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Saturday, July 23, 2011


Just because I'm a health professional, doesn't mean I'm always a professional health doer.....

The universe saw fit over the last month to give me lessons on the word "empathy"....or and also teach me that "do as I say, not as I do" just doesn't cut it!!

2 weeks ago I was struck down with a cold.  Nothing complicated, just a snot congested, chest warbling common cold.  I never get sick.  This has been a mantra of mine for oh, at least 4 years now.  I can safely say that I've not caught any of the drastic 'lurgies' that have been circulating, either distributed by my customers or by sick friends and family.   So why now?  why this Winter?

Being a fairly analytical gal (no? really? I hear you cry!), yes its true, I put my hand up high and not afraid to say "I question everything", I looked at the possible reasons.  One is that universe lesson above, the other is I just stopped doing what I knew was the better choices when it came to food.  I do know better, but that doesn't mean I occasionally slip up now and again...... 

I forgot, yes forgot, to add fruit into my diet.  I ate chips/crisps a plenty and chocolate as a stable meal replacement.  It wasn't that I didn't know what I was doing, its the only thing I wanted at the time.  Food hasn't been 'turning me on" land I've been losing a bit of weight lately so eating anything was my justification for getting some sort of energy supply into my system.   Yet not a lot of vitamins and essential goodies in processed food.  14 days is the timeframe for a virus to be active in the body, and as it was a 'common cold', it acted commonly.  Early nights, loads of veges and drugs.  Yes I took drugs.  I had to decide was it "drip on customers or talk like a professional snorkellor?".  BUT, I believe because I don't take pharmaceutical drugs regularly, they acted fast.  Only one night tablet and 6 day tablets in one day.  That's it.  Then I allowed the body to do its bit and on day 5, nasal congestion was gone and just a tiny bothersome inconvenient cough remained.  I highly recommend the drugs if you have to, but let your body do most of the job.  I felt great by day 7 and besides the access, I was feeling invigorated and immune boosted.  They say that you should feel better after an cold/flu due to the immune system boosting in.

I live and learn, I now know what it 'feels' like again....lesson over please.... here's to less congested remainder of winter!!


 Early Nights + down time - the body needs its "rest, heal + digest" part of the nervous system to kick in.  So if your body feels tired......follow the signs and let it recoup.  Going down can stop recurring illness.  Nip it in the bud!
Vegetable + Fruit Supplementation - mandarins, oranges, green veges are all great to boost the vitamin shortage.
Garlic - natures own anti-biotic and so much more.  This is one of the Super foods available.  Use the real stuff, not the bottled garlic.  The active ingredient is only accessed fully when you 'cut' the cloves.  So cook up and eat raw parsley to counter the garlic smell.
Spicey food - the ginger family and the chilli family are all great to get the body cleaned out and boosting the good stuff for healing.  So go for a little bit more spice like green/red thai curries.
Massage Helps - massage promotes lymphatic flow.  Assisting the body to "move" stuff can bring on symptoms quicker.  You may not "LIKE" getting sick, but if its starting to show its ugly symptom head, just get on with it so you can get over it stones (Stoneology Massage?!!) facilitates mucus movement - just like having a hot shower on your back without getting wet!

- Thyme Tea gargle - great for sore throats.  Acts like a antiseptic, anti-bacteria and slightly analgesic affect - wanna know HOW? facebook me CLICK HERE
- Night + Day Cold Tabs - they are not like anti-biotics.  A cold is a virus/viral, not bacterial.  So go to your pharmacist (I recommend Kate Gray at Chemmart Orange) who can assist you easily for such a minor ailment. 
Health Food Shops - not into pharmaceuticals?  Visit your local Health Food shop and grab an equivalent cold/flu remedy.  There are some fabulous alternatives to pharmaceuticals.  (I recommend Canobolas Health Food, Orange Arcade - Lucas knows his stuff!!)
Inhalants - grab a box of tissues, get a towel, boil some water and stick your head over a pot of steaming water with a few drops of Olbas Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Tea Tree Oil or Vicks Vaborub....a little goes along way.  Try breathing it in with both mouth (gets into the top of lungs) as well as nose (try one blocking one nostril at a time) as through the nose you access the deeper parts of your lungs
Jagermeister - this is a german 70-proof digestive made with 56 different herbs and spices.  Kept in the fridge and sipping a little at a time, this is one of my secret remedies for helping a cold + sore throat.  I was introduced to something similar when I worked in French Ski Resorts.  It works and is like an alcoholic cough syrup.  Its ingredients include 56 herbs, fruits, roots, and spices including citrus peelliquoriceanisepoppy seedssaffrongingerjuniper berries and ginseng.  PLEASE NOTE - IT IS ALCOHOLIC, so not advised for children. 
- When NOT to see your GP - a couple of things about visiting your GP.  If its a common cold, there's nothing they can do but tell you its a cold.  You can however, do MORE harm if you visit your GP.  1. your immunity is low and you might catch something else from another sick patient waiting to see the doctor. 2. in contrast - you might spread your cold to other people whilst in the doctor's waiting room. 3. By getting out bed and hence a warm environment, you may challenge your body by having to move, walk, pump blood etc when it could be lying quietly, spending that energy on 'healing you'.    4. not that you aren't important, but with a common cold, this is easily managed on your own and you GP's are already over worked - and someone who really needs to see the GP can get in.  
When TO see your GP - Secondary infection stage.  This means another lurgie has decided to bunk in with your cold and your immune system just doesn't seem to be able to handle things so far.  Namely bacteria.  So this is when you need anti-biotics.  Symptoms to know when to act is when mucus (ya snot) turns green.  Green = infection.  Of course, if you have had a history of Pneumonia or at any point feel you need to check with the GP, don't hesitate to see one. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

SIXTH SENSE - the science of Intuition

The Science of Intuition: An Eye-Opening Guide to Your Sixth Sense

Some people think of intuition as a mystical power. Skeptics write it off as a matter of lucky guesswork. But scientists who study the phenomenon say it's a very real ability that can be identified in lab experiments and visualized on brain scans. Read on for gripping findings about your gut feelings, plus surprising ways to tune in to your body's signals and tap the inner powers of your mind.

Your Body

Research shows that our instincts often hit us first on a visceral level, telling us what we need to know well before our consciousness catches up. Here's what happens when your intuition gets physical.

Stress SOS

It's easy to tell something's afoot when your heart is pounding, you're drenched in sweat, and your stomach is tying itself in knots. But even if the shift in your pulse or perspiration is subtler, your intuition may still be trying to deliver a message.

Last year Barnaby Dunn, PhD, a scientist at the Medical Research Council in the UK, conducted a study in which he measured how accurately subjects could count their heartbeats during timed intervals. Then he asked them to play a game, turning over cards from four different decks and winning or losing money based on the cards they drew. What they didn't know was that the decks were rigged: Two had more high-value cards, and two were stacked with losers. As the subjects played, a sensor recorded changes in their heartbeats. After just a few rounds, the monitor showed a dip in players' heart rates whenever they went near certain decks. The body, not the mind, became aware of the difference in the decks first—and Dunn found that some individuals who'd been better able to measure their own heart rates performed better in the game overall.

Scientists at the University of Iowa had performed a similar study earlier, measuring the perspiration on people's palms. What they found: Players started generating stress responses to the bad decks—i.e., sweatier palms—within ten cards. Yet they didn't start suspecting that the decks were rigged until they'd turned over about 50 cards, and not until 80 cards were they able to fully explain how the decks were stacked. Their clammy hands were signaling suspicion long before their conscious minds made the connection.

Tune In: You may be able to better follow your heart (and your sweat glands) by practicing meditation. A 2005 study found that in meditators, brain regions associated with sensitivity to the body's signals and sensory processing had more gray matter. The greater the meditation experience, the more developed the brain regions.

Double Vision

Human eyesight might seem straightforward: The eye receives images, the brain processes them. But we actually have two vision tracks—one conscious, the other intuitive—and as a result, the eye sees far more than we generally realize. For instance, in a phenomenon known as blindsight, people who have gone blind because of brain damage can still navigate an obstacle course or identify emotion on a person's face, even though they can't consciously see it. Their intuitive vision track is receiving visual stimuli, even though their conscious vision track isn't; they know what's around them—they just don't know how they know.

Blindsight patients are an extreme example, but they illustrate a phenomenon everyone experiences: We absorb and retain visual information that doesn't penetrate our conscious mind. Joy Hirsch, PhD, director of the fMRI Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, has shown that our brains react with anxiety to images of faces expressing fear—even when such images are flashed so quickly we have no idea we've seen them. "The amygdala, which plays an important role in emotional processing, activates in response to these pictures even when they're displayed for only 33 milliseconds—too fast to register in our conscious awareness," says Hirsch. This reaction stems from our earliest origins: When our ancestors confronted strangers, those who quickly discerned the newcomers' feelings and motives were more likely to survive.

Tune In: "We all process things that we're not consciously aware of—it's a feeling of knowing that uses an older brain structure," says neuroscientist Beatrice de Gelder, PhD, who researches blindsight. But because we're so dependent on our sense of sight, she says, we're not used to trusting our intuitive vision track. "If you find yourself in a situation that's making you feel nervous, you may have spotted a reason for concern without even knowing it," says Hirsch. "Pay attention to the sensation."

Read more:

Sunday, July 17, 2011



What is the function of the low back?

The low back, or lumbar area, serves a number of important functions for the human body. These functions include structural support, movement, and protection of certain body tissues.
When we stand, the lower back is functioning to support the weight of the upper body. When we bend, extend, or rotate at the waist, the lower back is involved in the movement. Therefore, injury to the structures important for weight bearing, such as the bony spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, often can be detected when the body is standing erect or used in various movements.
Protecting the soft tissues of the nervous system and spinal cord as well as nearby organs of the pelvis and abdomen is a critical function the lumbar spine and its adjacent muscles.

What are common causes of lower back pain?

Common causes of low back pain (lumbar backache) include lumbar strain, nerve irritation, lumbar radiculopathy, bony encroachment, and conditions of the bone and joints. Each of these is reviewed below.
  1. Lumbar strain (acute, chronic)

    A lumbar strain is a stretch injury to the ligaments, tendons, and/or muscles of the low back. The stretching incident results in microscopic tears of varying degrees in these tissues. Lumbar strain is considered one of the most common causes of low back pain. The injury can occur because of overuse, improper use, or trauma. Soft-tissue injury is commonly classified as "acute" if it has been present for days to weeks. If the strain lasts longer than three months, it is referred to as "chronic."

    Lumbar strain most often occurs in people in their 40s, but it can happen at any age. The condition is characterized by localized discomfort in the low back area with onset after an event that mechanically stressed the lumbar tissues. The severity of the injury ranges from mild to severe, depending on the degree of strain and resulting spasm of the muscles of the low back.

    The diagnosis of lumbar strain is based on the history of injury, the location of the pain, and exclusion of nervous system injury. Usually, X-ray testing is only helpful to exclude bone abnormalities.

    The treatment of lumbar strain consists of resting the back (to avoid reinjury), medications to relieve pain and muscle spasm, local heat applications, massage, and eventual (after the acute episode resolves) reconditioning exercises to strengthen the low back and abdominal muscles. Initial treatment at home might include heat application, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and avoiding reinjury and heavy lifting. Long periods of inactivity in bed are no longer recommended, as this treatment may actually slow recovery. Spinal manipulation for periods of up to one month has been found to be helpful in some patients who do not have signs of nerve irritation. Future injury is avoided by using back-protection techniques during activities and support devices as needed at home or work.
  2. Nerve irritation

    The nerves of the lumbar spine can be irritated by mechanical pressure (impingement) by bone or other tissues, or from disease, anywhere along their paths -- from their roots at the spinal cord to the skin surface. These conditions include lumbar disc disease (radiculopathy), bony encroachment, and inflammation of the nerves caused by a viral infection (shingles). See discussions of these conditions below.
  3. Lumbar radiculopathy

    Lumbar radiculopathy is nerve irritation that is caused by damage to the discs between the vertebrae. Damage to the disc occurs because of degeneration ("wear and tear") of the outer ring of the disc, traumatic injury, or both. As a result, the central softer portion of the disc can rupture (herniate) through the outer ring of the disc and abut the spinal cord or its nerves as they exit the bony spinal column. This rupture is what causes the commonly recognized "sciatica" pain of a herniated disc that shoots from the low back and buttock down the leg. Sciatica can be preceded by a history of localized low-back aching or it can follow a "popping" sensation and be accompanied by numbness and tingling. The pain commonly increases with movements at the waist and can increase with coughing or sneezing. In more severe instances, sciatica can be accompanied by incontinence of the bladder and/or bowels. The sciatica of lumbar radiculopathy typically affects only one side of the body, such as the left side or right side, and not both.

    Lumbar radiculopathy is suspected based on the above symptoms. Increased radiating pain when the lower extremity is lifted supports the diagnosis. Nerve testing (EMG/electromyogram and NCV/nerve conduction velocity) of the lower extremities can be used to detect nerve irritation. The actual disc herniation can be detected with imaging tests, such as CAT or MRI scanning.

    Treatment of lumbar radiculopathy ranges from medical management to surgery. Medical management includes patient education, medications to relieve pain and muscle spasms,cortisone injection around the spinal cord (epidural injection), physical therapy (heat, massage by a therapist, ultrasound, electrical stimulation), and rest (not strict bed rest but avoiding reinjury). With unrelenting pain, severe impairment of function, orincontinence (which can indicate spinal cord irritation), surgery may be necessary. The operation performed depends on the overall status of the spine and the age and health of the patient. Procedures include removal of the herniated disc with laminotomy (a small hole in the bone of the lumbar spine surrounding the spinal cord), laminectomy (removal of the bony wall), by needle technique (percutaneous discectomy), disc-dissolving procedures (chemonucleolysis), and others.
  4. Picture of herniated disc between L4 and L5 Picture of herniated disc between L4 and L5
    Cross-section picture of herniated disc between L4 and L5 Cross-section picture of herniated disc between L4 and L5
  5. Bony encroachment

    Any condition that results in movement or growth of the vertebrae of the lumbar spine can limit the space (encroachment) for the adjacent spinal cord and nerves. Causes of bony encroachment of the spinal nerves include foraminal narrowing (narrowing of the portal through which the spinal nerve passes from the spinal column, out of the spinal canal to the body, commonly as a result ofarthritis), spondylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebra relative to another), and spinal stenosis (compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or other soft tissues in the spinal canal). Spinal-nerve compression in these conditions can lead to sciatica pain that radiates down the lower extremities. Spinal stenosis can cause lower-extremity pains that worsen with walking and are relieved by resting (mimicking the pains of poor circulation). Treatment of these afflictions varies, depending on their severity, and ranges from rest to surgical decompression by removing the bone that is compressing the nervous tissue.
  6. Bone and joint conditions

    Bone and joint conditions that lead to low back pain include those existing from birth (congenital), those that result from wear and tear (degenerative) or injury, and those that are due to inflammation of the joints (arthritis).
    • Congenital bone conditions -- Congenital causes (existing from birth) of low back pain include scoliosis and spina bifida. Scoliosis is a sideways (lateral) curvature of the spine that can be caused when one lower extremity is shorter than the other (functional scoliosis) or because of an abnormal architecture of the spine (structural scoliosis). Children who are significantly affected by structural scoliosis may require treatment with bracing and/or surgery to the spine. Adults infrequently are treated surgically but often benefit by support bracing. Spina bifida is a birth defect in the bony vertebral arch over the spinal canal, often with absence of the spinous process. This birth defect most commonly affects the lowest lumbar vertebra and the top of the sacrum. Occasionally, there are abnormal tufts of hair on the skin of the involved area. Spina bifida can be a minor bony abnormality without symptoms. However, the condition can also be accompanied by serious nervous abnormalities of the lower extremities. Degenerative bone and joint conditions -- As we age, the water and protein content of the body's cartilage changes. This change results in weaker, thinner, and more fragile cartilage. Because both the discs and the joints that stack the vertebrae (facet joints) are partly composed of cartilage, these areas are subject to wear and tear over time (degenerative changes). Degeneration of the disc is called spondylosis. Spondylosis can be noted on X-rays of the spine as a narrowing of the normal "disc space" between the vertebrae. It is the deterioration of the disc tissue that predisposes the disc to herniation and localized lumbar pain ("lumbago") in older patients. Degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) of the facet joints is also a cause of localized lumbar pain that can be detected with plain X-ray testing. These causes of degenerative back pain are usually treated conservatively with intermittent heat, rest, rehabilitative exercises, and medications to relieve pain, muscle spasm, and inflammation. Injury to the bones and joints -- Fractures (breakage of bone) of the lumbar spine and sacrum bone most commonly affect elderly people with osteoporosis, especially those who have taken long-term cortisone medication. For these individuals, occasionally even minimal stresses on the spine (such as bending to tie shoes) can lead to bone fracture. In this setting, the vertebra can collapse (vertebral compression fracture). The fracture causes an immediate onset of severe localized pain that can radiate around the waist in a band-like fashion and is made intensely worse with body motions. This pain generally does not radiate down the lower extremities. Vertebral fractures in younger patients occur only after severe trauma, such as from motor-vehicle accidents or a convulsiveseizure.
      In both younger and older patients, vertebral fractures take weeks to heal with rest and pain relievers. Compression fractures of vertebrae associated with osteoporosis can also be treated with a procedure called vertebroplasty, which can help to reduce pain. In this procedure, a balloon is inflated in the compressed vertebra, often returning some of its lost height. Subsequently, a "cement" (methymethacrylate) is injected into the balloon and remains to retain the structure and height of the body of the vertebra. Arthritis -- The spondyloarthropathies are inflammatory types of arthritis that can affect the lower back and sacroiliac joints. Examples of spondyloarthropathies include reactive arthritis(Reiter's disease), ankylosing spondylitispsoriatic arthritis, and the arthritis of inflammatory bowel disease. Each of these diseases can lead to low back pain and stiffness, which is typically worse in the morning. These conditions usually begin in the second and third decades of life. They are treated with medications directed toward decreasing the inflammation. Newer biologic medications have been greatly successful in both quieting the disease and stopping its progression.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Meditation halts age-related degeneration throughout entire brain by: S. L. Baker, features writer for

meditation-2.jpg  Getting older means you will not be as mentally sharp and, in fact, your brain will shrink. It's just the way life is and there's nothing you can do about it, right? Wrong. Now it appears we can take control of brain changes and even make our brains larger, not smaller, as we age and cause electrical connections to zip along at a faster rate to improve thinking and memory. The key is meditation.

Back in 2009, UCLA scientists made an amazing discovery -- they found that the brains of people who had meditated long-term were different than those of non-meditators. To be specific, the researchers found evidence that particular regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger. They also had more gray matter than the brains of people who didn't meditate.

This was startling-- and important -- because brains normally shrink with age, a process they may explain memory and other cognitive problems experienced by elders. More recently, scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) concluded that an eight week mindful meditation practice produced measurable changes in participants' brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress (

Now comes even more proof that meditation does something profound, and beneficial, to the human brain.A follow-up study by the UCLA team just published in the online edition of the journalNeuroImageshows that people who meditate have stronger connections between brain regions. What's more, they have far less age-related brain atrophy.

What's the significance? Stronger connections increase the ability of electrical signals in the brain to work rapidly -- suggesting a whole host of thinking and memory benefits. Also, these effects were not just found here and there but throughout theentire brainsof meditators.

The study involved 27 active meditation practitioners with an average age of 52, along with 27 matched control subjects. Both groups consisted of 11 men and 16 women. Over all, the meditators had been practicing various styles of meditation, including Shamatha, Vipassana, Zazen and others, for five years or longer.

Eileen Luders, a visiting assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and fellow researchers conducted their research using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a relatively new type of brain imaging that reveals structural connectivity inthe brain.

The investigators found that the differences between the brains of research subjects who were meditators and the brains of non-meditators in the control group weren't limited to a core region of the brain but instead involved large-scale networks of the entire brain, as well as limbic structures and the brain stem.

"Our results suggest that long-term meditators have white-matter fibers that are either more numerous, more dense or more insulated throughout the brain," Dr. Luders said in a statement to the media. "We also found that the normal age-related decline of white-matter tissue is considerably reduced in active meditation practitioners."

"It is possible that actively meditating, especially over a long period of time, can induce changes on a micro-anatomical level," Dr. Luders, herself a meditator, continued."Meditation appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain at large."

In other words, there now appears to be a way to take control of changes in the brain which, up to now, have been regarded as an inevitable part of aging. Meditation may keep the brain younger, more fit and make it literally larger and faster working, even as we grow older.

As NaturalNews previously reported, other research has shown additional health benefits of meditation. For example, it beats drugs in treating depression ( and has been found to effectively treat bladder control problems (

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sit-ups and Crunches - can they be a health hazard?

Many of us know the things we need to do to remain healthy.  We watch the adverts, we read the magazines, yet have you ever thought what you might 'mimic' or what you think could be doing your body a disservice?

Sit-ups and crunches are naturally the only way to get rid of access "mid-drift cuddle" rolls of fat right? wrong.  They are not the ONLY way, they are one way.  Just as lifting a 25kg weight may be beneficial for a body who is trained to do so, please ask yourself before you undergo any 'self prescribed' exercises, "is my body trained to do this?"....

Majority of people who have access fat around the middle have really strong lower/mid back muscles that have been suitably strengthen to "hold onto" the weight that is increasing forward.  Just like in pregnancy, the waist thickens at the back to support the weight forming in the front.  This is how the body works.  Forever counter balancing so function and movement continues.

Because the lumber/mid muscles are so strong, they become dominant as they are so used to doing all the work as the front muscles haven't been "switched on" for some time.  So if you suddenly decide that sit-ups or crunches are the answer and will reduce your front portion, think again.  It may work, it may not.  What will be "fired/switched on" and completing those sit ups for you will be your back muscles, as they are dominant.  So what this often leads to is those dominant muscles become fatigued.  

Fatigue = strain = dysfunction = pain = injury.

Answer? Its time to re-introduce yourself to those abdominal muscles, slowly and with intention and yes they still exist under your fat! Once you repeat this often enough, you'll find that common movements in your everyday life will have the stomach muscles 'switching on' before the back muscles.  But you have to do the work. 

Lets get real and honest here.  When was the last time you felt your stomach muscles?   Well then - be good to yourself and don't rush.  It took a bit of time to get into this condition, don't you truly, deep inside you, honestly believe that its going to take more than a few trys?  Consistency is the key.  Repeat and then repeat again.  Try this easy intro.....

PULL IN/PUSH OUT tummy re-acquaintance session
After you clean your teeth - twice a day.

Stand with legs slightly apart in front of a mirror.
Place hands on stomach area just above undie line.
Suck in your stomach. Hold for 2 seconds.
Push out your stomach.
Suck in your stomach. Hold for 3 seconds

Push out your stomach.
Suck in your stomach. Hold for 4 seconds
Push out your stomach.
Suck in your stomach. Hold for 5 seconds
Now do a series of suck in, push out, suck in, push out, for about 10 goes.

  • If you currently have lower back pain DO NOT ATTEMPT.
  • If lower back hurts at anytime when doing the exercise STOP - this means your lower back has taken over.  Try poking the muscles (gently), either on the side or under the ribs.  This gives the body a point of focus.
  • If pain persists - please see a 'Body Specialist' eg: Experienced Remedial Massage Therapist, Physiotherapist, SCENAR Therapist or Oestopath (help your GP by seeking advice/treatment from those who treat this type of thing on a daily basis)
  • If you want to hold for more than 5 seconds, this will only be benefit you more and speed up "introduction" to "yeah, I know you"....
  • To advance this, try pulling in for longer, whilst walking and don't forget to breath!
ENJOY!  Be real and make it matter!!!!

Samantha Colliton