- ABCs of Health – “J” is for joint health
- Heart Health – Are you an Apple or a Pear?
- Tip of the month – Silky skin
- The Herbalist – “U” is for Uva Ursi
ABCs OF HEALTH
Take care of your joints!
“J” is for joint health. The joints in your body take a pounding every day of your life, and after years of wear and tear, you may notice the first signs of arthritis showing up in your early 40’s. Women are at a higher risk of many forms of arthritis than men. Here are a few factors which may influence the risk of arthritis: Age, Gender, Weight, Injury, and Ethnicity
- We all get older, something the “baby boomer” generation is having a hard time facing. Usually in your early 40’s, arthritis starts to appear after the many years of playing hard and abusing of your body. This wear and tear from all the years starts to slow you down and makes moving and bending your joints a bit more difficult.
- Stiffness starts to appear and sometimes painful swelling can slow a persons life previous life style.
- Osteoarthritis affects over 21 million Americans, 16 million of these being women.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia occur more often in women then men. Men do have a higher risk of Osteoarthritis however, after the age of 55.
- Hormones may play a part in arthritis, because many more women are affected than men. They also seem to affect arthritis symptoms in certain cases. Frequently, women have a remission of rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy and lupus sometimes flares up during pregnancy.
- Being overweight is a big factor for people at risk for arthritis. A person that is 10 pounds overweight, has a higher risk for arthritis in the weight bearing joints such as the hip and knee joints.
- The extra weight puts more pressure on all joints and this causes the cartilage to break down quicker than usual. You then have the bones grinding against each other, causing wear and tear on the joints.
- Weight control helps to reduce the risk of getting arthritis in your knees, hips, or back, and eases pain by reducing stress on your joints.
- Any injuries to your joints. A severe knee injury, that has damaged the cartilage can lead to faster joint breakdown.
- Many different ethnic backgrounds are prone to the risk of arthritis.
- Lupus occurs three to four times, more often in African Americans than in Caucasians.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is found in approximatly 25% of Caucasians but only on about 10% of African Americans.
- African Americans are at higher risk for a condition called sarcoidosis.
- Native americans are at a higher risk for a condition called scleroderma.
- Inuit and Native americans have been found to have the genetic marker for ankylosing spondylitis twice as often as Caucasians.
PROTECT YOUR JOINTS
There are a number of things you can do to reduce joint pain and to protect your joints from injury.
- Use larger or stronger joints to carry things
- Use proper techniques for bending, lifting, reaching, sitting, and standing
- Avoid activities that may hurt or re-injure an affected joint
- Move or change positions often
- Keep your joints flexible and your muscles strong
- If any pain exists longer than two hours or more, after an activity, then you have done too much
HEART HEALTH – ARE YOU AN APPLE OR A PEAR?
Apple-shaped women are four times more likely to have a heart attack than a Pear-shaped women your best defense is a tape measure .
“Apple-shaped women have more visceral fat, which gathers around the internal organs and is generally more harmful to the body than subcutaneous fat, which appends itself to the buttocks and thighs. Visceral fat creates a physical environment that is primed for heart disease and stroke. The more abdominal fat a woman has — the greater her waist is in proportion to her hips — the more dangerous the situation becomes,” said Dr. Savard.
In Apples & Pears, Dr. Savard stresses that a tape measure is the most powerful tool a woman and her doctor have to identify the woman’s risk of heart disease. According to Dr. Savard, “Figuring out your body shape is easy. Simply use a flexible tape measure to measure around the narrowest part of your waist to determine your waist circumference. Then measure around your hips — about three or four inches below your pelvis bone. Divide your waist circumference by your hip measurement to get your waist-to-hip ratio, or WHR. If your WHR is higher than .80, you are apple-shaped.”
According to Dr. Savard, knowing she is apple-shaped means a woman can take proactive steps in her diet, exercise and other healthcare options to decrease her risk of heart attack.
Tips for Apples & Pears include:
- Long-term weight loss goal: loose two inches off of your waist.
- Diet strategy: eat high complex carbohydrates and limit amounts of fat and protein; avoid all white flour foods.
- Best diet supplement : Psyllium fiber
- Best exercise: walk 30 minutes every day to burn apple-zone fat (abs).
- Menopause guidance: Avoid hormone therapy, if possible
- Important medical tests: cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose.
Apples & Pears author Dr. Marie Savard is a nationally-known internist, women’s health expert and advocate for patients’ rights. She is the award-winning author of How to Save Your Own Life and the creator of The Savard Health Record. She lives in Philadelphia.
Co-author Carol Svec is a seasoned health writer and the author of three books.
More information is available at www.applesandpears.org/.
TIP OF THE MONTH
Make your skin silky soft by adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to your bath water.
I promised I would give you some information on a specific herb, it’s origins and uses. I really enjoy this part of our newsletter, as I always learn something new and exciting. This month we will discuss:
Latin Name: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Ericaceae[blueberry] family)
Other common names: bearberry, hogberry, kinnikinnick, upland cranberry
General Description: Uva ursi is a low-lying evergreen shrub in the same family as the blueberry and the upland cranberry. Native to Europe, it is naturalized throughout the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere northward to the Arctic Circle. It thrives in sunny, yet damp conditions in grasslands, heaths, and thickets. Uva ursi has long trailing stems bearing dark green leaves that are full on the lower side. It’s bell-shaped pink flowers produce small glossy red berries in late summer. These berries and leaves are used in herbal medicines.
The name uva ursi means “bear’s grape” in Latin, and comes from the fact that bears are fond of the fruit. According to British herbalist David Chevallier, the medicinal use of the plant was documented as early as the thirteenth century in the Welsh herbal The Physicians of Myddfai.
Excellent For: Uva ursi leaves have been used for centuries as a mild diuretic and in the treatment of bladder and kidney infections. The leaves also have anesthetic properties that help to numb urinary tract pain. Herbalists also recommend the herb as a diuretic for fluid retention, bloating, and swelling.
Benefits of Uva Ursi for specific health conditions include the following:
Bladder infections, kidney disease,and prostatitis – Arbutin is the active ingredient in uva ursi. It is an antiseptic for the urinary tract that is particularly effective against E. coli infection. It is also effective against Proteus infections, provided steps are taken to ensure alkalization of the urine. The sugar portion of Arbutin, and its attached small molecule (hydroquinone), must be broken apart for arbutin to be effective, and the urine must be alkaline for this to happen. This herb prevents bleeding in mild kidney disease and urinary tract infection. It also helps to reduce the accumulation of uric acid and to relieve the pain of kidney stones.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Uva ursi is available in the form of capsules or tablets, preferably standardized for Arbutin. It may also be taken as a tea.
Uva ursi is effective against the full range of urinary tract infections only if the urine is alkaline. To achieve this effect, you should avoid consuming acidic agents such as meat,vitamin C, and fruit juices. You should also take 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/3 cup of water with every dose of the herb.
Most authorities caution that uva ursi should be avoided by people with chronic kidney disease, peptic ulcers, or duodenal ulcers. Uva ursi may aggravate gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Herb expert James Duke reports that uva ursi sometimes aggravates tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It this side effect occurs, it will be noticed after using the herb for two or three days. Ringing in the ears caused by uva ursi should wear off two or three days after the herb is discontinued. Nausea and vomiting may occur in sensitive adults and children. The herb may temporarily turn the urine green. This is a harmless effect.
This herb should NOT be used by pregnant or nursing women, or by children under twelve. AVOID taking uva ursi for longer than a week. Take all kidney and bladder infections seriously,as they can cause complications if not treated promptly. If symptoms of a urinary tract infection persist for more than forty-eight hours, you should always seek medical attention. Should you develop symptoms such as high fever, chills, nausa, vomiting, diarrhea, or severe back pain, get medical assistance immediately
This concludes another exciting issue of Natural Health. REMEMBER YOU HAVE TO READ TO WIN!