Anyone who has ever suffered a migraine can tell you it is more than just a headache. According to Axon Optics, migraines cause intense pain, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. The following are some natural techniques you can use to try to stop migraines before they start.
Photo by Fotolia.
Lifestyle factors can often trigger a migraine. A few simple modifications may help to reduce their frequency and severity.
• Try to reduce stress and find a calm environment at the first sign of a migraine. Tension and excessive stimuli can contribute to migraine symptoms.
• Practice good sleep habits. Exhaustion and a poor night’s sleep can often trigger a migraine.
• Adopt a healthy lifestyle involving exercise and a healthy diet. Fluctuations in blood sugar and chemicals such as MSG and nitrates in certain foods can trigger migraines. Exercise causes the brain to release chemicals that can block pain signals.
Keep a Headache Diary
The best way to prevent migraines is to avoid known triggers. Keep a daily record of all foods, medications and activities. This can help you identify and eliminate potential headache-causing items and discover when you’re most likely to get them.
Invest in Essential Oils
Essential oils can reduce stress, promote relaxation and improve blood flow. Many of these oils have been used for years as home remedies for headaches, among other things. The most beneficial essential oils for headache relief include lavender, peppermint and basil.
Cool Off with Ice Packs
Ice packs are often more effective in relieving migraines than heat. The ice reduces inflammation may lead to migraine pain. You can also benefit from the numbing effect of the ice which can block pain signals.
Turn to Herbs and Supplements
Recent studies show that supplements such as riboflavin and CoQ10 are effective in preventing migraines. Other popular herbal headache remedies include feverfew, butterbur and flaxseed. These remedies either reduce inflammation or regulate blood flow, which can prevent or alleviate headaches.
Utilize Relaxation Techniques
Massages can ease headaches by stimulating blood flow and relaxing tense muscles in the neck and shoulders. Exercises such as yoga and tai chi help to reduce stress and increase body awareness, making it easier to detect early headache symptoms.
Recurrent migraines can be incapacitating, and have devastating effects on professional and family life. Many migraine sufferers feel anxious or depressed over the impact that headaches have on their daily lives. A support group or counseling can be an effective part of a migraine management regimen and provide sufferers with a renewed sense of control over their lives.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.
One of the most beneficial things I have done for my health in the past year is integrating daily teas and honey pastes into my diet. For the past decade, I have struggled with gastrointestinal discomfort (an ailment experienced by many), and after years of struggling I had to decide whether I was going to continue “fighting” this my entire life or embracing my body and all of its needs. As it was, I decided to stop fighting and instead began listening to my body. The plea I heard was for comfort, understanding and whole-body support.
But how was I to do these things when I’d been doing my best to ignore my disgruntled digestive system for so many years?
I needed to get back to the basics. Food is medicine, and not just for our physical selves, but our emotional and mental selves as well. My body needed kind, gentle and rejuvenating medicine after years of chronic inflammation, which had left my body susceptible to disease and illness. Here are the herbs I turned to when I began integrating daily teas and honey pastes into my diet.
Photo by Fotolia
Calendula is beautiful, delicate and lightly aromatic. I use it as a tea for its ability to move the lymph system, its ability to relax the gastrointestinal tract by reducing inflammation and getting bile and other digestive juices moving, and its whole-body detoxifying properties. I drink a couple of cups a day and really enjoy it in the late morning and early afternoon.
HOT INFUSION: Bring 6 ounces of water to a boil and steep 2 teaspoons of dried calendula flowers for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove teabag. Sweeten with honey, if desired.
ALSO GOOD FOR: Calendula also supports healthy skin and makes a fantastic compress to use on acne and cold sores. After making it into a tea, I save the teabag and use it on my face at night before going to bed.
CALENDULA’S PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, antiviral, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, bitter tonic, detoxifier, diuretic, diaphoretic, estrogenic
Chamomile is one of my favorite teas as it’s tremendously soothing for the whole body. I use it for gallbladder support, nausea relief and its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties.
HOT INFUSION: Bring 6 ounces of water to a boil and steep 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers for 10 minutes. Remove teabag. Sweeten with honey, if desired.
ALSO GOOD FOR: Chamomile has sedative properties, which make it a fantastic sleep aid. Use it to assist with relieving anxiety and settling the body. Even though I will drink it throughout the day, I always have a strong cup right before bed to help settle my body and relieve nausea that tends to pop up in the evenings.
PROPERTIES: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, bitters, prevents vomiting, sedative
Spearmint was one of the first teas I began drinking daily. It’s both invigorating and soothing at the same time. I use it for acid reflux, expelling gas and nausea relief.
HOT INFUSION: Bring 6 ounces of water to a boil and steep 1 teaspoon of dried spearmint leaves for three to five minutes. Remove teabag. Sweeten with honey, if desired.
ALSO GOOD FOR: Spearmint is a lovely herb to use in a blend. I will also use it alongside chamomile. Although the herb contains menthol, it doesn’t have nearly as much as peppermint. This is why it can relieve acid reflux rather than exacerbating it, as peppermint has been known to do.
PROPERTIES: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, digestive, stimulant, stomachic, tonic
Marshmallow Root Honey Paste
Marshmallow root was my first honey paste, and to be honest, the taste took me by surprise. It has an odd, earthy flavor. I use the root for its anti-inflammatory and mucilage properties. Considering the chronic, ongoing state of my gastrointestinal distress, I needed something that would coat my inflamed internal tissues while also repairing them—and that’s exactly what marshmallow root does!
HONEY PASTE: Mix up to 1 teaspoon of powdered marshmallow root with enough honey to make a paste. Eat it all at once.
PROPERTIES: Anti-inflammatory, diuretic, highly demulcent, highly emollient, mucilaginous, nutritive
Photos by Leslie Diane
Slippery Elm Honey Paste
Slippery elm is by far my favorite honey paste. Personally, I think it tastes like dessert. I use it to relieve acid reflux, to help resist disease and for its incredible restorative abilities.
HONEY PASTE: Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered slippery elm with enough honey to make a paste. Eat it all at once.
ALSO GOOD FOR: I will eat slippery elm three to four times daily when I have flare-ups of painful acid reflux, or when I know my immune system has been compromised. Otherwise, I eat it twice a day. I don’t always mix it with powdered marshmallow root, but when I do, I combine two parts slippery elm with one part marshmallow root.
PROPERTIES: Demulcent, detoxifier, emmolient, health tonic, laxative, mucilage, nutritive
*Note: This blog post is not intended to be used as a comprehensive list of herbal properties. Please consult your health-care practitioner or seek herbal consultation before integrating any herbs into your daily diet.
I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to leave comments below!
With a background in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a minor in English, Leslie Diane is currently studying at Prairie Wise Herbal School in Leavenworth, Kansas, with a goal of becoming a Master Herbalist. She is an avid gardener and a maker of tinctures, teas and baked goods. An aspiring author as well, she weaves tales of fantasy along with scarves, baby and pet blankets, and shawls on her table loom.
One of nature’s most amazing foods is coconut. It contains all of the ingredients needed to sustain life, including water, fat, protein and iron. One of our greatest uses for coconut is velvety smooth coconut milk. Combining that unique flavor and those healthful fats with water, coconut milk is a culinary acrobat that warms you up in savory entrées and makes you smile in cold sweet desserts.
The Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
The beauty of coconut milk is not only the creamy texture and delicious taste, but also the vast array of health benefits it offers. Each cup provides 5.5 grams of protein, 631 mg of potassium, and 4 mg of iron. But the real treasure is the unique medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that make up the majority of the fat content. Unlike other fats, MCTs don’t need to be broken down and can rapidly be used by the body as energy. Instead of being stored as fat, the calories contained in MCTs are efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use by organs and muscles.
Roughly half the MCTs in coconut milk are in the form of incredibly healthful lauric acid. When lauric acid is present in the body, some of it is converted to a monoglyceride, also called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can destroy harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Coconut milk has no trans-fats or cholesterol, and lauric acid has been shown to increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels, promoting vascular health.
Vitamins C and E, as well as many B vitamins, are abundant in coconut milk, all of which supports the immune system and helps provide energy to the cells. It’s also rich in magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and iron. Magnesium is responsible for regulating the heart’s rhythm and supporting the function of nerve cells, while potassium maintains the tissues of the heart, kidneys, brain and muscles. Phosphorus keeps teeth and bones strong, and iron creates red blood cells and carries oxygen throughout your body.
How to Make Coconut Milk
It’s a gift of nature to find all of this in one food. Although coconut milk is made on a large scale and can be readily be found on grocery shelves, it’s fun and simple to make on a small scale in your own kitchen. Simply steep ground coconut meat (fresh or dried) in hot water and then strain, leaving the fibrous portion behind, while the creamy liquid captures the health-promoting MCTs, protein, potassium and iron. Just add to smoothies, curries or whatever else your culinary imagination inspires.
Admit it: The typical workplace is hazardous to your health. You have access to bottomless coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. There are vending machines that gurgle out chips and sweets that you shouldn’t eat on a regular basis. You spend around six hours sitting on your butt, practically glued to your workstation. Having a sedentary desk job is terribly bad for our health, and it’s linked to an increased risk of disease, including obesity and heart problems. It’s high time that you do something when it comes to managing stress at work.
Photo courtesy sharyn morrow/Flickr
Sitting for prolonged periods of time is disastrous for your well-being. The human body was not designed to be idle, according to doctor James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative. “Lack of movement slows metabolism, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy and thus promoting fat accumulation, obesity, and the litany of ills—heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more—that comes with being overweight. Sitting is bad for lean people, too.”
As a regular office worker, how can you rectify this unfortunate situation without quitting your job? Luckily for you, there are lots of things you can do to get healthy, even if you’re stuck in the office. Ever wonder how Call-Center Agents get fit despite their schedule and workload? A little patience and resourcefulness are all it takes to begin your wellness journey. Here are some tips on how to stay fit, despite your office job.
1. Ditch the Car, if You Can
This is a splendid idea, given the horrendous traffic in the metro. If you live nearby and getting some cardio on your way to the office will not be detrimental to your health, why not walk or bike to work? You can get your heart pumping early in the day and you will save lots of money in the process. If your house is too far for walking or commuting, try parking your car a few blocks away and walk to the office when you alight from your vehicle. When you get to your building, don’t head for the elevator—take the stairs instead.
Photo courtesy Jackie.lck/Flickr
2. Get a Standing Desk
Because health problems are caused by sitting all the time, getting a standing desk is a wonderful solution to the problem. Working while standing may seem crazy and tiring, but it actually has many great benefits—some say it allows them to concentrate better, while some say it does a lot for the posture. This may not be easy for you at the start, but you can go slowly at first; begin working on the standing desk for 30 minutes, and then go for an hour. Gradually work your way up until you can spend most of your desk time standing up.
Photo courtesy Juhan Sonin/Flickr
3. Use a Fitness Ball as a Work Chair
Using a stability ball is a great way to improve your balance and burn some calories at the same time. Just like the standing desk, this may take some time to get used to, but once you hit the sweet spot, you’re going to reap the benefits. You’ll work on your core muscles while at the same time working on your monthly reports. It’s hitting two birds with one stone here. During your breaks, you can even use the fitness ball to squeeze in some wall squats or other exercises.
Photo courtesy Eli Sagor/Flickr
4. Bring Your Own Food
No more stopping by McDonald’s for a cheeseburger and fries. Prepare your own meals and bring them to work. Just like other health and fitness initiatives, it will take some practice and time management to be able to do this and incorporate it seamlessly into your routine, but hey: No pain, no gain.
It’s best to plan your meals ahead of time (the weekend is the best time to do it), cook or prepare them in advance, and stock them in the fridge so you can just reheat them in the office when it’s time to eat. Preparing your own food allows you to control your portions, choose healthier ingredients and stick to a particular budget. Not having to worry about your meals for the entire week will bring you less stress and allow you to stick to healthier eating habits.
Photo courtesy daveynin/Flickr
5. Don’t Stash Junk Food in Your Station
Most of us tend to reach for salty chips or sweet candy bars that are available whenever work stress kicks in. Before we know it, we’ve already consumed unhealthy amounts of calories that we’re supposed to avoid in the first place. Eliminate the temptation by removing junk food in your work station. If you must snack on something while working, try eating fruits instead, although we don’t advise finishing five servings of fruit in just one sitting.
Photo courtesy Global Panorama/Flickr
6. Get a Fitness Buddy
Getting fit and healthy in the workplace is a lot easier if you can do it with a colleague who has the same goals as you. Motivation buddies can do a lot for your determination, especially during those times when you’re tempted to skip a workout and just slack off. If you know someone who goes jogging after office hours, try joining him and establish a schedule.
Photo courtesy Brian Cribb/Flickr
7. Bring Exercise Gear to Work
This is a great idea, especially if you barely have the time to go to the gym after work. Use whatever free time you have in the office to do some quick exercises that packs in lots of effort in short sessions. Keep a couple of dumbbells or exercise mat in your drawers. Whenever you’re feeling stressed at work, relieve the tension by lifting weights or doing some push-ups. This sure beats reaching for your eleventh cup of coffee for the day just to get by.
Photo courtesy Mariam S/Flickr
Nothing is impossible for the determined office worker who truly wants to make a lifestyle change. Not having the time or means to go to the gym isn’t an excuse anymore. Make use of the time and resources you have and maximize them so you can exercise and eat right on a regular basis even in the busy confines of your office.
Aby League is a medical practitioner and an Elite Daily writer. She also writes about business and other topics of great interest. She also writes a blog, About Possibilities. Follow her @abyleague and circle her on Google+.
Coconut water is an antioxidant-rich substance that helps remove toxins from the body. It can aid in maintaining proper blood flow and sugar levels. Since it works to keep your body healthy, you’ll also see this reflected in your physical appearance. Coconut water can also improve the health of your skin and hair. Add this healthful beverage to your diet to reap these awesome benefits.
1. Aid Digestion
Coconut water can improve your digestion. If you have a healthy digestion, your body can eliminate waste and release toxins efficiently. Your digestive system supports your overall well-being because it helps break down the nutrients you get from the foods you eat. Anything that supports your digestive system is always good, and coconut water does that effectively.
2. Weight Loss
Obesity is one of the leading health issues in America. People are trying hard to lose weight. Coconut oil can help your weight loss endeavours. Since it acts as a diuretic, it is very effective in helping you lose weight. Coconut water also hydrates the body well. If you’re properly hydrated, your body will store less fat. It can help you lose excess water weight, which is very helpful if you are trying to shed a few pounds.
3. Balance Glucose
Coconut water has nutritional properties that help your body manage your blood sugar levels, which makes it great for diabetic patients. It has high fibers content, and it is an alkaline pH food, which makes it great for coping up with the acid-producing factors in the body.
Poor blood circulation is one of the effects of diabetes. Coconut water can improve blood circulation by widening blood vessels. This gives the patient relief from these problems. Abdominal weight gain is another effect of diabetes. It is filled with essential salts, minerals and other nutrients. It also has no cholesterol. Coconut water is rich in omega-3s and antioxidants. All of these nutrients help maintain blood sugar levels and body weight.
4. Stimulate Hair Growth
Poor blood circulation is one of the leading causes for hair loss. Since coconut water can improve your blood circulation, it can also remedy problems with thinning hair. With the proper blood flow, your hair follicles will be stronger and the density of your hair will increase.
Coconut water also has antibacterial and antifungal properties that will protect your scalp from dandruff and lice, both of which hinder hair growth. If you massage your hair with coconut water every day, you can tame rough and unruly hair. It also has hydrating properties; serving as a natural conditioner it will make your hair smooth, shiny and extra-soft.
Drink coconut water on a regular basis to keep your skin fresh, glowing and healthy. Coconut water is rich in zinc, iodine, selenium, manganese, sulphur and boron. These elements protect your body from cell damage caused by toxins. This will keep your body and skin looking young and vibrant. Coconut water also has cytokinins, which are phytohormones that can protect your body from aging and cancer.
6. Blemish Buster
If you have acne problems, coconut water can easily become your best friend. It can help eliminate acne and blemishes, dark spots and wrinkles. Mix coconut water with 25 grams of turmeric paste, wash your face with this mixture to eliminate stubborn acne.
7. Skin Hydration
Dehydration is very common during the summer due to the heat. Your skin can easily get dry or rough. Since coconut water is an excellent hydrating agent, use it as a simple face rinse to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Vaileria Dennis is a health and beauty expert. She has written various articles on beauty and makeup. In recent years, she has had the opportunity to learn about food and nutrition. She is always excited to share her ideas related to personal care, beauty tips and skin science.
It seems like everyone is watching their salt intake these days. But, should they? Maybe not. Here’s why you should fill your salt shaker with natural sea salt, and why you should be eating more, not less, of this wonderful mineral.
What You Need to Know About Refined Salt
Salt is sodium chloride. Commercial refined salt has had all, or nearly all, of its minerals stripped and is ground into tiny particles. Because heavily ground salt has a tendency to stick or clump, manufacturers add anti-caking agents so that it flows freely. Food-grade salt is 97 percent sodium chloride, with a small amount of iodine added.
Years ago, iodine deficiency was identified as an epidemic, so salt manufacturers began adding iodine to their table salt. It was a successful public health initiative and an important step toward minimizing iodine deficiency—something that results in hypothyroidism, mental retardation and other health problems.
Benefits of Eating Salt
Salt has many benefits for the body. For example, if you don’t consume enough salt, you may suffer from chronic, low-grade, inflammation. The body requires about 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, or 8 grams. If this isn’t part of your diet, your body shifts into a sort of “emergency mode,” sparing sodium so that it can maintain fluid balance and blood pressure.
When this doesn’t work, an enzyme called renin and a hormone called aldosterone rise. This is what starts various chronic inflammatory processes.
A lack of salt can result in dehydration, as sodium and chloride are important electrolytes. Aside from adding flavor to your meals, you could make electrolyte drinks. A simple concoction of lime or lemon juice with salt added—and a little sugar—can help keep you energized.
Other benefits of drinking salt water include better sleep, improved detoxification, bone health, better skin health, lower blood sugar, reduction in muscle cramps, healthier veins and even weight loss.
Sea Salt and Trace Minerals
Natural sea salt contains all of the trace minerals that nature endowed it with. Processing of sea salt is usually minimal, with evaporation being the most popular method. As sea water is evaporated, the salt is left behind. It can then be cleaned of debris and packaged for sale.
Sea salt is usually not ground as finely as table salt because no fillers or anti-caking agents are added. Different sea salts offer different benefits in the form of mineral impurities. These impurities change the color and taste of the salt.
For example, a pink salt, like Himalayan salt, is mined in Pakistan and contains trace amounts of iron oxide—rust—which is responsible for its pink color. It also contains 84 different trace elements.
Grey salt may contain higher amounts of trace minerals, which account for its color. However, it also has higher water content, making it a “wet salt.” This makes it ideal for some cooking applications where finishing salt is desirable.
Natural Sea Salt vs. Refined Salt
The major difference between table salt and sea salt is the number of additives that are used in table salt. Iodine is also added to table salt, so if you’re worried about iodine deficiency, you should consider taking in more salt with iodine added.
If you’d rather not have additives, like anti-caking agents, or you prefer chunky salt to ground salt, opt for sea salt.
Don’t sweat the differences in minerals—there’s not much of a difference between table salt and sea salt in this respect. Buy salt based on the taste your prefer.
A Word of Warning: High Blood Pressure
A lot of doctors are still telling patients to lower their salt intake if they have high blood pressure. This is because some older studies suggest that excess salt consumption may raise blood pressure. However, newer studies show that high blood pressure may actually be due to insufficient potassium and magnesium levels.
Decreasing your sodium intake might help, but you might also need to increase your intake of fish, start a magnesium supplement or potassium supplement (contact your doctor before taking supplemental potassium), and eat more bananas.
At the end of the day, eating salt is something that you will enjoy and it’s good for you. Don’t shy away from it, and make sure that you’re getting at least 8 grams a day to maintain your body’s most basic needs.
Jenny Bennett is a dietician. She loves sharing her health insights on the web. Her articles appear on health and wellness websites.
Essential oils are the tiny droplets contained in glands, glandular hairs, sacs or veins within various parts of a plant. These droplets are the essence or fragrant part of the plant, which are complex mixtures of naturally occurring chemicals that have a multi-faceted role within each plant. These oils can be used for physical and emotional healing via aromatherapy.
Each essential oil contains a unique set of benefits which the body and mind respond to. Essential oils enter our bloodstream through inhalation or absorption through skin. They then circulate throughout the body until they’re eliminated as perspiration and other bodily waste.
Discover how these five essential oils can aid in the healing process. All of the oils mentioned here are easily accessible and reasonably priced.
Lavender (Lavandula angustilfolia)
Balancing | Antiseptic | Antianxiety
Lavender essential oil is distilled from the flowers of the lavender plant. In small amounts lavender can calm, open sinuses, lift mood and repel some insects.
Applications: bath, diffuser, inhaler, massage, room mist, steam inhalation
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Respiration | Antibacterial | Antiviral
The essential oil of eucalyptus is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the tree. Use eucalyptus to open breathing passages, boost energy, relieve pain, as a disinfectant and repel insects.
Applications: bath, diffuser, inhaler, massage, room mist, steam inhalation
Orange (Citrus cinensis)
Tranquility | Antiseptic | Antianxiety
Orange essential oils are pressed from the peels. It has a calming effect, improves alertness and relieves emotional tension.
Applications: bath, diffuser, inhaler, massage, room mist
Peppermint (Mentha peperita)
Digestion | Antibacterial | Antiviral
The essential oil of peppermint is distilled from the whole plant. Peppermint is known to relieve nausea, open airways, increase alertness, reduce inflammation and repel insects.
Applications: diffuser, inhaler, spray mist and steam inhalation
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Basic-Aid | Antifungal | Anti-inflammatory
Tea tree essential oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the tree. It is often used to open sinuses, relieve pain, as a disinfectant and for healing minor abrasions.
Applications: bath, diffuser, inhaler, massage, room mist, steam inhalation
Ready to add these essential oils to your natural health routine, but aren't sure where to start? Diffusers and spritzes are some of the easiest ways to add the benefits of aromatherapy oils to daily life. Try these simple combinations that are perfect for summertime.
Video from YouTube content creator TiffyQuake.
This information is for educational purposes only. Dilute essential oils. Do not use internally. Keep out of the reach of children.
Desiree Bell is a natural lifestyle creator who explores, blogs, inspires and teaches people to be resourcefully creative. Find more inspiration on her blog.