostly concerned with managing your calorie intake or the macronutrient ratios (carbs vs. fat vs. protein) without paying any attention to food quality.

    The pegan diet is not a single-minded approach; it gives as much weight to clean eating as it does to healthy eating, making it a cut above the rest. It pushes for the consumption of organic, quality foods that are devoid of harmful pesticides, antibiotics, and other dangerous chemicals. As a result, you end up with nutritionally “denser” meals.

    3. Helps You Lose Weight

    Given that fruits and vegetables are the mainstays of a pegan diet, it is more than equipped to supply you with various health-promoting vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Besides, fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, which makes them extremely effective in weight loss, weight management, and keeping oxidative stress at bay.

    The fiber keeps you feeling full for longer, without adding to your calorie load. As a result, your overall appetite is kept in check, and you can easily avoid unnecessary snacking between meals.

    4. Good for Your Heart

    Unsaturated fats are an essential component of a healthy, wholesome diet, which plays a vital role in improving your heart health. The pegan diet allows for the consumption of healthy unsaturated fats. Doing so helps manage your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, thereby promoting overall cardiovascular functioning.

    Popular Pegan Diet Recipes

    Pegan Hummus Veggie Wrap

    Ingredients

    • 2 large flour or brown rice tortillas or whole-wheat wraps
    • 4 leaves of romaine lettuce with the ribs removed
    • 1/4 red bell pepper that has been sliced into thin strips
    • 6 tablespoons of oil-free hummus
    • 4 tablespoons of cucumber, cut into julienne strips
    • Tomato (optional)
    • Basil leaves (optional)
    • Avocado (optional)
    • Alfalfa or broccoli sprouts (optional)
    • Spinach leaves (optional)
    • Fresh microgreens (optional)

    Directions

    There is no one way to cook tortillas, so you can use whichever mode suits you best. You can cook either side of the tortillas in a skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds.

    Alternatively, you can char them directly over the gas flame for a few seconds using tongs. Tortillas can even be warmed in the microwave. Simply cover them with a moist paper towel, and put them in the microwave for 10 seconds to make them more flexible.

    1. Apply a smearing of about 3 tablespoons hummus over each tortilla.
    2. Add half of the vegetables of your choice, including the optional ingredients, to each tortilla, with lettuce coming last.
    3. Roll the tortilla into a wrap and cut each in half or eat it whole.

    Grilled Chicken Breasts with Shiitake Mushroom Vinaigrette

    Ingredients

    • 5 large shiitake mushrooms with the stems removed
    • 6 tablespoons of canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon of whole-grain mustard
    • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt to taste
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
    • 4 tablespoons of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus torn leaves for garnish

    Directions

    1. Heat the grill to a high temperature.
    2. Brush 4 tablespoons of the canola oil on either side of the mushroom caps and season them with salt and pepper.
    3. Place the mushrooms on the grill with the cap side down for 4 to 5 minutes, until it turns golden brown and slightly charred.
    4. Flip the mushrooms over and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes longer, until they are just cooked through.
    5. Take them off the grill and chop them coarsely.
    6. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the shallots, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and parsley in a medium bowl and season the mix with salt and pepper.
    7. Dump the mushrooms in the mix. Stir them so they get nicely coated.
    8. Let this shiitake mushroom vinaigrette rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.
    9. Coat both sides of the chicken breast with the canola oil that is left and season it with salt and pepper.
    10. Place it on the grill with the skin-side facing down for 4 to 5 minutes until it turns golden brown.
    11. Turn it over and simmer down the heat of the grill to medium.
    12. Cover the grill and let the chicken cook for about 7 minutes longer, until it becomes almost done.
    13. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.
    14. Add the shiitake vinaigrette as dressing on top of the chicken breast and garnish with parsley leaves.

    The Downside of Eating Pegan

    Although there is much more wiggle room in the pegan diet in comparison with the vegan or paleo diet, some of the dietary restrictions proposed are still subject to debate since it limits or eliminates some very healthy foods, such as legumes, whole grains, and dairy.

    • The pegan philosophy discredits the health potential of whole grains, legumes, and dairy products on the grounds that foods with gluten or lactose are harmful. The counter-argument is that all of these foods are a rich source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and a wide array of other nutrients. Thus, there is no point in depriving yourself of their healthy goodness, unless you have a medical reason to avoid gluten or lactose.
    • Milk is one of the primary sources of bone-strengthening minerals for women. By excluding milk, yogurt, and kefir from its food choices, the pegan diet can drastically reduce their supply of calciumand set the ground for joint problems including osteoporosis. By shunning dairy products completely, you will also be eliminating an important source of protein and probiotics.
    • One cannot simply eliminate the consumption of whole wheat foods and also limit whole foods such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, or beans, as they provide components for important functions and are excellent sources of various nutrients. Whole foods provide fiber that helps control blood sugar levels, regulate intestinal flora, and regulate digestion. They also keep you satiated for much longer, providing bulk and thereby helping in weight loss.
    • The pegan diet is not a sustainable eating plan for athletes and others with higher energy, carbohydrate, and protein needs. As an athlete, you cannot expect to meet all of your protein needs from plant-based sources. This is also exacerbated by the cap on the consumption of whole grains and beans.

     

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  • Acupressure for Neck Pain: 4 Points to Try, Why It Works, and More

    Acupressure for Neck Pain: 4 Points to Try, Why It Works, and More

    Pain, whether sensory or emotional, is an unpleasant or discomforting experience that is generally associated with potential or actual tissue damage.[1]

    Perhaps one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints that afflict a majority of us from time to time is neck pain.

    In some cases, this disorder can acquire a more chronic form, which can be quite debilitating. Neck pain is characteristically confined to the cervical region, but it paves the way for other related complaints such as restriction of the range of motion and/or functional limitations.

    Physical body pain of any kind can greatly hamper your productivity and negatively affect the overall quality of your life.

    A lot of people turn to conventional analgesic medications to reduce their pain to a bearable degree, which is safe only if used as a temporary form of pain management. However, excessive reliance on such pain relievers can cause severe, long-term side effects.

    Because of the increased prevalence of neck pain and the detrimental effects of the medications that are generally used to deal with it, there is a growing interest among people to explore other unconventional yet effective methods of pain relief.

    The ancient healing technique of acupressure is one such alternative that has gained a lot of traction in this regard. This all-natural art form involves the use of fingers or customized blunted tools to exert gentle rhythmic pressure on key points of the body, which are referred to as “acupoints”.

    The acupoints are where the energy is stored, and the action of stimulating them on the surface of the skin engenders a deep effect as it triggers the body’s natural self-curative abilities into action.

    It only takes the therapeutic power of touch to reduce pain, boost your immune system, relieve tension, and promote blood circulation. Thus, for all intents and purposes, acupressure relies on the power and sensitivity of the hand to relieve various ailments, including musculoskeletal pain.This therapy has its roots in Asia where it was first practiced 5,000 years ago. The fact that it continues to be relevant today is a testament to its efficacy, especially for self-treatment and preventive health care.

    Causes of Neck Pain

    Neck pain typically results from and is worsened by neck movements or holding your neck in the same position for too long. There are also certain other factors that can precipitate or contribute to neck pain, including:

    • Increased stress
    • Awkward sleeping position
    • An accident that caused a whiplash
    • Spraining the neck
    • Strain caused by overexertion of the neck
    • A flare-up of cervical spondylosis, which can happen as the discs and joints in the spine age
    • Medications that can cause the neck to go into spasm (“torticollis”)

    Some cases of stiffness or pain in the neck may not result from any discernible cause. People often strain their neck without even realizing it, such as sitting in a confined space for too long or acquiring a minor twisting injury while gardening. In fact, this form of nonspecific neck pain is perhaps the most common.

    The good news is that it usually resolves after a few days, provided you keep on gently moving your neck and you rest when you need to.

    Acupressure Points to Relieve Neck Pain

    1. Jian Jing or the Shoulder Well

    Jian Jing or GB21 is a stress-relief acupressure point that is located at a distance of two finger widths out from the outside base of your neck on the trapezius muscle. In simpler terms, it can be said the GB21 falls somewhere in between the beginning of the neck and the shoulder.

    Most of the tension in the cervical muscles is concentrated at this particular point, and massaging it in gentle, circular motions helps to provide relief.

    Before you proceed with the massage, you must first locate GB21 by firmly rubbing the muscles on the top of your shoulders. The point that feels the tightest and most tense is the stress-relief spot that you are looking for.

    Once you have identified the acupoint, curve your fingers and exert the weight of your entire arm through them onto the pressure point. It is usually easier to employ your opposite hand to get this task done.

    The pain in this particular area usually develops from spasms or overexertion of the targeted muscles, such as by picking a heavy object.

    Note: Stimulating the GB21 pressure point is not recommended for pregnant women, as it can adversely affect the health of both the mother and the fetus.

    This point is located more accurately at the top of the shoulder, at the highest point of the muscle.

    2. Heavenly Pillar/B10/Tianzhu

    There are two pressure points on the nape of your neck, which are collectively termed as the Heavenly Pillar or B10.

    One point is located at a distance of one thumb width underneath the base of the skull, and the other is just one thumb width out from the center of your spine on your upper neck. The two points fall about two to three centimeters away from each other.

    The targeted area here benefits the thyroid gland and helps to restore hormonal balance. Moreover, regularly massaging the Heavenly Pillar pressure points is known to reduce insomnia, heavy-headedness, energy burnout, neck stiffness, stress, and other related problems.

    All you need to do is to apply firm, prolonged pressure on these spots on a daily basis for faster and better results for neck pain and other neck-related problems.

    Note: This point is best stimulated by another person who can better access it.

    3. Gates of consciousness /GB20/Feng Chi

    The GB20 acupressure points are yet another pair of pressure spots that help to release shoulder pain, neck stiffness, and tension headaches.

    Also termed as the gates of consciousness, these points are situated in the hollows underneath the base of your skull, between the perpendicular muscles on the backside of your neck. The distance between the two points is generally about 3 to 4 inches, depending on the size of your body.

    The correct way to stimulate these acupressure points is to hold them for 2 to 3 minutes with firm finger pressure, several times over the course of the day. Routinely doing this exercise can release the chronic and acute tensions built up in the shoulder and neck regions of your body.

    4. Broken Sequence/LU7/Liqui Lung

    The Lung channel, along with six other channels, falls on the arm. There are two acupressure points that are identified as LU7, depending on the style of acupuncture being practiced.

    One location for LU7 is on the radius bone in your forearm that ends closest to your thumb, towards the torso.  You can easily locate this point by joining your hands between the thumb and forefinger, with your index finger resting along the radius bone such that the tip of your index finger comes to rest in a small notch between the two tendons that lie on top of the styloid process.

    Stimulating the LU7 is known to benefit the head, nape of the neck, and the lungs. It is also good for relieving the pain of central or one-sided migraines.

    Knowledge About Acupoints

    How Do You Locate a Point?

    When you press on an acupoint, you are not addressing the pain and tension concentrated on that particular spot alone. Each acupoint is regarded as the epicenter of a wider circle that is diametrically the size of a dollar coin or the width of three fingers.

    In effect, massaging anywhere in that circle of influence will tantamount to massaging the acupoint. Thus, you do not have to be very precise about the exact location of a pressure point. As long as you can identify this circle, you are in the right spot.

    To access the appropriate pressure point, gently probe the area until you locate the point that feels like a “funny bone” or is particularly sensitive, tender, or sore.

    Once you have zeroed in on the pressure point, you can stimulate it by putting steady pressure on it. Alternatively, you can also apply rotating pressure by holding the point for 5 seconds on and 5 seconds off. Whichever approach you choose, 1 minute is more than sufficient for each treatment session.

    How Much Pressure Should be Applied?

    Acupressure works only as long as it is done correctly. It is very important not to go overboard with exerting pressure, as applying too much strain on your body can only aggravate the pain and discomfort.

    One must move beyond the simplistic understanding of this ancient healing art as the mere application of pressure. Acupressure principally involves the use of an external energetic touch to draw the latent energy stored deep within the body to the surface.

    The idea is to use only as much pressure as what feels comfortable, by resting three fingers on the chosen acupoint with a relaxed touch. Pressure should be firm and deep, but not painful.

    How Long Should You Hold a Point?

    As a general rule of thumb, you should continue pressing a particular acupoint until you feel the following:

    • A pulsating sensation
    • A softening of the muscle or tissue
    • An increase in warmth

    When you are required to hold a series of points, it is generally recommended to press on each point for about a minute.

    Benefits of Acupressure Technique

    • Stimulating the acupressure points helps to release all the pent-up stress and tension in the area being massaged.
    • As soon as you release the pressure from the acupoints, you will experience an instant state of physical calm and mental clarity.
    • Acupressure involves slow, rhythmic, and deep breathing, which helps to awaken your deeper consciousness.

    All it takes is a simple healing touch to make you more alert, calm, clear, awake, and inspired to achieve great things.

    How Effective is Acupressure for Neck Pain Relief?

    A 2018 study published in Integrative Medicine Research[2] extends a certain degree of scientific legitimacy to the use of acupressure as an effective treatment strategy for neck pain.

    That said, research pertaining to this subject continues to be largely inconclusive due to low methodological quality and low evidence level of included studies.

    However, one can say for certain that acupressure has piqued the interest of the scientific community, and further studies highlighting the multifarious benefits of this therapy are bound to follow.

    Caution: In order to guarantee the success and safety of any and every acupressure technique, you must first get acquainted with all the relevant information and steps of doing it properly. If you are not going to do it right, you should not do it at all.

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  • Neem Oil for Hair and Skin: 9 Benefits and How to Use It

    Neem Oil for Hair and Skin: 9 Benefits and How to Use It

    Neem is often referred to as Indian lilac as it is endemic to the Indian subcontinent, but its medicinal virtues are recognized the world over. The therapeutic properties of neem leaves and oil have been utilized by ancient schools of medicine, particularly Ayurveda, to address a wide range of ailments.

    In fact, the pharmacological use of neem dates back to the period before recorded history, and the fact that it continues to be relevant still further underlines its time-tested effectiveness.

    Hailing from the mahogany family of plants, neem is a drought-resistant and fast-growing tree that is cultivated all over the arid zones of Asia, Africa, and Central America.

    The oil extracted from the seed kernels of neem has emerged as a natural elixir for the treatment of various skin, hair, and overall health issues. The chief biologically active compound in neem oil is azadirachtin, which is one of the most potent naturally occurring pesticides.

    The bitter-tasting oil also contains triterpenoid compounds including nimbidin, nimbin, nimbinin, nimbidol, and tannin along with triglycerides, vitamin E, sterols, linoleic acid, healthy fatty acids, palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid.(3)

    All these compounds contribute to the medicinal potential of neem oil in terms of its antibacterial, antiarthritic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antitumor, antioxidant, and hepatoprotective properties.

    Premium-quality, organic neem oil works as a safe and natural adjunct to your skin protection arsenal. This herbal potion is a commonly used ingredient in a wide range of cosmetic and skin care products such as soaps, lotions, and creams.(1)

    It has all the makings of a dermatological panacea that helps to beautify and rejuvenate your skin and hair while saving you from the toxic side effects of conventional beauty products.

    Neem oil has been found effective against a wide spectrum of skin issues, from everyday cosmetic concerns to relatively serious skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, ringworm, and warts. Neem oil is also touted as a natural hair tonic that helps condition, repair and strengthen your hair while keeping your scalp free of dandruff and lice.

    What makes this herbal hair oil a beauty steal is that it promises the same results as commercial hair-care products, but at a throwaway price.(2) Though there are many benefits of using this oil, one must be wary of its potential side-effects as well.

    Warning:

    • Neem oil is not safe for oral consumption or internal use. Topical application is the recommended way to reap the medicinal benefits of this oil.
    • To preserve the authentic potency of neem oil, it is important to store it in a cool dark place. The oil tends to condense into a solid state even at low room temperatures, but you can easily liquefy it by putting the bottle in warm water (below 95 °F).
    • Do not expose the oil to sunlight or high temperatures, such as by placing it in near boiling water while liquefying it, as doing so may hamper the inherent effectiveness of the oil.

    What Makes Neem Oil So Good for Your Hair and Skin?

    Here are some ways that neem oil can benefit your hair and skin.

    1. Inhibits Growth of Scabies Causing Parasites

    The topical application of neem oil can be an adjunctive therapy to overcome a scabies infestation. Neem oil targets the hormonal cycle of the parasites and prevents them from reproducing.

    Instead of killing the mites directly, neem oil limits their growth by rendering their eggs sterile and inhibiting their ability to feed. Repeated use leads to complete annihilation of the parasitic population over time. Thus, for neem oil to work against scabies, you will have to use it regularly.(4)

    Neem oil also provides symptomatic relief from the swelling, itching, and inflammation associated with this kind of parasitic infestation.

    1. You can fix yourself a therapeutic bath by adding several tablespoons of neem oil to a bathtub filled with warm water.
    2. Let your body soak in it for 20 minutes.

    Alternatively:

    1. Put some unadulterated neem oil onto a clean cloth or gauze pad.
    2. Apply the oil directly to any minor or localized area of skin that shows signs of scabies.
    3. Let the oil sit on the skin for fifteen to twenty minutes for it to have the desired effect.
    4. Repeat the oil application two times a day until the infestation resolves.

    2. Kills Head Lice

    Head lice infestation may not be a serious medical concern, but it reflects poorly on your hygiene and can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort.

    The lice sustain themselves by feeding on human blood several times a day, which causes your scalp to get excessively itchy. The constant urge to scratch that uncontrollable itch can be a nightmare to live with.

    Neem oil is one of the strongest natural insecticides there is due to the presence of azadirachtin in it. This chemical compound keeps the lice from reproducing. By arresting the growth of lice, regular application of neem oil can help wipe out the infestation over time.

    This is compounded by the activity of other ingredients in the oil that disrupt the swallowing system of lice and inhibit their appetite to the extent that they starve into extinction. The pungency of its smell deters the lice from crawling into your head and, thus, prevents an infestation from occurring in the first place.

    For centuries, neem oil has been used as a traditional medicine to treat head lice and nits, particularly in Asia. It promises successful results minus the common side effects associated with medicated lice repellants that are commercially available.

    Neem oil does not require prolonged contact time to yield positive results. In other words, it does not have to stay wet on the scalp for very long to breach the protective shell of the lice, exercise its disinfectant properties, and kill the parasite.(5)

    1. Mix 1 teaspoon of neem oil with 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil.
    2. Massage this oil concoction onto the scalp and hair, and leave it on for a minimum period of 1 hour. Letting it stay overnight yields better results.
    3. Thereafter, rinse the oil from your hair and scalp by shampooing as usual.
    4. Even though the lice infestation will most likely be resolved within a week or so, you must continue treating your head with neem oil this way to ensure that all the nits that are hatching are decimated as well.

    It is recommended to repeat this remedy on alternate days for a month or two.

    3. Reduces Hair Fall

    Neem oil is a wholesome hair tonic that can improve the quality of your tresses to a great degree if used regularly.

    It has been credited with significant hair-strengthening properties that can avert hair loss, which was demonstrated by a 2013 study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines.(6)

    A considerable decrease in the extent of hair loss was observed among those who used neem oil regularly as opposed to those who did not.

    At the outset of the study, subjects reported losing almost the same number of hair, which figured in the range of 390-434 during each combing. The subject group that started using neem oil reported a steady decrease in hair fall, from 291-361 after 10 days of oil usage to 15-82 hairs per each combing on the 60th day of the experiment.

    Thus, hairfall reduced by 96.38% after 2 months of neem oil usage, which justifies its use as a credible hair loss treatment. The findings of this study suggested that the oil derived from Indian lilac is nutritionally appropriate to be used as an ingredient in hair oil formulations.

    Moreover, the study subjects that were treated with neem oil also reported an improvement in their hair texture, which was far smoother than that of the control group.

    1. Dilute 3 drops of neem oil by mixing it with 2 teaspoons of a bland carrier oil such as jojoba oil or grapeseed oil. You can also add 3 drops of tea tree oil, lavender oil, or any other essential oil of your liking.
    2. Give yourself a nice head massage with this oil mix on a daily basis to rejuvenate your brittle, lifeless hair, and to make your scalp healthy.

    4. Treats Acne

    Neem oil packs quite a lot of potential as a natural skin care agent, due to its inherent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This is particularly true in the case of acne breakouts, which usually have a bacterial foundation.

    The essential fatty acids, including oleic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, and linoleic acid, that constitute neem oil work together to eradicate the acne-causing bacteria.

    At the same time, the salicylic acid present in the oil helps to alleviate the skin redness and inflammation associated with this condition. By improving the skin elasticity, neem oil enables the skin to bounce back to a healthy appearance after a breakout.

    As far as acne treatment is concerned, neem works along the same lines as conventional medicinal products due to the activity of several ingredients that are common among them.(7)

    1. Mix 6 drops of neem oil with 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil of your choosing, such as hemp seed oil, sunflower oil, prickly pear seed oil, safflower oil, or black cumin seed oil.
    2. Use this oil mix to moisturize your acne-ridden skin by applying it to your face.
    3. Let the oil sit on your skin for some time so that it gets adequately absorbed.
    4. Then, rinse your face gently and pat it dry.
    5. Include this remedy in your daily skin care routine.

    5. Fights Premature Skin Aging

    Enriched with essential fatty acids (EFAs), triglycerides, vitamin E, and calcium, neem oil is regarded as one of the best skin-protective, skin-healing, and anti-aging oils there is.

    As we get older, our skin tends to lose out on its elasticity due to diminished collagen synthesis. This is compounded by the continuous onslaught of free radicals that accelerates the premature appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of skin aging.

    While there is nothing you can do to turn back time, there are ways to make your aging skin far better. Neem oil can delay the onset of premature skin aging by stimulating collagen production. Collagen is the most important skin-building protein that helps your skin retain its youthful texture, glow, and tightness.

    Vitamin E is one of the most potent natural antioxidants, and neem oil contains plenty of it. Vitamin E works as a free radical scavenger to neutralize the activity of these unstable elements.

    Free radicals cause tissue damage through oxidative stress, which is reflected in the form of dry skin, cracks, wrinkles, fine lines, and other premature signs of skin aging. Applying neem oil to the skin can hinder the oxidization of the skin cells at the hands of the free radicals.

    In the case of severely dry skin, the fatty acids and vitamin E present in neem oil penetrate deep into the pores to repair the cracks from within.(8)

    1. Pour 15 g of pure neem oil, 225 g of organic jojoba oil, and 4-5 drops of pure lavender essential oil in a small cosmetic container or bottle.
    2. Shake the container well so that all the ingredients are blended together.
    3. Apply this oil mix to your skin to moisturize it from within.

    6. Heals Cuts and Bruises

    Neem oil is known to accelerate skin healing of a wide range of wounds, including cuts, bruises, lacerations, and burns. When the surface layer of the skin gets compromised, applying this antimicrobial oil provides a protective cover against bacteria and other microorganisms that can infect the wound or lesion.

    This natural skin balm is enriched with benzoic acid, salicylic acid, and sulfur, all of which exhibit significant disinfectant properties. Neem oil also helps to relieve pain and fever, mainly due to its salicylic acid content.

    In addition to faster wound healing, neem oil application helps to minimize the risk of scarring or post-healing skin discoloration.(8)

    Clinical studies have also revealed the anti-inflammatory properties of neem oil, which add to its skin-healing benefits. Keeping inflammation under control is key if you wish to ensure fast and complete skin regeneration. This safe and effective herbal oil boasts of a skin-friendly composition, which includes glycerides or fatty acids, margosic acid, butyric acid, and traces of valeric acid.(9)

    1. Mix neem oil with Vaseline or a carrier oil in a ratio of 1:5.
    2. Apply the remedial preparation to the affected skin.

    7. Treats Warts

    Warts are noncancerous outgrowths on the skin that result from a superficial infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus usually gains entry into your body through a breach in the epidermis or the top protective layer of the skin. Thus, any kind of cut or rupture in your skin can pave the way for warts.

    A 2010 study published in the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research highlighted the efficacy of neem oil as an antiviral treatment for warts. When this therapeutic potion is applied directly on the affected skin, it interacts with the infecting virus to contain its proliferation.(3)

    Besides keeping the infection from spreading, neem oil also contains analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and fever-reducing compounds that can promote holistic skin healing at the site of warts.

    It takes no more than a drop of undiluted neem oil a day to make your warts disappear.

    1. Apply 1 drop of undiluted neem oil directly to the affected skin once a day.
    2. Look out for any signs of possible skin irritation, and should irritation occur, discontinue use immediately.
    3. If your skin responds well to the remedy, continue using it for 2-3 weeks.

    8. Fights Fungal Infections

    There is a long history of using neem oil and leaf extracts in the treatment of fungal infections such as ringworm and candidiasis. Such use was made popular by the Indian school of Ayurvedic medicine.

    Neem oil contains several bioactive compounds that account for its medicinal virtues. Nimbidin, in particular, is known to exhibit considerable antifungal activity that helps deter the growth of Trichophyton rubrum, the fungus responsible for ringworm.

    Moreover, it has been found effective against several common forms of candidiasis, including yeast infections and oral thrush.(10)

    1. Add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of neem oil to 4 ounces (120 ml) of carrier oil such as jojoba or grapeseed oil, and mix them well.
    2. Apply this solution to the affected skin twice a day.

    Note: If you notice any signs of skin irritation stop using this remedy altogether.

    9. Prevents Bacterial Infections

    The antibacterial prowess of neem oil has been extensively utilized in folk medicine to keep the skin infection-free. It forms an unbreachable antibacterial film over the surface of the skin that denies entry to a wide range of invading bacteria.

    The compounds tricyclic triterpenoids, margolone, margolonone, and isomargolonone found in neem oil can inhibit bacterial growth and prevent wounds from getting secondarily infected. Even low concentrations of this oil can turn acidic when mixed with water. As a result of this reaction, the oil acquires greater potency as a bacteria-killing agent.

    Thus, neem oil demonstrates bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties, which essentially means that it stunts bacterial growth and helps to kill the microbes.

    Neem oil can be used as a chemical-free hand sanitizer as part of your day-to-day hygiene. To make a neem oil sanitizer in the form of a rinse solution or spray:

    • Dilute neem oil by mixing it with a small amount of mild detergent along with water. A dilution ratio of 1:20 is recommended to make a sanitizer spray.(11)

    Final Word

    Neem is one of the most celebrated medicinal plants that exhibit a versatile range of therapeutic properties. This crowning jewel of folk medicine is often referred to as the village pharmacy for its ability to address a number of common health issues. The oil extracted from neem kernels and leaves has also gained a lot of traction as a topical agent to promote healthy skin and hair.

    It works like a broad-spectrum natural tonic that can improve the quality, texture, and appearance of your skin and hair, minus the side effects associated with commercial cosmetics.

    As stated by the Research Journal of Medicinal Plants almost every person on this planet can benefit from the health-promoting potential of this plant in one way or the other.

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  • Home Remedies for Yeast Infections during Pregnancy

    Home Remedies for Yeast Infections during Pregnancy

    Yeast infections are the bane of every woman, and especially those who are pregnant.

    Pregnancy increases your risk for a vaginal yeast infection, also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis. This type of infection is caused by microscopic fungi in the Candida family, most commonly Candida albicans.

    About three out of every four women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime and up to 45 percent will get two or more infections, according to an article published in American Family Physician in 2011 (1).

    During pregnancy, infections caused by Candida are even more common. A 2009 study published in Canadian Family Physician found that yeast infections affect three out of four women in their lifetimes, and the infection occurs more frequently in pregnant women. Higher estrogen levels and higher glycogen content in vaginal secretions during pregnancy increase a woman’s risk of developing a yeast infection (2).

    Similarly, a 2016 study published in Folia Medica reports that yeast is more likely to cause an infection during pregnancy due to hormone fluctuations (3).

    Several studies make it clear that the reasons for this increased risk during pregnancy include a shift in the balance of vaginal microorganisms and a high estrogen level in the body. Other factors that can increase a woman’s risk of infection include reduced immune system activity, use of antibiotics, diabetes and an unhygienic lifestyle.

    Symptoms of a yeast infection may include itchinessirritationsorenessburningredness and sometimes swelling in your vagina and labia; discomfort or pain during sex; burning sensation during urination; and vaginal odors and discharge.

    However, experiencing these symptoms does not always mean that you are have a yeast infection. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have similar symptoms. So, proper diagnosis is vital to a successful treatment plan.

    It is important to treat a yeast infection quickly, especially during pregnancy when it might pose additional risks.

    A 2015 review article published in Current Infectious Disease Reports states that a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy might increase the risk for premature labor and delivery as well as low birth weight, oral thrush in the newborn baby, and infection of the membranes and fluid surrounding the baby (4).

    Oral antifungal medication is typically not recommended during pregnancy to avoid exposing your baby to the medicine.

    To treat the problem, you can use some simple and effective remedies that are generally safe for you and the baby growing inside you. It’s always a good idea to consult your obstetrician to ensure that use of a particular home remedy is appropriate and safe for your individual health status.

    Here are the top 10 home remedies for yeast infections during pregnancy.

    1. Apple Cider Vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature, which helps kill the fungus causing the infection. The enzymes in it also prevent the fungus that causes a yeast infection from multiplying or growing.

    Plus, apple cider vinegar can regulate your body’s pH balance.

    • For external use: Add 1 cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to your bathwater. Soak in this bath for 30 minutes. Then, rinse the vaginal area with plain water and allow it to air-dry. Do it once daily.
    • For consumption: Add 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. If you wish, add lemon juice and sweeten it with a little honey. Mix it well. Drink this twice a day for a few days.

    2. Garlic

    Garlic is one of nature’s gifts to fight yeast infections.

    It helps destroy Candida and inhibits its growth, thus helping fight the root of the problem. The organosulfur constituents like ajoene present in garlic have the ability to inhibit certain Candida species.

    It also helps stimulate the immune system.

    • Eat 2 or 3 cloves of raw garlic daily. If you do not like the taste of raw garlic, you can mince the cloves and eat it along with yogurt.
    • Another option is to take garlic in the form of supplements or powder. Supplements should be taken only after consulting your physician.

    3. Yogurt

    Yogurt is a good remedy for treating yeast infections in pregnant women. Probiotic yogurt contains acidophilus and live cultures that stimulate the growth of good bacteria, which in turn helps fight yeast and other microbes.

    Also, yogurt helps improve your digestive health and enhances your immune system functioning.

    • Eat 2 to 3 cups of plain, unsweetened yogurt daily. Flavored or sweetened yogurt will introduce additional sugar into your vagina, which will only increase the amount of yeast.

    4. Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil is another very effective remedy to treat a yeast infection, due to its antifungal properties.

    The lauric acid and caprylic acid in it are responsible for its antimicrobial properties. It can kill the yeastwhen taken orally in small amounts and also when applied topically.

    • For topical use: Apply extra-virgin coconut oil on the affected area, 2 or 3 times a day. You can rinse it off after 30 minutes.
    • For consumption: Simply have 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil by adding it to your hot milk or soup.

    You can eat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil a day to reap its health benefits.

    5. Indian Lilac

    Indian lilac, also known as neem, is a great remedy to fight a yeast infection during pregnancy.

    The constituent compounds nimbidol and edunin in neem have antifungal effects. It also boosts the body’s immune system to help combat Candida fungi.

    Plus, it will reduce itching and other discomforts.

    • Boil 1 cup of neem leaves in 3 cups of filtered water. Strain and allow the solution to cool. Use the water to rinse your vagina daily.
    • Alternatively, mix a few drops of neem oil in a bowl of lukewarm water and use it to wash your vagina, 2 or 3 times a day.

    6. Cranberries

    Cranberries are known to be a very effective remedy for yeast infections. These small berries contain a compound called arbutin that helps kill Candida albicans.

    • Drink a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice 2 or 3 times a day for a few weeks to clear out Candida yeast.
    • Alternatively, mix together equal amounts of unsweetened cranberry juice and apple juice. Drink it once or twice daily.
    • If you wish to take cranberry pills or capsules, consult your doctor first.

    7. Fermented Foods

    Including more fermented foods in your diet can also help treat a yeast infection during pregnancy.

    Fermented foods like sourdough, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut are full of healthy probiotics (such as lactobacilli) that help kill the yeast and keep it from growing out of control.

    Such foods also increase the population of beneficial microbes. They also increase the availability of nutrients in the body.

    8. Aloe Vera

    Aloe vera contains vitamins, enzymes and amino acids that help inhibit the growth of Candida that causes yeast infections. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-irritating and antifungal properties that help control the symptoms.

    • For topical use: Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf and apply it on your vagina. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse the area with water and allow it to air-dry. Do it 2 or 3 times a day.
    • For consumption: Prepare aloe vera juice by blending together 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 1 cup of orange juice or just plain water. Drink this aloe vera juice once daily for 1 week. Do not drink aloe vera juice in excess, as it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

    9. Reduce Sugar Intake

    When it comes to yeast infections, high sugar intake can worsen the symptoms. This happens as sugar supports the growth of yeast in the vagina. Thus, cutting down on sugary foods can help control and treat yeast infections.

    During pregnancy, some women may have more cravings for sugary foods and avoiding such foods can be problematic. But for your benefit, you need to avoid or reduce the intake of sugary foods.

    Avoid soda, candy bars, chocolates, ice cream, pastries and cookies. Also, cut out hidden sugars present in sugary sauces, salad dressings, barbecue sauces, etc.

    If you crave something sweet, switch to fruit or drink tea or fresh fruit juices.

    At the same time, keep yourself hydrated by drinking an ample amount of water, so that you urinate frequently. Frequent urination will help get any excess sugar out of your system as soon as possible.

    10. Maintain Good Hygiene

    Good hygiene can play a key role in preventing and treating a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy.

    • Clean your genital area gently with warm water every day.
    • Always wipe from front to back after using the restroom.
    • Do not douche, as it can make the symptoms worse.
    • Avoid using bubble baths, perfumed soaps, scented laundry detergent or feminine hygiene sprays. Avoid using colored or perfumed toilet paper.
    • Get out of your wet bathing suit promptly after swimming and take a shower immediately.
    • Change your underwear after exercising if you break a sweat.

    Additional Tips

    • Do not wash your vagina with soap, as the alcohol and toxic chemicals in soap can cause an imbalance in the pH level of the vaginal region.
    • Get plenty of rest to make it easier for your body to fight infections.
    • Try sleeping without underwear at night to allow air to get to your genital area.
    • Wear breathable cotton underwear and avoid pantyhose and tight pants, especially synthetic ones.
    • Aim for loose-fitting pants or skirts during the daytime.
    • No matter how irritating it sounds, it’s important to never hold in your urine.

     

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  • Forehead Wrinkles: How to Minimize and Reduce Their Appearance

    Forehead Wrinkles: How to Minimize and Reduce Their Appearance

    There is no magic formula to turn back the clock on aging. As the years roll by, the steady onslaught of time is perhaps most noticeable on your skin. Besides being the largest organ of the body, your skin is also reflective of your internal well-being. In other words, the appearance of your skin is an indicator of how healthy you are and vice versa.

    Time may be the most dominant reason for skin aging, but it alone is not responsible for adding years to your face. The skin gradually loses its elasticity and suppleness with advancing age due to several factors, some of which are beyond your control while others can still be avoided. You may not be able to escape skin aging altogether, but you can certainly delay the process and mitigate its effects.

    Some of the most common physical manifestations of skin aging include the surfacing of wrinkles around the eyes, fine lines around the lips, and age spots on the hands.

    The most conspicuous and stubborn wrinkling pattern to appear on the face develops in the form of vertical or horizontal creases on the forehead. Once these forehead wrinkles set in, it can be hard to get rid of them, and they usually stick around for a lifetime, unless certain cosmetic procedures are performed, such as cosmetic injections and laser resurfacing.

    Moreover, there is reason to believe that deep-seated forehead wrinkles can be more than just a harmless cosmetic concern.

    A research paper presented in 2018 established an association between deep forehead wrinkles and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Results of the study showed that the cardiovascular mortality risk of the subjects tended to increase with their wrinkle score.

    Although the exact logic behind this relationship is yet to be established, the researchers suggest that it may have something to do with atherosclerosis or plaque buildup inside your arteries.

    Because the blood vessels in the forehead are relatively small, they may be more vulnerable to plaque buildup. Thus, the appearance of forehead wrinkles could actually result from and be a sign of vessel aging. However, these results have not been confirmed and future studies are warranted to establish these findings.

    What Causes Forehead Wrinkles?

    • Aging: Collagen is the primary structural protein that is responsible for keeping your skin firm and supple. As you grow older, there is a natural decline in your body’s collagen synthesis, causing your skin to lose its elasticity. The age-related decrease in collagen production is perhaps the major contributor to the development of wrinkles and fine lines, which become more prominent and permanent over the years.
    • Sun Damage: Exposing your skin to the UV rays of the sun can accelerate skin aging like nothing else. The only good thing about sun-induced skin damage is that it is something you can control, unlike time and genetics. Whether spending a day at the beach or running errands, sun protection is essential. You can protect your skin by seeking shade, covering up with clothing, and using sunscreen that is broad spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher), and water resistant. You should apply sunscreen every day to all skin that is not covered by clothing.
    • Smoking: People who smoke are more susceptible to premature skin aging due to the ill effects of nicotine, a major component of tobacco. Nicotine causes your blood vessels to shrink and stifles the blood supply to your skin. As a result, your skin does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients that travel through the blood, and the damage begins to show in the form of premature aging of the skin. Exposure to the other chemicals in cigarette smoke only makes the damage worse by directly hampering the production of collagen and elastin, the two essential building blocks of your skin. Thus, with every puff of cigarette smoke, you are virtually making your skin lose its inherent flexibility and youthfulness.
    • Repetitive Facial Expressions. The permanent creasing of the forehead due to repetitive facial expressions is caused by the frequent contraction of the underlying muscles for many years. Wrinkles that develop on the skin due to repeated contractions of the underlying muscles attached to it are known as dynamic wrinkles. When the muscle contracts, the overlying skin bunches together, forming ripple-like lines between the muscle mass. Repeated contraction of the same muscles reinforces this wrinkling and makes the resulting lines more permanent. Forehead wrinkles often result from frowning or squinting too much.
    • Low Water Intake: Inadequate water intake can leave your skin parched and lackluster. If your skin does not get the hydration it needs, it will turn dry, tight, dull, and flaky. The drier your skin, the more prone it is to wrinkling.
    • Poor Diet: Consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet helps to supply your body with a wide array of skin-friendly nutrients. Your skin, just like any other part of the body, needs a good dose of certain vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. If you do not supplement these nutritional needs through your diet, the deficiency will begin to show on your skin. An undernourished skin is increasingly susceptible to premature signs of aging.
    • Unfavorable Sleeping Positions: If you have spent a good part of your life sleeping on your side or your stomach, the repeated compression of your face can give rise to wrinkles on your chin, cheeks, and forehead. These facial creases are referred to as “sleep lines.” As your face remains partially smashed into the pillow for several hours a night, every night, the blood flow to your facial skin gets restricted, resulting in weaker skin that is more prone to wrinkling. For younger people, as their skin is generally more resilient, it can instantly bounce back to its normal state even after being compressed the entire night. Adults, however, have a lower level of collagen and elastic tissue and should consider sleeping on their back as much as possible. If you are in the habit of sleeping on one side more than the other, the sleep lines will be largely limited to that particular side of your face.
    • Stress: People who are prone to taking a lot of stress, either as an inevitable result of their hectic lifestyles or a force of habit, tend to age more rapidly. The primary stress hormone, which goes by the name of cortisol, is majorly to blame, as it has been associated with the degeneration of the collagen in your skin, among other things. The higher the stress level, the higher the production of cortisol in the body. Over a period of time, increased levels of cortisol renders your skin cells unable to naturally rebuild the elastin and collagen as well as they used to. Moreover, the premature appearance of wrinkles is largely attributed to the unhealthy lifestyles associated with chronic stress.

    Medical Treatment for Forehead Wrinkles

    • Botulinum toxin injection (Botox, Dysport, Xeomin) is a cosmetic treatment strategy used to address wrinkles caused by repetitive muscle movement. It keeps these dynamic wrinkles from getting deeper and thereby becoming more pronounced and permanent with repeated contractions of the underlying muscles. It is commonly used for smoothening the wrinkles that appear on the forehead, between the eyes (glabellar region), around the corners of the eyes (crow’s feet), and in the lips.
    • Injectable fillers, such as Restylane, Juvederm, and Radiesse, provide a temporary solution to wrinkles. This treatment works on the mechanism of volumizing the face, after which the doctor may recommend skin resurfacing techniques to address the deeper lines that are beyond the scope of injectable fillers.
    • Laser skin resurfacing, which also goes by the name of laser vaporization and laser peel, can make your facial wrinkles, scars, and blemishes visibly lighter. As the name suggests, this technique helps bring fresh undamaged layers of skin to the surface. With the advancement in laser technologies, plastic surgeons have now acquired a new level of autonomy in laser surfacing, permitting extreme precision, especially in sensitive areas.
    • Chemical peels help accelerate the process of skin regeneration by increasing skin cell turnover. As you shed the worn-out layers of the facial skin at a faster rate, the visible signs of skin aging tend to fade out, at least to a certain degree. Thus, chemical peels not only reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, but they also help to smoothen the overall texture of the facial skin. People with a minimal degree of wrinkling can opt for over-the-counter chemical peels that are usually mild in intensity and do not pose any real threat. However, it is still better if you run it by your dermatologist first, just to avoid any undue side effects later. Deeper chemical peels, on the other hand, can only be administered by an experienced clinician or doctor as the risk involved is much greater. Deep chemical peels can even result in some degree of scarring or changes in your skin tone. This type of invasive treatment has a more profound effect and warrants a longer recovery period as well as greater precautions such as little to no sun exposure until the skin has healed adequately.
    • Dermabrasion involves the use of a small high-speed, rotating metal brush or file to scrape off the damaged epidermal layers. This erosion inadvertently triggers the growth of new skin cells. As fresh layers of the skin surface to the top, your face appears visibly smoothed out. Dermabrasion is typically used for treating acne scarring, substantial wrinkling and leathering from the sun, and uneven pigmentation. A relatively less invasive form of this technique, known as microdermabrasion, is used for addressing mild to moderate photoaging. This involves the use of tiny particles that pass through a vacuum tube to gently erode the aging skin and stimulate skin regeneration.
    • Retinoids are synthetic derivatives of vitamin A that have emerged as a popular treatment for photoaged skin. They can reduce skin discoloration, breakdown of elastic tissue, and fine wrinkling by enhancing the natural production of collagen and elastic fibers. Note that retinoids can irritate the skin and cause dryness and photosensitivity – an extreme sensitivity to the sun. They are available by prescription only.

    Which Treatment to Choose?

    There are a number of cosmetic treatments available to diminish the appearance of your forehead wrinkles, but each one comes with its own set of precautions and side effects. Only a qualified board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, or a health professional trained in facial aesthetic treatments would be able to advise the ideal treatment option for your particular problem and skin type.

    It is important not to make any hasty decisions as you will have to live with the consequences if something goes amiss. You must also know what to expect from each treatment option, in terms of both positive and negative outcomes before deciding to go through it or not.

    To save yourself the disappointment later, it is important to remember that these treatment methods can improve your condition only to a certain degree. You must get down to the brass tracks of the entire process by discussing it with your clinician. Staying informed will help you realistically manage your expectations.

    Some points to consider when deciding on a treatment option:

    • Botox injections are largely ineffective against deep-seated wrinkles brought on by aging and sun damage. Combination treatments are the best.
    • Dermal fillers are helpful to address volume loss.
    • If you wish to correct sagging skin, deep wrinkles, and extra fat, the only appropriate option is cosmetic surgery.
    • Laser facial resurfacing has been associated with changes in the skin pigment (color) and is, therefore, not suitable for dark-skinned people.

    Home Remedies for Forehead Wrinkles

    Here are some natural ways to delay or diminish the appearance of forehead wrinkles. These are less invasive and safer alternatives to standard medical therapies.

    1. Keep Yourself Hydrated

    Keeping your skin well hydrated by drinking enough fluids is perhaps the easiest way to ward off premature signs of skin aging. Low water intake is damaging to your health, but the damage is most visible on the skin. This is mainly because the water you drink reaches all the other organs before it makes its way to your skin.

    Our body loses water every day, primarily in the form of sweat and urine. It is, therefore, important to make a concerted effort to replace the loss of fluids on a daily basis.

    If your skin does not get the hydration it needs, it will inadvertently turn dry and flaky. Dry skin is more susceptible to premature aging, whereas well-hydrated skin is far more resilient against it.

    Drink a minimum of 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. This might seem like simple stuff, but works wonders for general skin care, rather than just wrinkles.

    2. Exercises to Reduce Wrinkles on the Forehead

    The visible signs of skin aging are not limited to skin laxity and superficial photodamage alone. The development of wrinkles and fine lines can also be traced back to a loss of fat and muscle volume beneath the overlying skin.

    There are a number of facial exercises that are specifically designed to address these deeper substructural issues, presumably by inducing underlying muscle growth. In fact, these simple facial exercises or facial “yoga” have gained a lot of popularity among the general public to set back facial aging.[1]

    Here’s a forehead smoothening exercise that will help release the tension pent up in your forehead muscles and diminish the appearance of wrinkles and lines:

    1. Make a fist with both hands and put the middle and index finger knuckles in the middle of your forehead.
    2. While applying gentle pressure, slide your fists out to each side.
    3. Repeat this exercise routine 3–5 times a day.

    3. Apply a Cold Compress

    The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery proposes cold therapy as a safe, effective, nontoxic, and noninvasive alternative to conventional wrinkle-reducing treatments. Cold compress application for the reduction of wrinkle appearance has yielded significant clinical success with high subject satisfaction and no serious adverse events.[2]

    Treating your skin with such focused cold therapy supplies it with adequate hydration, nourishment, and oxygen and leaves it well stretched and visibly smooth. In fact, cosmetic cryotherapy has often been employed in procedures relating to the breast and upper or lower limbs to provide satisfactory firmness and is also used in antiwrinkle therapy such as cryopeeling.[3]

    Topical Remedies

    1. Apply Aloe Vera Gel

    The fresh gel extracted from the aloe vera plant is recognized as a certified skin salve due to its wide range of beneficial attributes. Different concentrations of this gel have been found helpful in improving the viscous and elastic properties of the skin structure.

    Aloe gel also works as a hydrating agent, which helps restore moisture to the skin, thereby keeping it soft and supple. Aloe vera gel with a concentration of up to 0.5 percent is safe for topical application and can help moisturize your skin without any toxic aftereffects.

    This natural skin healer owes much of its therapeutic potential to its synergistic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and UV protective properties.[4]

    2. Try a Coffee Mask

    A 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine demonstrated the antioxidant activity exhibited by the coffee plant (Coffea arabica), which was found to be mediated by potent antioxidant polyphenols, especially chlorogenic acid, condensed quinic acid, and ferulic acid.

    The findings of this study showed that the topical application of the coffee extract diminished the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation and visibly improved the overall appearance of the skin.[5]

    1. Take one organic egg and separate its white from its yolk.
    2. Transfer the egg white into a bowl and whisk it.
    3. Add ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground coffee beans to the bowl.
    4. Continue whisking the solution until the coffee is well mixed and froth forms.
    5. Wash your hands and make sure that your fingers and nails are squeaky clean before you move on to applying the mask.
    6. With light circular motions, smooth the mixture onto your freshly cleansed face.
    7. Let the mask sit for 20 to 30 minutes until it dries, and then peel it off from your skin.

    3. Massage Your Skin with Manuka Oil

    In an animal study conducted on mice to test the efficacy of manuka oil in treating wrinkles, it was found that the topical application of this oil suppressed the UVB-induced increase in skin thickness and wrinkle grading in a dose-dependent manner.

    Manuka oil was also found to inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing the UVB-induced skin inflammation.

    All in all, significant improvement in the appearance of the wrinkles was reported in terms of reduced length, depth, and coverage area. The topical application of 10 percent manuka oil had a mitigating effect on the loss of collagen fiber content and epidermal hyperplasia, which accounts for its efficacy in diminishing the appearance of wrinkles.[6]

    • Simply put a few drops of manuka oil on your fingers and massage it on your forehead until it gets absorbed by the skin.

    Anecdotal Remedies

    The following remedies, unlike the ones listed above, are not backed by scientific evidence nor are they approved by our doctors.

    Nonetheless, these complementary therapies have yielded successful outcomes for a considerable number of general users, which speak for their effectiveness. If you do intend on using these anecdotal remedies, you must do it at your own discretion.

    1. Apply Honey and Lemon to Improve Your Skin Quality

    Honey is reputed to be a natural humectant, which means that it helps restore and seal moisture in the top layer of your skin. This viscous skin tonic is, therefore, a godsend for people with particularly dry skin, which is often considered to be a precipitating agent for premature wrinkling.

    Honey works especially well when combined with lemon. Both these ingredients work together to lighten the appearance of facial wrinkles and leave you with a well-moisturized, evenly toned, soft, and supple skin.

    1. Mix equal amounts of honey and lemon juice in a bowl until they are completely blended.
    2. Apply this solution on your wrinkled skin.
    3. Then, gently massage the mixture in circular motions for 5 minutes so that it seeps deep into your skin.
    4. Let it dry for the next 15 minutes.
    5. Rinse it off with water.
    6. Use this method daily or at least four times a week.

    You can use raw honey (preferably manuka honey) to give your entire body a deeply hydrating massage every time you take a shower.

    1. Apply a generous amount of honey to your skin from head to toe, including your hair and lips.
    2. Let it sit on your skin for a few minutes so that it penetrates deeply.
    3. Finally, rinse off the honey that remains on the skin surface by stepping into the shower.

    Pampering your skin with some honey will leave it smooth, matte, and hydrated.

    2. Give Coconut Oil a Try for Its Moisturizing Effect

    Coconut oil is one of the most easily available ingredients that you can add to your wrinkle-fighting arsenal. This all-natural moisturizer is readily absorbed by the skin and helps protect it from free radical damage. A lot of people struggling with wrinkles or skin sagging stand by coconut oil as a safe and effective skin healer.

    1. Because coconut oil turns solid at room temperature, you will have to melt a small amount of coconut oil in a bowl.
    2. Soak a cotton ball in the oil and dab it on your skin, applying it evenly all over your face.
    3. Use clean fingers to gently massage the oil deeper into your skin for at least 5 minutes.
    4. Leave it on overnight to allow enough time for the skin to absorb the oil.
    5. Rinse your face with water the next morning.

    While these remedies are largely preventative measures to delay the onset of skin aging, they also help reduce the visibility of wrinkles and fine lines in people who already have them. Besides, all the ingredients used are completely nontoxic and safe, so there’s no harm in trying.

    How to Prevent Forehead Wrinkles?

    Adopt the following preventative measures to minimize your risk of developing forehead wrinkles.

    • Some people are given to repeating certain facial expressions, usually out of habit. This repeated contraction of the same underlying muscles for many years can deepen the creases that develop on your skin as a result of it. You must try to overcome such a habit as it will only leave you with permanent wrinkles and fine lines on your face. For instance, if you unknowingly frown, furrow your brows, or squint too much, ask your family and friends to stop you the minute they notice you making such expression.
    • Consume a wholesome diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to meet the nutritional needs of the skin. Eating right plays a very important role in preventing the precursory skin damage that ultimately paves the way for premature skin aging. Conversely, consuming a diet rich in sugar or other refined carbohydrates can speed up the process of skin aging.
    • Limit your alcohol intake as it can be very rough on the skin. It can be extremely dehydrating for the entire body, and the damage is most pronounced on the skin.
    • Sunscreen and moisturizer are two of the most foundational elements of an effective skin care routine, and the same holds true for your average antiaging regimen. You must unfailingly use a premium-quality sunscreen and an antiaging moisturizer to give your skin some much-needed protection, especially when stepping out in the sun. Choose a sunscreen that is broad spectrum, water resistant, nonfragrant, and noncomedogenic and offers an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply it on all the exposed areas of your skin at least 20 minutes before going out. Much of the skin damage responsible for premature wrinkles stems from the UV rays of the sun. Meanwhile, an antiaging moisturizer essentially helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines.
    • Wear sun-protective clothing and accessories such as sunglasses or hats to keep the sun out.
    • Always take your makeup off before going to bed. Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing makes for an infallible nighttime skincare routine.

    The Difference Between Fine Lines, Wrinkles, and Furrows

    The skin is the body’s most external and largest organ, which comprises three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis (also known as the subcutis).

    The surface or outermost layer is referred to as the epidermis, which contains regenerative layers of skin cells and provides a waterproof barrier to your body from the outside elements.

    The layer underneath the epidermis, called the dermis, contains connective tissue (i.e., collagen) and other fibers that give the skin strength and elasticity along with hair follicles and sweat glands. The deep-most layer, which falls underneath the dermis and is known as the subcutis or hypodermis, is primarily made of fat.

    Wrinkles are usually classified depending on how deep they penetrate into these skin layers. When the damage is limited to the superficial layer or upper dermis, fine lines may appear etched into the skin. Medium wrinkles extend deeper to reach the mid-dermis, whereas deep wrinkles extend all the way to the deep dermis and subcutis.

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