Saturday, July 7, 2012

Type 2 Diabetes - Breast Cancer, Insulin Resistance, and Diabetes

As you know, breast cancer is considered to be epidemic amongst women over age fifty. Insulin resistance which is the underlying problem for the vast majority of people with Type 2 diabetes, has also been linked to an increased risk for this type of cancer.
Investigators at the University of North Carolina in the United States looked further into the problem of Type 2 diabetes and breast cancer. Their interest was in other factors associated with diabetes and this form of cancer, and with survival.
Their study, published in July 2012 in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, included 1,447 women with diabetes, and 1,453 without.
  • women with diabetes were at a 35 per cent higher risk of developing breast cancer after menopause than were women without diabetes.
  • non-white women with diabetes were more than three times more likely to develop breast cancer both before and after menopause.
The risk of death from any cause was greater in diabetic women with breast cancer than in non-diabetic women, and that difference was particularly significant among women who were obese when cancer was diagnosed. How long the volunteers had known they had Type 2 diabetes and the type of treatment they were receiving for it, had no influence upon the cancer.
From these results, it was concluded diabetes could increase the incidence of this type of cancer in older women and non-whites and the incidence of death due to any cause.
Eight basic signs and symptoms can indicate the possibility of breast cancer:
  • a hard mass in the side the breast or underarm, can sometimes be felt. Breasts naturally have soft lumps, but a hard lump should be examined by a doctor.
  • a breast with cancer can swell or become warm, red, or darker.
  • the usual shape of the breast can change.
  • dimpling or puckering of the skin, giving it the appearance of orange peel, is another sign.
  • the nipple or other part of the breast can be pulled in.
  • an itchy, scaly sore or rash can develop on the nipple.
  • a sudden nipple discharge can develop. Bloody or clear discharge can indicate cancer or infection.
  • a new pain that stays in one place can be a symptom of breast cancer.
When in doubt, have your breasts examined.
Breast mammography is recommended beginning at age 40 for women with average risk. For women with a family history of breast cancer, mammography can start earlier. Professional breast exams should be performed beginning at age 20 and every 3 years thereafter until the age of 40, when the frequency should be increased to every year.
Some ways of preventing breast cancer include breastfeeding if possible, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, limiting alcohol intake, and limiting the use of postmenopausal hormones.
The woman's menstrual history can apparently affect your risk of breast cancer, but many experts are in conflict as to how significant a role it really plays in the big picture.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Naturally Fragrant Air Conditioner

Peppermint, with its strong, minty aroma, is typically associated with the holidays. Think of candy canes hanging on the Christmas tree and taped to beautifully wrapped packages. Or how about chocolate peppermint bark or peppermint-flavored hard tack candies?
But don't be fooled. This scent of the season is not so seasonal after all. While thoughts of peppermint may evoke feelings of warmth in November and December, peppermint is also for the dog days of summer.
So hot that it's cool, so cool that it's hot
Essential oil of peppermint is known as an adaptogen in aromatherapy parlance. In other words, it adapts to whatever it is you need it to do. Peppermint warms you up when you're cold, and when you're hot it cools you down. Other popular, adaptive essential oils include lavender and lemon. Their effects are either sedating or stimulating, and, like peppermint, they adapt in the direction that most benefits you.
Peppermint or Mentha piperita, the plant's Latin botanical name, is a very popular herb that many people plant in their gardens. In fact, I'm growing some peppermint in a terracotta pot on my patio this summer. Here's a fun experiment: Try "petting" the leaf of the plant, like some visitors to my home did earlier today. Then smell your hand that caressed those leaves. My guests found it delightful that their fingers smelled of peppermint. While touching the plant's leaves they had crushed and therefore released its fragrant molecules.
These tiny, aromatic molecules are what compose essential oils, which not only smell wonderfully and benefit us in many ways, but in nature they serve to protect plants from predators. Simultaneously, they attract the "good guys" with their aroma. These "good guys" include pollinators such as bees and moths that help a plant species propagate.
Distilling it all down
Various parts of botanicals, such as leaves, stems, blossoms, and roots, are steam distilled to extract essential oil. If you're a person of a certain age, think of Granny Clampett making her moonshine and you'll have a good idea of the distillation process.
During distillation, the plant's oil is forced out by steam, and afterward the water and the oil are separated from each other. The resulting "essential oil" is a light and water-like substance. Essential oils are in stark contrast to the heavy, fatty vegetable oils, such as olive and almond, which are indeed "oily" to the touch.
Making scents of it all
Essential oils are used in the creation of perfumes, soaps and in all types of consumer products such as toothpaste.
In aromatherapy, we use pure essential oils to enhance our overall wellbeing. The oils have been time-tested throughout the ages as healing aids for the human body and emotions. Although the practice of aromatherapy has long been considered part of folklore, modern science is beginning to support what our ancestors knew and what modern-day aromatherapy practitioners know: we can benefit in many ways from the healing properties of botanical essences.
If you've decided to make yourself a Peppermint Spritzer to help cool off this summer, use a good quality essential oil-not synthetic fragrance oil. The best place for a consumer to start is at a health food store you trust. There are also many online sources for pure essential oils, but my experience is that most people who are not all that familiar with aromatherapy feel better visiting a health food store and talking with someone who is knowledgable about essential oils.
One quick way to discern a true essential oil from synthetic fragrance oil is to look for the Latin botanical name on the bottle. If you don't see it, don't buy the oil because it's most likely synthetic fragrance oil and not a true essential oil.
Almost all essential oils require dilution prior to their use, usually in a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil. However, for our purposes we will use spring water or distilled water as our carrier.
My personal blend during the summer months is 10 drops of high-quality essential oil of peppermint in 4 ounces of distilled water. I blend the formula in an amber glass spray bottle. You can find these bottles online; however, you will usually need to buy in quantity and it is difficult (but not impossible) to find single, amber glass bottles with a sprayer for sale. Fortunately, many health food stores sell individual amber glass bottles with sprayers. Why amber glass? An amber glass bottle is a must because you want to keep sunlight away from the essential oil. Otherwise, the efficacy of the oil may be compromised as a result of exposure to direct sunlight.
I keep my Peppermint Spritzer refrigerated so that it's doubly cooling. Simply shake the bottle before each use and then spritz yourself, using common sense caution by avoiding your eyes, pets and children.
In addition, I also keep a bottle at the bedside for those hot flashes that come in the middle of the night. Women in midlife may find this basic blend a powerful solution to annoying, episodic "heated moments" that often occur pre-menopause, during menopause and post-menopause.
Essential oil of peppermint has many other wonderfully amazing uses due to its chemical make up. For example, it's often used for nausea and gastrointestinal distress-but that's an article for another time.
Finally, essential oil of peppermint has rejuvenating and refreshing properties, so another benefit of your Peppermint Spritzer is that it won't only cool you down physically, but it will also lift your spirits.
How to make a Peppermint Spritzer
Items you'll need
• 4 oz. amber glass bottle with sprayer
• 10 drops of essential oil of peppermint (from a dropper top bottle or else you will need an actual dropper)
• Distilled or spring water
• Add enough water to almost fill the bottle, but not enough to make the water overflow when you place the sprayer inside the bottle
• Add 10 drops of essential oil of peppermint
• Insert the sprayer into the bottle-and your blend is ready.
How to use
• Shake well before spraying and blend the essential oil and water.
• Spritz yourself during those times you need to cool off, or when you need to revive your spirits.
Hint: store your Peppermint Spritzer in the refrigerator to keep this cooling blend really cool.
Please use common sense caution, especially if you have sensitivities, are pregnant or ill. Avoid mucous membranes, and keep away from your eyes. Keep the Peppermint Spritz blend and all essential oils out of reach of children and pets.
Melanie McMillan is a writer, editor and lecturer, as well as a student of theology and a certified aromatherapist who has formally studied botanical essences in the U.S. and in France.
She recently authored her first e-Book, Fashion from the field, which is a short, quirky little book with helpful hints gleaned from Melanie's days spent as a style editor for a small, weekly newspaper in a rural area of Connecticut where many key names in the fashion industry have homes or second homes. Some of the advice in Fashion from the Field comes from these "names," and also from Melanie's own mother, who graces the cover of the book.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Aromatherapy For Aches And Pains

Lately a lot of clients have complained of aches and pains from back and knee injuries, arthritis, joint pain, overdoing it in the garden, sports or just general twinges here and there, tight shoulders and lower back pain.
A good remedy for all of these is Marjoram oil which I use in a blend with several other oils depending on your temperament. The other oils supplement any other tension you may have in the body or any other issues you may need rectified. If you suffer from any aches or pains or have hurt yourself why not treat it the gentle way with oil? Add some lavender and peppermint to relax and refresh you.
Good oils for stress and tension are: Basil, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Lavender, Melissa, Neroli, Orange, Rose, Rosewood and Ylang Ylang. Just a few drops in a burner will set a nice atmosphere and lower your stress levels. Alternatively mix a few drops of each in a base of jojoba, grapeseed or almond oil and use as massage oil or in the bath.
An alternative to manufactured shampoos is to start making your own. Buy just the shampoo base which will cost you about $5-$6 for a huge container which will last months. Mix a carrier oil of almond, jojoba or grapeseed (about 50mls) with some Roman chamomile (12 drops), Lavender (8 drops), Rosemary (5 drops), Frankincense (5 drops). Make sure you only buy the natural oils. They cost a bit more but it's worth it. You don't want chemicals in your hair. Shake and add this to the shampoo base and then shake the mixture again. Use this to shampoo as you would any other shop bought shampoos. Do not use anything else on your hair except this for about three months. You will notice a change.
Remember its important with essential oils to not use Neroli or Rosemary if you are pregnant or epileptic. Also do not use Ylang Ylang if you have LOW blood pressure. Less is best when mixing oils and always mix oils in a carrier oil for massaging into hair or skin. Make sure the oils are all natural so no chemicals release into your body. As a rule go by what smells nice to you, and don't mix more than a few oils together at a time.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lavender Oil Health Scents

Lavender Oil is highly regarded for its pleasing smell, making it a popular addition to soaps, fragrances and aroma therapy candles. However, this oil extracted from the lovely lavender plant is more than just a pleasing fragrance. Lavender oil has been found to have many different health benefits from stress relief to joint pain making it a must have oil for everyone interested in holistic health and healing.
Here are some of the ways Lavender Oil can benefit you:
Stress Relief
One of the main reasons that many of us like to burn lavender scented candles is because of the oil's ability to relieve stress and tension. Just a few drops of the oil can help refresh the mind and can even promote sleep when applied to your pillow.
Inhaling lavender oil via a vaporizer is a great way to help deal with congestion caused by colds or allergies. It is also a great way to find relief from sinus headaches.
Stings, Bites and Burns
Lavender Oil has natural analgesic properties making it an ideal application for bug bites and bee stings. Simple use a cotton swab to apply the oil to the affected area and the pain and irritation will cease. These same pain relieving properties also make the oil great for sunburns.
Joint Pain
Mixing lavender with jojoba oil is a great way to help massage away the pain caused by inflammation of the joints. This is especially ideal for people who are sensitive to over the counter pain medications. Be sure to get the massage done by an experience person in order to get the most use out of the oil.
Fungal Infections
Lavender has natural anti-fungal properties making it a natural treatment for athlete's feet. Simply soak your feet in warm water with a few drops of lavender oil. It is also affective against planter's warts as well as psoriasis.
Skin and Scalp Problems
Lavender is great for your skin. You can treat eczema and acne my mixing lavender oil with chamomile and applying it to the trouble spots.
Taken internally, lavender essential oil can help with digestion, blood circulation an d improve your digestive system. This is only recommended for adults.
Now you can see why lavender oil is such a popular addition to soaps, shampoos and perfumes. Having these products around can help a person find relief from stress and having the oil handy can help with all sorts of ailments. Since allergic reactions are possible and some people cannot handle the odor, be sure to test the oil out first before using it. Lavender oil is not recommended for small children, pregnant women or diabetics.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Soy Candles and Their Alchemy

Long ago, candles were important for everyday life, giving a source of lighting after sunset. These days, scented candles are a luxury - using fragrance to create varied moods, while their dancing flame soothes the mind.
Candles consist of two basic elements: 1) a fuel source i.e. wax and 2) a wick. The wick is significant to the candle function as it serves as the fuel delivery system.
A naked flame is used to ignite the wick, which then melts some of the wax at the candle exterior. The liquefied wax is drawn up through the wick fibres by capillary action - this is because of the way soy wax molecules adhere to the wick fibres.
After the soy wax reaches the uppermost part of the wick, it turns to vapour upon contact with the burning flame. Combustion occurs as hot soy wax vapour combines with oxygen, producing the candle flame. Heat and light are released in this exothermic reaction.
Interestingly, a candle wick only burns at its very tip. The other parts of the wick are involved in capillary action, and are protected from burning by the vaporisation of the fuel. This has to do with a chemical property named the latent heat of vaporisation, in which the fuel takes up much of the nearby heat, allowing it to change from liquid to gas. This effect maintains the wick at a lower temperature than it would typically be.
The flame keeps burning, generating generous amounts of liquid wax, which is used as a fuel and vaporised. This creates the highly fragrant essential oils into the air.
Why are natural soy wax candles good?
Soy is a native East Asian plant that is both a renewable material and biodegradable - hence it is an eco-friendly option for the responsible consumer. The soy plant can be continually developed without harming the natural ecosystem.
To generate soy wax, the soy beans are farmed from the plant and processed into oil, which is then distilled and hydrogenated. Converting unsaturated fatty acids into saturated fat - generating a firm creamy white wax.
Soy wax has the benefit that it is slow burning due to its low melting point, this results in appreciably longer burn times for soy candles. It is also a very clean burning wax, and does not discharge dangerous chemicals such as toluene and benzene as paraffin based candles can.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Professional Care Needed for Safe and Effective Aromatherapy

Essential oils have powerful healing properties and have been used to treat imbalances of the mind, body and spirit for hundreds of years.
In aromatherapy massage, essential oils complement a holistic treatment plan which is unique to each individual client. They are highly concentrated plant oils which have a wide range of healing properties which can boost your mood in a variety of ways including, stress relief, boosting energy, detoxifying, decongesting and uplifting.
Calm and slow movements are used to massage the oils into the skin. This enhances physical and emotional wellbeing by encouraging deep relaxation. They are absorbed into the skin during the massage and reach the internal organs through the body's circulatory system.
The scent of the essential oils is inhaled during the massage and can influence the emotions, hormones and nervous system. Benefits of this include relieving tension and stress, encouraging deep relaxation, stimulating the immune system and improving blood and lymph circulation, boosting energy levels and enhancing overall wellbeing and mental calm.
There is a considerable difference between the essential oils used for aromatherapy massage and the blended oils that are used for treatments in beauty spas and salons. Handling and using the oils requires specialist training as they are highly concentrated and potent. Often, only a few drops are needed to reach the desired effect.
Occasionally, clients need to be aware that the combination of massage and essential oils can be over stimulating. Pregnant women, for example, require specialist massage treatment and should speak to their massage therapist before beginning treatment.
Unfortunately aromatherapy can be seen as a 'lightweight' or just for 'a bit of relaxation and a pamper' and often when offered through beauty salons and spas this is how it is described and advertised. However, essential oils are an excellent treatment for a range of emotional and physical stresses and can calm the mind and boost the body's natural energy sources.
To get the full benefits, these potent oils should be handled carefully and used to enhance a bespoke treatment that focuses on the individual needs of each client. Before beginning treatment ensure that the therapist you have chosen is qualified and experienced in the use of these potent natural extracts and that you have discussed fully with your therapist the symptoms you are experiencing and required relief.
Often after a thorough consultation and depending on the skills and qualifications your selected professional massage therapist has they will combine aromatherapy massage with other massage therapy techniques to create a unique treatment plan for you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Light Therapy Pain Relief: NASA Study Opens the Door for Drug Free Treatment

Light therapy pain relief has become a staple form of treatment for individuals in both the Navy and NASA. Their initial studies on bone marrow transplant patients have led to the implementation of this medication alternative in specific professions to lessen the amount of experienced discomfort or inflammation of a patient. The NASA studies centered on how infrared light at defined wavelengths is capable of promoting cell regeneration, cell functions, and general discomfort alleviation. Their confirmation of treatment effectiveness to alleviate pain safely has caused the method to be adopted in various medical areas.
Advanced light therapy has been proven to expedite wound restoration, reduce inflammation, and decrease pain. The procedure involves using a device to emit the required wavelength to a designated area of the body through a concentrated source by means of Light Emitting Diodes (LED's). It has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for every kind of ailment, but the NASA studies generated awareness of this option as an alternative to traditional drugs.
Why is Advanced Light Therapy Effective?
Advanced light therapy is a procedure where photons are emitted through a special device designed to reach unhealthy or abnormal cells underneath surface tissue by means of a certain light wavelength. The LED's provide necessary photons for energizing damaged cell mitochondria to speed up repair while alleviating discomfort. Fast cell regrowth limits the time required to regenerate a wounded area and supplies a reduced amount of pain. Quick regeneration eliminates discomfort as an individual's health is restored. The non-invasive treatment requires multiple visits or home applications to be effective. Session counts vary based on the type of ailment and the level of experienced discomfort. The main benefits offered by using light therapy pain relief are elimination of harmful drugs, faster relief, and a shortened recovery time. Individuals considering remedying acute or chronic pain by these means are encouraged to discuss all options with a doctor before making a choice.
This treatment choice has proven highly effective in the alleviation of joint or muscle aches. NASA found that patients receiving bone marrow transplants had a noticeable discomfort reduction when advanced light therapy was applied. Plant studies showed cells exposed to LED's grew as much as two hundred percent faster than those receiving no stimulation. A more recent study displayed the possible benefits of LED application among pediatric cancer patients. Bone marrow transplant patients in particular develop a condition called oral mucositis, which causes mouth or throat ulcerations, extreme soreness, and intestinal tract inflammation. They have a difficult time chewing due to the ulcerations and swallowing is sometimes near impossible. Inability to drink or eat quickly diminishes the patient's health, with medication providing the only relief.
Latest studies prove that LEDs can help alleviate many of these symptoms. Dr. Harry Whelan found the study results to be encouraging, and the extended research has caused light therapy pain relief to become a justifiable choice over the administration of multiple medications. The study has opened eyes among medical professionals regarding the possible benefits of this treatment for remedying discomfort without the use of drugs.