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Who Knew?

Rosemary Essential Oil Aromatherapy may help improve memory and concentration! Who knew?  A recent study was done by Medical News Today about how Rosemary and Peppermint for that matter improve brain function…

The health benefits of spearmint and rosemary have been described for years in numerous studies, but new research in mice suggests that antioxidants from spearmint and rosemary made into an enhanced extract can improve learning and memory, potentially helping with age-related cognitive decline.

Prof. Susan Farr, from Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, presented her early findings at Neuroscience 2013, a meeting hosted by the Society for Neuroscience.

Using new antioxidant-based extracts made from spearmint and also a similar antioxidant from rosemary extract, Prof. Farr tested the effects on mice with age-associated cognitive decline.

In terms of improving memory and learning in three tested behaviors, the higher dose rosemary compound was most successful.

Additionally, the lower dose of rosemary extract, as well as the spearmint extract compound, improved memory in two of the behavioral tests.

She also observed reduced oxidative stress in the part of the mice brains that controls learning and memory, which she notes is a marker of age-related decline.

Though her research yielded exciting results, Prof. Farr is not recommending that individuals binge on spearmint and rosemary just yet:

“This probably means eating spearmint and rosemary is good for you. However, our experiments were in an animal model and I don’t know how much – or if any amount – of these herbs people would have to consume for learning and memory to improve. In other words, I’m not suggesting that people chew more gum at this point.”

Rosemary and spearmint benefits abound

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Rosemary adds flavor to many foods, and now new research suggests it may potentially improve learning and memory in the wake of age-related decline.

Though rosemary can be used in many cooking recipes to flavor poultry or even to add an extra something to bread dough, on the list of its many talents, health benefits appear.

Not only is it a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, but also it can be used to treat indigestion.

A study from 2012 suggested that rosemary oil mayboost brain performance, while another from 2010 recommended adding extract of the herb to beef while cooking to reduce cancer-causing agents that can form during cooking.

Spearmint, also packed with antioxidants and good for digestion, has been said to have anti-fungal properties, as well as properties that could helptreat mild hirsutism in women.

Concluding her findings, Prof. Farr says:

“Our research suggests these extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline.”

She adds that “it’s worth additional study.”

The research was supported by the VA Medical Center in St. Louis, MO, and it should be noted that it was also supported by Kemin Industries, which makes specialty ingredients for vitamin and dietary supplements.

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Well… it couldn’t hurt to try right? Go ahead, sniff some Rosemary and let us know what you think!

 

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Betty Davis Eyes

And Audrey Hepburn Sunglasses! Hey, today is National Sunglasses Day.  Funny huh? Actually it’s a pretty great reminder to protect your eyes.

Here are our 5 BIG reasons to wear your shades…

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1. Skin Cancer
Up to 10 percent of all skin cancers are found on the eyelid.

2. Cataracts
The World Health Organization reports that, worldwide, approximately 900,000 people are blind because of cataracts—cloudiness in the lens of the eye—triggered by UV exposure.

3. Macular Degeneration
Over time UV light may play a role in damaging the macula lutea (an area of the eye with millions of light-sensing cells, which allow us to see fine details clearly), potentially leading to blurriness and vision loss.

4. Pterygium
This abnormal growth of tissue—also called surfer’s eye—may progress slowly from either corner across the white part of the eye, possibly leading to inflammation or disturbance of vision.

5. Photokeratitis
Essentially a sunburn of the eye, it’s temporary (healing within 48 hours) but can be painful, causing blurred vision, light sensitivity, and the sensation of having sand in your eye.

 

 

 

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Does an apple a day really work?

Be different

It turns out that eating an apple a day really does keep the doctor away — but you’ve got to eat the peel. And no fair skipping the apple altogether in favor of megadoses of vitamins in pill form. Fruits and vegetables in their natural state are better, Cornell University researchers say.

A study published June 22 in the journal Nature offers more evidence that the health benefits of fruits and vegetables are not easily packaged as supplements sold in pharmacies and health food stores. Researchers from Cornell’s Food Science and Toxicology Department in Ithaca, N.Y., found that the antioxidant properties of one fresh apple were equal to 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C.

“The pharmaceutical companies will not be happy with me, but I think the consumer gets more health benefits from eating whole fruits and vegetables,” lead researcher Rui Hai Liu, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. “You get much more antioxidant activity, you get a variety of antioxidants, and you don’t have to worry about toxicity.”

The Cornell researchers suggest that a combination of plant chemicals, collectively known as phytochemicals, found mainly in the skin of apples, provide the bulk of the fruit’s anticancer and antioxidant properties. The cooperative activity of these phytochemicals, they argue, has health benefits that are superior to those found in single compounds like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, which have been widely studied for their antioxidant activities.

Using colon cancer cells treated with apple extract, Liu and colleagues found that 50 milligrams of apple extracted from the skins decreased the cancer cell growth by 43%, while the same amount of extract from the flesh of the apple decreased cancer cell growth by 29%. Likewise, 50 milligrams of extract from apples with the skin on decreased liver cancer cell growth by 57%, compared to 40% for samples extracted from apples without the skin.

“There is a huge amount of scientific evidence showing that fruits and vegetables lower the risk of cancer and heart disease, but scientists have mostly been isolating single compounds like beta-carotene and vitamin C,” Liu says. “Over the years, no single compound has been proven to have a protective effect by itself. An apple could have hundreds of phytochemicals. We think the combination is the important thing.”

More than 900 different plant chemicals have been identified as components of different fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. Apples are rich in isoflavones and phenolics, but other widely studied phytochemicals include lycopene, found in tomatoes; carotenoids, found in carrots and citrus fruits; and allyl sulfides, found in garlic and onions. It is believed that various phytochemicals help prevent cell damage, prevent cancer cell replication, and decrease cholesterol levels.

Charles Halsted, MD, says evidence is mounting that suggests taking vitamin supplements, even in large doses, does not provide the health benefits of a healthy diet. Halsted edits the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) and is a professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. He was not involved with the study, but reviewed it for WebMD.

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WebMD Health News

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Man’s Best Friend

Meet Harley, our only team member on 4 legs! Harley is a therapy dog who provides comfort and companionship for our clients.  (Photo: Harley visits a school)

Believe it or not, there can be some major health benefits of therapy dogs…

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1. Lowering blood pressure

High blood pressure is often associated with rapid heart rate, anxiety, or stressful life. In many cases, such conditions are mainly psychological problems which can be cured by certain therapy methods. It is a fact that petting a dog can create positive atmosphere such as friendship and affection. This type of therapy is often practiced to reduce anxiety that will finally lower blood pressure and heart rate. Therapy dogs are excellent animals; they are calm, obedience, and great friends in life.

2. Lowering levels of Epinephrine and Norepinephrine

Epinephrine and Norepinephrine are both important neurotransmitters which are highly essential hormones in the brain. They are nervous system stimulants; human body needs the proper level of these substances to reduce depression or anxiety. They affect heart rate, blood pressure, glucose level, and many other important factors related to proper functioning of the body. The interaction created between human and therapy dogs is a non-medication cure that helps to lower the levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Most people will agree that petting a good dog will relax the mind which will eventually promote healthier conditions. A scientific study revealed that patients who received visits from therapy dogs experienced greater decrease of norepinephrine and epinephrine compared to patients who only received visits from volunteers.

3. Reducing patient anxiety

Therapy dogs often visit hospitals and other health institutions. As a matter of fact, many hospitals are greatly helped by the animals in reducing patients’ anxieties before certain health examination, for example MRI scanning.

4. Increasing the level of endorphin

One of the greatest benefits of therapy dogs is increasing the level of endorphin. It is a natural substance produced by the body, which works by manipulating the perceptions of pain or stress. Endorphin is a neurotransmitter in the brain and it has very similar functions to opiate drugs.

However, Endorphin does not lead to any type of addiction as commonly found with chemically processed drugs such as morphine or codeine. Petting a therapy dog brings happiness and the feeling of euphoria; such conditions promote better immune response, sexual life, and reduce bad effects of stress.

5. Increasing the level of oxytocin

Other main benefits of therapy dogs are that the animals can boost happiness, improve empathy, stimulate better pair bonding, and promote happier life. Therapy dogs can do all the great things by simply increasing the level of oxytocin; it is the hormone that plays a major role in breastfeeding, sexual reproduction, and other maternal behaviors. Some suggested that the interactions between therapy dogs and human will increase the level of oxytocin.

Both physical and psychological aspects are greatly affected. The best benefits of therapy dogs are that they can simply bring healthier and happier life. The positive interactions affect the releases of many important hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain which promote proper body functions.

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April is Occupational Therapy Month

April is Occupational Therapy month and we’d like to recognize our fantastic OT’s and COTA’s. Thank you for all you do for our patients!

What does an OT do you ask?

Occupational therapists treat patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.

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Got Pain?

Pills aren’t the only way to relieve minor aches and pains. A slew of over-the-counter patches, foams, sticks, sprays, and roll-on pain relievers (known as topicals) promise to relieve your minor aches and pains. But is a topical treatment right for you?

If you suffer from back or muscle strain, or joint pain from osteoarthritis, these topical treatments might provide an alternative to swallowing acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve). Though there are lots of new products on the market, some of the drugs found in them have been around for decades. But there isn’t a ton of current research about how well they work. A few studies suggest that they can offer relief for some people, and other studies have shown they may not help at all. If you are in pain and are curious about trying one of the topicals out there, read on to find out what you need to know based on the latest research.

Common ingredients include menthol, camphor, capsaicin (found in chili peppers), and methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen). Some of the products are claimed to have a heating or cooling effect. The ones with capsicum or methyl salicylate create a feeling of heat, and the ones containing menthol cause a cooling sensation. Those ingredients are called counterirritants. They work in an odd way—the active ingredients actually inflame the area near the pain point, and that stimulates the nerves and creates a new, milder sensation. So essentially they are distracting you from the more intense pain you’re trying to treat. Though no one is sure exactly how that works, one hypothesis is that in some cases the drugs may increase blood flow to the area.

Your doctor may recommend a prescription topical pain reliever. Diclofenac gel (Voltaren), drops (Pennsaid), and patches (Flector) are all NSAIDs—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

Topical NSAIDs may be a good choice if youu’re at risk of heart attack or stroke because they allow lower levels of the drug to enter the body than with a pill. (NSAID pills may put you at higher risk of those problems.) Studies suggest that topical treatments also may cause fewer instances of internal bleeding than do NSAID pills. But more studies are needed to confirm that.

Topical painkillers can be used a day or so after a minor muscle injury, with your doctor’s OK.

The first thing to do after such an injury is follow the RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Here’s how: First, rest the injured body part. Ice the area four times a day, for 10 to 15 minutes, for one to three days. Then compress the area by wrapping it with an elastic bandage. To lessen swelling, elevate the injury, if you can, above your heart for a few hours a day.

Once the swelling is gone, after 48 hours, switch to heat. Use a warm compress, heating pad, or hot-water bottle to improve blood flow and help remove old blood from the area.

Never use a heating pad after you’ve applied a topical product because that combination can increase your risk of burns, according to our medical advisers. The Food and Drug Administration warned about that last year.

Also, don’t apply topicals containing methyl salicylate before you exercise because your body could wind up absorbing too much of the active ingredient, presumably because exercising increases your circulation.

Always follow label instructions because topicals can come with some risks. For example, using topicals too often or leaving them on too long can make your skin prone to allergic reactions.

If the patch you’re wearing begins to burn or itch, or your skin turns red, stop using the product and check with your doctor. That applies even if you’ve used the same product without a problem in the past.

To minimize your risks, don’t use topicals on any areas of the body where you have an open wound or broken skin, even a scratch. And never cover the area with bandages.

The FDA has said that dozens of people have experienced mild to severe chemical burns from the use of some topical pain relievers. If you find that none of the topicals you try helps to relieve your pain, don’t simply use more, thinking that more is better. Overdoing it could put you at a greater risk of burns.

It’s hard to predict who might have a bad reaction, but here is a standard caution: Pregnant women, infants, children, senior citizens, and people with sensitive skin may be at higher risk for problems.

Also, if you regularly take aspirin or prescription blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), or you have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, talk to your doctor before using any treatments containing salicylates. Those ingredients can also thin your blood and either cause bleeding or make it worse

Consumer Reports Health2014-01-10 – General Health

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Why get the flu shot?

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Flu season is now in full swing, and it’s turning out to be a bad one, especially in the South, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet more than half of Americans said that they planned to skip the flu shot this year, according to a nationally representative survey of 1,595 adults conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The good news is that it is not too late to be vaccinated, since infections tend to peak by March. But don’t dawdle: It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to work, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the better.

Here are five common excuses people in our survey gave us for skipping the vaccination last flu season—along with our doses of reality.

Excuse: I am worried about side effects or getting flu from the vaccine (33 percent)

Reality: Side effects are uncommon and usually mild. They include soreness or redness at the injection site, body aches, and a low fever lasting a day or two, according to the CDC. Vaccination cannot cause flu illness.

Excuse: I do not get the flu (24 percent)

Reality: Just because you haven’t had the flu in the past does not mean you won’t get it. The CDC estimates that the flu caused 31.8 million illnesses in the U.S. last year, and it recommends the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Excuse: I believe in building my natural immunity (24 percent)

Reality: The body’s immunity against the flu declines over time, and the flu virus is capable of changing from year to year. Whatever protection you picked up in the past may not fight flu strains circulating now. Hence the need for annual vaccination.

Excuse: The vaccine is ineffective (20 percent)

Reality: During the 2012-13 flu season, vaccination saved millions of Americans from getting sick and 79,000 from being hospitalized, says the CDC. If you get vaccinated and still come down with the flu, you will probably have a milder case and less chance of serious complications.

Excuse: I do not like getting shots (16 percent)

Reality: Lying down for the shot may help you relax. If necessary, ask your doctor if you qualify for the nasal-spray vaccine.

Consumer Reports Health

 

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