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Natural Remedies For Sinusitis

Sinusitis occurs when the mucous membranes become inflamed. Sinusitis is usually categorized as acute or chronic depending on its duration. Acute sinusitis is most frequently a complication of a viral upper respiratory infection. The therapeutic goal for acute sinusitis is to reestablish proper sinus drainage, and for this doctors commonly prescribe antibiotics. This practice is being scrutinized because most cases of acute sinusitis are viral and therefore not responsive to antibiotics.

A better strategy is to strengthen the immune system so it can coun-teract the underlying respiratory infection. Several nutrients may be helpful:

Vitamin A, called the anti-infective vitamin because of its vital role in immune function, reduces morbidity associated with respiratory infections. It also supports the health of the tissues lining the sinuses.

In clinical studies vitamin C reduced the duration and severity of respiratory infections, and with bioflavonoids may help shrink sinus membrane swelling by decreasing vascular permeability.

Vitamin E studies show that supplementing with vitamin E can help improve immune response to infection.

Zinc is an immune-supporting nutrient that inhibits growth of infectious viruses while enhancing growth and function of a variety of immune cells. Clinical trials show zinc effectively fights upper respir-atory infections.

Three botanicals stimulate immune function and can be taken at the first signs of infection. Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), supports immune function and has antimicrobial action that prevents bacteria from adhering to epithelial tissues.

Echinacea (Echinacea angusti-folia, E. palida, E. purpurea) is an effective remedy against infectious diseases by boosting immune cell performance.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) also is an effective anti-allergy herb. One double-blind clinical trial conducted at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, OR showed stinging nettle helped reduce allergic symptoms in a group of 69 hay fever sufferers. Participants took 330 mg of an encapsulated, freeze-dried form of the herb two to three times daily for one week.

A study showed that bromelain could help clear the mucus associated with sinusitis, stimulate immune function, and reduce headaches.

Removing food allergens from the diet also can be an important factor in alleviating sinusitis, according to James C. Breneman, M.D., a pioneer in food allergy study.

Reference: American Journal of Medicine 1999;106(5A):38S-47S.

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Zinc Flu Therapy

Every day we are being exposed to infectious viruses, bacteria, and flu. The only defense that we have against these health invaders is our body's immune system. One of the keys to maintaining a powerful immune defense system lies in providing it with the optimum nutrition it needs.

Minerals provide significant support to the immune system. Zinc, iron, selenium, copper, magnesium manganese, chromium, iodine, calcium, and sulfur are all known to have some effect on the immune system. In particular, one mineral stands out from all the rest in helping the immune system work against flu and colds.

Zinc is the only mineral that has been found to play a key role in every component of the body's immune system. Mechanisms in which zinc affects our susceptibility to infection have been studied for several decades. In fact, a zinc deficiency is characterized by depressed immune function and frequent infection. Zinc's effects on the development, function and effectiveness of T and B lymphocytes in fighting infection has been very well studied.

Zinc is concentrated in the cell membranes of white cells, and helps maintain their integrity.

There have been 10 clinical studies on the use of zinc lozenges and the treatment of the common cold. Some studies have yielded positive results from the use of zinc in treating the signs, symptoms, and duration of the common cold. The minimum effective dose appears to be 13 mg of elemental zinc every two hours during the cold's duration.

In successful studies on the use of zinc lozenges, the duration of cold symptoms were reduced from a mean of 7.6 days to 4.4 days.

Reference: Can Fam Physician 44:1037-42, May 1998.

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Natural Relief For Children's Sore Throats

Strep accounts for about 15% of all sore throats, and during some times of the year up to half of children's sore throats. Signs and symptoms of strep pharyngitis include a fever, tender lymph nodes, headache, and stomach ache. These symptoms, however, predict a positive throat culture only 50% of the time. Standard medical treatment for strep involves antibiotics.

When strep isn't the culprit, then viruses that produce colds and flu usually are. This means a child will also sneeze, cough, and sniffle. A runny nose and cough usually indicate a viral respiratory tract infection and rarely accompany a strep infection.

When in doubt, parents should always consult a health care practitioner. Parents can also consider giving their children herbal teas to ease non-strep throat tenderness. Good candidates for a throat-soothing herbal tea include marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), and mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

Several herbal tea formulas are made especially for sore throats. Herbal throat sprays are also available which include the roots of echinacea, Oregon grape, licorice, and marshmallow.

Echinacea has anti-inflammatory action and when sprayed directly on the throat in extract form, has a numbing effect. Echinacea is safe and nontoxic for people of any age when taken as recommended, except for those allergic to plants in the daisy family.

Garlic and onions both have antiviral and antibacterial activity. Parents can cook with plenty of both. Children can also take liquid extracts of garlic.

Remember that viruses cause most sore throats. Herbs can help by soothing discomfort, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, and directly inhibiting viruses. When strep bacteria are to blame, seek appropriate medical care.

References: Mcisaac WJ, et al. Reconsidering sore throats. Part 2: alternative approach and practical office tool. Can Fam Physician 42:495-500, 1997.

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Soy Strengthens Heart And More

Last October the FDA authorized the use of a health claim stating that soy protein, as part of a low saturated fat diet, is effective in lowering blood chol-es-terol. There is an extensive and impressive body of research available that shows soy's promising results in the prevention and treatment of many chronic and degenerative diseases.

Two separate studies investigated the ability of soy isoflavones to delay bone loss that occurs with aging. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that subjects who were fed soy isoflavones had enhanced bone density as compared to those that were not. A separate study at the University of Cincinnati discovered reduced bone turnover in post-meno-pausal women who consumed a diet of soy foods containing 60 to 70 milligrams total isoflavones each day for 12 weeks.

A double blind, one-year study conducted at Michigan State University found that consumption of 39 grams per day isolated soy protein reduced cell proliferation in men at risk for colon cancer. The men consuming soy developed fewer tumors and the tumors they previously had were smaller in size than the men in the control group.

Recent studies indicate that soy may have a protective effect against prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Research and Education Foundation found that males with prostate cancer who consumed a fermented soy drink had a lower rise in PSA: prostate-serum antigen, an enzyme that leaks into the bloodstream when the prostate becomes enlarged.

New research shows that there may be additional mechanisms by which soy decreases the incidence of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, including reduced blood pressure. Soy protein isolate, particularly isoflavones, has been shown to be an antioxidant, reducing oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Soy protein isolate has also been shown to inhibit constriction of the heart vessels, thus allowing the heart to receive an adequate supply of blood.

Research has shown that the specific amino acids present in soy protein may have some effect on lipid levels. Studies indicate that the amino acid lysine increased serum cholesterol levels, while arginine counteracts this effect. Compared with casein (milk protein), soy protein provides more arginine in relation to its lysine content.

The more favorable arginine to lysine ratio in soy protein supports the theory that the relative amounts of these amino acids in the diet may help explain soy protein's cholesterol lowering effect.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people should "get on the bean"-the soybean-to reap the health benefits of soy.

Reference: Am J Clin Nutr 68 (suppl):1418S-1425S, 1998.

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Ginger Is Hot

In modern China, ginger is used in nearly 50% of all herbal prescriptions, and is an essential ingredient in almost every meal. Ginger was listed in the first herbal-The Chines Shen Non Ben Coa-written more than 2,000 years ago.

Ginger is an important part of Ayurveda, the traditional ancient medicine of India. One Indian government health guide suggests one to two teaspoons of ginger juice with honey as a cough suppressant. It is also recommended to relieve gas from the digestive system, relieve pain and inflammation, stimulate appetite, and as a digestive aid.

Modern Western herbalists use ginger to improve circulation, treat stomach disorders, and ease motion sickness. Six clinical studies have examined ginger's ability to reduce motion sickness, with some reporting better results with ginger than using Dramamine®.

Add ginger to salads and vegetable dishes for a healthful zing of flavor. Ginger is also available in capsule and extract forms for supplementation.

Reference: American Botanical Council, HerbClip.

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Proven Benefits For Probiotics

All human studies of probiotic bacteria over a 10-year period were recently reviewed to assess the state of the knowledge about health-promoting bacteria. The 49 studies included in the review focused on the prevention or treatment of diarrhea, cancer, lowering cholesterol levels, and immune enhancement.

There are many types of bacteria that have a potentially beneficial effect on human health. This review found that the most common strains studied in scientific literature were Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Enterococcus faecium.

Lactobacillus GG was consistently found to shorten the length of diarrhea infections. Some studies showed L. acidophilus to lower cholesterol; and two studies found a smaller recurrence of bladder tumors by those taking Lactobacillus casei.

Finnish researchers have been studying probiotics and allergies. A recent study has found that probiotic bacteria can help control the inflammation that can be caused by a reaction to allergic food.

One study showed that simply eating yogurt led to a lower frequency of allergies. In infants with an allergy to cow's milk, the addition of probiotics alleviated the intestinal inflammation related to the food allergy.

Reference: Am J Clin Nutr 71:405-11, 2000.

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According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, foods rich in the carotenoid lutein-spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, and oranges-could decrease the risk of developing colon cancer. The protective effect of lutein appears to be stronger in colon cancers that occur at a younger age, says this new study that compared the diets of adults who had colon cancer with the diets of cancer-free adults.

Reference: Am J Clin Nutr 71:575-82, 2000.

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Written by: EcoMall

Disclaimer: These statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. For any serious illness or health related disorders please consult your physician.


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