By Natural Advocate | May 29, 2009 - 2:05 pm - Posted in Herbal Supplements

Well, I watched a documentary with my boyfriend the other day, and am sad to say that one part  of it made me doubt some supplements that say their vitamins or supplements with herbs and other natural ingredients are partially a “proprietary formula”. What proprietary means is that they don’t have to disclose exactly what that formula is, so that part of the total supplement is something they do not have to display on the label, making it free game to put whatever cheap junk they want in it as fillers.

The documentary was actually all about steroids and human growth hormone (see about the GenF20 HGH alternative), which is a hotly debated topic today, not only in the world of competitive sports, but also in the average joe world where men and women alike are taking these injections to get bigger, more muscle, stamina and endurance, and more ripped physiques.  One small part of the documentary was of the film maker demonstrating how easy and cheap it was to make a supplement that was partly a “proprietary formula” with a few other types of herbs and other dried supplements added in for good measure.

He said that for little more than a buck fifty, you could make and bottle some very cheap supplements with a lot of filler (he used rice flour), and make up to fifty bucks off each bottle – quite a profit margin.  I’d like to think that there are reputable supplement makers out there who really give the customer what they deserve and what they paid for, but even for me, who takes several supplements a day, I can see how this would make a doubter out of anyone.

The supplement business is huge today, it is a multi billion dollar business, so it has a lot of entrepreneurs putting their names on pills, vitamins and supplement in hopes of making a lot of money off of something that may or may not be a subpar or watered down product.  The biggest fear is that it isn’t what it said it was, such as with the recent scandal about a male enhancement supplement that advertised as all natural actually having a prescription erectile dysfunction drug in it.

That’ the kind of thing that gives supplements a bad name and makes some people distrust what they are buying.  As for me, I simply try to make sure a supplement works, and if it doesn’t do what it says it will, I won’t ever try it again, but the ones that do work, you better bet that I’m going to be loyal to those brands!

By Natural Advocate | May 27, 2009 - 9:19 pm - Posted in Natural and Herbal Treatments

In a study that is a fairly large magnitude for an herbal or alternative folk remedy, ginger root has been found to be a surprisingly effective antidote against nausea in chemotherapy patients who are being treated for cancer.  Ginger has long been used as an herbal remedy against nausea and stomach upset, and the thought was that it may be very useful in helping chemo patients overcome nausea during treatment, which often causes their quality of life to suffer dramatically as well as their appetite to plunge, making them lose drastic weight which leads to more health problems and eventually can lead to weakening and even death if it’s not watched carefully.

Patients were tested for how effective ginger root capsules might be in helping to prevent the onset of nausea after their chemo treatments.  This is a common side effect of this controversial but highly used treatment for cancer, and it causes many to avoid getting chemo in the first place because it can be so dramatic and unpleasant at times.  However, it was found that ginger root capsules were most effective when they were started several days before the chemotherapy began, as it did not have as much of an effect if any at all when it was done only simultaneously along with the treatment itself.

It looks as is ginger root can be an excellent preventive medicine against nausea, however the key word is preventive.  It has to be taken prior to the chemo and it has to be in the system several days before it can be of use.  Ginger root is also known as a cleansing agent, so taking this can not only help you with nausea and upset stomach, but it also may help to purify toxins out of the system if the folklore about this is true.

Lots of people, including myself before, are under the impression that ginger ale soda is effective against nausea and upset stomach, however most ginger ale sodas do not contain any real ginger at all, or so very little that they are not effective against nausea, so ginger root itself or capsules is recommended for the best results.  However, if you happen to know of a brand of ginger ale that contains the real stuff, this may be useful.

By Natural Advocate | May 26, 2009 - 9:27 pm - Posted in Smoking Cessation

Anti smoking campaigns have really come to the forefront lately, as the world has been realizing that smoking kills you, and has serious deterimental health effects when done over long periods of time.  It used to be that almost everyone and their best friend smoked.  Back in the fifties when smoking was at it’s peak, it was almost unusual for one to not partake in the dangerous habit.  It was considered en vogue, and ads were in every magazine with elegant looking people smoking different types of cigarettes, appealing to the dapper, the upper crust and the elite to smoke.

But it wasn’t just the elite of course, smoking was a habit that was enjoyed by everyone, of every socioeconomic background.  It was back then that doctors knew smoking was bad for you, and most people had a clue too, but there wasn’t nearly as much negative sentiment and backlash against it as there is now.  That all changed about ten years ago, when many local governments stepped in via wellness programs for citizens and started campaigns to disuade people from smoking, citing serious health hazards like lung cancer, emphysema, and even premature births and birth defects for women who smoked.

Today is no different, and taking the anti smoking campaign even further has not been uncommon for a lot of local governments.  However, with all this economic turmoil, many local governments have decided to cut quit smoking programs that were designed to help people quit smoking, but also to lobby those that don’t smoke yet to never start.  It’s not a choice they wanted to make, but let’s face it, when you’re faced with choices between programs that might help people feed their families and give them healthcare, and build important roads or centers for the community, anti smoking campaigns don’t exactly stay at the forefront of importance.

While I think that quitting smoking is vital to the health of the community, I don’t think that community outreach programs really do much to help the problem to be honest.  What may ultimately hinder people from smoking is hiking the taxes up so high on tobacco products that it makes them cost prohibitive to buy.  However, then you have the quandry where you’re killed another industry in an already faltering economy.  Nothings easy, is it?

By Natural Advocate | May 20, 2009 - 5:13 pm - Posted in Alternative & Herbal Health News

When you think of diabetes, you think automatically, just like I did, of a disease that is many times brought about, or made worse by, too large an intake of sugar.  I mean, when you consider how much sugar we each take in a year in the typical American diet, it makes sense that our rates of diabetes are so high in this country.  I think I read somewhere once that we each consume several hundred pounds of sugar in our diet each year, which is quite amazing, if not downright scary.  There are ways though, to curb the risk of diabetes that have less to do with sugar than they do with other lifestyle and diet habits.

If you’ve never had your blood sugar tested you really may want to.  A lot of people think they are nowhere in the danger zone of having diabetes, and get their blood tested only to find out they are what’s called prediabetic, which means they are already in the danger zone for developing the disease, which happens to be linked to many deadly diseases and is considered on of the top ten death reasons here in the US.  That’s definitely cause for concern, and that’ll get you moving toward doing the right things to make sure you get yourself out of that danger zone sooner than later.

Just so you have a point of reference, a normal person’s blood sugar should be in the range of about 140.  If it’s a lot higher than that, you may be considered prediabetic, and if it’s double that, you’re full blown diabetic and are putting yourself in the danger zone for a huge array of health problems. It turns out that diabetes isn’t strictly related to eating a lot of sugar and a high carb diet though.  Other factors can contribute, such as the suggestion that drinking contaminated water could contribute to the likelihood.  Also, taking certain drugs may increase your diabetes risk.

Drinking a lot of alcohol can be a risk as well, of course because alcohol is mostly metabolized as a sugar.  Other factors can influence diabetes as well, such as the simple fact of being obese (which is of course always related to too much sugar anyways, at least in most cases), and not getting any exercise.  Patients with diabetes are encouraged to radically change their lifestyles not only to lose weight, but also to naturally lower their blood sugar levels so they don’t need to rely so much on medications to regulate their blood sugar.

By Natural Advocate | May 17, 2009 - 4:15 pm - Posted in Natural Depression & Anxiety Relief

It appears that the opposite of what we thought to be logically true may the actual reality.  Well, not really, but in a sense yes, since the perception is that lots and lots of sunlight helps to keep depression at bay. While it is true that plentiful natural sunlight is good for depression – hence the seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, condition is true, too much sunlight in places like Greenland where the days are exceptionally long and the night time shorter with darkness for sleeping, can actually increase the likelihood of depression because it is often linked with insomnia due to the lack of darkness that provides for naturally wanting to sleep.

The dark and light cycles actually help humans in what’s called a circadian rhythm.  The circadian rhythm is a natural cycle of activity and rest (sleep) cycles that typically occur with the cycles of sunshine and darkness that occur.  People that work midnight or third shifts are often more prone to health problems and depression because of this very phenomenon – they are deprived of their sleep cycles which are promoted by the rhythms that are synced with their bodies that nature provides – the cycles of night time and day time.

Because of that, sleep deprivation is more likely to occur, and when we don’t sleep our brains go into serious malfunction modes, making it easier to fall prey to depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness, lack of energy, and listlesness, which can increase suicidal thoughts.

By the way, this does not mean that lack of sunlight is any less dangerous, we still need sunlight, and there are still more suicides and depression in areas that do not get enough sunshine.  I myself notice my moods change dramatically when the winter is over and the days are longer and the nights are shorter.

I have more energy, stamina, and tend to think in more positive trains of thought than I do when the days are short.  It’s much more invigorating when you get off work and you still have a few hours of sunlight left in your day, whereas when you get home and it’s dark out already, it tends to make you feel like holing up and going to bed early, which is a whole other vicious cycle that’s dangerous to fall into.

I think the key here is, as with everything else in life that can be good and nurturing, is to get adequate sunlight without living in an area that just gets too much or too little.  So in other words, stay away from the towns in Alaska that only get a few months of sun per year, and also stay away from places like Greenland, where the summer seems to never end, and the days are as long as they are in the summer every day.

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