Monday, October 28, 2013


We’ve talked about Migraines a couple of months ago. Now let’s discuss other types of headaches. According to Dr. Don Powell’s 365 Health Hints, there are three types of headaches:

Tension or Muscular  Headaches. These are the most common headaches. These can be caused by unconscious tensing of the face, neck, or scalp muscles, lack of sleep, or the stress of everyday hassles.

Migraine Headaches usually originate on one side of the head and throbs. For more information on migraines, kindly refer to our post last August 26, 2013.

Sinus Headaches are characterized by pain over the sinuses of the face, in the area of your upper cheekbones, forehead, and the bridge of your nose.  Inflammation and fluid buildup cause the pain. Colds, allergies, air pollution, and other respiratory problems can trigger a sinus headache.

For immediate headache relief:

  • Rest in a quiet, dark room with your eyes closed.
  • Massage the base of your skull with your thumbs.  Work from the ears toward the center of the back of your head.  Massage both temples regularly.
  • Take a hot bath.
  • Place cold washcloths over your eyes.
  • Practice a relaxation technique (such as visualizing a serene setting, meditating, or deep breathing.

To prevent headaches from recurring: 

  • Try to anticipate when pain will strike.  Keep a headache journal that records when, where, and why headaches seem to occur.
  • Note early symptoms and try to abort a headache in its earliest stages.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid foods known to trigger headaches in sensitive people.
 Some foods that may cause headaches:
  • Bananas
  • Caffeine (from coffee, tea, cola softdrinks, or some medications)
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Cured meats
  • Food additives (such as monosodium glutamate or MSG)
  • Hard cheeses
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Red Wine
  • Sour cream
  • Vinegar

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Combating Allergies Naturally

Many of us may have experienced some form of allergy at one point in our lives or may be suffering from one for the longest time; some from dust, heat, smoke, animal dander, pollen, crustaceans, nuts or alcohol. Though it’s easy to just buy antihistamines or nasal spray from drug stores, it’s always best to know some natural remedies to counter allergies, which do not have side effects like drowsiness or nausea.  

According to research, some of the natural remedies for allergies are:

Saline Solution. Saline solution (salt water) can help wash away irritants that get lodged in the nasal passages. You can make your own salt solution by mixing a teaspoon of salt in a pint of warm distilled water and adding a pinch of baking soda.

Peppermint Tea. Peppermint oil acts as a decongestant; and substances in peppermint contain anti-inflammatory and mild antibacterial constituents.

Butterbur.  Butterbur extract is gotten from the root of butterbur shrub.  The herb works as a leukotriene inhibitor, which blocks some chemicals that trigger swelling in the nasal passages. Butterbur extract is safe. But it is not safe to use pure butterbur extract, since the plant contains carcinogenic substances. Make sure you only use butterbur that has had the cancer-causing ingredients removed (UPA-free).

Bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that can be found in pineapples. It acts as anti-inflammatory agent especially in the sinuses and nose.

Quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid and works as a mast cell stabilizer. It helps block the release of histamine that causes inflammation. Quercetin can be found in many fruits and vegetables such as capers, red onions, dill, watercress, buckwheat, kale, cranberry, plums, sweet potatoes, red apples, and broccoli, among others.

Spicy Foods. Some food items like chili peppers, wasabi, dijon mustard, fresh garlic have allyl isothiocyanate, which promotes mucus flow and alleviates allergies.

Steam. Taking a nice warm shower or breathing steam soothes irritated sinuses and helps rid the nasal passages of mucus. Boil several cups of water and pour into a big bowl. Lean carefully over the bowl, and drape a towel over your head. Breathe gently for 5 to 10 minutes.

De-humidifier. A dehumidifier can help prevent mold, an allergen, from forming, since humid environment is a perfect breeding ground for dust mites and mold. You may also want to use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which can trap some of the allergens in your home.

In addition to these, prevention is of course the best medicine, like washing your pets regularly, using wooden flooring instead of carpets, changing your bed sheets regularly, and of course avoiding potential allergens.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Asthma, according to the World Health Organization, is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. It varies in severity and frequency from person to person.

During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swells, causing the airways to narrow and reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs.

WHO estimates that 235 million people currently suffer from asthma.

The causes of asthma are not completely understood. However, risk factors for developing asthma include inhaling asthma “triggers.”

According to Dr. Don Powell’s book 365 Health Hints, some of asthma triggers are:

  • Breathing an allergen such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or particles of dust or smoke
  • Eating certain foods or taking certain drugs
  • Emotional distress
  • Exercising too hard
  • Having bronchitis or an upper respiratory tract infection

Asthma cannot be cured, but appropriate management can control the disorder and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life. Below are some of the things that asthmatics can do to help themselves, continues Dr. Powell:
  • Drink plenty of liquids (2 to 3 quarts a day) to keep secretions loose.
  • Figure out what triggers your asthma, and eliminate allergens or irritants at home and at work.
  • Keep your bedroom allergen-free.
  • Sleep with a synthetic pillow, not a feather one.
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid exposure to air pollutants.
  • Wear a scarf around your mouth and nose when walking or exercising in cold air to warm the air before it can reach sensitive airways.
  • Discontinue vigorous exercise immediately if you start to wheeze.
  • Avoid foods and medications that contain sulfites, used as preservatives and found chiefly in shellfish and wine. (Sulfites may trigger asthma attacks in as many as 10 percent of asthmatics.)
  • Sit up during an asthma attack; don’t lie down.
  • Always keep your asthma medication close by to abort an attack as early as possible.
  • Be cautious about using aspirin – some asthmatics are allergic to it.
Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.

Monday, October 7, 2013


A cataract, according to the World Health Organization, is the clouding of the lens of the eye, which impedes the passage of light. Most cataracts are related to aging, although occasionally children may be born with the condition, or cataract may develop after an injury or disease.

According to the latest assessment, cataract is responsible for 51% of world blindness. It remains the leading cause of blindness. As people in the world live longer, the number of people with cataract is anticipated to grow.


Symptoms, according to Dr. Don Powell, are:
  • Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy or filmy vision;
  • Colors are dull and more difficult to distinguish;
  • Glare from lights becomes bothersome, especially at night;
  • Glasses that were worn for close work are no longer needed. (This phenomenon is referred to as “second sight.”)


The exact cause of cataracts is still unknown, though experts believe that oxidative stress damages certain enzymes and proteins in the eye's natural lens, which causes the lens to become cloudy.
The most common cause of cataracts is the aging process. Other causes are:
  • Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light;
  • Specific damage to an eye;
  • Some diseases such as diabetes;
  • Tobacco use and alcohol drinking.

Treatment and Prevention

Surgery is safe and effective in restoring vision. It can even be done on an outpatient basis or involve no more than an overnight hospital stay. After surgery, the patient usually gets an artificial lens. A plastic disc called an intraocular lens (IOL) is placed in the lens capsule inside the eye. 

If the loss of vision caused by cataract is only slight, surgery may not be needed.  Other measures to treat it are:
  • A change in your glasses;
  • Stronger bifocals or the use of magnifying lenses;
  • Taking measures to reduce glare;
  • Reduction of cigarette smoking;
  • Following a healthy diet that includes colorful fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables that may reduce the risk of cataracts include vitamins A, C and E, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.