Thursday, July 28, 2005

5 Symptoms That Indicate You Have An Addiction

Addictions are most commonly associated with drug and alcohol addiction, however the truth is millions of people suffer from all kinds of addictions.

Some of these addictions are related to some form of chemical dependency such as alcohol, controlled substances and even prescription medicines. Other addictions are related to compulsive types of behavior such as gambling, shopping, food disorders an even the Internet.

One of the most important things to recognize about any type of addiction, regardless of whether it is a chemical addiction or a behavioral addiction; is that it is not a matter of choice. Individuals who are addicts do not have the ability to simply decide to stop abusing their 'drug' of choice. Addictions affect not only the user, but also their family and friends as well.

So what is an addiction?

How does it begin and when does a pattern of behavior become an addiction? Some individuals seem to have the ability to use a substance or engage in a behavior periodically over a period of years without becoming 'hooked.' Others; however are not capable of stopping and become addicted.

Addictions affect all social and educational groups. There is no typical addict.

The causes of addiction have been studied for several years. In many ways, addiction is caused by the emotion the substance or behavior brings about in the user. The body and mind become dependent on that feeling and seeks to maintain it.

There are addiction risk factors that make some people more likely than others to become addicts. Studies show that sometimes addictions can be hereditary. The child of an alcoholic may not grow up to be an alcoholic, however, they may become addicted to gambling or some other type of compulsive behavior as an adult.

Besides hereditary, individuals who grow up in families with abuse, neglect and who are impoverished are more likely to become addicts.

For most addicts, it can be extremely difficult to recognize that what they have associated as simply a habit is actually an addiction. While every individual is different there are some symptoms that are prevalent among most addicts and addictions:

Symptom # 1

Unable to meet responsibilities at home, school or office.

Symptom # 2

Continues to use substances or engage in behavior even when it is dangerous.

Symptom # 3

The need increases to engage in behavior or use more of a substance to achieve the same effect or feeling.

Symptom # 4

Has tried but failed to stop using the substance or end the behavior.

Symptom # 5

Continues to engage in the behavior or use the substances even when they are aware of the dangers.

Answering yes to three or more of the above symptoms during a 12 month period may show that you or a loved one has an addiction. The first step to treating an addiction is recognizing that it exists.

There is no cure for an addiction. Treatment and counseling can help an addict to learn how to control their behavior, withstand impulses and recognize the presence of a problem, but an addict is never cured. Treating an addiction can take years and requires ongoing support from friends, families and support groups.

A 12 step program can be particularly beneficial in treating an addiction. One of the most well known 12 step programs is AA, also known as Alcoholics Anonymous; however there are similar programs for all types of addictions.

Living with an addiction requires a daily commitment and there is always the possibility of relapsing. An addict that has been "clean" for even 20 years can succumb to temptation just as they did decades before.

There are several treatment programs and centers that can help with the numerous types of addictions that are prevalent today. Many of them are anonymous. Support groups are also available to help family and friends who experience the effects of an addiction in a loved one.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always consult a health care practitioner before beginning any health care program.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Do You Know What Is Lurking in Your Bathroom?

No matter how clean you think you are, the quantity and variety of germs that you would find on your hands at any given time would shock you.

Germs are spread every time we touch an object or a person. Not all of them are dangerous, and some bacteria are even helpful. However, your risk of getting sick is increased every time you use a public restroom, as evidenced by a 1996 study conducted by the American Society for Microbiology. They discovered that while 95% of the people surveyed said they washed their hands every time they used a public facility, only about 67% actually did.

A recent nationwide poll showed that 39% of respondents are worried about the germs lurking in public restrooms.

Is there a reason for concern?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, infectious disease is the number three killer of Americans. They report that 40 million Americans get sick from hand-carried bacteria every year, and 80,000 people die from those germs.

Germs thrive in moist areas, and live off organic waste, which can be found in nearly every public restroom.

What can you “catch” in a public restroom?

Many illnesses that are transmitted in public restrooms include the common cold and flu bugs, intestinal illnesses, and skin infections. There is also a potential danger of picking up the bacteria that can be fatal, from streptococcus, staphylococcus, salmonella, E. coli and even hepatitis A.

People also worry about picking up STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) from toilet seats. Out of all the concerns about germs in public restrooms, STD's are actually the least likely to be a problem. This fear may be due more to urban legend than to anything else. Most of the bacteria and viruses that cause sexually transmitted diseases cannot live long enough outside the body for transfer to occur.

There is a far greater risk of coming into contact with the salmonella and shigella bacteria, which can be transferred by contact with feces. The infected person can transfer the bacteria onto any surface he touches – such as toilet handles, sink faucets and door handles.

What should you look out for?

Over-crowded restrooms, wet floors or puddles, lack of available supplies (toilet paper, soap and paper towels) and foul-smelling odors are all signs of improper maintenance and should be a cause for concern.

Often the odor in public restrooms comes from dried urine in tile grout. Once dry, regular cleaners cannot remove the uric acid salts, and bacteria feed off them. (The odor comes from the bacteria’s digestive process.)

Germs – particularly fecal bacteria, can be shot into the air every time a toilet flushes. This bacterium settles on surfaces throughout the bathroom and is often enough to spread disease.

How can you protect yourself?

First of all, your mother was right. Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, using proven methods of hand washing (see below).

Do not touch your eyes, nose, face or mouth until you’ve washed your hands.

Carry waterless antibiotic hand washing gel with you.

If you’re going to be out and using public facilities, carry your own toilet paper with you.

Try not to use toilet paper that is sitting on the top of the holder, on the back of a toilet or on a shelf.

Never use toilet paper that is wet or damp, or looks as if it might have been wet at one time.

Because the inside surfaces of sinks harbor a large concentration of germs, don’t touch them.

Do not use your hands when you flush the toilet, turn on or off a tap or open the restroom door when leaving.

What about your bathroom at home?

If your home is like millions of others all across America, germs and bacteria are thriving everywhere in your bathroom, blissfully soaking up the nutrients they need on moist surfaces – everything from countertops to cups to toothbrushes to towels.

Bacteria can grow and divide every 20 minutes. A single bacteria cell can become more than 8 million cells in less than 24 hours!

These virus-causing microorganisms can be behind as many as ten colds per year for the average school-aged child. In fact, some cold and flu viruses can linger on surfaces like non-disposable rinsing cups and the inside of sink basins for up to 72 hours – giving them plenty of time to be shared among family members.

Examples of microorganisms that live in our bathrooms are:

- Bacteria: Salmonella causes food poisoning.

- Viruses: Rhinoviruses can cause colds. Herpes Simplex causes cold sores. Influenza brings the flu.

- Fungi: Trichophyton can cause Athlete’s Foot.

- Parasites: Giardia can cause diarrhea.

So how do you fight back?

Here are some simple tips:

Use disinfectants to wipe off all hard surfaces (except for mirrors).

You can use EITHER bleach or vinegar as a safe and effective disinfectant, but do not mix them together.

Use disposable cups.

Store toothbrushes in an upright position.

Pour vinegar down your drains once a week. (Drains are usually the prime breeding ground for germs in a bathroom)

Close the toilet lid before flushing.

Use a squeegee to wipe off shower and tub walls after use to prevent mildew.

Proven hand washing techniques:

1. Wet your hands and work up a good lather, using warm water. Spend at least 20 seconds, making sure that you clean your palms, between your fingers, the back of your hands, your wrists and under your nails. (Sing a chorus of “Row, row, row your boat” to make sure you’ve spent enough time.)

2. Rinse your hands thoroughly, again using warm water.

3. When drying your hands, use a paper towel when possible; because most people do not use a hand dryer long enough to completely dry their hands. Use the air dryer only if there is no alternative, and try not to touch the surface.

4. After drying your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door, so that you don’t re-contaminate yourself.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Putting a Stop to Food Cravings!

Most of us are "regular" people. We don't eat the perfect diet all the time and have our struggles with food, same as everyone else. But having an awareness of this fact and knowing a little bit about our health and food nutrition can help when it comes to making wise decisions.

Many people struggle with food "cravings." Studies tell us that it's fairly common for food cravings to happen at certain times, quite often at around bedtime. Your guard may be down, you may have had an unusually hard day, and off you go on your not-so-merry way to find that tasty treat. Fatigue and stress often combine to take their toll on the best of intentions.

When food cravings are unconstrained, what starts out as a bedtime snack quickly turns into a full blown feeding frenzy...not something most of us fully understand or appreciate. We head to kitchen and every other place where food can hide, clearing a path as we go.

Most food cravings are not about satisfying a nutritional need or imbalance. They seem to be more emotionally related, or God forbid, are caused by plain old gluttony. Exactly why we over-indulge is not completely understood, however our knowledge about this subject continues to grow.

Listed below are some thoughts and ideas about food cravings:

- If the food isn't available, you can't eat it! Empty the cookie jar and keep it that way! Keep healthy food choices on-hand.

- Recognize the feelings and emotions that lead-up to a food craving. Do you have food cravings when you’re bored, lonely, or stressed? If you can identify a trigger, you can deal with the emotion that’s making you desire a certain food. Try to deal with the triggers in the best way you can.

- Sometimes, even recognizing that a craving is about to happen doesn't seem to help. Don't beat yourself-up. There is always tomorrow. Call a friend, make good use of your support network and share your feelings with someone.

- Get enough sleep. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to crave things.

- Never give-up. When you "slip", press-in, bear-down, get a grip, do whatever is necessary to re-gain control. Try to practice restraint most of the time, but don't get legalistic and un-balanced in your weight loss approach. Think moderation and not abstinence at all times!

- Understand that self-control and discipline by themselves, won't cut it! If you depend totally on yourself for control, you will fail. Forming caring and supportive relationships is required. If you do not currently have a support network, start building one TODAY.

- Exercise. It increases feel-good endorphins that cut down on your cravings. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

- Use moderation. Instead of stuffing yourself with every kind of food hoping that your craving will go away, eat 100 to 200 calories of your "craved" food.

- Substitute with low-fat foods and complex carbs. If you’re hungry for chocolate, eat non-fat chocolate yogurt. Try fig bars or raisins for a sweet craving.

- Never skip a meal. Eat every three to five hours. Try six smaller meals or regular meals with nutritious snacks.

- Understand that hunger craving are oftentimes stress related. Practice other ways to treat chronic stress – a walk in the park, spiritual connections, a cozy fireplace, baths...all these stimulate neurochemicals that activate regions of the brain that stimulate pleasure. Relaxation techniques may work by reducing the psychological drives on stress output, which can be the root causes of stress. Bottom line, substitute pleasurable experiences for comfort foods.

- Beware of certain medications. They can stimulate appetite. Drugs used for the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder can be appetite stimulants. Other drugs, both prescription and over the counter, may influence appetite as well. If you are on a medication, and troubled by food cravings, discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist. You may be able to find an alternative that doesn't send your cravings out of control.

- Distract Yourself. What's that old expression...idle hands are the devils workshop? Get busy. Do anything other than cave-in to your desire for food, and keep doing it until the cravings subside.

- One final thought, take a look inside your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets and do some general "house cleaning." Throw-out all that unhealthy stuff that is waiting to sabotage your diet, and start shopping more wisely. A little forethought and careful planning will go a long way for improving your chances of success.

Eat wisely, be happy, and live long!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tea Tree Oil - The Medicine Kit in a Bottle

Tea Tree Oil has been known to the Bundjalung Tribe of New South Wales Australia for hundreds of years for its medicinal properties.

This wonder oil was only tested scientifically in the early 1920's by Arthur Penfold and found to be around 12 times more powerful than carbolic acid and yet caused no harm to the skin. It was used extensively by the Australian Defence Force during World War Two but due to the discovery of synthetic drugs did not become popular again until the 1960's.

Over the years it has proved itself as a natural antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory oil. One great development was that it was found to deep penetrate the skin cleaning it and encouraging the formation of scar tissue.

Some of the medical uses include healing blisters, reducing swelling from insect bites and stings, cleaning and healing abrasions and cuts, cures athletes foot and is very helpful in the healing of acne. It will cure a sore throat, cold sores, coughs and dental abscesses. It will solve most day to day first aid and medical problems.

It also lends to daily beauty care as putting drops in shampoo, body lotion, hand cream and in the bath will keep hair and skin clean and healthy. A couple of drops on toothpaste will prevent gum infections and bad breathe. It helps take the sting out of sunburn and softens corns and calluses.

Tea Tree Oil's anti-bacterial properties also extend use in the household chores, making the house clean and healthy. Putting drops in the humidifier will clean, disinfect and refresh the air and putting drops in the dishwasher and washing machine will kill all the germs.

Tea Trees only grow in Australia. There are many brands that are from inferior trees and not from the genuine Tea Tree whose Botanical name is Melaleuca alternifolia. The name Tea Tree was given by Joseph Banks the botanist who traveled with Captain Cook and collected the leaves to make herbal teas.

Your first purchase should be made from a Health Shop until you know how to define whether it is the genuine oil or an inferior oil as the results will obviously not be the same with an inferior product.

There are many excellent websites on the internet and many excellent books which will give you all uses of this wonderful oil. You will be amazed at the excellent results you obtain and will find it is truly a medicine kit in a bottle.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Popular shampoos contain toxic chemicals

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found a correlation between an ingredient found in shampoos and nervous system damage. The experiments were conducted with the brain cells of rats and they show that contact with this ingredient called methylisothiazoline, or MIT, causes neurological damage.

Which products contain this chemical compound MIT? Head and Shoulders, Suave, Clairol and Pantene Hair Conditioner all contain this ingredient. Researchers are concerned that exposure to this chemical by pregnant women could put their fetus at risk for abnormal brain development. In other people, exposure could also be a factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other nervous system disorders.

The chemical causes these effects by preventing communication between neurons. Essentially, it slows the networking of neurons, and since the nervous system and brain function on a system of neural networks, the slowing of this network will suppress and impair the normal function of the brain and nervous system.

These finding were presented December 5th at the American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting.

I have frequently warned readers about the dangers of using brand-name personal care products. The vast majority of these products contain toxic chemical compounds like MIT that contribute to cancer, liver disorders and neurological diseases. In fact, this chemical, MIT, is just one of dozens of such chemicals that are found in personal care products.

Why are these dangerous personal care products allowed to remain on the market? Because the FDA, which is responsible for regulating these products, spends almost no time, money or effort actually investigating the safety of such products. Instead, the FDA spends the vast majority of its time approving new prescription drugs rather than protecting the public against the dangers from such drugs or personal care products like shampoos, soaps, deodorants and fragrance products.

In fact, it may surprise you to learn that manufacturers can put practically any chemical they want into shampoos, even if it is a hazardous chemical listed in the RTECS database of toxicity and even if it is considered a toxic waste chemical by the EPA. The FDA allows all sorts of chemicals to be used in these products, including chemicals that are known carcinogens and that contribute to liver failure and nervous system disorders. How's that for protecting public health?

Read the whole article at:
Popular shampoos contain toxic chemicals linked to nerve damage

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Exercise helps contol your diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes, type I and type II. Type I
diabetes is characterized by the pancreas making too little or no
insulin. An individual with diabetes type I will have to inject
insulin throughout the day in order to control glucose levels.
Type II diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, is
characterized by the pancreas not producing enough insulin to
control glucose levels or the cells not responding to insulin.
When a cell does not respond to insulin, it is known as insulin
resistance. When a subject is diagnosed with type II diabetes,
exercise and weight control are prescribed as measures to help
with insulin resistance. If this does not control glucose levels,
then medication is prescribed. The risk factors for type II
diabetes include: inactivity, high cholesterol, obesity, and
hypertension. Inactivity alone is a very strong risk factor that
has been proven to lead to diabetes type II. Exercise will have a
positive effect on diabetes type II while improving insulin
sensitivity while type I cannot be controlled be an exercise
program. Over 90% of individuals with diabetes have type II.

Exercise causes the body to process glucose faster, which lowers
blood sugar. The more intense the exercise, the faster the body
will utilize glucose. Therefore it is important to understand the
differences in training with type I and type II diabetes. It is
important for an individual who has diabetes to check with a
physician before beginning an exercise program. When training
with a diabetic, it is important to understand the dangers of
injecting insulin immediately prior to exercise. An individual
with type I diabetes injecting their normal amount of insulin for
a sedentary situation can pose the risk of hypoglycemia or
insulin shock during exercise. General exercise guidelines for
type I are as follows: allow adequate rest during exercise
sessions to prevent high blood pressure, use low impact exercises
and avoid heavy weight lifting, and always have a supply of
carbohydrates nearby. If blood sugar levels get too low, the
individual may feel shaky, disoriented, hungry, anxious, become
irritable or experience trembling. Consuming a carbohydrate snack
or beverage will alleviate these symptoms in a matter of

Before engaging in exercise, it is important for blood sugar
levels to be tested to make sure that they are not below 80 to
100 mg/dl range and not above 250 mg/dl. Glucose levels should
also be tested before, during, after and three to five hours
after exercise. During this recovery period (3-5 hours after
exercise), it is important for diabetics to consume ample
carbohydrates in order to prevent hypoglycemia.

Exercise will greatly benefit an individual with type II diabetes
because of its positive effects on insulin sensitivity. Proper
exercise and nutrition are the best forms of prevention for type
II diabetics. It is important for training protocols to be
repeated almost daily to help with sustaining insulin
sensitivity. To prevent hypoglycemia, progressively work up to
strenuous activity.

As with individuals with type I diabetes, carbohydrates should
also be present during training to assist in raising blood sugar
levels if the individual becomes low.