Saturday, November 18, 2017

Health Benefits (and Dangers) of Essential Oils


What Are Essential Oils?

They're made from parts of certain plants like leaves, herbs, barks, and rinds. Makers use different methods to concentrate them into oils. You may add them to vegetable oils, creams, or bath gels. Or you might smell them, rub them on your skin, or put them in your bath. Some research shows that they can be helpful, if you know how to use them the right way. Always check the label and ask your doctor if you’re not sure if they’re OK for you to use.





DO Try It if You’re Anxious

Simple smells such as lavender, chamomile, and rosewater may help keep you calm. You can breathe in or rub diluted versions of these oils on your skin. Scientists think they work by sending chemical messages to parts of the brain that affect mood and emotion. Although these scents alone won’t take all your stress away, the aroma may help you relax.

DON’T Just Rub Them Anywhere

Oils that are fine on your arms and legs may not be safe to put inside your mouth, nose, eyes, or private parts. Lemongrass, peppermint, and cinnamon bark are some examples.

DO Check the Quality

Look for a trusted producer that makes pure oils without anything added. You’re more likely to have an allergic reaction to oils that have other ingredients. Not all extras are bad. Some added vegetable oil may be normal for certain more expensive essential oils.

DON’T Trust Buzzwords

Just because it’s from a plant doesn’t mean it’s safe to rub on your skin, or breathe, or eat, even if it’s “pure.” Natural substances can be irritating, toxic, or cause allergic reactions. Like anything else you put on your skin, it’s best to test a little bit on a small area and see how your skin responds.

DO Toss Out Older Oils

In general, don’t keep them more than 3 years. Older oils are more likely to be spoiled because of exposure to oxygen. They may not work as well and could irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. If you see a big change in the way an oil looks, feels, or smells, you should throw it out, because it has probably spoiled.

DON’T Put Edible Oils On Your Skin

Cumin oil, which is safe to use in your food, can cause blisters if you put it on your skin. Citrus oils that are safe in your food may be bad for your skin, especially if you go out into the sun. And the opposite is true, too. Eucalyptus or sage oil may soothe you if you rub it on your skin or breathe it in. But swallowing them could can cause a serious complication, like a seizure.

DO Tell Your Doctor

Your doctor can make sure it’s safe for you and rule out any side effects, like affecting your prescriptions. For example, peppermint and eucalyptus oils may change how your body absorbs the cancer drug 5-fluorouracil from the skin. Or an allergic reaction may cause rashes, hives, or breathing problems.

DO Dilute Them

Undiluted oils are too strong to use straight. You’ll need to dilute them, usually with vegetable oils or creams or bath gels, to a solution that only has a little bit -- 1% to 5% -- of the essential oil. Exactly how much can vary. The higher the percentage, the more likely you are to have a reaction, so it’s important to mix them correctly.

DON’T Use On Damaged Skin

Injured or inflamed skin will absorb more oil and may cause unwanted skin reactions. Undiluted oils, which you shouldn’t use at all, can be downright dangerous on damaged skin.

DO Consider Age

Young children and the elderly may be more sensitive to essential oils. So you may need to dilute them more. And you should totally avoid some oils, like birch and wintergreen. In even small amounts, those may cause serious problems in kids 6 or younger because they contain a chemical called methyl salicylate. Don’t use essential oils on a baby unless your pediatrician says it’s OK.

DON’T Forget to Store Them Safely

They can be very concentrated and may cause serious health problems, especially if used at the wrong dose or in the wrong way. Just like anything else that little hands shouldn’t be able to reach, don't make your essential oils too handy. If you have young children, keep all essential oils locked away out of their sight and reach.

DO Stop Use if Your Skin Reacts

Your skin might love essential oils. But if it doesn’t -- and you notice a rash, little bumps, boils, or just itchy skin -- take a break. More of the same oil can make it worse. Whether you mixed it yourself or it’s an ingredient in a ready-made cream, oil, or aromatherapy product, gently wash it off with water.

DO Choose Your Therapist Carefully

If you look for a professional aromatherapist, do your homework. By law, they don’t have to have training or a license. But you can check to see if yours went to a school certified by a professional organizations like National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

DON’T Overdo It

More of a good thing is not always good. Even when diluted, an essential oil can cause a bad reaction if you use too much or use it too often. That’s true even if you’re not allergic or unusually sensitive to them.

DON’T Be Afraid to Try Them

Used the right way, they can help you feel better with few side effects. For example, you may feel less nauseated from chemotherapy cancer treatment if you breathe in ginger vapors. You may be able to fight certain bacterial or fungal infections, including the dangerous MRSA bacteria, with tea tree oil. In one study, tea tree oil was as effective as a prescription antifungal cream in easing symptoms of a fungal foot infection.

DO Take Care if Pregnant

Some essential massage oils may make their way into the placenta, an organ in your uterus that grows along with your baby and helps to nourish it. It’s not clear if this causes any problems, unless you take toxic amounts, but to be safe, it’s best to avoid certain oils if you’re pregnant. Those include wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop. Ask your doctor if you’re unsure.

11 Things That Make ADHD Worse


Lack of Exercise

If your memory is hazy, your ADHD may be to blame. And if you don't exercise much, you aren’t doing your brain any favors. However, physical activity can improve your memory. It can also help you make decisions, learn, and pay attention. Time to dust off those sneakers!





Eating Out Often

Making dinner may not be rocket science, but it takes a lot of mental effort if you have ADHD. You have to plan, prep, and follow steps. Sure, it’s easier to go out, but you should do so rarely. Healthy food can help you manage ADHD, but it’s hard to get on the go. Restaurant food is packed with calories, sugar, salt, and fat. You won’t get enough fruits and vegetables, either.

Too Much Junk Food

So far, science can’t answer the question of what, if any, foods make ADHD worse. But research suggests that added things, like food coloring, can make some children’s symptoms worse. You’ll find this stuff in junk foods like soda and candy. Scientists don’t know if it affects adults too, but it can’t hurt to nix junk food. Try it, and see if your symptoms get better.

Skipping Breakfast

If you blow off that morning meal, your symptoms could get worse. Breakfast can make it easier to handle social situations. It can also help you think and keep you focused longer early in the day. Even if your meds zap your appetite, try to eat a little something. A hard-boiled egg or carton of yogurt will do the trick.

Messy Homes and Offices

Some people say clutter is a sign of genius. Research suggests it may signal creativity. But a messy nest could make some symptoms worse. Those piles of papers, books, or laundry remind you of all the stuff you need to do. Sometimes it can be too much. On the flipside, clearing the clutter can make you more productive and ease your worries.

Too Much Stuff

Shopping can be fun, but a nonstop habit can lead to hoarding. If you have ADHD, you may find it easy to get too much stuff and hard to let it go. The good news: There’s a way to stay calm and shop on. Follow the “one in, one out” rule. If you bring in a new item into your house, you have to donate an old one.

The Wrong Meds

When your doctor diagnosed you with ADHD, were you honest about your life and symptoms? If not, you may be on the wrong treatment -- and you could be worse off. Why?

o ADHD meds don’t always work well if you have substance abuse problems.
o Drugs for major depression can make ADHD worse.
o Some ADHD medications can make anxiety worse.


Lack of Sleep

Sleep problems and ADHD often go hand in hand. For some, the cause is a stimulant medication. For others, anxiety, depression, and other conditions that come along with ADHD are to blame. Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you tired. It can also worsen symptoms like lack of focus and problems with motor skills. Your doctor can help. Let her know what’s going on.

Quitting Therapy

If you’re doing well with therapy plus medication, stick with them. You might be tempted to quit therapy once you feel your ADHD is under control. After all, taking a pill is so much easier and therapy costs money. But research shows it really helps ADHD -- especially when paired with meds. Skipping it could make your symptoms worse.

Too Much Screen Time

Could your gadgets make your symptoms worse? Maybe. Doctors have found links between ADHD and excess screen time. Internet addiction can also lead to more severe ADHD symptoms. However, we don’t yet know which problem fuels the other. What we do know: Screen time before bed can disrupt your sleep -- and that will make ADHD symptoms worse.

Not Enough Caffeine

If you have ADHD, your coffee or tea habit may make your symptoms better. So it stands to reason that kicking the habit could make you feel worse. The caffeine in tea could make you more alert, help you focus, and help your brain work better. It can also give your working memory a boost. If your doc says it’s OK to have caffeine, enjoy it!

How Music Helps Us Be More Creative

A new study suggests that listening to happy music promotes more divergent thinking—a key element of creativity.




In today’s world, creative thinking is needed more than ever. Not only do many businesses seek creative minds to fill their ranks, but the kinds of complex social problems we face could also use a good dose of creativity.
Luckily, creativity is not reserved for artists and geniuses alone. Modern science suggests that we all have the cognitive capacity to come up with original ideas—something researchers call “divergent thinking.” And we can all select from a series of ideas the one most likely to be successful, which researchers call “convergent thinking.”
Though we may not all be equally accomplished at these kinds of thinking, we can all become more skillful in creative problem-solving—whether the problems we face involve figuring out technological challenges at work or the next steps to take in creating a new painting. The question is how.
One new study explores music as a source of creativity. Since music has been shown to improve cognition and enhance learning and memory in other studies, it makes sense that perhaps it has an impact on creative thinking, too. 
In the experiment, participants tried creativity exercises that measured divergent or convergent thinking while being exposed to either silence (the control scenario) or classical music that evoked four distinct emotional states: happy, calm, sad, or anxious.
After comparing participant performance on divergent and convergent thinking in the five scenarios, the researchers found that participants who’d listened to happy music had significantly higher scores on divergent thinking than those who’d performed in silence. In other words, they came up with more total ideas, and more creative and innovative ideas (as rated by people who were unfamiliar with the study’s aim). The other types of music did not have this impact.
“The results suggest that listening to happy music increases performance on overall divergent thinking,” write the authors, suggesting that it enhances the cognitive flexibility needed to come up with innovative solutions—the ability to switch between different concepts and perspectives, rather than seeing the problem from a rigid point of view.
Interestingly, whether or not the participants “liked” the music had no impact on their performance, suggesting that the benefits don’t come from simply enjoying music. And none of the types of music had an impact on convergent thinking, which requires coming up with a right answer rather than opening your mind to many potential ideas.
“The increase in divergent but not convergent thinking after listening to happy music may be explained by the fact that the convergent tasks rely less on fluency and flexibility, but on finding one correct answer,” write the authors.
It may also have to do with the mood created by the happy music. After all, happiness is considered to be a positive emotion that, according to researcher Barbara Fredrickson, broadens our mindset and enhances our desire to explore and play. Though the researchers didn’t actually analyze mood changes, research suggests a link between positive mood and creativity, suggesting that this may be the underlying mechanism behind the benefits of happy music.
Whatever the case, the results suggest that people may want to listen to happy music while they work—particularly if they need to come up with new ways of looking at a particular problem. As the authors conclude, “music listening may be useful to promote creative thinking in inexpensive and efficient ways in various scientific, educational, and organizational settings when creative thinking is needed.”

Inspirational Quote – November 18, 2017

“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”

Of course it is, we all know that don’t we? That’s why it’s essential to ensure that we do learn from each and every one of the mistakes we all make and will make as we journey through life. There is always a lesson to be gained. Hopefully, the lesson we need to be learn will be an easy, straightforward, painless one. On the other hand, we may not be so fortunate and will find the learning process painful, frustrating and difficult. However, there will always be something for us in the experience, you can count on it.

CathiBew.co.uk

5 Schools Moving the Needle on Sustainability

When it comes to formal education in schools and colleges, sustainability is too often boiled down to the technical study of environmental science in a classroom setting. But how do we teach our students to actually practice sustainable living? In the wake of the loosening environmental regulations in the United States, read about the efforts of these five colleges and universities which are committed not only to cultivating sustainable campuses and future environmental leaders, but also impacting the world in a deeper way.

In the Beginning Was Love

"I think he [Robert Lax] understood the difference between hearing and listening, and he really emphasized the listening. In fact, one of the things he'd say when we walked along the Patmos shoreline was, 'Well, I'm going to go back up to my place now. There's a lot of listening I have to get to.'

And listening for what? I think for all the cosmic sounds, his own heart, his own soul.." A long-time friend of Trappist monk Thomas Merton, and an accomplished poet in his own right, Robert Lax spent the latter part of his life on a Greek island where he practiced his art, and exercised a profound influence on those who knew him. This interview with one of his close friends shares more.

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1836/in-the-beginning-was-love-richard-whittaker/

Thursday, November 16, 2017

27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health


Stay Well With Your Animals

No doubt about it: Animals can make people feel good. And your favorite ones can also help you stay well. You may be surprised at just how many ways a pet can improve your health.





Mood Boost

It only takes a few minutes with a dog or cat or watching fish swim to feel calmer and less stressed. Your body actually goes through physical changes in that time that make a difference in your mood. The level of cortisol, a stress hormone, lowers. And serotonin, a feel-good chemical your body makes, rises.

Better Blood Pressure

You still have to watch your weight and exercise. But having a pet can help you manage your blood pressure. In one study of 240 married couples, pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates during rest than people who didn’t have a pet. Another study showed that when children with high blood pressure petted their dog, their numbers improved.

Lower Cholesterol

You watch what you eat and work out. If you also have a pet, there could be a cholesterol perk. People who have pets tend to have better levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, compared to people who don’t. The reason for that isn’t clear. Part of it could be the more active lifestyle that comes with having pets.

Help Your Heart

People with cats and dogs may have some heart benefits. In a 20-year study, people who never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had. Another study found that dog owners had a better survival rate one year after a heart attack. Overall, pet owners are less likely to die of any cardiac disease, including heart failure.

Ease Depression

No one loves you more unconditionally than your pet. It could even help you deal with and recover from depression. Your pet will listen to you talk for as long as you want to talk. You’ll probably feel calmer when you pet a cat or dog. And when you take care of an animal -- walk with it, groom it, play with it -- takes you out of yourself and helps you feel better about the way you spend your time.

Boost Your Fitness

If you have a dog, you’re probably more active than someone who doesn’t have one. A daily 30-minute walk with your pooch helps keep you moving. Two 15-minute walks, one in the morning and one in the evening, do the same thing. Add in a game of fetch in the back yard with your dog and you’ll be even more fit.



A Faithful Exercise Buddy

When you work out with your pet, you’ll both benefit. Shine a flashlight on the wall or wave a string while you do a step aerobics routine. Your cat will get a workout chasing the light, and you'll be entertained. You might even find yoga classes for people and their dogs, called doga. Call your local gym or ask your vet about it.

Fewer Strokes Among Cat Owners

Doctors aren't sure why. It may be partly due to the effects owning a pet can have on a person's circulation. But researchers think that cats may have a more calming effect on their owners than other animals do. It may also have something to do with the personality of a cat owner. Cats often become the focus of their owner's interest, which diverts them from other stressful worries.

More Connections

One key to a healthy mind is to stay engaged with others. And pet owners tend to want to talk with other pet owners. A dog is a conversation waiting to happen. People, especially those with dogs, will stop and talk with you when they see you walking your pet. Go to a dog park to socialize with other owners while your pets play.

Fewer Allergies, Stronger Immunity

When children grow up in a home with a dog or cat they are less likely to develop allergies. The same is true for kids who live on a farm with large animals. Higher levels of certain immune system chemicals show a stronger immune system, which will help keep them healthy as they get older.

Cats and Asthma Prevention

It doesn't seem to make sense. Pet allergies are one of the most common triggers of asthma. But researchers have studied the effects of having cats in the homes of babies at risk for asthma. They found that those children were less likely to develop asthma as they got older. There's one exception. Children whose mothers have a cat allergy are three times more likely to develop asthma after being around cats at an early age.

Snack Alarm

For people with diabetes, a sudden drop in the level of blood glucose can be very serious. Some dogs can alert their owner before it actually happens. They may sense chemical changes in the body that give off a scent. The alarm gives the owner time to eat a snack to avoid the emergency. About one in three dogs living with people with diabetes have this ability.

Work With a Counselor

Some mental health therapists use a dog in therapy. A dog in the office may help someone be more comfortable. And a remark to or about a dog may show what’s really on someone’s mind. One therapist tells about a couple in his office who started to argue. The dog, which usually just slept during the session, got up and wanted out. He used that to help the couple see how their fighting affected others, especially their children.

Partners in Better Cancer Care

Dogs and cats can get the same kinds of cancers humans do. For example, studies of prostate cancer in dogs have led to a better understanding of how it develops in older men. And preventing cancer in pets may lead to new strategies for people, too.

Overcoming the Limitations of ADHD

When a child with ADHD works with and keeps a pet, there can be benefits. It gives them practice with chores, planning, and responsibility. Pets need to play, and that helps kids burn off extra energy. In turn, that can mean an easier time falling asleep at night. And because the bond between a pet and a child is unconditional love, pets help children with ADHD learn about self-esteem.

Autism: Addressing the Senses

Sensory issues are common among children with Autism Sensory Disorder. Sensory integration activities help them get used to the way something feels against their skin, and to certain smells or sounds. Dogs and horses have both sometimes been used in these activities. The children usually find it calming to work with animals. And animals can hold their attention.

Stronger Bones

Walking your dog counts as a weight-bearing exercise that strengthens your bones and the muscles around them. It also lets you spend time in the sun, which provides vitamin D. If you have osteoporosis, use a short leash that won’t get tangled. And don’t walk a dog that is liable to jump on you and make you lose your balance.

Stretch Like Your Cat

Got a cat? Watch how many times she stretches every day, and when she does, you do it too. If you can, get down on the floor and go through the same motions. If you can’t get on the floor, sit on a chair and follow along to stretch your upper body.

Manage Arthritis Together

Do you and your dog have arthritis? When you make an appointment at the vet, also call and make your own doctor’s appointment. You both need exercise, so walk with your dog. Keep your medicine in the same place you keep the dog’s, so you’ll see it when you get his. If you can, coordinate taking your medicines at the same time you give him his medicine.

Get Back in the Saddle

Some rehab programs for stroke patients use horses to help with recovery. Often, people who have had strokes start riding with someone walking alongside them as someone else leads the horse. Horseback riding gives stretching exercise, which is especially good if one side has been made weaker. It also helps you regain balance and build core strength.

Relief From RA

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll benefit when you walk and throw a Frisbee with your pet. And pets can help take your thoughts off of your own condition. But perhaps the best help comes from those dogs or cats that seem to be super-sensitive to people who don’t feel well. Sometimes just their presence can make you feel better.

Soothing Heat for Chronic Pain

A Mexican hairless dog called a Xolo is known for generating intense body heat. An organization called Paws for Comfort trains Xolos to be service dogs for people with fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain that respond to heat. People get relief when they put their hurting limbs against the dog’s body or lying up next to it. Some dogs have even been trained to ride around wrapped around the neck of a person with chronic neck pain.

Seizure Dogs

These dogs have been trained to live and work with people who have epilepsy. Some are trained to bark and alert the parents when a child has a seizure outside or in another room. Some lie next to a person having a seizure to prevent injury (as seen in this demonstration). And some work has been done training dogs to warn before a seizure happens. This gives the person time to lie down or move away from a dangerous place such as a hot stove.

More Independence

Specially trained dogs can do tasks that let people with Parkinson’s disease keep their independence. They can pick up dropped items or fetch ones you ask for. They can provide balance support, open and close doors, and turn lights on with their paws. They can also sense when someone with Parkinson’s “freezes” and touch the foot to let the person keep walking. Groups like Pet Partners can help you find a good service dog.

A Better Quality of Life

Visits from therapy dogs help people recovering from devastating illness or an event such as a stroke. Some dogs are trained to understand a range of commands which lets them help those with aphasia (a language disorder common in older adults, particularly those who’ve had a stroke) feel good when they see the dog understands them. And, petting or scratching a dog can help someone rebuild strength while recovering from a stroke or other illness. It also creates a feeling of calm.

A Calming Presence

People with AIDS are less likely to be depressed if they own a pet, especially if they’re strongly attached. And with an animal in the home, people with Alzheimer's have fewer anxious outbursts. The animal also helps the caregivers feel less burdened. Cats seem to be particularly helpful since they need less care than dogs.

Animal-Assisted Therapies

Researchers are studying what happens when they bring specially trained animals into clinical settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. One of the biggest advantages of letting people spend time with animals in such places seems to be improved mood and less anxiety.