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.

Kids Love Yoga Too

Kids Love Yoga TooIn today’s modern society, children are often under a lot of stress, both in school and afterwards. Whether it’s due to problems with homework, peer pressure (much of it financial or fashion oriented) or just ordinary everyday stress, many children are discovering an excellent way to cope with life’s problems. And that “discovery” is yoga. Since yoga exercises can often been done in a limited space like in a living room or den, a bedroom, or similar area, practicing yoga for even half an hour per day can help kids relieve a lot of stress, and help develop their bodies at the same time.

Yoga has also been proven to be successful with children who are hyperactive and have learning disabilities as a result of not being able to concentrate on their homework or in the classroom. Yoga exercises involving deep breathing and meditation can help calm them down and improve their concentration. By having children concentrate on a pleasant experience during the exercise, such as walking through a beautiful garden or meadow, the end result can be very calming and will enable them to relax as well as sleep better at night. The calming effect is also very beneficial against certain phobias such as bed wetting and fear of the dark.

In addition to relaxation, Yoga also helps kids with both their posture and the development of muscular motor skills. The exercises can either be taught on an individual or group basis. As children’s limbs are more flexible than those of adults, a number of yoga poses can be taught, and children usually catch on very easily. Yoga can also be taught together with other subjects that kids are interested in, such as care for animals. Since yoga classes are usually conducted with children sitting in a circle, instead of in a row, there is more interaction among them, and kids usually look forward to attending these classes.

All in all, children learn wonderful developmental skills that are useful throughout their entire lives. By enabling them to cope better with physical and mental stress, kids will be more successful in high school and college, as well as during their adult lives. And in addition to developing their physical and mental skills, practicing yoga will help children develop more respect for themselves and others in the world they live in.

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.

Stress and Money

Stress and MoneyStress and worries dealing with money matters seem to be facts of life in modern society. While this problem usually evolves around a lack of sufficient funds to take care of short and long term obligations, it is also common in people who have large sums of money as well. Being “stressed out” due to financial problems can effect ones marital life, and health, leading to disastrous consequences.

Many families develop undue internal stress due to not being able to manage their finances adequately. The influences of advertising, easy availability to credit (especially revolving credit cards), and not sticking to a financial plan are the most common causes of financial crises and subsequent stress. Marital monetary stress, usually revolving around what to spend limited amounts of money on, are common causes of marital stress and ultimate serious crises situations resulting in divorce or even worse.

Simply accepting the situation with a “no other alternative” attitude will not help relieve a stress situation dealing with money. This can lead to a number of problems including radical emotional behavior, loss of sleep, smoking or overeating and deep emotional depression; all of which will eventually have serious results.

Unless the problems deal with severe monetary crises such as loss of income due to being made redundant or other reasons, the usual cause of financial stress in most modern households is simply a lack of coming to terms with reality. Money management, including the creation of and sticking to a weekly, budget, will eventually help to ease financial problems, and the stress that accompanies it.

Getting out of debt, perhaps the main reason for financial stress, requires a lot of personal commitment and cooperation among everyone involved. Establishing priorities dealing with the most important items on which limited funds have to be spent (i.e. food, shelter, and other important needs, such as health care) and reduction on expenditures made with “plastic money” will eventually work towards improving a family’s financial situation, and along with it family stress.

Eliminating family stress also can be assisted by making changes that will help to improve a family’s overall physical situation, including exercise programs, change of diet (especially by eliminating “junk foods” as much as possible), reorganization of personal surroundings by getting rid of clutter, and most important, a change in attitude and personal spirituality.

Life is short; so why waste it by living in constant stress?

Stress Management for Working Parents

Working ParentsWhen both parents are working in full time careers, taking care of a home and children can become a very challenging, and stressful endeavor. This is particularly true when raising small children who have been in the daily care of a nursery or day care center and parents only have a few hours of “quality time” afterwards to devote to being parents. Children are often difficult, as TV programs such as Super Nanny attest to. Children pick up on their parent’s vulnerabilities, and often capitalize on them for manipulative purposes. This can bring on increased tensions and problems of increased stress no only between parents and children but between husband and wife as well.

Working parents must deal with the wants and needs of children within a limited daily time frame which involves dropping off and pick up of children from child care centers which may be a long distance from the home. Children are usually self oriented and feelings of “I must” and “I can’t” pull harried parents in several directions, brining on even more tension and stress. Feelings of concern towards their children, accompanied by feelings of inadequacy and guilt, cause parents to develop typical symptoms of chronic stress; including irritability, less sleep, and continuous worry as to whether they are adequate parents.

Parents need to find ways to practice ways of effective stress management in order to be able cope with both the challenges of their careers along with those of raising a family. There are a number of ways in which harried parents can learn to ‘balance’ their roles of being both career persons and loving parents. Some of these include:

1. Taking time to learn ways to relax when not involved with children’s wants and needs. Simple body relaxation techniques include simply taking deep breaths and afterwards slowing exhaling. This enables the mind to receive more oxygen and also makes one feel more relaxed. Another method is to tighten muscles in hands, legs, etc., and then slowly release them. Spouses can also practice various types of body massage on each other, especially on the shoulders, neck and arms.

2. Become as organized as possible, including the performance of all household
chores, payment of various bills, etc.. Write down all required tasks, even simple ones that would normally be consigned to memory as persons under stress often forget the most simplest of activities.

3. When children are finally in bed and “all is quiet on the Western Front” tired
spouses should take a ‘mental vacation’ and use this time to communicate with each other as well as simply enjoy each other’s company. All the problems of both work and family should be put on a “back burner’ and this period of time should be used to simply relax and forget the problems of the day.

Finally, if some problems seem unsolvable, parents should seek the advice of others including other family members (parents, siblings, etc.), friends, religious community leaders, and even from the internet. Parents need to know that “lifelines” are available if needed, and not try to solve seemingly unsolvable problems which only create more stress.

Tanning and Burning

Tanning and BurningMany people recall that song sung at the finale for the rock musical Hair: “Let The Sunshine In”. When going to the beach, an outdoor swimming pool, or even lying on your back porch sundeck, it is a very good idea not let too much of the sunshine in – especially to your skin. Many people, especially at the beginning of the summertime beach season, are in a hurry to acquire what is known as a deep, coppery colored suntan. Whether or not you can acquire a proper suntan will depend on your skin’s pigmentation ability to acquire that lovely “Coppertone Tan” as is so often advertised on TV.

Some people, especially those with very fair skin (redheads, etc.) simply cannot acquire a proper tan no matter how much they expose themselves. In fact, overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, especially for “palefaces” can be harmful and downright dangerous. When a person becomes overexposed to the sun, a condition most commonly known as ‘sunburn’ develops. Sunburn occurs when the pigmentation in the skin, known as melanin, rises to the skin’s surface, resulting in a reddish pink color, which in severe case is actually a second degree burn. Besides the change in skin color, and accompanying discomfort, other symptoms of acute sunburn include headache, faintness, and nausea, accompanied by severe dehydration.

Treatment for moderate to severe case of sunburn includes immersing the body in a mixture of cold water and vinegar (an ‘old wives’ remedy that still works) and gently rubbing either a good quality body lotion into the affected areas; especially a lotion or cream specifically designed to treat cases of wind or sunburn. Since sunburn is actually a body burn, no less harmful than being burned by a hot object or fire, the effected top skin epidermal layer dies and later peels off in a similar manner as a reptile shedding its skin. Aloe vera based skin creams and lotions are also very good for sunburn.

Even dark complexioned people can develop sunburn; and in particular because they may tend to be exposed to sunlight for longer periods, thinking that their dark skin is really protecting them.

Proper tanning, which can also be done by laying on a tanning board under ultraviolet lighting, should be done slowly and for just a few minutes per session. A good tanning lotion, cream, or spray should be used which protects you from UVA and UVB categories of ultraviolet light (UVA being the sun’s rays) and with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. If tanning at the beach or pool, the suntan preparation should be re-applied after you go into the water – even for a few moments.

Taking care of one’s skin is very important in today’s world of depleted ozone layers and enhanced sunlight. The consequences of overexposure to the sun’s rays may only show up 10 to 15 years later with skin cancer or melanoma, which can disfigure and in some cases even kill people.

Remember, when “letting the sunshine in” it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Not All Is Sunshine in Sunny Utah

The American state of Utah, long known as a place of natural beauty and varied winter sports activities, is also known a home for several companies who market a wide range of health and personal care products for a network known as Multi-level Marketing, or MLM for short.

At least two of these companies are based in the city of Provo Utah, located about 30 miles south of the capital, Salt Lake City. These companies employ literally thousands of distributing sales associates, who market in their company’s products on a “pyramid” sales bases in which each independent distributor is expected to ‘recruit’ a number of other people to be on his ‘team’. The idea of this technique is that, in theory anyway, the initial recruiter will receive a portion of the commissions that each team member earns, and so on, as long as other associates manage to recruit new distributors as well. As in all such marketing schemes, the few at the top are the ones who benefit most from this way of selling.

While this may sound good to potential new sales people, it doesn’t always work out as planned. Besides, with so many hands in the ‘pie’ it makes the cost of the products they sell much higher than comparative products sold in regular chain pharmacies and health products stores.

The activities surrounding the way these companies promote their products, and subsequent profits made by the ones sitting on top of the pyramid have resulted in company activities being investigated by U.S. government authorities as a result of allegations that not all revenues and subsequent profits are being accurately reported to tax and revenue authorities; and that end of the year profit and loss statements may have been tampered with. These activities are nothing new in American business, however, as recent scandals involving such well known corporate entities as Enron and WorldCom wound in the federal bankruptcy courts, and their top corporate officers tried and convicted of massive fraud.

Still, because of the way the pyramid sales companies operate, their activities have recently attracted the attention of “the revenue boys”, and once such company, with a marketing distribution force of over 600,000, is particularly under scrutiny for omission of large sums of money from its annual revenue report. The investigation has become so intense that the company’s former auditor resigned rather than be suspected of complacency.

Many of these companies have shares sold on the public stock exchanges such as the NYSE and NASDAQ. With agencies as the Security and Exchange Commission, the top federal regularity agency dealing in shares sold to the general public, and threatening to suspend trading in these company’s shares, the situation involving ‘omissions’ may be quite serious indeed.

This means that these companies are selling an inferior product, when in fact most of their products are of good quality. What it does mean is that these companies had better get their act together if they want to continue to keep operating.

ConsumerLab.com Watchdog for the Health Products Industry

Consumer Lab logo
Ever wonder who is largely responsible for make sure those vitamins and dietary supplements you take are safe and effective? In the multi billion dollar health products industry, one testing laboratory stands out as a leader in the health and nutrition products testing field. Known as Consumerlab.com, this independent testing laboratory tests and certifies a multitude of fitness and wellness products; many of which a large number of people take on a daily basis.

As an independent certification company, Consumerlab.com, usually known by their ‘CL’ initials, is used annually by a large number of dietary and healthcare products company to have their products tested and clinically certified before being marketed to the general public. In fact, this laboratory has tested and certified more than 1,800 products, representing mores than 350 brands, in the past seven years alone.

Just a few of the many kinds of products being evaluated by CL include: vitamins, health and nutrition products, herbal preparations, sports energy products, food and beverage products, and personal care products. One of the most common types of evaluations carried by CL are product reviews, in which samples of various submitted products are evaluated and compared to other similar products for quality and content reliability. In order to not be seen as patronizing any particular manufacturing company, CL purchases many product samples for several companies, and evaluates them independently before placing it’s coveted “CL” seal of approval on the tested product. Products tested, not only include well known ‘popular brands’ but smaller, less known brands as well, including what are known as “house brands”. CL selects a number of independent laboratories to conduct “blind testing” on products to which the actual manufacturer is not disclosed. The results of these independent tests are then evaluated in order to complete the certification process.

Upon completion of these testing reviews, people who are subscribers to CL’s services can obtain the final reviews for a number of products, enabling them to choose the products they want to purchase more prudently. If a product fails the CL testing, the manufacturer can resubmit it again at a later date for re-evaluation.

As CL’s testing and evaluations is strictly voluntary, it encourages manufactures to pay closer attention to the quality standards to go into the product’s manufacture. This is due largely to the positive reputation that CL’s testing and evaluation findings are in respect to more positive feedback on the part of the purchasing consumer. The CL certification label is vary important for manufacturers of sports energy supplement products due to the problem of various banned substances, including steroids, that could ruin an athlete’s credibility in an athletic competition.

Tested brands that pass CL’s stringent reviews and voluntary testing programs are later posted on their website, together with the CL “stamp of approval”. In today’s tough and competitive consumer market, having the CL approval label is a added boost to marketing a dietary, or fitness product to an already wary consumer public.

Should Vitamins Be Regulated?

Should Vitamins Be Regulated?Vitamins and weight control supplements have been offered to people for many years now. The virtual “flood” of these products make them available in drugstores, health and fitness products stores (including mall chain stores like GNC), and by a myriad of internet and multilevel marketing companies. Vitamin products, ranging from lower priced ‘house brands’ found in chain drug stores (Wallgreens, Eckerds, etc.) as well as in discount merchandising stores like Target and Wallmart, offer multivitamin products that claim to not only provide much more that the body’s daily vitamin requires, but aid in helping the body lose or gain weight as well.

Each year in America and other Western countries, a number of deaths occur which can be traced to over consumption of vitamin supplements, combined with alcohol and use of over-the-counter medications, including amphetamines and anti-depressant medications. In addition, many people are taking high priced vitamins and food supplements which are sold by multilevel marketing hucksters, that are not only very expensive (due to so many ‘associates’ involved in the MLM ‘pyramid’), but potentially dangerous as well. Many vitamin supplements sold by both MLM companies, as well as over the internet, are made by foreign manufactures who may not be properly regulated in their own countries (usually with much lower standards that American products which are FDA controlled) but may have not been regulated properly in the U.S.A. as well.

Recent television consumer awareness programs have said that many Americans spend as much as $500 or more per month on these products, consumer as many as 20 different pills and capsules per day! Not only is there much doubt as whether these products actually do all they claim to do to maintain one’s good health, the over-consumption of vitamin and mineral supplements may actually create toxins within one’s own body that could lead to heart and liver failure, as well as a number of other
physical problems – many of them potentially fatal.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA for short) is trying to create legislation that will require more government regulation of these products, include who can legally purchase them. In addition to providing more regulation these products, the FDA is interested in making sure that people have more complete information involving the potential side effects or even poisoning from over consumption of vitamins and food supplements.

It is advisable to consult your family doctor in order to determine what types and quantities of these products you can safely consume, as well as any potential dangers. This especially true for persons suffering from a chronic medical condition, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and various allergies that are potentially serious, and even fatal .

While it’s great to try to improve your personal health by taking these products, like many things, they should be taken moderately and with an element of caution. After all, only one person is going to take care of you personal health, and that’s you, yourself.

Al Gore’s Global Warming Wake Up Call

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore may not yet be running again for the Presidency, but his message is definitely clear, unless immediate steps are made to protect the environment and reverse global warming, our continued life on Earth is definitely at risk. Speaking during a recent hour long interview on CNN’s Larry King Live program, Mr. Gore related in depth his opinions on how lack of intense effort on the part of the present U.S. Administration is spelling disaster to our quality of life, if not life itself.

Mr. Gore’s Academy Award winning documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, gave a not very optimistic account on how the worlds’ eco-system has been severely damaged by Man’s obsession with the use of fossil fuels and other dangerous pollutants, which, in Gore’s opinion, is largely responsible for the state of our environment, including melting Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves at an alarming pace. Gore’s concern for world environment problems goes back many years when he became concerned with many species of animals becoming extinct including a small species of owl that used to inhabit the redwood forest regions of Oregon and Washington State. That concern as well as for the decrease in the atmosphere’s ozone layer (that protective layer against the sun’s damaging radiation) gave him the title of “Mr. Ozone” and made him the brunt of jokes by entertainment comedians including NBC’s Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien.

Judging from current realities regarding severe changes in our environment, particularly weather patterns, people are laughing less at “Mr. Ozone” and are now beginning to listen to his warning. Gore’s severe criticism of the Bush Administration’s lack of attention to this increasing problem is one the former VP’s main topics these days. That President George Bush has refused to have his country join the global effort to curtail use of fossil fuels “because it would be damaging to the U.S. economy” is most likely due the President’s own family interest in the oil business, as well as that of his Vice President, Dick Chaney, whose long career with the international oil well servicing company Halliburton has been in the news several times. The Bush family also appears to have close relations with the Saudi Royal Family, from whose country the U.S. still receives nearly 20% of its total petroleum supplies. Although some current attention is beginning to filter out of the Oval Office of the White House, especially in the aftermath of American eco-disasters like Hurricane Katrina, this attention is far less than it should be to help reverse what may become an irreversible ecological trend.

America isn’t the only ecological culprit though, as fast developing nations such as China are consuming fossil fuels in alarming amounts with little or no ecological controls. China’s number of private automobiles alone has more than quadrupled in past five years alone; and its heavy industries have become one of the world’s prime consumers of fuels such as coal and fuel oil, and has turned this country housing more than a fifth of the world’s population into one of the worst polluted.

The melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice is expected cause the worlds oceans to rise at least 7 to 10 meters in the next 10 to 20 years. That’s enough to inundate most world coastal towns and cities, in which at least a billion of the world’s population live. Outside of the possible extinction of many varieties of animal species, including polar bears, seals and walruses, and many species of birds, The oceans themselves will be less able to support marine animals and vegetation as they will become too acid in their content, thus killing the marine vegetation on which many marine animals thrive, and reducing the water’s oxygen content by as much as 25%.

Whether of not Gore does decide to throw his hat into the Democratic Party Presidential race, his message is certainly worth listening to and acting upon. Despite the current Administration’s apprehensions, a few years of ecological ‘adjustment’ is paramount, including drastic curtailment of the use of fossil fuels and switching over to more environmentally friendly energy sources, such as solar energy and hydrogen based fuels. If this doesn’t occur, our future on this planet, an “island we cannot leave”, may be very unpleasant indeed.

We simply have to listen before it will be too late.