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Archive for May 1, 2012

13 Ayurvedic Anti-Aging Herbs

13 Ayurvedic Anti-Aging Herbs

 

The  modern sciences are engaged in researching the products and formula for   anti aging property. Based on recent scientific findings, one  of the techniques  of anti-aging, for both women and men, is herbal  treatment. The total blueprint  of herbal anti aging treatment  is in   Ayurveda,  the ancient Indian system of medicine are called Vata, Pitta,  and Kapha.  According to this system, the secret to productive anti aging  is to maintain  Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in perfect equilibrium. Rasayana  is an exceptional  ayurvedic anti aging  treatment. This method involves  two faculties namely, kutipravesika and  vatatapika. Kutipravesika  attributes itself to restricting the person being  treated in a tiny  shelter with just one small door. The system also requires  small holes  instead of windows.

In Ayurvedic herbal treatment, anti aging means principally keeping up a   healthy body into herbal treatment and bringing down the operation of  aging,  degeneration and depreciation. The objective of herbal anti-aging  treatment is  to aim for a healthy aging mode, and to maintain both mind  and body working at  optimum level, so the treasures of old age can be  relished with peace of mind  and vitality.

Amla(Emblica Officinalis): Amla is the best Rasayana as   mentioned in the  Charaka samhita. Amla is the magical herbs with the  rich  in Vitamin C. It is believed to have good rejuvenating power. The  fruits of  Amla  is used to make the Chyawanprash (Herbal tonic) and best  Rasayana.  So daily intake of Amla and its products is good anti aging  property.

Ginger Family: The rhizomes of the ginger family  contain an  array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients.  Ginger contains  essential oils and spicy substances such as gingerol,  shogaol, zingerone and  capsaicin, all of which increase peripheral blood  flow. It reduce cellular  inflammation for anti-aging skin care  benefits.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) rhizomes contain curcumin and  its  derivatives (curcuminoids) that are bright yellow in color. Their  hydrogenated  derivatives, tetrahydrocurcuminoids, are nearly colorless  materials. All of  them possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory  activity.

Galanga (Alpinia officinarum), also known as Galangal  or  Chinese ginger, contains essential oils, gingerols and a group of  pungent  substances, diarylheptanoids. Diarylheptanoids (and analogous  phenyl alkyl  ketones) possess excellent anti-arthritic properties due to  their arrest of  prostaglandin biosynthesis via inhibition of  5-lipoxygenase. Purified extracts  of galanga, which are composed  primarily of lower alkyl cinnamate esters, have  UV absorbing,  antioxidant and tyrosinase inhibiting properties.

Frankincense, Boswellia: Guggal (Boswellia serrata) has   been used for centuries as an arthritis treatment. This biochemical  mechanism  provides a way to formulate skin anti-aging products via the  incorporation of  extracts or isolated pure compounds.

Clove Family: Clove oil and clove buds have  applications as  toothache and muscular pain remedies. A number of plants  in this family,  notably Syzygium aromaticum, Syzygium corynocarpum and  Syzygium mallacense  contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory  constituents.

Vitis: The grape family is well known for its potent   antioxidant constituents, especially procyanidins, found mostly in  seeds, and  resveratrol, concentrated in skins of red and black grapes.  suggests their  application for skin anti-aging benefits.

Trace Metals: About 30 elements are recognized as  essential  to life. Some are required in macroscopic amounts in  essentially all forms of  life: H, Na, K, Mg, Ca, C, N, O, P, S and Cl.  The others occur in trace or  ultra-trace quantities. Fe, Cu and Zn are  at the top end of this “trace” scale.  The modulation of these  metalloenzymes by appropriate trace metal topical  therapies can lead to  new skin anti-aging ingredients and their formulation  methodologies.

Rosemary: It contains some of the most promising active   agents, including rosmarinic acid, and diterpenes ursolic acid,  carnosic acid,  carnosol, oleanolic acid, hinokiol and seco-hinokiol,  rofficerone, and  amyrenones, which, due to their reported strong  antioxidant, anti-inflammatory  and tyrosinase inhibiting properties.

Licorice: Glycyrrhiza glabra contains some very  exciting  active agents  Glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhetinic acid, glabrol,  glabridins and  various liquiritins are most interesting for skin care  applications due to  their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin color  (melanin) reduction  benefits. Neem: Azadirachta indica has been recognized  for its  antibacterial, insecticidal, antimalarial, hypoglycemic, and   would-healing benefits. Recent work has shown neem extracts to possess  strong  antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties.

Andrographis: Neoandrographolide, one of the principal   diterpene lactones, isolated from a medicinal herb Andrographis  paniculata  actively inhibits suggests potential for skin anti-aging  applications for both  andrographolide and neoandrographolide.

Pomegranate: Punica granatum provides a wealth of  wonderful antioxidant and free radical  neutralizing ingredients, for  example, ellagic acid, gallagic acid, punicalins,  and punicalagins. All  are suitable for anti-aging applications, although some  are not  commercially available.

by Dr.  Ram Mani Bhandari, Contributor to Ayurveda  on Allthingshealing.com

All Things Healing (allthingshealing.com) is an online  portal and community dedicated to informing and educating people across the  globe about alternative healing of mind, body, spirit and the planet at large.  We are committed to bringing together a worldwide community of individuals and  organizations who are working to heal themselves, each other, and the world. We  offer 39 healing categories, 80 plus editors who are experts in their fields, a  forum for each category, and an extensive “Find Practitioners” listing. Our  Costa Rica Learning Center and Spiritual Retreat is coming soon. Join  us!

11 Beauty Uses for Coconut

11 Beauty Uses for Coconut

Did you know that if you use the typical department or drug store brands of  cosmetics daily, you could be absorbing nearly 5 pounds of chemicals into your body annually?

Many of these widely distributed products that are highly advertised and  hyped, including some of the ones your dermatologist sells, have been linked to  deadly inflammatory conditions and even cancers.

You might want to check your personal care product labels and see if they include any of  the following: Mineral oil, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), petrolatum,  propylene glycol, gycerin, collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy  acids (AHA’s), bentonite, fragrances, kaolin, lanolin, lauramide DEA, sodium  chloride, or benzophenone. These are the culprits we don’t want to put  on our skin, which is the largest organ in our bodies.

Some of these ingredients are even advertising buzz words that we have become  accustomed to believe that they are actually good to have in our products, but  nothing could be further from the truth.

To the get the “skinny” on each of these ingredients and why you don’t want  to put them on your skin, please peruse, “The Truth About Cosmetics,” as we are going to learn how to  avoid all of them by making some or all of our own personal care and beauty  products both safely and cost effectively. I will share a few here but there is  a wealth to be mined online and you can experiment yourself with these recipes  and find many good ones.

Making our products ourselves is the very best way to be sure that we’re not  ingesting or applying these and many more dangerous chemicals topically. In the  spirit of DIY why not simply take matters in our own hands and make our own  meals at home as much as possible and make our own beauty and personal care  products, too? I think you will find that this can be both fun and easy to do  when using your own organic and natural ingredients. You might even find that  you may already have beauty-fuel ingredients right in your own kitchen that can  be the base of many homemade personal care products.

I suggest to my clients that the most important natural food and ingredient  to have on hand to use as a base for our homemade personal care products is  organic, expeller pressed, unrefined, virgin, coconut oil.

The Coconut and Its Beauty-Fuel Oil

The scientific name for the coconut is cocos nucifera. Spanish  explorers called it “coco,” which was said to mean “monkey face” because the  three holes on its surface, especially the pair of eyes on the hairy nut’s  surface resembles the face and the head of a monkey. Nucifera means “nut-bearing.”

Coconuts have been found to be extremely nutritious. They provide coconut  meat (which we usually purchase as flakes), juice, milk, and oil which has fed,  nourished and soothed populations, externally and internally around the world  for hundreds of years. Many island nations use the coconut as a staple food in  their diet because it provides the majority of the food the people eat. The idea  I present here is to use it both internally and externally!

Why Should We Use Coconut Oil Internally?

Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is  classified as a “functional food” because it provides many health benefits  beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest here because  it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is  extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations.  Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all that ails them. I  couple it for my clients with an organic cold extracted greenlip mussel oil  supplement in capsule form, in order to augment the benefits of the coconut oil  by incorporating the unique array of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids which  this marine source is rich in. See MoxxArt.com  for more information about greenlip mussel oil and its synergistic potential for  people and animals when combined with coconut oil.

The beautiful, bountiful, coconut palm is highly valued by  most island people as it is known to be both a source of food and medicine. It  has been known as “The Tree of Life.” Modern medical science has recently  unlocked the secrets to coconut’s amazing healing powers, according to the Coconut Research  Center.

Coconut Oil is Brilliant Topically

Coconut oil topically acts as a wonderful moisturizer for all types of skin,  including dry and aging skin. Coconut oil is a safe solution for preventing  dryness and flaking of skin and it makes a perfect massage oil, as well.  It is  known to delay the onset of wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become  prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems  including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Coconut oil  should and does form the foundation ingredient of various personal care products  such as soaps, lotions, and creams. Coconut oil also helps in preventing  premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

The nutritional benefits of coconut oil are said to include hair care, skin  care, stress relief, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, weight loss,  increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney  problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental  care, and bone strength. These benefits can be attributed to the presence of  lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as  antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

How to Use Coconut Oil in Our Daily Routine

To use coconut oil in your daily routine, it’s as simple as applying pure  coconut oil all over your body and then stepping into a steaming shower or tub.  And then how about using a homemade coconut oil scrub to exfoliate your  skin?

Scrubs offer a fantastic opportunity to remove dead skin and  make you feel invigorated in the process.

Here is my recipe for a homemade Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub, that is easy to  make and store:

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

1 cup organic coconut sugar 1/3 cup fine ground Himalayan Chrystal or pink  salt 1/2 cup cold or expeller pressed, virgin, organic, coconut oil 2-3  tablespoons almond oil 1 tablespoon vitamin E oil 1 or 2 drops of lavender essential oil (or you can use rose essential oil)

Since you might have a nice jar with lid on hand which you may have saved  from the recycling bin you can start with your own recycled jar, or buy a “Ball  Jar,”  add the Himalayan Chrystal or pink salt, coconut oil and then add the  rest of the ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. (I like to keep a small  wooden spoon in my shower or next to the tub to stir the scrub and spoon it into  my hand for easier application.)

For an all-natural moisturizer after bath or shower, pure coconut oil  is my favorite. It’s a beauty-fuel moisturizer and a potent source of  the beneficial fat lauric acid. I put a tablespoon in my herbal tea and sip this  before, during or after my bath or shower. Your thyroid gland loves coconut oil  as it helps to nourish it. One of the symptoms of hypothryroidism is dry skin so  we get double the benefits when we use coconut oil internally and externally as  often as possible.

How Else Can We Use Coconut Oil?

If you are using coconut oil for topical purposes, especially skin, scalp and  hair care, just melt the oil (if it is in its solid state) by keeping the bottle  in the sun or warming it in warm water. Coconut oil melts in hot weather and  congeals in cold weather and this is normal for coconut oil. You can also take  some coconut oil out and put it in a small bowl and heat the bowl over a flame  (do not use microwave). Then take the oil on your palm and apply it to your  skin, or scalp and hair.

Body Lotion: After a bath or shower, just massage coconut  oil all over your body— it feels and smells amazing. You can remove any excess  oil with a Turkish towel and rub yourself down briskly.

Facial Moisturizer: Whether your skin is dry or oily or even  if you struggle with acne, coconut oil turns out to be antimicrobial,  antifungal, and antibacterial, which explains why it heals skin conditions so  well.

Eye Makeup Remover: Just melt a little coconut oil in the  palm of your hand and apply it to a cotton ball and remove your eye makeup  gently, as you would with a store bought product. Don’t get any oil into your  eyes, please.

Hair Conditioner and De-Tangler: Coconut oil is great for  all hair types, thin, thick, straight or curly—coconut oil helps amazingly and  after blow drying or flat ironing apply a little to your hands and use to  achieve a sheen.

Deep Conditioner for Hair: Perhaps once a month or after  coloring, perming, straightening or other treatment, slather coconut oil on your  scalp and let it soak in for a little while and then shampoo out.

Toothpaste: Baking soda + coconut oil makes a fine  toothpaste.

Coconut Oil Shampoo: It’s not difficult to make your own  shampoo, as follows:

Homemade Coconut Oil Shampoo

Simply mix 1/4 cup coconut milk (I use the Thai canned coconut milk but there  are other options to experiment with or make your own) with 1/3 cup liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) and combine with 1  tablespoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon almond oil and 
10 to 20 drops of essential  oil of lavender or rose (stop after 10 drops and see how you like the fragrance  and then add more slowly checking after each addition to customize your  shampoo). Combine all ingredients in a blender or whisk thoroughly and pour into  a recycled shampoo bottle or jar and shake well.  Again you can recycle whatever  you have on hand for this purpose. It’s great to repurpose whenever we can.  Shampoo as you would with any shampoo and rinse well. A rinse of 50 percent  water and 50 percent white vinegar is a nice finish.

Or try a coconut oil hair mask.

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

Simply mix 1 tablespoon organic honey with 
3 tablespoons coconut oil   (optional ingredient) and one raw beaten egg yolk and whisk thoroughly or use  your blender. 
While still in the shower and your hair is still wet but not  dripping, pour the hair mask a little bit at a time onto the ends of your hair,  working your way up to the scalp. As soon as you’ve used all the mask and your  hair is thoroughly coated, wrap it in a damp warm towel or a shower cap and  leave in for 30 minutes. Rinse and shampoo your hair as usual. For a deeper  conditioning treatment try this:

Deep Coconut Oil Conditioner Recipe

One very ripe mashed fresh avocado 2 tablespoons coconut oil 2  tablespoons purified water 2 tablespoons organic (preferably raw) heavy  cream

Combine all ingredients and using a wide tooth comb, comb it through your  hair and cover with a shower cap or a wrap your head in a warm towel for  about 30 minutes. Allow the Deep Coconut Oil Conditioner to penetrate deep into  your hair and scalp, then rinse the conditioner out with tepid water.   Shampoo with our homemade coconut oil shampoo and rinse.

All of these homemade personal care products will last a bit longer and stay  fresher (up to a week) if you keep them in the fridge!

You can see by these examples that there are many personal care products that  we can make ourselves by utilizing the beauty-fuel coconut and other natural  ingredients. When we cook with and use coconut oil in many of our recipes, we  make full use of the beauty-fuel benefits of the bounty that the coconut and  nature itself offers us. This way we can achieve beauty that is more than skin  deep!

By Celeste Yarnall,  Ph.D

Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D is an author, lecturer and holistic practitioner.  Through her company Celestial Pets,  she consults with animal companions and specializes in the species specific, raw  carnivore diet and EFT Tapping solutions. She is a medical intuitive, Reiki  Master and author of 4 books. She and her husband, Nazim Nazim, a contemporary  artist, live in Westlake Village, CA with their 4 cats! You can connect with Celeste  on Facebook here.

7 Warm-Weather Foods with Surprising Health Benefits

7 Warm-Weather Foods with Surprising Health Benefits

The days are getting warmer and longer, inspiring people to engage in  backyard barbecues, and midday picnics.

Even if your elderly loved one isn’t able to take part in traditions like  cookouts, or holiday parties, you can introduce seasonal celebrations into their  lives through food. Many popular warm-weather foods even offer the added bonus  of helping a senior get the nutrients they need to remain healthy.

Here are some popular spring and summer treats that may offer some unexpected  health benefits for you and your elderly loved one. Ruth Frechman, M.A., a  registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Nutrition and  Dietetics, offers her perspective on how these foods can be both tasty and  nutritious for seniors.

Watermelon: Synonymous with summer, this juicy fruit is not  only low-fat, it also contains a staggering amount of nutrients seniors need.  Pound for pound, watermelon  has more lycopene than any other fresh fruit or veggie. Also found in tomatoes,  lycopene is an antioxidant that has been shown to combat certain forms of cancer  and heart disease. Watermelon is also packed with potassium, which can be a boon  for seniors suffering from potassium deficiency, or hypokalemia. According to  the National Institutes for Health, hypokalemia in seniors can sometimes be  brought on by certain heart failure and blood pressure meds, and can cause  problems with heart and muscle function. Watermelon also contains significant  amounts of vitamins A, C, and B6.

Iceberg lettuce: Don’t forgo a spring salad just because it  has romaine lettuce in it. Oft-maligned as the less-healthy relative of spinach  and romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce actually has more of the antioxidant  alpha-carotene than either of them. Alpha-carotene (and its companion,  beta-carotene) can be transformed by the body into vitamin A, which can help  maintain good eye health. Research has shown that alpha-carotene, on its own,  may also play a role in lowering a person’s risk of dying from ailments such as  cancer and cardiovascular disease. Iceberg lettuce also has a good deal of  vitamin K, which can help combat osteoporosis and regulate blood clotting.  Frechman says that, because the amount of alpha-carotene in iceberg lettuce is  relatively low compared to other veggies, so you may want to add some carrots,  tomatoes, and spinach to a salad to boost its overall carotene content.

Spices: Seasoned sauces and rubs are the cornerstones of a  delicious warm weather cook-out. Spices can serve the dual purpose of making  food more flavorful to seniors whose ability to taste has been diminished, as  well as helping them fight off disease. From tumeric, whose primary compound,  curcumin has been shown to be beneficial in fighting off diseases such as  Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer; to cinnamon, which can help people with  type 2 diabetes by lowering their blood sugar, total cholesterol, and  triglycerides, spices have numerous potential health benefits.

Popcorn: Going the movies to see a popular summer flick can  be a simple, fun way for caregivers and their elderly loved ones to get out of  the house. Popcorn has been a cinema staple for years, and often gets a bad rap  for being unhealthy. But, if you forgo the extra salt and butter, recent  research indicates that popcorn may actually have health benefits. Researchers  found polyphenols—a group of beneficial antioxidants—to be more plentiful in  popcorn than certain fruits and veggies. Popcorn is also a pure source of whole  grain, an important dietary element for seniors. (Leesa recommends the bag of Organic Popcorn in Olive Oil found at Trader Joes!)

Party dip: Perennial components of popular party dips, tomatoes and avocados  can offer seniors an array of healthy nutrients. Salsa comprised of tomatoes and  other vegetables can provide an elderly person with part of their daily  recommended vegetable intake, as well as antioxidants such as lycopene. Though  they are high in (“good”) fat, avocados, the main component of guacamole, are  full of vitamins and minerals that can deliver a host of health benefits to  seniors. (Leesa says to make sure the veggies are organic!)

Eggs: Sometimes shunned as a member of the protein portion  of MyPlate, eggs are actually a good source of protein and contain many essential  vitamins and minerals, including vitamins: A, D, E, B6 and B12. And, it’s  not just egg whites that contain health benefits. According to Frechman, egg  yolks contain choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin—several nutrients that are  essential for good eye health. (Leesa recommends using free-range organic eggs.) 

Chocolate: In moderation, certain types of chocolate  are actually good for you. Dark chocolate is chock-full of antioxidants and has  been shown to have numerous health benefits, including: reducing blood pressure,  and increasing insulin sensitivity. (Leesa recommends Vivani Organic Dark Chocolate – order yours today from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/vivanichocolate. )

While this article is directed at the elderly, Leesa says everyone can enjoy the benefits of these foods! Enjoy!

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com  Editor

AgingCare.com provides online  caregiver support by connecting people caring for elderly parents to other  caregivers, elder care experts, personalized information, and local resources.  AgingCare.com has become the trusted resource for exchanging ideas, sharing  conversations and finding credible information for those seeking elder care  solutions.

5 Ways to Clear the Air and Stay Healthy

5 Ways to Clear the Air & Stay Healthy

Airborne chemicals are embedded inside our homes. They swirl around us as  toxic gases emitted from the poorly-labeled bottles of cleaning fluids in our  kitchens and bathrooms, from the bug sprays and air fresheners we use, and from  the glues, sealants, and flame retardants in our furniture. They are also  dragged inside our homes on the bottoms of our shoes and then stirred up when we  walk on our carpets. Studies have shown that the air that surrounds us indoors is  more toxic than the air outdoors…even if you live in a highly polluted city like  Los Angeles or New York.

Airborne chemicals are known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. They are  called volatile because they don’t stay put…they evaporate into the air and then  you breathe them in. You never really think that your home could make you tired,  irritable or even sick, but over time your body may absorb common VOCs like formaldehyde, phthalates, or PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl  ethers) which are the chemicals in flame retardants used in furniture, which  have been found in human breast milk and dryer lint.

These chemicals may exacerbate allergies and asthma, and can cause fatigue, nausea, dizziness, eye, nose  and throat irritation, cough, headache, flu-like symptoms, and skin irritation.  As they accumulate in the body over time they can silently affect how efficient  your body runs, like whether you can maintain a healthy metabolism, burn fat  well, and keep your hormones in balance. Some also are known to cause heart,  lung or kidney damage and even cancer and nerve damage if exposure is prolonged.  This in turn can have a devastating effect on your health. If your liver, for  instance, becomes taxed by an overburden of chemicals, it may not work  efficiently, setting you up for other health problems.

There are literally millions of chemicals that have been invented by humans in the last 60  years and depending on who you ask, somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 are in  common use today. Yet only a very tiny percentage have ever been directly tested  for their effects on human health.

Our bodies are remarkably resilient in defending ourselves from these  chemicals, but only to a point. Scientists question the cumulative effect. It is common  sense to believe that the more chemicals you are exposed to, the more likely you  will eventually be negatively affected by them. Here are some easy and effective  ways to reduce your exposure to chemicals in your home and minimize your risk of  getting sick. They are simple to do and will give you peace of mind in knowing  you are doing something proactive to help you and your family stay healthy.

5 Ways to Reduce Toxins by Clearing the Air:

  • Remove your shoes at the front door. Shoes track in lead,  pesticides and other pollutants. Stuff we track in from the outside can make our  home toxic, especially for pets and young children who spend more time on the  floor. At the very least get a good doormat to wipe your shoes before entering  your home.
  • Vacuum with a well-sealed high quality HEPA vacuum cleaner.  This can do a much better job of cleaning your carpets than the cheaper vacuum  cleaners found at most department stores. Steam cleaning can kill dust mites and  bacteria as well.
  • Avoid buying new upholstered furniture containing halogenated fire  retardants. If it contains polyurethane foam, look for models where the  foam is thickly covered or wrapped inside the cushion so dust from it is less  likely to escape into your home. See if they offer non-toxic stain resistant  fabrics as well.
  • Use an air purifier. Try one with HEPA  (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) technology developed by the US Atomic  Energy Commission to filter and trap sub-micron particles. Many reviews say this  type of air purifier is the most effective.
  • Add houseplants to green and purify your living space. A NASA  study found that common houseplants are natural air purifiers. Look for Aloe  Vera, Philodendron, Rubber Plant, English Ivy, Ficus, Boston Fern, Gerbera  Daisy, and Spider Plant, to name a few.

For more practical, simple solutions on how to have a super healthy home  or work environment, visit www.BethGreer.com and www.healthyhighway.org

By Beth Greer

Beth Greer, The Super Natural  Mom®, is author of the bestseller Super Natural Home, endorsed by  Deepak Chopra and Ralph Nader. She’s a radio talk show host, former  President/Co-Owner of The Learning Annex, Certified Build It Green® Healthy  Home/Workplace Specialist, Huffington Post columnist, and Environmental Health  Consultant, who eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or  surgery. Beth is a trusted consumer advocate in the Natural Product and  Sustainability Market and consults for spas, homes, businesses, schools and  health centers nationwide.

7 Surprising Reasons You Wake Up Tired

7 Surprising Reasons You Wake Up Tired

When you can’t sleep, you know it. But what about when you can, yet you wake  up feeling tired and achy or you’re groggy again a few hours later? What’s that  about? All too often, it turns out, the problem is one that doesn’t keep you  awake but does sabotage your sleep in more subtle ways, so the hours you spend  in bed don’t refresh and revitalize you the way they should. Here are seven  signs that you have a sleep problem that’s secretly stealing your rest.

1. You sleep poorly and wake with a bad taste in your  mouth.

What it’s a symptom of: “Morning mouth” can be a  signal of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or asymptomatic heartburn.  Recent sleep studies have shown that up to 25 percent of people who report  sleeping poorly without a diagnosed cause have sleep-related acid reflux. But  because they don’t have obvious heartburn symptoms, they’re unaware of the  condition.

How it interrupts sleep: Acid reflux causes the  body to partially awaken from sleep, even when there are no symptoms of  heartburn. The result of this “silent reflux” is fitful, uneven sleep, but when  you wake up digestion is complete and you can’t tell why you slept poorly.

What to do: Follow treatment suggestions for  heartburn, even though you aren’t experiencing classic heartburn symptoms: Don’t  eat for at least two hours before hitting the sack, and avoid acid-causing foods  in your evening meals. (Alcohol, chocolate, heavy sauces, fatty meats, spicy  foods, citrus fruits, and tomatoes all contribute to heartburn and acid reflux.)  Some doctors also recommend chewing gum before bed, because it boosts the  production of saliva, which neutralizes stomach acid.

Certain medications, particularly aspirin and other painkillers, are hard on  the stomach and esophageal lining, so don’t take them just before bed.

Sleep studies have shown that sleeping on the left side reduces symptoms, and  sleeping on the right side causes them to worsen because acid takes longer to  clear out of the esophagus when you’re on your right side. If you prefer to  sleep on your back — a position that can increase reflux — elevating your head  and shoulders can help.

Losing weight can do wonders to banish heartburn and acid reflux. And if all  else fails, try taking an over-the-counter antacid.

2. You toss and turn or wake up often to use the  bathroom.

What it’s a symptom of: Nocturia is the official  name for waking  up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. The National Sleep  Foundation estimates that 65 percent of older adults are sleep deprived as a  result of frequent nighttime urination. Normally, our bodies have a natural  process that concentrates urine while we sleep so we can get six to eight hours  without waking. But as we get older, we become less able to hold fluids for long  periods because of a decline in antidiuretic hormones.

How it interrupts sleep: For some people, the  problem manifests as having to get up to use the bathroom, and then being unable  to get back to sleep. Once middle-of-the-night sleeplessness attacks, they lie  awake for hours. But for others the problem is more subtle; they may sleep  fitfully without waking fully, as the body attempts to send a signal that it  needs to go.

What to do: Start with simple steps. Don’t drink  any liquids for at least three hours before going to bed. This includes foods  with a lot of liquid in them, like soups or fruit. Lower your coffee and tea  consumption; the acids in coffee and tea can irritate the bladder. Don’t drink  alcohol, which functions as a diuretic as well as a bladder irritant.

Go to the bathroom last thing before getting in bed and relax long enough to  fully empty your bladder. It’s also important to get checked for conditions that  cause urination problems. Guys, this means getting your prostate checked.  Inflammation of the prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPN), and prostate  tumors can all cause frequent urination. In women, overactive  bladder, urinary  tract infections, incontinence,  and cystitis are common causes of urinary problems.

Diabetes  can also cause frequent urination, so if you haven’t been tested for diabetes  recently, see your doctor. Certain drugs such as diuretics and heart medications  can contribute to this problem; if that’s the case, talk to your doctor about  taking them earlier in the day. A prescription antidiuretic can cut down on  nighttime urination if all else fails and there’s no underlying issue.

3. Your jaw clicks, pops, or feels sore, or your teeth are wearing  down.

What it’s a symptom of: Teeth grinding, officially  known as bruxism,  is a subconscious neuromuscular activity. Bruxism often goes on without your  being aware of it; experts estimate that only 5 percent of people who grind  their teeth or clench their jaws know they do it until a sleep partner notices  the telltale sound or a dentist detects wear on the teeth. Jaw clenching is  another form of bruxism, except you clench your teeth tightly together rather  than moving them from side to side. Jaw clenching can be harder to detect than  grinding, but one sign is waking with pain or stiffness in the neck.

How it interrupts sleep: Bruxism involves tensing  of the jaw muscles, so it interferes with the relaxation necessary for deep  sleep. And if you’re fully grinding, your body is engaged in movement rather  than resting.

What to do: See a dentist. If you don’t have one,  dental schools often offer low-cost dental care provided by students supervised  by a professor. A dentist can look for underlying causes, such as problems with  your bite alignment, and can prescribe a mouth-guard-type device such as a  dental splint. If jaw clenching is your primary issue, there are specific dental  devices for that.

Experts also suggest giving up gum chewing during the day, because the  habitual chewing action can continue at night. Some people who grind their teeth  have experienced relief from botox injections to the jaw muscle. Others have had  success using a new biofeedback device called Grindcare, approved by the FDA in  2010.

4. You move all over the bed or wake tangled in the  covers.

What it’s a symptom of: That kind of movement  indicates restless  leg syndrome or a related problem, periodic limb movement disorder  (PLMD).

How it interrupts sleep: Doctors don’t know exactly  what causes these sleep movement disorders, but they do know they’re directly  related to a lack of deep, restful, REM sleep. The restlessness can prevent you  from sinking into deep sleep, or a muscle jerk can wake or partially rouse you  from deep sleep.

What to do: See a doctor to discuss your symptoms  and get a diagnosis, which may also involve looking for underlying conditions  related to restless leg syndrome or PLMD. Diabetes, arthritis,  peripheral neuropathy, anemia, thyroid disease, and kidney problems can all  contribute to restless leg syndrome and PLMD. Make sure to tell your doctor  about any medications you’re taking; a number of medications, including  antidepressants, antihistamines, and lithium, can cause restless leg syndrome as  a side effect.

You can also try making dietary changes to make sure you’re getting enough  iron and B vitamins, particularly folic acid, since iron and folate deficiency  have been linked to restless leg syndrome. Red meat, spinach, and other leafy  greens are good sources of both nutrients, but you may want to take supplements  as well. If your doctor diagnoses restless leg syndrome or PLMD, medications  used to treat Parkinson’s can relieve symptoms by eliminating the muscle jerks.  Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help you sleep more deeply, with  the idea of preventing the involuntary movements from keeping you in light  sleep.

5. You wake up with a dry mouth or horrible morning  breath.

What it’s a symptom of: Mouth breathing and snoring  both disrupt sleep by compromising breathing. Look for drool on your pillow or  in the corners of your mouth. If you have a partner, ask him or her to monitor  you for snoring, gasping, or overloud breathing.

How it interrupts sleep: Mouth breathing and  snoring can interrupt sleep because you’re not getting enough air to fully  relax. Severe snoring — particularly when accompanied by gasps or snorts — can  also indicate a more serious problem with obstructed breathing during sleep.

What to do: Train yourself to breathe through your  nose. Try snore-stopping nose strips, available over the counter at the  drugstore, or use saline nasal spray to irrigate your nasal passages. Experiment  with sleep positions; most people have a tendency to snore and breathe through  their mouths when sleeping on their backs. Use pillows to prop yourself on your  side, or try the tennis ball trick: Put a tennis ball in the back pocket of your  pajama bottoms (or attach it some other way), so it alerts you when you roll  over.

If you typically drink alcohol in the evening, try cutting it out. Alcohol, a  sedative, relaxes the muscles of the nose and throat, contributing to snoring.  Other sedatives and sleeping pills do the same thing, so avoid using anything  sedating. Alcohol also can trigger snoring in two other ways: It makes you sleep  more deeply initially and is dehydrating.

Losing weight — even just ten pounds — can eliminate snoring, studies show.  If none of these solutions work, consult a doctor to get tested for  sleep-disordered breathing conditions such as apnea.

6. You sleep fitfully, feel exhausted all the time, and wake with a  sore throat or neck pain.

What it’s a symptom of: Obstructive  sleep apnea is a disorder defined as breathing interrupted by intervals of  ten seconds or more. A milder sleep breathing problem is upper  airway resistance syndrome (UARS), in which breathing is obstructed but  stops for shorter intervals of under ten seconds. The number of people who have  sleep apnea and don’t know it is astounding; experts estimate that 20 million  Americans have sleep apnea, and 87 percent of those are unaware they have the  problem. One mistaken assumption is that you have to snore to have sleep apnea.  In fact, many people with apnea don’t snore.

How it interrupts sleep: Obstructive sleep apnea  results when the throat closes and cuts off airflow, preventing you from getting  enough oxygen. UARS is similar, but it’s usually tongue position that blocks air  from getting into the throat. Blood oxygen levels drop, and when the brain knows  it’s not getting enough oxygen, it starts to wake up. This causes fitful,  unproductive sleep. Weight gain is a major factor in sleep apnea, because when  people gain weight they end up with extra-soft tissue in the throat area, which  causes or contributes to the blockage.

What to do: See an otolaryngologist, who will  examine your nose, mouth, and throat to see what’s interrupting your breathing  and how to fix the problem. It’s also important to have your oxygen levels  measured during sleep. Your doctor will likely recommend using a Continuous  Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, a mask that blows air directly into your  airways. Studies have shown CPAP masks to be extremely effective in treating  sleep apnea. Another mask called a BiPap (Bilevel positive airway pressure  device) works similarly but has dual pressure settings. Airway masks only work  if you wear them, so work closely with your doctor to choose a model that’s  comfortable for you.

Other options include oral appliances, which change your mouth position by  moving your jaw forward to open up the throat, and surgery, which aims to remove  the excess tissue from the throat. Newer, minimally invasive outpatient surgical  treatments include the Pillar procedure, which involves using permanent stitches  to firm up the soft palate; coblation, which uses radiofrequency to shrink nasal  tissues; and use of a carbon dioxide laser to shrink the tonsils.

7. You get a full night’s sleep but feel groggy all the time or get  sleepy while driving.

What it’s a symptom of: This signals circadian  rhythm problems or, more simply, getting out of sync with night and day.  Irregular sleep patterns, staying up late under bright lights, working a shift  schedule, using computers and other devices in bed, and having too much light in  the room while you sleep can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Why it interrupts sleep: The onset of darkness  triggers production of the hormone melatonin, which tells the brain it’s time to  sleep. Conversely, when your eyes register light, it shuts off melatonin  production and tells you it’s time to wake up. Even a small amount of ambient  light in the room can keep your body from falling into and remaining in a deep  sleep. The use of devices with lighted screens is especially problematic in  terms of melatonin production because the light shines directly into your eyes.  This light is also at the blue end of the spectrum, which scientists believe is  particularly disruptive to circadian rhythms.

What to do: Try to get on a regular sleep schedule  that’s not too far off from the natural cycle of night and day — and preferably  the same schedule all week. (Experts recommend 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. to 7  a.m. every night, but that’s just a general outline.) If you struggle with not  feeling alert in the morning, go outside and take a brisk walk in daylight to  feel more awake; you’ll find that it’s much easier to fall asleep the following  night. This is also a trick experts recommend to help night owls reset their  internal clocks. Force yourself to get up and get into bright light one or two  mornings in a row and you’ll be less likely to get that “second wind” and burn  the midnight oil or experience nighttime sleeplessness.

As much as possible, banish all screens (TVs, computers, and iPads) for at  least an hour before bed. Reading is much more sleep-inducing than looking at a  lighted screen, but make sure your reading light isn’t too bright and turn it so  it doesn’t shine in your eyes. Remove night-lights; if you need to get up in the  middle of the night, keep a small flashlight next to your bed, being careful to  turn it away from you. Check your bedroom for all sources of light, however  small. Does your smoke alarm have a light in it? Put tape over it. Use an alarm  clock without a lighted dial, or cover it. If your windows allow moonlight and  light from streetlights to shine in, install blackout curtains or shades tightly  fitted to the window frames. Don’t charge laptops, phones, cameras, and other  devices in your bedroom unless you cover the light they give off.

(Leesa recommeds rubbing Lavendar essential oil on the soles of your feet before bed!)

By Melanie  Haiken, Caring.com  senior editor

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