By Natural Advocate | January 31, 2012 - 9:35 pm - Posted in Natural Depression & Anxiety Relief

When it comes to fighting depression, there are really a lot of medications out there vying for our attention. However, most of the pharmaceutical options that are on the table come with quite staggering side effects.  Also, they can often lead to a lifetime of prescribed medication taking since they are difficult to ween off of.

Not that some herbs can’t be the same way, but at least you don’t have to get a prescription for them and you also don’t have to worry about trying so many of them and spending a lot of money before you find one that works. It is estimated that the average depression case takes up to three antidepressant medications before they find one that works, so keeping the cost down, and taking something natural is something that eases a lot of people’s minds.

Let’s face it, we all struggle with blue moods once in a while. It doesn’t meant we all need to go on Prozac!  So let’s get on with the subject of this post, which is all about the options out there in herbal medicine that exist for helping to treat mild depression, anxiety and blue moods, all of which pretty much go hand in hand.

Herbal remedies for Depression – the Natural Antidepressant

1.)  Sceletium Tortuosm – This one is relatively new to a lot of people here in the US, but it’s been around a while.  Like the uber popular diet aid hoodia gordonii, it is a succulent plant that is found in South Africa.  It can be chewed, brewed, ground up and basically done any way you want it. It is available in capsule form as a ground up powder as well, but it’s still relatively hard to find here in the US last time I checked. I’m sure that’s about to change once news catches on about it.

This herb is a pretty potent natural antidepressant and mood brightener. It can also boost clarity and mindfulness while also improving overall mood.  Those are all traits that we want to improve in ourselves, so it’s a great way to get a sort of three in one supplement.

It works as a natural SSRI (Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitor), so it helps to increase the amount of serotonin circulating in the blood, which is the feel good chemical that we can be deficient in. Deficiency of this chemical can lead to bulimia and depression.

It also helps dopamine to circulate more efficiently and affects the natural chemicals that help this one to work together in harmony with all the other hormones and chemicals that make you feel good, productive, and happy.  A noted potential side effect is headache in some people.

By Natural Advocate | January 28, 2012 - 8:11 pm - Posted in Alternative & Herbal Health News

First off, let’s talk about what PFC’s are. They are chemicals that are used to make non stick pans more slick so that food does not stick to them. They are used in a variety of other consumer products as well where they have a lot of close human contact, such as stain resistant clothing, so they are pretty pervasive in today’s consumer goods.

Alarmingly, these chemicals have been found in humans just like a barrage of other chemicals.  Even more alarmingly, children who tested with high levels of this chemical showed that they had weaker, more compromised immune systems. This suggests that these PFC’s may actually play some role in depressing the immune system in children, who are often still developing immunities to several types of flus, colds and other viral infections.

You may be confusing PFC’s with another common chemical that invades the human body easily as it is in a great many consumer products – cups we drink out of, cans we eat and drink out of and a lot of things we touch which we then absorb – BPA’s. Both chemicals have destructive effects on the human body and should be avoided with as much care as is possible without making life too hard.

These chemicals are fluorocarbons, and not only are the associated with lower general immunity and immune response in children, but they generally are considered to make vaccinations less effective.  Not sure that makes complete sense, and to be quite frank I don’t support most vaccinations anyway, just my personal opinion, but apparently PFC’s has this negative effect on their effectiveness.

You may remember hearing the term “fluorocarbons” before. Remember when it was all the rage to go from aerosol cans to pump?  This was the age when hairspray and giant hair were in back in the eighties?  Well, fluorocarbons were given lots of attention back then due to their ability to destroy parts of the ozone layer, which has been depleted over the years in part due to environmental pollutions caused by these chemicals.


I read the most fascinating article about people who are diagnosed with a disease that is clearly related to smoking such as COPD, lung cancer, Emphysema and other commonly related diseases.  You would think people would quit the habit after finding out they ar diagnosed with one of the top causes of death, but many of them don’t. It’s not quite fifty percent of people who don’t quit but let me tell you it’s darn near that.

Roughly estimated, it’s about 40% of people who are diagnosed with one of these devasatating diseases that still do not quit smoking.  This goes to show just how mentally and physically addictive nicotine and tobacco are to the human body.  I even have a personal story to tell about this.

Someone close to me in my family was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his late fifties.  He never did quit smoking the entire time even when he was going through chemotherapy and all the other various poison therapies he unfortunately had to be on.

Now, I get that when a person is near the end of their life and are in the terminal stages of cancer they should just “do what they want”, but there is always a chance to come back, and smoking carcinogens into your lungs is certainly a good way to hasten the disease along.

He really couldn’t quit. He was that addicted to smoking and figured he still wanted to enjoy the habit even after his cancer took a turn for the worse and he became terminal.  Stopping the habit is indeed challenging. I was a smoker in college and had a hard time quitting, even though I had asthma and I never should have picked up the habit in the first place.

My conscious, intelligent mind was telling me to quit, yet my body and mind were also telling me how good it felt to hold that cigarette in my hand, inhale slowly and let the chemicals take control of my mind, giving me that great buzz that cigarettes give you.

It is indeed a huge challenge, but it’s worth it. I’ve been off cigarettes for almost a decade now and feel so much healthier.  It’s a shame that so many people, even after diagnosed with life threatening disease, cannot find the willpower to quit – this is a testament to how addictive and dangerous this pastime is.


By Natural Advocate | January 22, 2012 - 9:53 pm - Posted in Alternative & Herbal Health News

Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes, cigars and other things you inhale hot smoke into your lungs with are dangerous to your health. That has definitely been more than established by the medical community.  As if to drive the point home even further, the Center for Disease Control has released their top death causes list.

And guess what?  The top three causes are related in some way to smoking. That’s not to say there are not other factors involved such as genetics, other lifestyle choices and environmental factors. However, each of them can have a direct relation to the act of smoking. Which makes quitting smoking all that much more important.

3 Smoking-Related Causes of Death

1.)  Emphysema and other lung function disease such as COPD.  This one is one of the most undeniably smoking-related health issues that can lead to death pretty easily.  Aside from lung cancer, it is a definite link to smoking – although, as with everything else, it can also happen on its own without smoking, but that is pretty rare and the link is a well known one.

2.) Cancer.  There are several types of cancer that are related to smoking. Cigarettes are a carcinogen. Not only does the smoke produce toxic by-products, but the cigarettes themselves contain harmful chemicals that permeate not only the lungs and other organs in the body, but also the surfaces of furniture, the walls in homes, the surfaces in cars, and everywhere else the harmful habit is done, making it carcinogenic not only to the smoker, but also to “second hand smokers”.  Basically, cigarette smoke is a cancer causing agent, and for that reason, it has been linked to everything from breast cancer to prostate cancer.

3.) Heart disease.  Heart disease can be partially genetic, true. It can also be greatly attributed to your diet and lack of exercise. However, smoking is also another acknowledged risk factor in determining likelihood of heart disease. Your ticker is affected by smoking because smoking raises heart rate and also increases blood pressure and stress levels, all of which are not heart friendly and cause damage over the years.

Smoking generally makes the smoker feel relaxed in the very moments they are smoking (and gives them a feel-good buzz too, hence the addictiveness). However, this is misleading because in the end smoking really jacks our nervous system up and increases dangerous anxiety and stress hormone levels, none of which is good for the heart.

By Natural Advocate | January 20, 2012 - 9:16 pm - Posted in General Health Updates

The changing weather starting in the fall and going into winter means an increase in the incidence of colds and flu for all of us.  If you have young children, you are even more exposed to cold and flu germs on a regular basis.

Certain measures can be taken to decrease the occurrence of cold and flu outbreaks in your family.  Getting an annual flu shot is one important proactive step you can take for flu prevention.  Many people simply so not get one because they fear getting a flu shot will make them sick.  The flu shot does not use a live virus, so it shouldn’t make you ill.

A flu shot is effective after 4 weeks and then through the flu season.  When choosing between the flu shot and the nasal spray version, choose the shot because it does not use a live virus.  The nasal spray for flu prevention does use a live virus.  You can get a cold after receiving the nasal spray for flu prevention.

Flu and cold shots are very controversial, and I don’t get them myself as I don’t believe in them and don’t like that they still use what I consder unsafe additives, but this is up to your discretion.

Handwashing can’t be emphasized enough for it’s importance in reducing the incidence of contagious diseases of all types.  Many people think they have good handwashing habits but they don’t spend the recommended amount of time washing their hands.  You should spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands and you need to teach your children to do the same.

If you are somewhere that you can’t wash your hands at the recommended times, the second best thing to do is use a hand sanitizer.  Make sure you use a hand sanitizer that is at least 40 to 60% alcohol to be effective.

The recommended times for handwashing that should be followed are; before and after eating, after going to the bathroom and after coughing and sneezing.  Parents should make sure they instruct their children on these important measures to prevent illness and remind themselves as well so they will set a good example.

Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbow to avoid the spread of cold and flu germs.  It is also important to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes since cold and flu germs can enter the body this way.

During cold and flu season, household surfaces should be wiped down regularly with an alcohol based cleaner.  Children, on average, according to experts, will get between 8 to 10 colds per year.  Each cold lasts between 5 to 7 days.  Parents should use common sense and keep a child home when they have a fever.

Another situation where a child should be kept home includes when they have flu like symptoms such as chills, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches or vomiting or diarrhea.

Using these methods of reducing the spread of cold and flu germs should suffice.  Do not go to extreme measures of avoiding holiday gatherings because of possible cold germs.  That would not be psychologically healthy for anyone.

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