Monday, September 21

Health Care and Spices

One essential element of most cooking is spice, and they are as varied as there are types. A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. Many spices have antimicrobial properties.

Spices are more commonly used in warmer climates and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling. A spice may have other uses, including medicinal, religious ritual, cosmetics or perfume production.  

The spice trade developed throughout South Asia and Middle East in around 2000 BC with cinnamon and pepper, and in East Asia with herbs and pepper. The Egyptians used herbs for embalming and their demand for exotic herbs helped stimulate world trade. The word spice comes from the Old French word espice, derived from Latin. By 1000 BC, medical systems based upon herbs could be found in China, Korea, and India. Early uses were connected with magic, medicine, religion, tradition, and preservation. Over thousands of years, spices have been used for many reasons.

In healthcare, certain spices are used to help treat various maladies, especially in holistic or naturopathic medicine. For example, spices that help treat inflammation are tumeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, and clove. As with the other supplements, you should talk to your healthcare clinician before adding large amounts of cinnamon or oregano to your diet. Your discussion will help you avoid medication interactions or complications with a pre-existing condition. More details about these spices and other info can be found at this website: .

Another site has similar information with a bit more detail on these spices. Spices and herbs can do a lot more than add pizzazz to your cooking -- they can also promote heart health, fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and more. Visit this website: .
Heart patients need to know more about spices in particular. Herbs and spices contain trace amounts of sodium, according to Emory Healthcare. Their website shows herb and spice recommendations to infuse into your current recipes in place of salt: .

Spices not only just excite your taste buds but are composed of an impressive list of phyto-nutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for overall wellness. Spices have been integral part part of our food since centuries, and today, even become more relevant for us. Thanks to the Arab and European explorers, whose contributions in spreading them from their place of origin to the rest of the planet has immensely broaden their use and popularity all over the world, according to this website: Here are some reasons why they say you should include spices in your diet:

·         Spices contain an impressive list of plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. They have been in use since ancient times for their anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.

·         The components in the spices have been found to have anti-clotting action (prevent clogging of platelets in the blood vessels) and thus help easing blood flow, preventing stroke and coronary artery disease.

·         The active principles in the spices may help in smooth digestion through augmenting intestinal tract motility as well as increasing the digestion power by stimulating excessive secretion of gastro-intestinal enzymes inside the gut.

·         Throat gargling with tepid thyme water can help relieve sore throat and bronchitis symptoms. Thyme is also being used as an anti-septic mouthwash in the treatment of caries and gingivitis.

·         Decoction of certain healthy spices is taken by mouth for the treatment of colds, influenza, mild fevers, indigestion, stomach upset, and painful menstruation.

·         Spices are also known to have natural anti-helminthes (control worm infestation) function in traditional medicines.

·         The essential volatile oils in certain spices (cloves, peppers, etc.) may work as a rubefacient (soothes skin around the site of application and improves the local blood circulation), increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer. They are being applied as a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles, and used either as poultice or in hot baths.

·         Spice's essential oils are being used in the aromatherapy as well as de-odorants in the perfume industry.

·         Spices contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

According to the Washington Post, spices last a while, but they lose their flavor over time, so buy them in usable quantities. The ground versions lose flavor faster than their whole counterparts. Seal tightly in glass containers, and store in the dark, away from the heat of the oven, for optimal freshness. 

Many plastic spice containers contain the harmful chemical BPA, so glass is best. Never buy a spice rack with spices in it! Chances are they are not fresh, and there might be ones you won’t use. Choose the spices you desire and look for expiration dates. More details are located at this site:

Herbs and Spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties and many are high in B-vitamins and trace minerals, according to Wellness Mama. True sea salt, for instance, contains 93 trace minerals. Most herbs and spices also contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. The problem in America is that the most potent and healthy herbs are rarely used, mainly from lack of knowledge about them, while the least potent (salt and pepper) are the most commonly used seasonings. More details are found at this website:

Spices are good for you, and have certain benefits for your health. However, not everyone can use them. Check with your healthcare provider or personal physician before using spices for any reason, especially if you have certain food allergies, have a compromised immune system, or are taking any prescription medications. Better safe than sorry, even if you want to use spices to spice up your life.

Until next time.  
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Wednesday, September 16

Health Care and Suntan Lotion

In the waning days of Summer, there are still a few good days of sun worshipping available to those people who want to glean every last drop of tanning available until the cooler winds of autumn begin to blow. Of course, any time you’re outside, you should consider wearing some form of sun block to protect your skin, even if it’s a small number of sunscreen to block the harmful UVA and UVB rays that can cause damage to you. Using a good suntan lotion is one good way to protect yourself.

According to EWG, sunscreens can only provide partial protection against harmful effects of the sun. Limiting sun exposure and wearing protective clothing are more important for protecting your skin from cancer and premature aging. Be extra careful about spending time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.

And remember that UVA radiation doesn’t decline as much as UVB when the sun is lower in the sky or it’s overcast. UVA penetrates glass. Apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it often – at least every two hours. Even the best sunscreen won’t work well if you don’t use it correctly. Much more detailed info can be found at this website:

Sunscreen (also commonly known as sun screen, sunblock, suntan lotion, sunburn cream, sun cream or block out) is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation and thus helps protect against sunburn. Skin-lightening products have sunscreen to protect lightened skin because light skin is more susceptible to sun damage than darker skin. A number of sunscreens have tanning powder to help the skin to darken or tan; however, tanning powder does not provide protection from UV rays.

Depending on the mode of action, sunscreens can be classified into physical sunscreens (i.e., those that reflect the sunlight) or chemical sunscreens (i.e., those that absorb the UV light).
Medical organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend the use of sunscreen because it aids in the prevention of squamous cell carcinomas. Suntan lotion is a variation of the liquids, sprays or gels that are available in most retail locations, or can be ordered online.

Many sunscreens do not block UVA radiation, which does not primarily cause sunburn but can increase the rate of melanoma and photodermatitis. The use of broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreens can address this concern. Diligent use of sunscreen can also slow or temporarily prevent the development of wrinkles and sagging skin. Additional significant details can be located at this site:

Although the words suntan lotion and sunscreen are commonly used interchangeably, according to pediatric specialist, Dr. Vincent Iannelli, you won't find any products claiming to be suntan lotions anymore. Instead, a product that is considered to be a suntan lotion is usually a sunscreen with an SPF of less than 15. These 'tanning' sunscreens, which typically have an SPF 4 to SPF 8, do not provide enough sun protection, especially for kids.

Some dark tanning oils do not even contain any sunscreen ingredients and may even include a tanning accelerator. Suntan lotion products and tanning oils include:

·         Bain de Soleil Mega Tan Sunscreen With Self Tanner, SPF 4
·         Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 4
·         Banana Boat Dark Tanning Oil Spray (Contains No Sunscreen)
·         Banana Boat UltraMist Continuous Spray Sunscreen, Deep Tanning Dry Oil, SPF 8
·         Hawaiian Tropic Dry Oil Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 6
·         Panama Jack Trophy Oil, Full Sun Continuous Oil Spray (Contains No Sunscreen)

Since they don't provide enough sun protection, instead of a suntan lotion or tanning oil, kids should only use a sunscreen that provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Much more detailed information can be found at this website:

According to the LiveStrong Foundation, if you perspire heavily or engage in outdoor physical activity, pick a waterproof or sport sunscreen. To protect your face, check labels to find products for sensitive skin or faces. If too many choices lead you to indecision, keep it simple. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and wear it daily. The Foundation provides an overview of the top 10 sunscreens on the market available to consumers. More information about that material is available at this site:

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S where 1 in 8 people will get skin cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 50 will get melanoma. This makes skin protection important for everyone, according to Dr. Aaron Hartman with Family Practice Associates in Virginia. The best sunscreens are those that block both UVA and UVB light from damaging your skin and will last all day without reapplying. Think of UVA as the “aging” rays and UVB as the “burning” rays. Most sunscreens protect against UVB rays, while not really protecting against UVA.

This explains why often people would spend a day in the sun and not burn, but notice the freckles on their skin got darker or they became more tan/brown. Most commercial sunscreens today use chemicals that absorb UVA or UVB but then over a few hours they break down and no longer work. They also often only block UVA2 and not UVA1 which also can affect your skin. The best sun protectants are sunblocks that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These block both UVA1/UVA2 and UVB and, if applied correctly and you do not sweat or get into water, they can last all day.

SPF measures only UVB protection, which causes sunburns, but does not reflect UVA protection. UVA exposure has been associated with melanoma and other kinds of skin cancer. A SPF of “2” blocks 50% of UVB radiation, a SPF of “10” blocks 90%, SPF 15 blocks 93% and SPF 30 blocks 97%. So you can see that once you get to a SPF of 15 you don't get much additional sunburn protection. You should look for a product with excellent UVA protection.  More details can be found at this website:

Suntan lotion, sunscreens, and sun blocks are used year round, but those products need scrutiny by you for your use and for your protection from the sun’s rays. When purchasing products like these, it pays to do your homework. Sometimes, cheaper isn’t always better, especially when your health is at risk. If you need more guidance, consult your family doctor or a healthcare specialist. Fun in the sun can be great, but it has its risks. Be careful to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious skin injuries by using quality sun protection products.

Until next time.
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