Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Herbs for Headaches

Headaches, regardless of their severity, often result in a lot of discomfort and distress. The pain can be felt in only one spot, or spread out over various areas of your head. Sometime, they can also be incredibly severe, such as in the case of migraine headaches.

It is thought that headaches generally result from irritation of the nerves connected to the muscles of the shoulders, head, and, neck. This could be caused by any number of things including stress, anxiety, hypertension, hypoglycemia, temperature variance, eye strain, sinus problems, and injuries to the head, among others.

Many people simply take an over-the-counter pain medication for fast relief, but they also could have potential negative effects on your body in the long run. Natural treatments can be better, and safer, for treating headaches.

Try one or more of the following herbal remedies for headaches:

For mild headaches, you can try spreading a paste composed of sandalwood and rose water across your forehead. This can have a pleasant cooling sensation which may relieve some headaches.

Add a teaspoon of lavender leaves to one cup of hot water, let it cool, and drink the mixture two to three times a day.

If your headache pain is more severe, try mixing lemon juice with tea to relive the pain.

Create a mix of henna flowers with vinegar and apply it the forehead.

Mix rosemary with boiling water, cover your head with a towel, and inhale the vapors. This can sometimes be effective at reducing the severity of a headache.

Try drinking aloe vera water or taking an aloe vera supplement a couple of times per day to relive headaches due to hyper-acidity.

Make a mixture of carrot juice and spinach juice and drink it every day.

Inhaling peppermint steam can also help relieve headaches. As it acts as a mild decongestant, it can relieve headaches caused by sinus problems.

Create a paste made from dry ginger mixed with water or milk and spread it over the forehead. Ginger can aid in relaxing blood vessels and relieving swelling in the head.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Red Clover May Relieve Depression in Post-Menopausal Women

Post-menopausal women who take red clover extract could suffer from less depression and anxiety, according to a randomised study from Austria.

Symptoms associated with depression and anxiety were lowered by approximately 80% after three months of taking a supplement which contained 80 milligrams of red clover isoflavones.

However, the reasearchers stress that additional clinical and experimental research is needed.

If additional research and studies do show a reduction in depression, then this could be a great alternative treatment for many women. Twenty-one percent of women will suffer from depression at some point in their life.

The researchers recruited 109 post-menopausal participants who were older than 40 and randomly put them into two groups. One group received a red clover supplement for ninety days. The other group recieved a placebo for the same period of time.

Measurements of depression and anxiety symptoms, were obtained by using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Zung's Self Rating Depression Scale (SDS). The HADS measurments found that anxiety was lowered by 76%, and depression was reduced by 78%. The SDS measurements showed depression symptoms to be reduced by 80%.

Participants who were in the placebo group experienced lowered anxiety and depression of approximately 21% according to both the HADS and SDS.

In 2009, data was trasmitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which was looking into isoflavones. Twenty researchers studying isoflavones met in Italy to analyze the results of studies conducted over the last twenty years. This group came to the conclusion that emerging studies conducted with isoflavones have demonstrated a “modest but valuable benefit for menopause relief”.

Source: NutraIngredients.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

Research Shows Willow Bark Effective for Treating Lower Back Pain

Despite the fact that Willow Bark has long been used as a traditional remedy, there hasn't been much research done on willow bark as a pain reliever, and suggested doses by various sources often widely vary. To investigate correct dosages, a group of German researchers performed a 4 week clinical trial which was designed to compare how safe and effective different dosage amounts of willow bark extract were for treating lower back pain. The results of the study concluded that both high and low dosages of willow bark provided substantially more relief from pain than the placebo, but the higher dosage (240 mg/day) was markedly more effective than both low dosage and the placebo.

The study, which was placebo-controlled, was composed of 210 participants who suffered from chronic lower back pain who were, at the time, having exacerbations of their back pain (a rating of 5 or more out of 10 on a visual pain-approximation scale). The patients were randomly grouped to receive a low dosage of willow bark (120 mg/day), a high dosage (240 mg/day), or a simple placebo. Participants were allowed to take an additional pain reliever (a maximum of 400 mg a day of tramadol) if needed.

91 percent of the participants finished the trial. The primary outcome measured was pain relief, which was defined as the ratio of participants who reported an absence of pain for at least five days during the final week of the study, without using tramadol. Secondary outcomes measured were the ratio of participants who had to use tramadol during the course of the study and the improvement of the participants' symptoms from their baseline.

The study found that almost 40 percent of the patients in the high dosage willow bark group were free from pain during the last week of the study, as compared to about 20 percent of the lower dosage group and only about 6 percent of the group who received a placebo. For participants who received a higher dosage, pain relief became evident after about one week, and a substantially larger number of participants in the placebo group needed to take tramadol at some point during every week of the study.

The rate of mild adverse reactions was low for all three of the groups, some of which could be attributed to patients taking tramadol. One participant in the lower dosage willow bark group had an allergic reaction (swollen eyes and itching) that the researchers think was related to the treatment.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chia Seeds to Lose Weight?

Chia Pets have made the chia plant famous - the terra-cotta figurines which grow a fuzz of green hair. However, recently chia has obtained a new reputation as a weight loss supplement.

Books on dieting and fitness personalities have been promoting chia seeds as a powerful appetite suppressant, and health food suppliers have been selling them by the pound. Chia seeds, which come from the chia plant native to Central America, are definitely full of nutrition: an individual serving, which is approximately an an ounce, contains four grams of protein and eleven grams of fiber, which is widely claimed as the key to weight-loss.

However, there isn't much evidence that chia seeds live up to the claims. In a study conducted in 2009, a team of scientists separated 76 overweight and obese people into 2 groups. The first group ate 25 grams of chia seeds two times a day, while the second group ate a placebo. At the end of twelve weeks, the researchers didn't find a significant difference between the two groups in either their appetite or how much weight they lost.

Another group of researchers which reviewed the evidence regarding chia reached a similar conclusion: There wasn't any indication of an impact on weight loss. The scientists didn't find much evidence which supported any other health claims associated with chia seeds either, such as cardiovascular benefits. They concluded that while chia seeds are generally safe to eat and can be a healthy supplement to most diets, “further rigorous examination” of its effects would be needed.

The conclusion is that little evidence exists that chia seeds substantially contribute to weight loss or appetite control.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taking Kudzu Might Not Curb Alcohol Use

The findings of a study suggest that taking kudzu may not cut alcohol intake. The study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Kudzu is an herbal remedy that has been used for a long time to treat alcoholism, and, in tests, it has been discovered to lower alcohol dependence in animals.

In the study, 12 participants took either kudzu or a placebo for a period of 9 days. While kudzu did result in higher blood alcohol levels in the study participants, it had minimal or no effect on their cognitive, behavioral, and/or physical performance.

Kudzu contains an estrogen type substance known as isoflavones Isoflavones are also located in soy. Previous studies have reported that kudzu could help to bolster cognitive function and reduce vaginal dryness in women who are postmenopausal. It may also be able to be used to treat cluster headaches and guard against metabolic syndrome.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Five Herbs to Aid Digestion

Chronic problems with digestion can be very disruptful, and make eating a very unpleasant event. Problems such as heartburn, upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea. Generally, most doctors instantly prescribe a chemical or drug to lower the amount of stomach acid. However, often these chemicals can actually make your digestive problems worse, rather than relive them. Physicians tend to agree that most stomach problems are usually caused by a group of problems, rather than a single issue.

In years past, roots and other herbs were grown as spices for food because of their helpful digestive properties. Modern digestion problems are so prevalent because of our propensity to eat mostly processed foods - foods which lack necessary nutrients. The wonderful thing is that supplementing your diet with natural herbs has been shown to be effective at relieving most of the digestion problems which affect most people. Following are five of the best natural herbs to aid digestion, and which problems each is most helpful for.

Ginger

Ginger is a powerful healing herb that has been recorded as an effective treatment in some very early medical writings. Among other things, ginger has excellent digestion properties, and has long been used to prevent and treat digestive problems. These days, ginger is mostly used to treat problems like irritable bowel syndrome - this can including helping to alleviate symptoms such as gas, constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea..

Fennel

Fennel is another natural spice that has long been utilized for its ability to help ease and prevent upset stomach. Fennel is often used to relieve symptoms such as heartburn, cramping, bloating, and general digestive issues. Many women use this herb in a tea for alleviating morning sickness, and others have used it to help calm the stomach following treatments like chemo and radiation.

Aloe

Aloe is an all-around healing herb that should be on everyone's herbal supplement list. Particularly, if you suffer from digestive problems, you should make aloe one of your required herbs. Aloe contains essential amino acids, enzymes, as well as vitamin C. It has a good ability to naturally soothe the stomach.

Gentian

Gentian is not as well known as the other herbs, but that doesn't mean it's any less effective. Gentian root has been used for many years to bolster digestive function. It works well because of its extreme bitterness - it is one of the bitterest herbs known. This bitterness helps to stimulate digestive fluids and, thereby, bolster the function of the digestive system, helping to prevent upset stomach and other digestive problems.

Peppermint

Peppermint is a wonderful herb that is used for a variety of health benefits, of which digestion is one of the main ones. The easy thing about peppermint is that there are a variety of ways to take the recommended daily dosage. Regarding digestion, peppermint has been linked to relieving symptoms common to irritable bowl syndrome including gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and constipation.

The herbs on this list have a variety of potential health benefits other than just aiding digest, so taking one of them to treat digestive problems can also help improve your overall health. Taking prescription medications isn't necessarily the best solution to all medical conditions.