Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HEALTHY SKIN NATURALLY FROM THE INSIDE OUT
While I am not a fan of having my picture taken, because this post is about skin care, I thought it only fair to show mine. This is me shortly after my 67th birthday in January. I will say it is nice when someone tells me I don't look my age but am by no means escaping the aging process. Feeling good and vital are my main concerns, looking a bit younger is just a bonus.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body but is often only cared for on the outside. Maintaining its health should be a joint effort between what goes into our body as well as what we put on and expose it too. 
While heredity may play a part in how our skin fares with the aging process our lifestyle choices, what we eat/drink and supplements we do or don't take are all big factors in the health of our skin. I think it is also important to be comfortable with the "skin you are in" during each decade of our life. This is especially true the older we become.
I'll be the first to admit that noticing changes in my physical appearance is not an easy adjustment. We are a society that worships youth and there is a big monetary stake in that. But if you live long enough, the aging process will take place. There is a saying, "growing old isn't for the faint of heart", or something to that effect. For the most part, changes occur subtly, so much so, they aren't quickly noticed. Then one day you look in the mirror and say, when did that happen? With any luck, by the time the changes start adding up, we are secure enough with our inner being to be accepting of our outside appearance. 
Our skin type is a factor with aging but what we do is of far more importance. Even those who initially tan instead of burning can overdue their sun exposure which may show up prematurely as dry, wrinkled skin. It is interesting to note that just recently I heard a dermatologist say our everyday, normal activities cause a big cumulative effect regarding sun exposure damage, more so than tanning.
While my olive complexion kept me from burning in my youth, I also didn't start going to the beach and laying in the sun until my early 20's. I don't remember using sunscreen either. Back then it was suntan lotion to get that, "copper tone tan". In my 30's and 40's I started using sunscreen as there were frequent warnings regarding skin cancer. But still, at that time, not many of us realized how sun damage could result in premature aging of the skin. It is the UV rays which erode the elastic tissues in the skin and cause wrinkling. I've often felt that vanity could play a bigger part in promoting the protection of our skin. Because youth tends to feel infallible to cancer, maybe the threat of premature wrinkled skin may be the deterrent to emphasize for avoiding excessive sun worshiping!
So while becoming aware of deleterious sun exposure, what else was I doing for my skin health? Luckily, my smoking habits were never an addiction and I stopped social smoking and drinking in my early 40's. This is a total body benefit; smoking for obvious reasons but both these habits dry out the skin and promote wrinkling. Caffeine also does this and while I haven't been able to give it up, I do limit my consumption. During my 40's my diet was shifting to no refined or processed foods except for the occasional meal out when the food prep wasn't from my hands. Lots more fruits/vegetables (raw as much as possible), whole grains, nuts/seeds, some dairy, chicken/fish/tofu and mostly everything organic became our meals and snacks.
The supplements I started using were for my overall well-being, and unknown to me at the time, quite beneficial to my skin. A whole food multi vitamin, probiotic and omega oils (from flax seed and fish) were the basics. But some of the vitamins and supplements I was using for health issues have also had great benefits. I feel my daily lysine intake has proven to be one of the most significant nutrients for the health of my skin as is MSM. Used for joint health it is also at the top of the list for helping to smooth and prevent wrinkles as listed in "The Prescription for Nutritional Healing". Calcium/magnesium and glucosamine sulfate which I take are also listed. A Jarrow Formulas Hyaluronic Acid  is also for joint and connective tissue health. The antioxidants I use are Twinlab C Plus Citrus Bio Capsules, Natrol Alpha Lipoic Acid and Nature's Way Grape Seed extract. Antioxidants are important in controlling free radical damage throughout our body including the breakdown of collagen in connective tissues which releases chemicals causing skin inflammation leading to skin aging and wrinkling. These are the vitamins and supplements I have been taking for many years now.It is also important to get some exercise, even moderately, as this increases circulation of blood to the skin. I walk, bike ride and do yoga.
This brings me to caring for my skin on the outside. Just as I was transitioning my diet to natural and organic foods, all my body care products were being changed too. No more traditional soaps, shampoos, lotions, face creams, etc. for me! But it should be said that it took a lot of trying and testing before I found the products that suited me. They were narrowed down by scent, feel, results, price and it took years before I settled into the products I use now and have been using for about two decades. The first to change was going from a soap to a body wash, Body Wash-Apricot Satin Jason. This was the scent I found most pleasing. Shampoos and conditioners I like are by Nature's Gate Organics, the Lemongrass & Clary Sage and the Herbavita Line of Shampoo and Conditioners. My favorite body and hand lotion is Nature's Gate Moisturizing Lotion, Papaya. The Reviva Body Firming Lotion is also a good product. Remember, my favorites may not become yours, but there are so many wonderful products to choose from. A deodorant switch was made with Crystal Essence Chamomile and Green Tea Roll On Crystal Body Deodorant.
My routine is simply a morning shower with the body wash and a loofa; this is a wonderful way to slough off dead skin and get the circulation going. To wash my face and neck I use a cotton wash cloth. After my shower, it is body lotion all over; very important to nourish your skin and help keep it moisturized. But when I step out of the shower the first thing I do is pat my face dry and use three products, they are all by Reviva Labs.
I first heard about the ingredients in the skin cream while watching a PBS show almost 15 years ago with Dr. Nicholas Perricone discussing "The Wrinkle Cure". It is beneficial to apply the products to warm, moist skin. First I use the Reviva Firming Eye Serum then the Reviva Labs - Serum Hyaluronic Acid and finally the Reviva Labs Alpha Lipoic Acid Vitamin C Ester and DMAE Cream. That's it nothing more during the day or at night! My make-up is easy as I use very little, a bit of face powder, blush and no liquid make up. Because my eyes are so sensitive to irritants, I haven't used mascara for many years but will use eye shadow occasionally. The products are by Zia and the lip shimmers are from Burts Bees. But again, there are so many great companies to choose from. A store like Whole Foods will often have samples for you to try. Some of the products can be quite pricey but I think I have found good ones that are reasonable.
I've always believed that less is better and that includes the temptation to do so much more to my skin. I've never even had a facial; maybe I am missing out and could look even younger. But I've drawn the line on what I will and won't do in caring for my skin and believe that supplying the nutrients it needs with diet, vitamins/supplements and natural products topically is far more important than any corrective steps to be taken on the outside. The integrity of your skin including how well it heals from cuts, scrapes, and burns will also be improved. Case in point, two weeks ago I burned my right forearm with boiling water. The burn was about the size of an egg. Immediately I ran it under cold water for 5 minutes and then put lavender oil on (saw this on Dr. Oz). It was bright red and over the next few days was obviously a 2nd degree burn. I kept applying the lavender oil and a light bandage when going out. The healing process continued through the various stages to a point where I thought for sure there would be scarring. But looking at my arm today, there is no evidence that it was ever burned. I think I am quite happy with the skin I am in.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT, NATURAL TREATMENT FOR HERPES/SHINGLES

If you've read my other posts on herpes/shingles, you know I've been dealing with this reoccurring problem for almost 2 decades. My introduction to shingles was with face sensitivity/pain, sometimes across my eye, and throbbing head pain. A canker sore (even though they are not associated with the herpes simplex I virus) would show up on my gum or near the back of my throat on the side of my head with pain. After some research I determined this was shingles without a rash or, zoster sin herpete. To my dismay, the episodes were becoming more and more frequent. Taking large doses of l-lysine, 500mg 4-5 times a day greatly helped shorten an attack and 500-1000 mg daily proved useful in preventing one. But sometimes the daily dose didn't keep the onset of a throbbing pain from poking through, neither did watching my lysine/arginine ratio which kept me from eating some of my favorite foods, nuts and chocolate. The episodes seemed to be occurring more often. Was my immune system low, too much stress, or my diet causing the problem? It really was distressing to think I'd have to get used to this as part of my life. Even though I could keep an episode brief, each time it happened flu like symptoms and fatigue would accompany it.
But by chance, I stumbled on to something new that really seems to be preventing outbreaks. When I had a cold at the end of March one of the "remedies" I started to use was grapefruit seed extract. I had read about its many uses when I worked at Whole Foods and kept some on hand. It is safe and effective to use externally and internally against 800 different types of viruses, bacteria, yeast and fungi. There is much good information on the internet and the brand I use is, Nutribiotic Gse Liquid Concentrate. My cold passed and I discontinued using GSE. But when I felt a shingles outbreak trying to come through during the middle of April, I started using it again and have continued to do so. It is now the middle of July and I haven't had any signs of shingles trying to break through. It is pretty amazing to me, especially since I am only taking 500 mg of lysine once a day and have also been eating nuts and chocolate. Could it all be a coincidence? 
Well, I am going to continue using the GSE every morning, 10 drops in about 1/3 cup of water. The information I have says to discontinue its use after several months. Maybe September will be a good time for me to stop using the product and see what happens. But I will be quick to start it again if I have any signs of a shingles attack. It is also noted that GSE acts much like an antibiotic in killing off harmful bacteria and occasionally may wipe out some of the good flora in the intestinal tract. Because of this, it is recommended to take a probiotic when using the extract long term.  

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.

Friday, July 4, 2014

EYE HEALTH WITH NATURAL TREATMENTS

If we are lucky enough when young to have healthy eyes, we need to ensure their continuing good health through the decades. But unfortunately aside from annual exams and maybe glasses, most people do little else for their eyes.
I became aware of what could be ahead for my eyes during my 30's and 40's while helping my father deal with eye problems in his 70's and 80's. His vision started to become impaired by cataracts and he eventually needed lens replacement in both eyes. But the seriousness of glaucoma was also to be dealt with using prescription eye drops which had side effects. Added to this was advancing macular degeneration and at the time, there was nothing to help halt or reverse it. His eyesight continued to deteriorate for both distance and closeup. No eye glass prescriptions could compensate for what was happening and the situation led to his frequent depression.
As a child I didn't need glasses but struggled with "allergy eyes". While I had and still have allergies all year long, certain times of the year were and still are much worse for my eyes. The itching, irritation and tearing are so difficult  to deal with. I tried all the typical over-the-counter and prescription eye drops. But nothing ever really eliminated the symptoms for any length of time. By my late 30's I needed glasses for distance vision, closeup was still very good. I finally gave in to buying the glasses in my early 40's. During a routine eye exam in my mid 40's, I was told I had "baby cataracts. Now it was time to become proactive and not do the "wait and see" routine. This coincided with my desire for a holistic approach to my health issues.



Doing some research on the internet, radio shows and books led me to start taking supplements for my eyes that I still take today. A good blend of vitamins, minerals and herbs that helps to nourish and support the eyes is Opti-Vue from the Vitamin Shoppe. It contains two very important ingredients lutein and zeaxanthin, both derived from marigolds. Two Nature's Way products I use are Nature's Way Eyebright Herb, good for irritation and eyestrain and Nature's Way Bilberry, useful for night blindness, cataracts and may help halt or prevent macular degeneration. The Co Q10 I started taking for other problems is also very beneficial in protecting the eyes from macular degeneration. I became more vigilant with the use of sun glasses too. My next eye exam was two years later and there was no evidence at all of "baby cataracts"! My prescription for distance glasses never needed to be improved on. In fact, in my late 50's, I noticed things looked more blurry with the glasses on. An eye exam concluded I no longer needed the prescription glasses! I don't know if the shape of my eye changed and made the difference or the supplements did it. For closeup work I use a very mild magnification in glasses and can read without them. It also became obvious to me not to schedule an eye exam from mid spring to early fall as that is when my eyes are most subject to irritation, itching and being blurry.
When my eyes are slightly irritated and/or tired I like using BOIRON Optique 1 Eye Drops and Natures Tears EyeMist. For itching and irritation, Similasan Irritated Eye Relief or Allergy Eye Relief usually calm things down. A cool, wet cloth often brings quick relief too. There is a great section on eye health and conditions in "Prescription for Nutritional Healing". 
Never underestimate the positive effect a healthy diet and supplements have on your eye health. I am hoping to continue "seeing" the good results.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.     

Thursday, June 5, 2014

BALANCING YOUR BODY PH NATURALLY

When I was young, balancing the ph in soil or water was somewhat familiar to me. But sadly, it wasn't until my early 50's that I realized how very important it is to have the proper pHbalance in your body. Searching for remedies to halt and reverse my newly discovered osteopenia led me to stumble upon the correlation between an acidic body and calcium being leached from my bones. The body does this in attempt to balance a pH that is too acid.
Learning about the acid/alkaline reactions in the body and their effects was truly an eye opener! When the body is too acidic an accumulation of acid waste is in the tissues, organs, blood vessels, muscles, etc. Testing the pH using saliva and urine is helpful but is not an exact indicator of the amount of acid waste actually in the system as the fluids are constantly running through all the tissues in an attempt to remove the excess acid waste. If not eliminated, the waste is put back into general circulation via reabsorbtion from the colon into the liver and deposited in the tissues It is this accumulation in our system that is the cause of so much ill health. 
An excellent book on the subject which covers causes, illnesses, diet, lifestyle and everything to reverse the effects of an acidic body is, Alkalize or Die: Superior Health Through Proper Alkaline-Acid Balance. While the title is startling, the book is an amazing source of information and explains the, "Rule of 80/20". This refers to eating 80% of your foods from the alkaline forming list and 20% from the acid forming list. But foods aren't all that can disrupt the body's pH and we all need to be more aware of the ill effects of processed foods, medications, alcohol and so much more. I have had the book for over 15 years and still refer to its food charts and recommendations. 
I did purchase diagnostic pH paper to test my saliva and urine just for a general idea of where my number was on the acid/alkaline adjustment scale. When I first started the testing, my body was quite a bit more acid than it should be. But it wasn't long before it started falling into balance by eating properly and taking certain supplements like calcium and magnesium. While I don't feel the need to test myself often, when I do, PHion Balance Diagnostic Ph Test Strips are what I use. Actually, I started listening to my body more and being an observer of what happens upon eating certain foods. If I eat brown rice and tofu without enough vegetables, I can feel my pH is off and one look at the coating on my tongue proves it! Eating a few almonds, watermelon or other fruit will help get it back in balance. It isn't rocket science but it is truly fascinating. While changing my body pH didn't do much to reverse my osteopenia, I'm sure it helped halt it somewhat. I've had to rely on different supplements to help address my bone density which has finally started to improve. But there is no doubt in my mind how important the acid/alkaline balance is to our overall good health and am certain of the benefits it has given me.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.