Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Acknowledging The Benefits of Coffee

There are many people who have made coffee a regular part of their daily routine and lifestyle. They can't seem to live without it. They are those who look forward to their first cup of coffee as soon as they wake up in the morning. They are the habitu├ęs of coffee shops day-in and day-out.
The increasing number of coffee “addicts” have also raised concerns about the possible effects of coffee on the body, and whether or not caffeine causes harm to ones health. While some people acknowledge the beneficial effect of coffee when you have a headache, others claim that it's bad to drink coffee if you have stomach problems.

The general effects of coffee fall into the following categories:

  • as stimulant – caffeine makes coffee a well-established stimulant as it stimulates the nervous system, including the nerves controlling intestinal activity, blood pressure and airway size which may keep you alert and awake, yet may also impair sleep, cause jitters and anxiety.

  • as heartburn trigger – all types of coffee, even decaf, can stimulate secretion of stomach acid, which may lead to heartburn.

  • as diuretic – caffeine encourages the kidneys to produce urine to rid the body of excess fluid. However, coffee leads to urination so effectively that it may cause mild dehydration.

In addition to yellowing of teeth which are common among regular coffee drinkers, burn injuries from steaming hot coffee are very common. Some mental health professionals even suggest that regular caffeine users, including coffee drinkers, should be considered dependent, addicted or struggling with substance abuse.

The therapeutic effects of caffeine includes:

  • treating premature babies or those who have undergone surgery just after birth with caffeine to stimulate their breathing.

  • Some over-the-counter headache or pain relief medication include caffeine, acetaminophen and aspirin. The effectiveness of these agents may be linked, at least in part, to the treatment of caffeine withdrawal, a common cause of headaches.

  • Several studies found modest benefits with caffeine in the treatment of asthma as it gives dilating effects on airways. In fact, some recommend that coffee intake be avoided before breathing tests so as not to diminish the breathing abnormalities which the tests aim to detect.

  • During the Experimental Biology 2007, an American Society for Nutrition's annual conference, research experts reviewed evidence that moderate intake of coffee, say 3 to 5 cups per day, might reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, kidney stones, gallstones, and depression.
Since coffee causes minimal and rare health risks, the vast population of coffee lovers welcome the good news.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Erasing Fearful and Unpleasant Memories

People who survived the horrible memories of war may develop severe stress and anxiety, which can lead to other serious medical conditions. Most of them suffer from emotional and psychological disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

However, there are other incidents that may prove traumatic to an individual, such as rape, torture, being kidnapped or held hostage, child abuse, vehicular accidents, plane crashes, and even natural disasters, like floods or earthquakes.

PTSD is experienced when a terrifying ordeal involving physical harm or the threat of physical harm happens to a person. It could be that the person may have been the one who was harmed, or he may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

Doctors usually prescribe antidepressant drugs to help ease the ever-present aching wounds of war, or to induce sleep to those who are suffering from insomnia, as well as to relieve their daily stress and anxiety.
While various psychotherapy programs are being studied and developed to bring modest relief from stress and anxiety, a new study from the University of Amsterdam reported that a commonly used blood pressure medication may also help erase or subdue fearful memories.

According to the researchers, they have discovered that a beta-blocker drug prevents the return of unpleasant memories. This finding will benefit a lot of patients with PTSD and other emotional disorders.
Scientists said that propranolol, which is a beta-blocker, targets nerve receptors in the part of the brain called the amygdala while it is processing emotional information. The amygdala helps you learn and respond to fear, create memories, and perceive how you and other's feel. Some think that the use of beta-blockers during reactivation of fearful thoughts may cause the breakdown of the unpleasant memory in the amygdala while leaving other memories untouched.
However, medical ethics experts warn that the possibility of eliminating unpleasant memories is not without risk. Daniel Sokol, a lecturer in medical ethics at St. George's University of London said that personal identity, which is linked to memories, may change.

“It may perhaps be beneficial in some cases, but before eradicating memories, we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals, society, and our sense of humanity,” said Sokol.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Comparison Of Medical Treatments

It has been a long, long time since the government had a large-scale study intended to compare the medications designed to treat a single condition. This is coming after the onset of a new legislation, mandating $787 billion be allocated as economic stimulus. The substantial amount of money is intended for the federal government to find which medications are the best treatments for any given condition. The bill also includes cash to compare medical devices, surgical procedures, and other treatments for specific conditions.

The program was developed due to a concern that has been growing among doctors and patients recently concerning the lack of solid evidence on the effectiveness of numerous medications, procedures, and treatments. The basic idea was to use the research results as a way to determine which treatments really do work – or at least have a reasonable chance of working – and which ones don't, allowing people in both the public and private sectors to discourage the use of costly-but-ineffective treatments and drugs. With the soaring costs of health care becoming a potential economic problem, many believe cutting costs on ineffective medications would be a good idea. The plan involves the use of numerous systematic reviews of published studies, clinical trials, and detailed comparisons of existing treatments. It is worth noting that none of the money involved will go into researching new treatments.

There are, however, a few that worry about the implications of this. There are some groups that do not believe the enforcement of treatment guidelines would be a positive change for some patients. There are also others that contend that a single study may not be enough to truly verify how effective something is, or whether or not one treatment is more effective than another. However, the intention is simply cut down on the use of expensive treatments that are not as effective as others, rather than cut out these options entirely.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tips to Avoid Lumbago

Low back pain can affect anybody of any age, male or female, regardless of whether they are physically active or not. Commonly referred to as lumbago in the medical community, it can be caused by a lot of different factors, like sports injuries and strenuous work to name a few.

For most people, low back pain is not an issue until they actually experience it first hand. For severe cases, taking muscle relaxants or pain relievers does wonders in relieving the discomfort. For mild lumbago, massage and over-the-counter analgesics is enough to make it bearable. But wouldn't it be better if you didn't have to deal with all the hassles of lumbago at all?

There are things you can do as precautionary measures to avoid experiencing low back pain, like:

1.Be mindful of your posture. Having poor posture strains the back muscles as well. as the spine. Constantly slouching can cause the natural concave curvature of the lumbar vertebrae to flatten and cause pain.

2.Exercise your back. Your abdominal muscles work hand in hand with the back muscles to provide the spine with muscular support. Be careful not to strain yourself too much or you'll end up injuring yourself.

3.Injury-proof your home and workplace. One common cause of low back pain are injuries from accidents that could have been prevented. Always be on the look out for items that you can trip over, slip on, or fall off from.

4.Make your office back-friendly. Get ergonomically correct chairs that provide your back with proper support, as well as one of the proper height. Certain chairs are uncomfortable to sit on and make it difficult to get on or off it, causing discomfort and injury.

5.Make your home back-friendly as well. Choose mattresses that offer firm back support. Don't go with one that is too soft or too firm because both of them can cause your lower back to hurt.

There are more ways to avoid suffering from lumbago. Ask your doctor for more tips to prevent from having low back pain as well as to understand the different things that cause it. Always remember than prevention is better than cure.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Healing and Restoring Wholeness For The Sexually-Abused Person

Child sexual abuse may be hard to believe but it really happens and it is more prevalent than one would believe. Race, religion, and economic status notwithstanding, children are getting sexually abused. And its effects don't stop until the child grows through adolescence and into adulthood.

Victims of sexual abuse usually grow up insecure and have a hard time trusting people. They experience bouts of depression and self-hatred, that may lead to eating disorders and deviant behaviors such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and thoughts of suicide.

These children often feel hopeless. They experience nightmares and would wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. There is the feeling of being crazy, that there is something wrong with them. Once they get involved in a relationship, they find it hard to be sexually expressive. They shut off during sexual encounters and most of the time, they just feel empty, disconnected, and alone.

Sexual abuse comes in different forms. It could be an unwanted touch by a babysitter, a brother or sister, a parent, step-parent, friend, or even a minister. Recurring instances sexual abuse may last for a long period of time. For others, it could just be a one-time occurrence, such as date rape or coercive sex with a partner.

Survivors of sexual abuse don't speak about their experience, keeping it as a secret all their lives. They usually blame themselves, feeling shame, guilt, and depression. Some victims experience flashbacks as they live in fear. Others just try to block it all out. Their spiritual struggles and injuries are often deep and painful. They may feel abandoned by God, lose their faith, or feel a pervasive sense of spiritual isolation.

Healing and restoring wholeness from the trauma of sexual abuse may not come easy. But it is not impossible to regain a sense of wholeness once again. Spiritually-integrated therapy helps a lot in overcoming deep psychological issues and addressing wounded spiritual beliefs. It involves counseling on how sexual abuse creates deep feelings of shame, and how this shame covers the true beauty within. Spiritually-integrated therapy allows healing and empowerment for the sexually-abused person.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sex and How It Affects Your Health

For a lot of adults, sex can be considered the best physical activity in the world. Not only does it give you the opportunity to release sexual desires, but it also helps you form a sort of intimate bond with your partner. Little do people know that aside from being a fun activity shared by partners for intimacy purposes, making love also has its effects on your health.

Here are some of the effects sex has on your well-being:

Sex can act as an effective pain reliever. When one engages in sexual activities of any sort and gets sexually excited, the body releases more of the hormone oxytocin, which, in turn triggers the production of endorphin, a chemical that increases a person's pain tolerance. Some doctors believe that sex can be quite helpful in relieving minor headaches, while some believe that it works well with arthritis and whiplash pain.

Sex reduces stress and promotes sleep. Once a person reaches climax, a aura of calm and relaxation usually follows. This is the same reason why most individuals fall asleep after having sex. Also, a survey once found that people who have a regular dose of sex reported to sleep better at night and feel refreshed throughout the day.

Sex improves cardiovascular health. This is in relation to how sex increases blood flow all over the body. To begin with, the heart starts pumping blood faster when you get aroused, resulting to quicker blood flow to the brain and heart. With fresh blood constantly circulating through the brain and the heart, one can be assured of better performance in and out of the sexual arena.

These are only three of the most important health effects of having sex, there are still others left that aren't listed here. But it is important to note that these health effects can be obtained if the amount of sexual activity you have is moderated. If you have too much sex, you might end up with health complications instead.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Role Emotions Play In Man's Overall Wellness

It has always been said that a healthy body cannot be divorced from a healthy mind or a healthy spirit. Emotional health is considered an integral part of man's overall wellness. Neglecting your emotional health can damage your physical health in the process. Research has shown that one of the leading contributors to illness is stress caused by unresolved emotional issues.

Psychologists believe that emotions, such as fear, joy, sadness, or anger, are mental responses to events, circumstances, people, or our own thoughts and memories. They course through our conscious and unconscious beings at all times, whether at critical junctures or during seemingly inconsequential moments of our lives.

Biologists, on the other hand, tells us that our emotions are rooted in self-preservation, triggering physiological reactions that enable us to find food, escape danger, and reproduce. Author Daniel Goleman pointed out in his work, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, 1995), “All emotions are, in essence, impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us.”

Emotions have also evolved into facial expressions and body language so that each member of the group can signal his or her wants and needs to other members. As John D. Mayer, a leading expert in the study of emotions, has remarked: “Emotions convey information...about relationships.”

Emotions are so powerful it has the ability to make us sick, as well as provide healing. Emotions are relayed to the immune system through the autonomic nervous system. When people experience anxiety, depression, and other painful emotions, the immune system can be affected and may cause risk for a whole host of illnesses. In the same way, having a healthy emotional outlook in life can boost the resistance against disease.

Mayer has emphasized, “People can reason with emotions in the same way they reason with cognitive information. So you can solve emotional problems just as mathematicians solve math problems.” However, he also acknowledged that some emotions, such as grief and anger, can be harder to reason effectively with than others. And oftentimes, identifying the various emotions at play can be extremely difficult.

The Kissing Disease Is Still Spreading

There is an infection known as mononucleosis, which is also given the name “the kissing disease.” Also known as Epstein-Barr, it is a variation of the herpes virus, and almost all Americans are known to have been infected with it at least once by the time they reach their late 30s. Teenagers and young adults are known to be the most susceptible age group to the condition, with an estimated 35 to 50% of all those who were affected developing severe fatigue, though other symptoms are not uncommon. There are physicians that worry that it has become severely trivialized, despite the fact that new medications and vaccines for it are lacking.

The symptoms of the condition are easily identifiable, but can easily disrupt a person's daily life. The disease can turn a previously active, athletic person into someone who sleeps as much as she can, at every available chance. The person in question may feel exhausted, and may feel as if they are never well-rested, despite getting regularly getting enough sleep. Some may just dismiss this as one thing or another, but other symptoms can make the possibility of a condition hard to ignore. One such symptom is when the glands in the neck become swollen, and areas of the abdomen become visibly enlarged, to the point that it is painfully clear something is wrong.

This condition is spread by close physical contact, and it is sometimes seen as a rite of passage for many young adults. The symptoms of the condition can last for months at a time, and there are patients who become infected with this and never display any of the symptoms of it. These include a sore throat, severe fatigue, fever, swelling of various glands, and an enlarged spleen. The disease is considered a common one, which makes experts fear that it may become trivial for the research community. The lack of studies going into treatments and vaccines for it is taken as an indication of the lack of interest.