M.R.S.A. Infections and Tattoos

As the practice of tattoos and similar body art becomes more and more fashionable, so does the risk of contracting skin diseases, including a serious one called Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus which often results after having a tattoo applied under unsanitary conditions. Called M.R.S.A. for short, this bacteria induced skin disease is very serious because it has been found to be resistant to known antibiotics including Methicillin, Penicillin, Amoxicillin and Cephalosporins (for those who are allergic to penicillin based antibiotics).

Though not normally life threatening, M.R.S.A. is very difficult to treat once it infects the skin and begins to form painful and ugly abscesses on the skin, often following a tattoo. A serious cause can result in complications which can cause the bacteria to enter the blood stream and eventually cause severe damage to internal organs, as well as lung diseases such as Pnueumonia. The condition can be prevented though with sanitary precautions being made before and during a tattoo session, as well as afterwards, once a person is home. A tattoo piercing causes open wounds on the skin, which take several days to heal. Following a tattoo, care must be made to cleanse the tattoo and surrounding skin areas with a skin disinfectant like the ones surgeons used prior to performing an operation. If not available, a good quality soap and alcohol based disinfectant should be used until the wound caused by the tattoo is completely healed.

Other skin infections that are possible from a tattoo include Follicolitus, an infection in the hair follicles, and impetigo, a very contagious skin infection which causes boils and abscesses similar to those caused by M.R.S.A. infections.

Recently in the 1990’s, a different type of staphylococcus infection called CA-M.R.S.A. or Community Associated M.R.S.A. infection has begun to appear which is highly contagious as well as being resistant to most antibiotics. These infections are found to be more numerous due to the popularity of tattoos and due to more and more people developing weakened immune systems as a result of virus such as HIV/AIDS. Older people as well, whose immune systems are weaker, may also be at risk of catching an M.R.S.A. caused infection.

Many people are “carriers” of M.R.S.A. bacteria and other similar infections even they themselves my not have any actual sores or other symptoms. The carrier, when having a tattoo done can then transmit the bacteria to others, including the tattoo artist, if proper sanitary precautions are not made.

So besides being a “marriage for life” a permanent, needle induced body tattoo may also give persons something more than what they previously bargained for.

Protect Your Liver and Save Your Life

liverOnly within the past couple of decades has the importance of detoxification of the body been made aware to most people. And this process of detoxification is very important in the liver, the body’s main “filtering” organ and one that is vitally necessary for survival. As we get older, accumulated toxins from the foods we eat (especially fried and “junk foods”) as well as taking abusive substances such as alcohol. What many people are not aware of is that the liver can be “cleaned” of detoxified by consuming a number of common plant products that are easily obtainable and cost very little. Some of these products are noted here as follows:

Curcumin is a common spice with a yellowish appearance that is used to flavor a number of foods, especially Mediterranean and oriental dishes. This spice contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents that act as “cleaning compounds” on both the liver and the gall bladder, that smaller organ the produces the bile so vital to digestion and proper liver function. By using curcumin on a regular basis, both your gall bladder and liver will benefit, and will enable the liver to properly manufacture bile acids which are then stored in the gall bladder for later use. A properly functioning liver and gall bladder will prevent the formation of gall stones, which can occur when the bile stagnates in the gall bladder.

Grapefruit contains an antiseptic-like substance that reduces toxic substances often found in the liver, including a chemical known as acetaminophen (found in analgesics like Tylenol) and proven to be very damaging to the liver if used in large amounts. Grapefruit also has other benefits including preventing the formation of kidney stones and for reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.

is a flavonoid that is found in a number of citrus fruits including grapefruit. Use of quercitin also helps reduce toxins in the liver and is also very effective against various forms of cancers, including skin and prostate cancer. Large quantities of quercitin is also found in apples, onions, berries such as raspberries and cranberries, and in the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.

N-acety-L-cysteine (NAC)
is a powerful antioxidant that is partially found in high-protein foods, as well as in capsule form. NAC is considered great liver detoxifier and helps increase the body’s natural level of glutathione, a powerful anti-toxic agent in the body.

is an a-amino acid that is essential in proper food digestion as well as reducing toxins in the liver and other organs. High levels of methionine can be found in sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, fish, meats, and some other plant seeds, as well as in spinach, potatoes, and boiled corn.

Perhaps the most important aspect of keeping a healthy liver is simply by avoiding substances like excessive alcohol and acetaminophen, both of which are excessively damaging to the liver. Keeping your liver “clean” and healthy will not only make you feel good, but will prolong your life as well.

Massage Stone Therapy

Massage stone therapy is a holistic medicine technique that has its origins in ancient Chinese medicine. The technique involves the use of heated basalt (volcanic) stones together with cool, harder stones which are placed on certain parts of the body, and together with various massage techniques influences the energy centers of the body and helps remove lymph blockages, relieves stress, and eliminates negative energy forces.

Therapists who specialize in this technique use what they refer to as a “balance” between both the warm and cool stones which are usually placed either on the patient’s shoulders, back, pelvic region, and limbs; areas where negative energy build-ups are often present.

The use of warm and even hot stones as a healing aid has also been use by Native American tribes for centuries. Tribal healers often used these stones to help people suffering from a number of ailments including fevers, with the idea that the heat from the stones would “draw out” the poisons and negative forces present in the body. In this therapy, the practitioner first uses massage on parts of the body where the negative energy forces as suspected to be present. Then the practitioner places several flat basalt stones that have been heated to a temperature of between 125 and 150 degrees F. These stones are then placed on the body’s energy points, including the back, hands, toes, stomach and forehead. Cool stones, usually colored white, are placed on areas where inflammation is present. Sometimes the hot stones are placed under a layer of towels, and the patient simply lies on them.

Many therapists combine this therapy with suction cups which help to bring negative energy forces and blockages to the surface. These therapies can be very helpful in relieving problems of muscle tension and stress.

Stone therapy is now being seen more in use in spas and professional massage parlors; and combined with therapeutic massage techniques are being said to create a truly unique and beneficial therapeutic experience.

Massage – One of Man’s Best Healing Remedies

The art of body massage has been around sine pre-historic cave men found relief by rubbing a sprained leg or ankle. Throughout the ages, various forms of massage have been practiced by virtually all civilizations. The most common ones in practice today are either various forms of European or Swedish massage, and those originating in India and other Asiatic countries, as well as in Greece and ancient Rome. Some of the most common forms of European body massage in use to day are noted here:

Swedish massage is one of the most common and successful forms of body massage in practice today. This technique involves the use of five basic strokes which are effleurage or gentle stroking; Petrissage, which involves grabbing and lifting the muscles; friction by working the hands and thumbs deep into the muscles; Tapotement, involving chopping or beating stokes; and vibration by shaking the hands rapidly on the areas being massaged in vibration-like movements.

Deep tissue massage is used in many Asiatic massage techniques and involves using direct pressure of hands, elbows and fingers to reach the deeper muscles of the body. These massage techniques involve using slow, even strokes which have been proven to bring relief to persons suffering from various forms of tension and chronic fatigue.

Sports massage incorporates techniques similar to both Swedish and deep tissue massage, but with the emphasis of treating strains and injuries suffered by athletes during training and sporting events. Sports massage was first used by both the ancient Greeks and Romans before sporting events and on soldiers and gladiators prior to entering combat. The use of message on muscles and joints prior to competition in sporting events helps the athlete relax and concentrate on competing in the event.

Neuromuscular message is a deep tissue massage focused on increasing blood flow, reducing pain, and increasing pressure on nerves and muscles after traumatic injuries such as accidents. These techniques are effective in freeing “muscle knots” and other pain centers in the back, neck and limbs.

Feldenkrais is both a massage and exercise technique that is becoming very popular for older persons, especially those recovering from a stroke or other incapacity. By practicing slow, gentle movements, persons practicing the technique are performing a self –massage technique that enables them to improve movement in parts of the body that have been incapacitated. Massage methods involve slow, gentle movements that concentrate on the areas where movement has been limited or incapacitated.

There are other techniques including trager, gentle rocking movements, rolfing, which concentrates on improving posture, and cranial sacrotherapy which is often used by Chiropractors to treat problems relating to the neck and spine. The proper technique necessary is dependent on the type of condition being treated.

Yoga During Pregnancy

Yoga During PregnancyOne of the prime concerns of expectant mothers deals with what kind of exercise program is safe to practice pregnancy. A number of studies have been made concerning the practice of various forms of yoga during various stages of the 36 week gestation period; and the results of these findings indicate that not only is the practice of certain types of yoga acceptable but actually beneficial to an expectant mother. This is especially so in regards to forms such as Yoga Nidra, which deal with deep breathing exercises and stretching of muscles which are used to deliver the baby when it is born. In addition to the sheer physical aspects, yoga’s philosophy of combining the spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological aspects, can better prepare a women emotionally for the process of childbirth. This is especially true for first time pregnancies.

Pregnancy does require women to exercise caution, however, and yoga exercises must be done in a manner that does not cause harm to either the mother or her fetus. Since many yoga exercises deal with breathing, especially deep breathing, practicing breathing control can be very helpful to the mother during labor contractions. The emotional benefits of controlled breathing and meditation can also help prevent feelings of depression before and after childbirth. Practicing Yoga Nidra is especially helpful for relaxation and as an aid to sleeping either during pregnancy or in the period after childbirth when newborn infants require constant attention which can be very tiring to women. And the practice of yoga stretching exercises after pregnancy will help a woman regain the muscle tone she had before the onset of pregnancy.

To be on the safe side, it is a good idea to discuss the practicing of yoga with both an obstetrician as well as a quality yoga instructor. The type of exercises undertaken depend a lot of what period or ‘trimester’ of pregnancy a woman is currently in, as well as a woman’s over-all physical health. While many yoga exercises, such as the “butterfly” stretch, cobra, and triangle pose, are acceptable during pregnancy, others such as back bends, hand and headstands, and balancing poses should be avoided as they can be dangerous to both mother and baby. Avoid exercises that stretch muscles too much and avoid what is known as “hot” yoga, or yoga performed in an overheated room.

All and all, a women should “listen” to her body and stop any exercises that cause pain or discomfort. It is best to coordinate the type of exercise in accordance with the stage of pregnancy a woman is in. A qualified instructor – especially one who works a lot with pregnant women can be invaluable for this purpose.

Ring in Chinese New Year with Herbs and Remedies

Although the 2008 Chinese New Year is still several weeks away (February 7), it’s never too early to begin ‘celebrating’ the Year of the Rat by using medicinal remedies and treatments that have been proven effective for hundreds of years. The Chinese people rely on a myriad of natural herbal remedies to cure virtually all types of physical complaints and diseases ranging from allergies and skin conditions to problems associated with aging and sexual dysfunction.

Regarding remedies involving herbs and other natural plant products, some of the most common ones are those many people use on an almost everyday basis. These include cinnamon bark and powder, ginger root, ginseng (which is actually three different kinds of roots), garlic, and of course a number of medicinal teas. Ginseng roots in particular are used in wide variety of remedies ranging from capsules, teas, ointments, and other forms. The most common variety is what is known as panax ginseng radix or Oriental ginseng is very much in demand in Chinese medicine. It is a favorite among athletes and others needing remedies to increase physical endurance. Due to its being a natural product, it is accepted by international authorities monitoring athletic competitions. Oriental ginseng is also effective in nourishing the spleen (one of the body’s main supplier of blood cells), the lung, and in replenishing vital body fluids.

Another common Chinese herb, ginger root, called Gan Jiang in Chinese, is used to treat a number of conditions including nausea, motion and morning sickness, flatulence (bloated feeling connected with overeating and constipation), and for upper respiratory infections including coughs and bronchitis. It is especially effective for cancer patients who suffer from nausea when undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Ginger can be drank in medicinal teas, taken in capsule form, or simply eaten raw. Ginger is also an important spice and taste additive in Chinese and other types of foods.

Cinnamon is a common spice that is also widely used in Oriental medicine. Cinnamon bark and powder is used to warm the body and stimulate the kidneys as well as reproductive organs. It is widely drunk in teas and is easily prepared by simply boiling pieces of cinnamon bark in water.

Flowers are also widely used in Chinese medicine, with the chrysanthemum flower (the national flower of Japan) being widely used to cure sinus congestion and to aid digestion, especially after eating heavy, greasy foods. It is often made into a tea and is a refreshing drink on a hot summer day.

Virtually all kinds of plants and animal products, including fungus, bones and deer antlers, and marine plant and animal products are used in Chinese medicine. Due to their usage for more than 3,000 years, one can find a Chinese medicinal remedy for virtually any type illness.

India’s Wonderful Herbs

The Indian Subcontinent, aside from being one of the most populous regions of the world, also contains many of the most beneficial medicinal herbs known to man. From the country’s northern mountains to it’s lush southern regions, medicinal herbs have been grown and used by the country’s 1+ billion population for thousands of years. The herbs are both cultivated and found growing wild in virtually all regions, and are used to treat a wide variety of illnesses and complaints including arthritis, cancer, heart disease, intestinal complaints, skin conditions, sexual impotency, and even snake bites.

In this virtual “garden of earthly delights” the herbs are picked and processed into a variety of preparations, many of which are sold worldwide. The names of these herbs are as exotic as the country from which they come; and just a few of them are noted here:

Andrographis paniculata: an extremely bitter tasting herb usually found in southern and southeastern India. This herb is used extensively in treating various types of cancer, inflammatory conditions, and as a treatment for snakebites.

Ashwagandha: Also known as winter cherry, this herb is used to treat a variety of health problems including nervous and stress disorders, anemia, infertility, and is also used to coagulate milk.

Neem tree: A shrub-like tree found in a number of locations ranging from tropical to mountainous, the Neem’s leaves, roots, and berries are used to treat a number of skin disorders ranging from boils to leprosy. It is a very important element in natural or Ayurvedic medicine.

Shatavari plant: A climbing plant found mainly in northern India, the Shatavari is used to treat a number of respiratory ailments including bronchitis, as well as diarrhea, dysentery, and other gastric related problems.

Triphala plant: Also known as “three fruits” the tripahala plant is used extensively to treat conditions of the liver and gall bladder, and is also widely used as a laxative. Due to its cleansing properties, it is often referred to as “nature’s body cleanser”. Due to a high vitamin content it is often used as a food supplement.

Tulsi plant: The tulsi plant is a basil-like herb that has long been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Many refer to it as the “queen of herbs” and its value as a sexual enhancer was even mentioned in the Kama Sutra, the classical Indian work on sexual techniques. The tulsi is also used to treat lung congestion, skin diseases and malaria. It is also a popular spice and is added to a number of food dishes, including curries.

Tumeric plant: Turmeric plant is a popular food enhancer spice that has been used in India for centuries. It is also used to treat a wide range of stomach problems, including gastritis and ulcers. Its benefits in treating cancer is also being studied.

These are just a few of the many kinds of medicinal herbs and plants found on the Subcontinent. There are many more and these can be found in stores and websites specializing in holistic remedies and natural products.

Tai Chi Exercises More Popular Than Ever

Have you ever passed a park of beach front in the morning or evening and seen people doing what appears to be a slow motion martial arts exercise? That “exercise” is most likely Tai Chi also known as Tai Chi Chaun; an exercise that has been known in China since the early 1800’s and more recently in western countries.

Tai Chi ExercisesThough generally called a martial art, like Karate and Kung Fu, practitioners of Tai Chi, said to actually be a “hybrid” of earlier martial art forms, consider their science to be an internal exercise discipline that helps people maintain skeletal and muscular agility long into advanced old age. In fact in China it is not uncommon for people in their 90’s to practice Tai Chi which is considered to be a soft-style martial art intended to improve not only the posture but also to coordinate the opposite Yin and Yang extremes of the body. Practicing traditional Tai Chi involves learning a series of “warm up” postures, known as forms or taolu, and afterwards the more known movements that many refer to as boxing and as “Oriental meditation”.

The physical attributes of Tai Chi exercises include helping people deal with stress as well as increasing the body’s blood and lymph circulation. The three main objectives of Tai Chi are health, meditation, and martial art. Good health is primary focus of Tai Chi as the other objectives, especially martial arts, cannot be accomplished if a person is not in good health. There are five main forms of Tai Chi: Chen style, Yang style, Wu Hao Style, Wu Chuan-Yu ,and Sun style. The most popular style that most Westerners are familiar with are the Yang and Wu chuan styles. These are the styles most seen when observing a group of people practicing the science in parks and other public places. History says that Tai Chi was first taught by a Taoist monk named Zang Sanfang and taught in monasteries in the Wu Tang Shan province of China.

The martial arts technique of Kung Fu is said to be a derivative of Tai Chi Chaun and observations of both techniques show their similarities to each other. If practiced correctly, it can be a very effective form of self defense as well as fighting technique. Modern versions of Tai Chi are becoming very popular in America and many parks and playgrounds in large American cities, as well as beaches often have many people practicing these exercises in groups as by individuals.

Yoga For The Young at Heart

YogaMany people have a false belief that it is difficult, if not impossible to effectively practice Yoga exercises once they are over 60. While it is true that the human body is not as limber in old age, and is not like it was at age 30, there is no reason that with the right technique and step by step concentration, an older person can not only be successful but even increase their “real age” lifespan by as much as 6 to 10 years.

Older people, especially senior citizens, often feel very neglected and unwanted. They also have a greater fear of death than younger people, which only adds to their frustration. By offering them a healthy exercise discipline, they not only invigorate the body but the mind as well. Although older people require more time and much patience on behalf of the instructor, with the right assistance they can realize a big change in their outlook on life. One of the best Yoga techniques for older persons is one known as Yoga Nidra. This technique is well suited even for geriatrics as it does not require them to lie on the floor, but allows them to perform many exercises while sitting in a chair. The exercises are done at a much slower pace and careful consideration is made for the participant’s physical limitations. By practicing simple breathing exercises, especially from the abdomen, those who have problems such as depression and insomnia often find much needed relief.

For those who are not aware, Yoga Nidra, otherwise known as Yoga of Clear Light is designed to bring people to a spiritual, emotional and physical level of consciousness through trance and meditation. The ultimate aim is bring a person to an ultimate state that is in direct communion with the Devine energy. The state of absolute relaxation is so wonderful that those who practice this technique say that only half and hour of Yoga Nidra meditation is equivalent to three hours of normal sleep. It is for this reason that it is highly recommended for older people who often suffer from sleeping disorders, particularly insomnia.

For this age group, more simple Yoga Nidra techniques are taught in order for participants to be able to get the most benefit and not become discouraged. With patience and proper guidance older people can practice Yoga Nidra exercises until they are 90 – even more.

Andrographis The Herb For All Seasons

Andrographis The Herb For All SeasonsPicture Thanks To ICS

The andrographis paniculata is an herb that has been used in Chinese and oriental medicine for centuries. Widely grown throughout many parts of Asia, the herb is used for treatment for a number of ailments including throat and other infections. Known for having a very bitter taste, the roots and leaves are often made into a tonic and was in use long before antibiotics came into being. In India, the plant is known as “Maha-tita” which means “king of bitters”. The plant is used often in Siddha and Ayurvedic medicine in India and is said to have antibiotic, anti-malarial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and is even used as an anti-venom for snake bites.

Due to its availability and low costs, the herb has been used extensively in local village medicine all over southern and eastern Asia. It is even said to have a positive curing effect for some forms of cancer, though this is still under study by scientists.
The plant has been found to have anti-cancer and immunomodulatory (immune system treatment) affects on the body and is therefore being studied as a possible cancer treatment.

There is even some hopeful indication that the plant is beneficial in treating HIV related viruses.

Found in a variety of locations and climate conditions and altitudes, the plant is usually dried and ground into a powder before being made into a tonic or elixir. It’s extremely bitter taste is its main drawback in regards to its use as a medicinal herb.

Additional benefits of the herb include protecting the liver when large doses of analgesics such as paracetamol are used. The herb is often known as a common drug called Kalmegh or “green chiretta”. It is also used to reduce to durations of viral ailments like colds. One of the best places for finding versions of this herbal remedy is through India medicinal remedy sources.