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Archive for August 14, 2011

Holy Basil: The Queen of Stress-Reducing Herbs

Holy Basil: The Queen of Stress-Reducing Herbs

 

If you’re dealing with stress and interested in natural healing, you may have heard of the term “adaptogen.” If not, such as the name implies, adaptogens are a class of herb that literally helps you to adapt; to become more resistant to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. These days, who isn’t looking for something to help them weather the storm?

So, where to turn in a sea of natural remedies? I don’t claim to know the right herb for every person, but my favorite adaptogen and ‘the Queen of Herbs’ is Tulsi – also called Tulasi or Holy Basil (I will use all three terms interchangeably throughout this article.) There are three types of Tulsi mentioned in ancient Indian text: Krishna Tulasi (purple leaf Tulsi,) Rama Tulasi (green leaf Tulsi), and Vana Tulasi (wild leaf Tulsi.)

These holy plants have been revered in India for over five millennia; so much so, that at one point, almost every family had a plant growing at home, which they prayed to on a daily basis. Ancient Sanskrit teachings say that respecting and honoring the Tulasi plant will bring peace and happiness into your home life, awaken harmony in nature and create pure love and devotion in your heart.

When you hear about the reported benefits of Tulsi, it’s easy to understand why it is so revered. Tulsi is not just an amazing adaptogen, it has also been said to sharpen the memory, build immunity, support blood sugar levels, relieve fever, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improve digestion, and fight the common cold, as well as being an effective expectorant. It can also be used to treat sore throats, respiratory disorders, kidney stones, heart disorders, stomach issues, mouth infections, insect bites, skin disorders, teeth issues, headaches, eye issues, and more… Phew! Honestly, the list goes on and on.

So, now you can see why Tulsi is one of my favorite herbs. In fact the name ‘Tulasi’ loosely translates to “the incomparable one”.

Tulsi can be found on the market in many forms including tinctures, capsules, essential oils, flower essences, and as a loose leaf or bagged tea. Personally I experienced great benefits from the use of a potentized encapsulated tincture. These days, I tend to enjoy Tulsi as a tea throughout the day, either from a tea bag, or fresh from the garden. My go-to company for bagged Tulsi* is Organic India, both for their blends and their ethics. (Leesa’s too!)

As stated on their website:  “Organic India actively promotes sustainable agriculture and pays a premium market rate to our farmers.”  In countries such as India, where industrial agriculture has wrought havoc on the natural environment, efforts such as these are invaluable.  *Organic India also has encapsulated Tulsi, which can be an effective way to get a stronger dose, but I have not had a chance to test their capsules.

Three of my favorite Organic India blends are Tulsi Sweet Rose, Tulsi Green Tea, Tulsi Peppermint.

Tulsi Sweet Rose: Don’t be fooled by the smell of this tea bag before you brew it. It has a strong floral note before steeping, but after brewing it becomes mild, sweet and rather yummy. A strong brew of Organic India’s Sweet Rose is particularly wonderful chilled on a hot day.

Tulsi Green Tea: Although it may seem counterintuitive to mix a stimulant like green tea with an adaptogen like Tulsi, Organic India’s Tulsi Green Tea mix is one of my favorite blends for when I need a little morning encouragement. I find caffeine jarring to my system, but this blend seems to make me coherent without the jitters.  (This one is Leesa’s favorite! So good and good for you!) 

Tulsi Peppermint: Particularly good for an upset stomach or if you’re dealing with a cold. One of those teas I always like to have in the cupboard.

Growing instructions:

From my research and personal experience there is some disagreement on the level of difficulty in cultivating Tulsi.  All sources do agree though that these plants like it hot and can be difficult to grow in a temperate climate. However, with a bit of love and energy they have been known to flourish even in unfamiliar climates.

Here is the plan of action I came up with for planting my Tulsi seeds:

1.     In the late Spring/early Summer, create or buy a rich, vegan-organic potting mix.
2.     Fill a tray or small seedling pots with this mix, and lightly press seeds into the soil. (If you have some around, spray EM on the seeds first to give them a boost.) One seed per six inches of soil, or one seed per pot will do. If you can still see the seeds, gently sprinkle a small bit of dirt over the top of them.
3.     Keep the Tulsi seeds moist and warm until they germinate, which can take anywhere from one to six weeks.
4.     Like all basils, Tulsi will branch out when pruned correctly. After the first six sets of leaves appear, pinch off the top set of leaves. This action tells the plant to put its energy into branching out instead of reaching higher.
5.     Water your plant as needed, but do not be afraid to let the soil dry in-between watering. Tulsi likes well draining soil and will not do well if left sitting in water.
6.     If your plant starts to go to flower, you can either pinch off all the flower tips (so that the plant will put its energy back into growing) or you can allow part of the plant to flower and then go to seed – either way it is better not to let the entire plant go to flower.

However you decide to enjoy your Tulsi, I wish you the best of luck with your health, growing and tea brewing!

Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati is a Veganic Grower and Educator for Gentle World — a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about being vegan. Visit www.GentleWorld.org for more information.

How to Recover From a Sleep Deficit

How to Recover From a Sleep Deficit

Economic woes keep many of us awake,

but you can give yourself a bedtime bailout package.

Can’t sleep? If you find yourself looking up at the ceiling at 3 am thinking about your financial future, know that you are not alone. A third of Americans say that they have been losing sleep over the state of the economy and personal financial concerns, according to the results of a poll released last month by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The economy has added to the already epidemic number of Americans experiencing sleep difficulties: 72 percent of American adults report sleeping less than 8 hours a night, up from 62 percent in 2001. And 20 percent of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours a night, up from 13 percent in 2001.

Losing sleep does more than make you tired. Insufficient sleep is related to numerous cognitive, emotional, and medical conditions, including impaired concentration and anxiety, depression, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, as well as memory and immune dysfunction. Sleep deprivation is a public-safety issue as well, causing tens of thousands of car and truck accidents every year. In the recent NSF poll, 54 percent of drivers said they had driven while drowsy at least once during the past year, and 28 percent said they had nodded off or fallen asleep while driving a vehicle. When sleep-deprived subjects are brought into the lab to perform a driving simulation, they perform more poorly than intoxicated subjects.

WHAT IT MEANS: If you are one of the millions of people who are not getting the sleep you need, there are several strategies you can use to improve your sleep:

1. Stick to a schedule.

Do your best to fall sleep at about the same time each night and wake up at about the same time each morning, weekends included. Your body does best with a regular sleep-wake rhythm.

2. Stay away from food and alcohol.

Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before going to bed. Avoid drinking alcohol late in the evening. While a drink or two might relax you at first and help you fall asleep, the effect can wear off during the night, causing a rebound alertness that can wake you up and make it hard to get back to sleep.

3. Exercise.

Engage in vigorous exercise most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. “Vigorous” means that most of the time, you’re too out of breath to speak more than a few words. If exercising in the evening makes it hard for you to get to sleep, do your workout in the morning or afternoon.

4. Create a restful bedroom.

Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep. It should be dark, quiet, cool, and uncluttered. We spend so much time in our bedrooms that we tend to overlook the simple changes that could help us get more sleep, such as hanging thicker curtains to block out light, or moving the bed away from a noisy window.

5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.

The moment you get into bed, you want to have a feeling of rest and relaxation that invites sleep. But if you engage in brain-stimulating activities in the bedroom, such as watching TV, sending e-mails, or talking on the phone, you become conditioned to associate your bed with energy and alertness, and that interferes with sleep.

6. Learn how to relax your body and quiet your mind.

Simple relaxation techniques like slow abdominal breathing, progressive relaxation, or guided imagery allow your body to release tension and your mind to settle down so you can ease into sleep. If it’s worry and anxiety that keep your mind from settling down, keep a notebook by your bed and jot down your concerns (and any possible solutions) before you turn out the light. The act of recording your worries so you can tackle them later helps you feel more in control.

7. Don’t worry about falling sleep!

While this might sound like the ultimate catch-22 for someone struggling to sleep, this may be the most overlooked tactic of all. The truth is, you can lessen the struggle by changing the way you think about sleep. Instead of thinking, I’ll never get to sleep. I’ll be a wreck tomorrow, say to yourself, Eventually, I’ll get to sleep. Even if I don’t get a full night’s sleep, I’ll be able to function tomorrow. I always do. Try turning your alarm clock to the side so you won’t be constantly confronted with how late it is.

By Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, Rodale.com

Jeff Rossman, PhD, is a Rodale.com advisor, and director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA. His column, Mind-Body-Mood Booster, appears most weeks on Rodale.com.


Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. Rodale.com features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. Rodale.com also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

9 Easy Ways to Boost Brain Power

9 Easy Ways to Boost Brain Power

Forget almost everything you have been taught over the years about the aging human brain. Almost 70 years ago, a scientist declared that the aging brain diminished in memory, agility, and functionality while increasing in senility. Without much challenge, this theory was accepted for decades and taught as fact.

In reality, more recent studies have shown that the aging brain can continue to function actively and effectively if we recognize its needs for nutrition, challenge, reducing stress, exercise and more. “Use it or lose it,” say authors Alan D. Bragdon and David Gamon, Ph.D., in their book by the same title.

Many of today’s older adults have also been influenced by the long-time assumptions that the brain, mind and memory of an older person is a failing process. Therefore, they turn their daily lives to endless viewing of television, unhealthy eating, and increased complaining while also increasing personal stress. They abandon dreams and direction for the future.

1. Focus on nutrition: Proper nutrition is vital, particularly a diet strong in antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables are vital to provide what other parts of the body or system may now be denying to the brain and its function. Other physical challenges are probably reducing the effectiveness of the immune system; therefore, the addition of all the more antioxidants can definitely benefit the brain and its function. Interestingly, most research endorses coffee and its caffeine ingredient as a benefit to better brain function. And caffeinated teas may be of similar benefit.

2. Games, fun and solutions: Play games that call for thinking and evaluating before action. Playing cards with others can stimulate brain function while also providing sociable times with family members and friends. Puzzles, including crosswords, picture puzzles and word puzzles are great brain stimulants.

3. Involve your kids: Ask them to work on and complete a puzzle or game with you every day, or every week. When such is accomplished, congratulate your child for being a great teammate. Again, social interaction boosts the benefit of doing fun puzzles.

4. Start a diary: Start a daily diary, and even buy a quality book or binder plus a special pen to start. Share in the diary what you have accomplished over the years. The diary could also include “things or projects I want to do,” so to define many positive events and projects for the future. When you start sharing about tomorrow, a lot of stress and depression can start to disappear.

5. Stop smoking: Of course, this will be a challenge. But there are no benefits, but only negative effects to the brain from smoking. Smoking also contributes to diseases, including COPD.

6. Invite visitors over: Loneliness is a real downer for some adults, particularly if they withdraw from social events or relationships. Invite visitors to spend time with you, whether on a one-time or weekly basis.

7. Start walking: Physical exercise and movement is vital to the functioning of the adult brain and its best functioning. Daily walking, even several times around the block, is something that almost anyone can do. If you have current challenges in walking, perhaps 30 minutes each day, then in-home exercises, as simple as standing on one leg for 12 to 20 seconds and shifting to the other leg, may be appropriate and effective. The exercise produces aerobic benefits to the brain as well as the lungs, heart and general physical condition.

8. Keep laughing: There’s something to be said for the old saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” The act of laughing has been proven to have health benefits. If you are isolated a lot, movies and books can provide entertainment. Both Netflix.com and blockbuster.com enable you to order movies online and they will be delivered directly to the home – no need to run out to the video store.

9. Get out of the house: At least once each week, go somewhere. It may to a restaurant or bistro for a meal, a visit to a fair, entertainment or special event in your region or, even something as simple as lunch. This continues to open the world to you, while ensuring that you are still part of it.

By Leonard J. Hansen, AgingCare.com

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

 

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation — otherwise known as high blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys, and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity, smoking, or just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting back on sodium, according to the American Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg — about 1 teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches — also good for those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help you cut your salt intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners
They’re quick and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a huge sodium punch — as much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to MSNBC.com — and many of them don’t have enough vegetables to help you meet your daily requirements. For fast meals on busy nights, freeze leftovers or try make-ahead casseroles that go from freezer to oven to table with a minimum of effort (like Emeril’s Mexican Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice
Start by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil, dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite recipes.

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads
Salads, sandwiches, and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner options, but you can inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and salad dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your greens, use fresh tomatoes on your burger, and look for low-sodium versions of other condiments — or just make sure to watch your portions (one tablespoon of regular ketchup has a whopping 160-190 mg of sodium). Some companies do the work for you, though: This spring, according to the Huffington Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked its classic ketchup recipe to cut the sodium by 15 percent in response to new FDA salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For Homemade
Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying for the convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they pretty much require two things — water and time — and you can flavor them with vegetables, herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a crowd. Many companies also offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of popular soups, broths, and vegetables (but check the sodium levels on your frozen vegetables, too, especially if they come with seasonings or sauces: sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat all winter.

5. Avoid the Brine
Pickles, olives, sauerkraut, and just about any other vegetables that come in a brine may not feel unhealthy, but those brines were designed to preserve the food — which means there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in these foods, and try your hand at canning your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to be sure you know exactly how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats
Bacon, ham, salami, and other cured meats are another sodium obstacle: According to the NIH DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or poultry contains between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace them with fresh chicken, pork, fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch out for smoked and processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks
It doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in sodium than sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably tell you all by themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers, chips, and pretzels with fresh fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just can’t resist a snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn, low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour
Choosing whole wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help lower blood pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour), and they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing many health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta without adding salt to the cooking water, and you could end up with as little as 5 mg of sodium per serving.

9. Say No to Buttermilk
Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of its less-flavorful cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot more than just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural (not processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate
Okay, here’s one piece of good news: Dark chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to avoid, since some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help lower blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat, you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small amounts, it can have health benefits that go beyond a sugar rush.

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHuggerPlanet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

15 Reasons to Eat Organic Food

15 Reasons to Eat Organic Food

1. In study after study, research from independent organizations consistently shows organic food is higher in nutrients than traditional foods. Research shows that organic produce is higher in vitamin C, antioxidants, and the minerals calcium, iron, chromium, and magnesium.

2. They’re free of neurotoxins–toxins that are damaging to brain and nerve cells. A commonly-used class of pesticides called organophosphates was originally developed as a toxic nerve agent during World War I. When there was no longer a need for them in warfare, industry adapted them to kill pests on foods. Many pesticides are still considered neurotoxins.

3. They’re supportive of growing children’s brains and bodies. Children’s growing brains and bodies are far more susceptible to toxins than adults. Choosing organic helps feed their bodies without the exposure to pesticides and genetically-modified organisms, both of which have a relatively short history of use (and therefore safety).

4. They are real food, not pesticide factories. Eighteen percent of all genetically-modified seeds (and therefore foods that grow from them) are engineered to produce their own pesticides. Research shows that these seeds may continue producing pesticides inside your body once you’ve eaten the food grown from them! Foods that are actually pesticide factories…no thanks.

5. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that pesticides pollute the primary drinking source for half the American population. Organic farming is the best solution to the problem. Buying organic helps reduce pollution in our drinking water.

6. Organic food is earth-supportive (when big business keeps their hands out of it). Organic food production has been around for thousands of years and is the sustainable choice for the future. Compare that to modern agricultural practices that are destructive of the environment through widespread use of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers and have resulted in drastic environmental damage in many parts of the world.

7. Organic food choices grown on small-scale organic farms help ensure independent family farmers can create a livelihood. Consider it the domestic version of fair trade.

8. Most organic food simply tastes better than the pesticide-grown counterparts.

9. Organic food is not exposed to gas-ripening like some non-organic fruits and vegetables (like bananas).

10. Organic farms are safer for farm workers. Research at the Harvard School of Public Health found a 70 percent increase in Parkinson’s disease among people exposed to pesticides. Choosing organic foods means that more people will be able to work on farms without incurring the higher potential health risk of Parkinson’s or other illnesses.

11. Organic food supports wildlife habitats. Even with commonly used amounts of pesticides, wildlife is being harmed by exposure to pesticides.

12. Eating organic may reduce your cancer risk. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides potentially cancer-causing. It is reasonable to think that the rapidly increasing rates of cancer are at least partly linked to the use of these carcinogenic pesticides.

13. Choosing organic meat lessens your exposure to antibiotics, synthetic hormones, and drugs that find their way into the animals and ultimately into you.

14. Organic food is tried and tested. By some estimates genetically-modified food makes up 80% of the average person’s food consumption. Genetic modification of food is still experimental. Avoid being part of this wide scale and uncontrolled experiment.

15. Organic food supports greater biodiversity. Diversity is fundamental to life on this planet. Genetically-modified and non-organic food is focused on high yield monoculture and is destroying biodiversity.

by Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and eleven-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme Cure. Check out her natural health resources and free e-newsletter at www.WorldsHealthiestDiet.com.

7 Pains You Should Never Ignore

7 Pains You Should Never Ignore

Pay Attention to Your Body’s Signals

Usually a headache is just a headache, and heartburn is nothing more than a sign that your last meal didn’t agree with you. Except when they’re not.

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right. More often than not, you have some idea of what’s behind it. But when it comes on suddenly, lingers longer than usual, or just seems different, it calls for medical attention—and the sooner, the better. According to our experts, all of the following pain conditions should be considered red flags.

1. Chest pain

“If patients were to become well versed in what I think of as the subtle language of the heart, many could avoid needless worry and expense,” notes Arthur Agatston, MD, a preventive cardiologist. “Studies have found that women experience a wider range of heart attack symptoms than men do.” In Agatston’s experience, there are three good indicators that something isn’t right, and they can occur in either gender. They are chest pain that doesn’t go away, varied shortness of breath, and any upper body pain that hasn’t occurred before. If you experience any of these symptoms, he says, you should call your doctor or 911 immediately.

(Leesa recommends keeping aspirin available and getting medical care quickly makes a difference! Her sister’s husband had a heart attack at the early age of 47 this past week and survived due to her doing just that… Her sister and her husband recognized the early warning signs,  gave him an aspirin ASAP and got him to the hospital ASAP!  It saved his life!) 

2. Severe head pain

Chances are, it’s a migraine. But if it isn’t accompanied by other migraine symptoms (such as a visual aura), sudden, severe head pain can signal a brain aneurysm. “A burst aneurysm can cause brain damage within minutes, so you need to call 911 immediately,” advises Elsa-Grace Giardina, MD, a cardiologist and director of the Center for Women’s Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

3. A throbbing tooth

It’s likely that the tooth’s nerve has become damaged, probably because the surrounding pearly white enamel is cracked or rotting away. Unless you get it patched up quickly, bacteria in your mouth can invade the nerve. And you definitely don’t want that breeding colony to spread throughout your body, says Kimberly Harms, DDS, a dentist outside St. Paul, Minnesota. If your tooth is already infected, you’ll require a root canal, in which the tooth’s bacteria-laden pulp is removed and replaced with plastic caulking material.

(Leesa recommends making an informed decision  and recommends reading this article, http://bit.ly/cCpub0, and others like it about root canals on www.mercola.com)

 4. Sharp pain in your side

You may just need some Beano. But if you feel as if you’re being skewered in your right side, and you’re also nauseated and running a fever, you could have appendicitis. For women, another possibility is an ovarian cyst. Typically these fluid-filled sacs are harmless and disappear on their own. But if one twists or ruptures, it can cause terrible pain.

In both cases, you’re looking at emergency surgery. “If you don’t remove an inflamed appendix, it can burst,” says Lin Chang, MD, a gastroenterologist and co-director of the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women’s Health at UCLA. A twisted cyst also needs to be removed right away, as it can block blood flow to the ovary within hours.

5. Abdominal discomfort with gas or bloating

For the past month, you’ve felt gassy and bloated more days than not, and it takes fewer slices of pizza to fill you up than it once did. If the symptoms are new, the worst-case scenario is ovarian cancer. In 2007, the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation released the first national consensus on early symptoms of this form of cancer: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, and difficulty eating. If you start experiencing them almost daily for more than two or three weeks, consider it a red flag. Schedule an appointment with your ob-gyn to discuss your symptoms.

6. Back pain with tingling toes

If you’ve just helped your cousin move into her new fourth-floor apartment, anti-inflammatories should banish the pain. But if they don’t work, hobble to an orthopedist. “One of your discs (the spongy rings that cushion the bones in your spine) could be pressing on the spinal nerve,” says Letha Griffin, MD, an orthopedist and sports medicine specialist in Atlanta. Without proper attention, you risk permanent nerve damage.

7. Leg pain with swelling

Your calf is extremely tender in one location, noticeably swollen, and red or warm to the touch. You might have deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), commonly known as a blood clot. Resist the urge to massage the area or to try walking off the pain. If the clot breaks free, it can travel through your veins up to your lungs and cut off your oxygen supply. Instead, see your doctor right away. He or she will do a CT scan or ultrasound to check for a DVT. If that’s what you have, you’ll need to take blood thinners—sometimes for up to a year—to dissolve it, says Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, director of women and heart disease for the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Know the symptoms of a stroke

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious disability, according to the American Heart Association. If you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

From The List Maker’s Get-Healthy Guide (Rodale, 2010).

By the Editors of Prevention


Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. Rodale.com features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. Rodale.com also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

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