Monday, December 31, 2012

Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Part 1

Regular exercise develops cardiorespiratory fitness, which is a basic component of health.

What, precisely, is cardiorespiratory fitness?

According to Dr. Nelba Olaso, Ph.D., author of the book, Innovative Schemes for Physcial Fitness, it is “the ability of the heart, blood vessels, blood, and respiratory system to supply fuel and oxygen to the muscles and the ability of the muscles to utilize fuel to sustain exercise.”

“It is frequently considered the most important aspect of physical fitness because those who possess it have a decreased risk of heart disease.  It is sometimes referred to as cardiorespiratory endurancebecause a person who possesses this type of fitness can persist in physical activity for long periods of time without undue fatigue," Dr. Olaso adds.

We all talk about physical fitness but have a vague idea of the true meaning of the word.  Dr. Olaso explains:

“Physical fitness is a multidimensional state of being.  It is the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively.  It is a state of being that consists of at least five health-related physical fitness and six skilled-related physical fitness components, each of which contributes to total quality of life.

“Physical fitness is associated with a person’s ability to work effectively, enjoy leisure time, be healthy, resist hypokinetic diseases, such as heart disease, low back pain, adult-onset diabetes, and obesity.  It is related to, but different from, health and wellness.  Although the development of physical fitness is the result of many things, optimal physical fitness is not possible without regular exercise.

“While ‘hypokinetic’ means too little physical activity and causes diseases, too much physical activity (called hyperkinetic) can also lead to negative effects on health and wellness.  In general, physical fitness is the ability of the body to perform one’s daily tasks efficiently without undue fatigue and has extra reserve energy in case of emergency.”

(In Part 2, we will discuss in detail the components of physical fitness and the extent or levels of each acquired attribute which determines the physical condition of a person.  Watch for it this coming January 7, 2013.  A Healthy New Year to all! – J.P.)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Propolis: A Natural Antibiotic, Part 2

According to the International Beekeeping Technology and Economy Institute, propolis has antiproteolytic, bactericidal, and bacteriostatic effects unparalleled among natural substances for its pharmacodynamic action.

Much of the rediscovery of propolis is due to French scientist Dr. Remy Chauvin, who became fascinated with the fact that bees seemed to be immune to bacteria.  He conducted many tests during the 1960s and found that the bee secretes an antibiotic, bee propolis, which makes it immune to attacks from bacteria and viruses.

Dr. Chauvin also learned that this anti-substance of the bee has 100 percent killing effect on bacteria – something which modern antibiotics do not have.

There is a movement in the United States, Denmark and the rest of the world to pay more attention to natural products when it comes to medicine.

Emphasis is being placed on teaching and prevention rather than simply fighting disease.  And, certainly, all this provides a receptive background to the work on bee propolis which is going on around the world.

American doctors have been especially impressed with the ability of bee propolis to reduce stress and fight infection.

At medical seminars in America, bee propolis has been shown to be antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.  As one New York doctor says:  “It is the only substance (found to date) which is able to balance both cerebral hemispheres and to reduce stress…”

In Russia, doctors have studied bee propolis to see if it can help problems related to blood pressure and diseases of the intestines.

Dr. Fang Zhu of the Workers Hospital in China has tested the product among people with hyperlipemia (excess fat in the blood).  He gave bee proplis to his patients everyday and reported that “clinical result suggests that there is a lowering of hyperlipemia during the treatment…

Bee propolis not only seems to help people who have infections, it seems to help people prevent getting infections.  It can be eaten as a daily supplement just like a vitamin or mineral; it is believed to provide stimulation to the body’s own immune system and to build resistance to infection.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Propolis: A Natural Antibiotic, Part 1

Susan Smith Jones, an author and lecturer on exercise and health, states in her book, The Main Ingredients: Positive Thinking, Exercise and Diet, that scientists around the world are rediscovering a natural antibiotic that has been effective for 40 million years.

A natural antibiotic? For 40 million years?

Yes, its name is propolis – and 40 million years is the length of time that bees have been using it to ensure the cleanliness of the hive or tree hollow where the colony makes its home.

Some call propolis a “miracle of nature.”  How else, they say, could 50,000 bees, crawling over each other, live healthily in a small hive without some form of protection against bacteria and disease?

Bee propolis is a positive alternative to antibiotics because of its healing action without the side effects of drugs.  It has also caught the attention of many because of the widespread fear about the ever-increasing number of bacteria which are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics.

Although man “harvests” propolis from the beehive, bees gather it from the buds of certain trees and herbaceous plants.  As the bees find it, propolis is a resinous juice or sap which the trees use themselves to fight infection, disease and to heal cuts.

Altogether, propolis contains approximately 55 percent resins and balms, 30 percent wax, 10 percent etheric oils and 5 percent pollen.  Further analysis shows bee propolis to be rich in flavonoids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.

The natural antibiotic from trees is taken back to the hive and placed in every comb and corner to protect the bees – especially the 10,000 or so baby bees – from any kind of bacterial infection.

It is easy to see why some scientists feel that a beehive is more sterile than a modern hospital.  Perhaps the following example will make this more lucid.

If an alien body or pest such as a lizard or field mouse makes its way into the hive, it will be stung to death and killed by injecting venom.  The alien body is then wrapped in a propolis shroud and covered with a wax layer.  Decomposition and tissue decay do not occur to this embalmed body for five or six years.

Monday, December 10, 2012


A unique informative publication, The Headache Book, by Arnold P. Friedman, M.D. and Shervert H. Frazier, Jr., M.D., has the following interesting facts about headaches:

When it comes to pain, headaches are in a class of their own.  The normal reaction to pain in any part of the body is that it hurts there.  But when there is pain in the head, YOU hurt.

Headache is the most common of all the many ailments afflicting man.  Studies suggest that as many as half the world’s population suffer from recurring headaches, and it is doubtful that more than five percent of all mankind have not experienced at least an occasional headache.

There are “morning after” headaches, chronic headaches, associative headaches, psychogenic headaches, and…the big daddy of them all, migraine headaches.  Friedman and Frazier describe migraine as “a debilitating disorder characterized mainly by excruciating headache,” and report that anywhere from 10 million to 24 million Americans, of all ages, suffer from it.

The authors describe in detail the various headaches, how their pain differs, and the various cures and prevention therapy available, such as exercise, drugs, acupuncture and biofeedback.  They distinguish between the actual cause of a headache and a contributing factor that may trigger the headache.

The last chapter, Alarm-Signal Headaches, will be of particular interest to those readers who are concerned that their own headaches may be a symptom of more serious disorders, such as blood clots, tumors, temporal arthritis and others.

Perhaps the greatest value The Headache Book renders is that it will help the chronic headache sufferer to understand what is happening inside his own head.  And it should be a comfort too, to know that flashes of light or sparkling stars are not necessarily signs of madness, or that numbness and paralysis can be something other than a stroke’s permanent effects.

Friedman was a Clinical Professor of Neurology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and Frazier, the Director of The Shervert H. Frazier Research Institute at McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

Executive Neck Extension Exercise.  Place both hands behind your head with your fingers laced together.  Attempt to push your head backward as you resist with your hands.  Resist at three positions, a complete neck flexion, with the head straight, and with the neck in complete extension.  Resist for 6 seconds.  Do this exercise with half resistance for the first two weeks, and three quarters resistance for the next week.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gouty Arthritis

Dr. Gary S. Sy calls gout as “gouty arthritis,” a joint disease in which uric acid accumulates and forms crystals that may become lodged in certain areas of the body.  According to him, when uric acid crystals are caught in spaces between your joints, the tissues surrounding them becomes inflamed and irritates the nerve endings, which causes extreme pain.  Crystals also accumulate in the kidneys, which may cause kidney failure.

The main symptom of gout is severe pain, sometimes in your elbow or knee but more often in your hand or foot, frequently at the base of your big toe.  The pain usually occurs without warning.  Within a few hours your joint is swollen and tender, often accompanied by a low-grade fever, and the inflamed skin over the joint is often reddish-purple, shiny, and dry.

Gout affects males more than females after puberty.  The first attack usually involves only one joint and may last a few days.  Sometimes no more attacks occur, but there is usually a second, which may not come on for months or years.  After the second attack, the gout may occur at short intervals, or may even last longer and involving more joints.

Dr. Sy points out that gout is one of the most controllable of the metabolic disorders.  If untreated, it can cause joint deformity, death from kidney disease, or high blood pressure.  Even though your first attack will subside on its own in a few days and there will be no immediate recurrence, consulting your physician or health-care provider is advisable.

Dr. Sy further cautions us not to try overcoming pain with aspirin, which slows down the excretion of uric acid.  Instead, your physician may advise you to make changes in your eating and drinking habits.  A high daily water intake is important in controlling uric acid levels, particularly in the urine where uric acid crystals accumulate to form stones.

For treating gouty arthritis, the good doctor offers two natural remedies:

Bromelain derived from pineapple, is an effective and suitable alternative to stronger prescription anti-inflammatory agents used in gout treatments.  Bromelain can reduce inflammation and combat high uric acid levels in the blood.  It decreases inflammation which is the main reason for gout pain.  The inflammation occurs when uric acid crystallizes in the joints causing irritation and swelling.

Celery is a natural substance which may inhibit xanthine oxidase – thus inhibits the enzyme which is responsible for a major step in converting purines into uric acid in the liver, so less uric acid is produced.  Celery can lower uric acid levels by improving its excretion in urine.  Furthermore, as a diuretic, it acts to reduce blood pressure which is important for gout sufferers because high blood pressure frequently accompanies gout.