Eat Your Broccoli

Our parents used to scold us when we were children. Eating our vegetables was supposedly important to our growth. Whether we liked it or not, we were lead to believe that things like broccoli were good for us. As it turns out, the leafy green vegetable is not only great for your body, but it promotes a healthy gut.

Researchers from Penn State have discovered that those who choose to incorporate a healthy diet of broccoli into their everyday meals are better able to tolerate digestive issues such as a leaky guy and colitis. The testing was used on mice; those who were not given a steady diet of broccoli were not able to endure common problems in the system. In fact, Gary Perdew, a Professor in Agricultural Studies at Penn State, noted that other vegetables, such as Brussel’s sprouts and cauliflower have comparable health properties. Yum!

Perdew also adds that, “there are a lot of reasons that we should be exploring gastrointestinal health. If you have problems, like a leaky gut, that may lead to other conditions, like arthritis and heart disease.” It is no secret that including a rich diet of vegetables into our meals is far from a bad idea. Keeping our internal organs, such as our gut, healthy may extend our lifespan. Perdew and his team also note that a heavy diet of vegetables allows your gut to build healthy barrier functions that deter things like a leaky gut or colitis. A healthy intestinal function means that all nutrients would be able to properly pass into our system and not get blocked or clogged, which can cause severe internal concerns.

Get Your ICZs

By now, it should be common knowledge that vegetables, especially ones like broccoli, that are eaten on a regular basis, are not only good to keep weight off and fight illnesses, but also are healthy for our entire body. Perdew and his team identified broccoli as especially important due to its health benefits on our gut and intestinal systems. Although, we do not think about our internal organs very often, protecting them can prevent a majority of harmful diseases and cancers, such as colon cancer.

Vegetables that are cruciferous include a compound called indolocarbazole or ICZ. When consumed, ICZ attach to the lining of our immune system to maintain a healthy balance in our gut, which means fewer cases of common diseases in the bowel and colon. Another vegetable identified as great for your intestines is cabbage.

But, how much broccoli should we eat each day to ensure that our intestinal system is protected? Researchers have concluded that this number varies from person to person. However, for most humans, the amount comparable to Perdew’s experiment should eat around 3.5 cups of broccoli each day. This number may sound like a lot, but it’s not large considering we should be eating vegetables anyway. Adding other healthy vegetables into your diet adds to the protection as well. So, if you are not a fan of broccoli, feel free to consume that same amount of Brussel’s sprouts or cabbage each day to meet the level needed to activate the ICZ that may be needed to correct digestive problems.

While patients are often told that too many cruciferous vegetables may be a cause for more concern than good because of fiber content, Perdew and his team are confident in their findings which suggest otherwise.

Research Suggests New Strategy To Target Skin Diseases Like Psoriasis

Research at UT Southwestern has shown that targeting metabolism in growing cells holds promise for the treatment of skin diseases like psoriasis that are characterized by skin overgrowth resulting from excess cell division, known as hyperproliferation. A research team led by Dr. Richard Wang, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, demonstrated in mice that inhibit glucose transport may be a safe and effective treatment for these diseases. Actively dividing cells – like those underlying psoriasis – are more dependent on glucose for their growth. By inhibiting glucose transport in those cells, disease-associated skin overgrowth and inflammation were reduced. Their findings were recently published in Nature Medicine.

“This study provides a window for the treatment of various diseases by specifically targeting the metabolic requirements of hyperproliferative skin diseases,” Wang said. “It also broadens our understanding of changes in skin metabolism in response to physiological stressors. Most psoriasis therapies inhibit the immune cells that underlie the disease. They have been limited somewhat by side effects caused by broadly targeting the immune system.”

The study results, if proved effective in humans, may lead to development of new treatments for those with incurable skin conditions like psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than seven million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition manifests as patches of red skin with silvery scales typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of feet. Recent studies have shown that people with psoriasis are at an increased risk for other inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease/hypertension, diabetes, Crohn’s syndrome, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and obesity.

Psoriasis Disease Links

This trickle-down threat resulted in the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizing psoriasis under its umbrella of these four primary noncommunicable diseases: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Affecting more than 125 million people worldwide, psoriasis has a direct causal linkage to several of these diseases. Although psoriasis alone rarely results in death, those with it run a greater risk of various co-occurring diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Glucose transport in skin cells called keratinocytes takes place through Glut1. In the study, investigators successfully decreased skin overgrowth in mouse models of psoriasis-like disease by inactivating the transporter protein Glut1, either genetically or with drug-based inhibitors. These experiments did not compromise the skin’s development or functionality.

Researchers also were able to decrease inflammation with topical application of a Glut1 inhibitor. This inhibitor also had a remarkable effect on psoriatic human skin grown in a dish, suppressing both inflammation and the expression of disease-associated genes. “Although I would still consider our findings preliminary, they have the potential to provide novel therapeutic approaches for inflammatory and neoplastic skin diseases,” Wang said.

Easing The Itch Of Poison Ivy And Poison Oak

Troublesome plants such as poison ivy and poison oak can cause mild to severe allergic reactions. The signature leaves of three of the poison ivy plants carry an oil called urushiol that can be an irritant if touched, broken or burned. Poison ivy’s less-common cousin, poison oak, can be identified by leaves that look like hairy oak fronds. While some people are not sensitive to the urushiol oil, others develop a red, itchy or painful rash, swelling or blisters where the irritant comes in contact with the skin. The reaction doesn’t happen right away though. It typically takes at least 24 hours to develop, happening faster each time you are exposed.

What many people don’t know is that poison ivy and poison oak can also become airborne and can be spread by burning piles of wood or brush that includes the leaves. “Sometimes people wake up days later and their eyes are puffy and swelled up so much that they can’t see but they don’t know why,” says Dr. Claire Hollins, a dermatologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Hollins has also heard of cases where people chop firewood in the summer and the urushiol oil from poison ivy on it is reactivated by burning that wood in the winter months.

Black dot dermatitis – a condition where black dots develop on parts of the skin sprinkled with the oil from the poison ivy plant – is less common, but usually comes from whacking weeds, brush or vines that include the plant. The best prevention is to avoid contact with poison ivy altogether by covering up and wearing long pants, socks and gardening gloves. If you suspect that you have come into contact with a poisonous plant wash your hands immediately with warm, soapy water and dry them on a disposable towel rather than cloth towel to avoid spreading the harmful oils.

If irritation does develop, it can be treated with over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointments. More serious cases may require a course of oral prednisone and stronger topical steroids from a dermatologist or primary care provider. Poison ivy is not typically passed from one person to another unless the oil is still present on clothing or skin. It is also not spread by scratching areas that itch, as the urushiol is not present in blister fluid. Hollins said Hershey Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology is conducting research to look for a vaccine for poison ivy, and researchers are currently testing an urushiol patch to see how effective it is.

The Language Of Skin Care Labels

When it comes to skin care product labels, people shouldn’t necessarily believe everything they read. “The language on the label is not always an accurate description of the product inside the bottle or its potential effects on your skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Rajani Katta, MD, FAAD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Manufacturers may use certain language for marketing purposes, and the same terms may mean different things on different products – and that makes it difficult to determine what they mean for our skin.”

Patients may choose products labeled “for sensitive skin” or “hypoallergenic” because they believe these products will be gentle on their skin and less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Because these terms are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, there is no guarantee that these products won’t irritate the skin or cause a reaction. Also, be wary of the term “all-natural,” since products containing natural ingredients are not necessarily good for the skin. “Remember, poison ivy is ‘all-natural,’” Katta says. “And even if a natural ingredient is good for your skin, some products may combine that ingredient with additives or preservatives that could be harmful.”

Language related to fragrances also may be misleading. Under current labeling laws, manufacturers are permitted to use the term “fragrance-free” on products that include fragrance chemicals if those chemicals are used for another purpose – such as moisturizing – rather than changing the product’s scent. The term “unscented” may be used on products that use fragrances to mask a strong existing odor instead of creating a new scent. “Unfortunately, there isn’t any labeling language that guarantees a product is hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin,” Katta says. “However, there are steps you can take to avoid adverse reactions to new products, and a board-certified dermatologist can help you if you do experience a reaction.”

Patients with sensitive skin should test a small amount of a product on their forearm for a week to see if it causes a reaction, and make sure to follow all product directions. Patients who are experiencing skin inflammation should avoid new products altogether, since their skin’s protective barrier is already compromised, making it susceptible to further irritation. If a skin care product does cause an adverse reaction, it may not always be easy to identify the culprit.

“There’s a common misconception that allergic reactions happen instantaneously,” Katta says, “but they may take a couple of days to show up, and some people may develop an allergy to a skin care ingredient after using it for months or years. If you’re not sure what’s causing a reaction on your skin, visit a dermatologist, who can help determine the cause. Dermatologists also can help you navigate the confusing world of skin care product labels. If you’re not sure how to select the right products for your skin, visit your dermatologist. We can answer your questions about ingredients, and help you identify the products that will work best for your skin type and address your skin care concerns.”

New Treatment Option Shows Promise For Skin And Hair Conditions

Alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo are highly visible dermatologic conditions that can have a negative effect on patients’ quality of life and overall health. An emerging treatment option, however, could provide effective therapy for patients with these conditions. Board-certified dermatologist Brett King, MD, MPH, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., is at the forefront of research into new uses for a class of drugs known as Janus kinase inhibitors, or JAK inhibitors. Recent studies suggest that these medications can disrupt the immune response that fuels alopecia areata, which can cause patchy or total hair loss; atopic dermatitis, which causes severe itch and red rash; and vitiligo, which causes the skin to lose its color.

“While alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo may not seem alike on the surface, they are all fueled by the body’s immune system,” King says. “JAK inhibitors seem to address immune system dysfunction in all three diseases. I believe that this class of medicines is going to redefine how dermatologists approach these diseases and provide a revolutionary new therapy for patients.”

A relatively new class of drug, JAK inhibitors were approved about five years ago by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat rheumatoid arthritis and bone marrow disorders. After researchers at Columbia University in New York used these medications to successfully treat alopecia areata in mice, King used a JAK inhibitor off label in a human patient with the condition. After observing hair regrowth in this patient and others, he turned to patients with atopic dermatitis and vitiligo, who experienced significant improvement in their symptoms after taking JAK inhibitors.

While these results are promising, King says that JAK inhibitors are not currently FDA-approved for the treatment of alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis or vitiligo. The next step toward that end would be for pharmaceutical companies to conduct large-scale clinical trials, which are already in progress for atopic dermatitis and alopecia areata. “If JAK inhibitors are approved for dermatologic use, these medications would provide dermatologists with a powerful tool for treating multiple common diseases that have a profound negative impact on patients,” King says. “We need new and innovative treatments to help our patients, and for those with alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo, JAK inhibitors could be a life-changing therapy.”

The Many Uses For Brucea Javanica

Brucea javanica was originally found in Southeast Asia and has been the subject of hundreds of studies regarding its amazing anti-inflammatory propensities. It has been shown to treat many different forms of maladies, including cancer. In a study published in a well-known, international journal called Cancer Letters, researchers discovered that a compound called brucein exists within the plant in copious amounts and had inhibited the growth of three different pancreatic cancer cell lines. This is highly impressive and an exciting discovery for the holistic field of medicine.

What’s more is that this plant is available in oil form and can be used on many different types of inflammation. If you suffer from external pain or soreness, try rubbing some of this oil into the areas that give you discomfort. If you suffer from some type of arthritis or rheumatism, this oil could prove to be a real beacon of hope for you and lessen the pain you experience on a very real level. To exist within your life in a semi or even constant state of pain can control and diminish how you spend your days. Opt for brucea javanica oil as a way to control the inflammation you constantly suffer with.

Many believe that the holistic and natural approach to illness and ailments should be the preferred method of treatment. It can be difficult at times when the research is not shown beyond personal experience and doesn’t properly transcend into scientific studies. There are several reasons why this occurs. One of which is that the medical and drug industry won’t profit off of these alternative treatments in the same manner that they do for their costly drug protocol. So the necessary research that is needed to confirm the benefit of elements that exist in nature doesn’t happen as readily as it should.

It is usually within the cultural framework of tradition that the use of such natural measures continues to be known. However, in the case of brucea javanica, specific studies and research have found conclusive information in results regarding treatment of cancer. It has been shown in various studies, that this plant has an impressive efficacy when treating bladder, cervical, breast and pancreatic cancer. When a study was conducted on its ability to kill off breast cancer cells, it’s selective toxicity found it had over a 70 percent rate of eliminating harmful cells.

With cancer being one of the most prevalent killers in our society, oncologists continue to notice the shortcomings of chemotherapy and radiation. It has also been shown that such measures can damage healthy cells along with cancerous ones. So if there can be an alternative treatment to this issue, why not have it continuously explored and have more research money poured into it? It stands to reason that conventional medicine isn’t the end all be all, nor does it have all the answers so many seek.

You can purchase brucea javanica online from several companies at

Bone Growth – The Teen Years

If you think back to when you were young, you may remember being told to drink milk and take necessary vitamins because it was good for healthy, strong bones. It is no secret that our early years are an important time for bones to develop and gain healthy minerals as they transition to the adult years. However, as it turns out, our later teen years may be equally, if not more important, for overall bone health.

Dr. Shana E. McCormack, a pediatric researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is a huge proponent of children’s growth and the foundation for lifelong health. “We often think of a child’s growth largely with respect to height, but overall bone development is also important,” she says. “Our studies are showing us that roughly 10 percent of bone mass continues to accumulate after a teenager reaches his or her full adult height.”

The research team also discovered that bone growth is site-specific, meaning that bone mineral density and overall health develops at different rates in different parts of our body. This could primarily be the reason for why height growth outpaces bone mineral growth, which leads to a high number of bone fractures in children and adolescents. The numbers tell us that anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of children experience one fracture before turning adults. This number significantly decreases in adulthood, before picking back up when bone density begins to decrease as we get older.

Improving Bone Strength And Development

What these studies show us is that we need to reinforce the overall importance of a healthy diet, which includes items that play a magnificent role in bone development in young teens such as vitamin D, protein, and calcium. But, a healthy diet only scratches the surface. Physical activity of at least one hour per day during the late teen years also acts as a good foundation for lifelong health. Other behaviors to avoid that are common in adolescent teens are smoking and alcohol use, which largely prohibit healthy bone mineral development.

“The young teen years are a time for parents and caregivers to encourage healthy behaviors,” says McCormack. “This means better diets and more physical activity.” She cites a CHOP study that showed that high-impact exercising improves bone strength and deters fragility. This means that maximizing our overall bone health when we are teenagers can protect us from developing osteoporosis as we get older.

Our bones are living tissue too and need to be taken care of to prevent early break down. The most important and ideal time to build strength in our bones is during childhood and late adolescence. Nutrients essential for bone growth can be found easily in our foods, but also just from daily sunshine and physical activity outdoors. Because our bones rapidly grow during these vital years, adequate consumption is a major factor to consider before it’s too late.

Understanding the relationship between your age and bone growth may not be something we normally think about. However, parents and caregivers may need to support and take a second look when determining a child’s development stage. Lifestyle makes a difference. For teens, a healthy diet, adequate physical activity, plenty of sunshine, and no drugs can make a significant difference in how your body will feel after you turn 30.

Vitamin D Deficiency Risks

Obesity is a global epidemic and contributes to an estimated 2.8 million deaths per year worldwide. Higher levels of belly fat are associated with lower vitamin D levels in obese individuals, according to data presented recently at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting, ECE 2018. The study reports that vitamin D levels are lower in individuals with higher levels of belly fat. It also suggests that individuals – particularly the overweight with larger waistlines – should have their vitamin D levels checked to avoid any potentially health-damaging effects.

Vitamin D deficiency is typically associated with impaired bone health, but in recent years it has also been linked with higher risks of acute respiratory tract infections, auto-immune diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Low vitamin D levels could therefore have wide-ranging and undetected adverse effects, although more research is required to confirm the role of vitamin D in these conditions. A link between low vitamin D levels and obesity has previously been reported but whether this effect is more associated with the type and location of fat was undetermined.

The study, conducted by the VU University Medical Center and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, examined how the amount of total body fat and abdominal fat measured in participants of the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study related to their vitamin D levels. After adjusting for a number of possible influencing factors, including chronic disease, alcohol intake and levels of physical activity, they found that the amounts of both total and abdominal fat were associated with lower vitamin D levels in women, although abdominal fat had a greater impact. However, in men abdominal fat and liver fat was associated with lower vitamin D levels. In all cases the greater the amount of belly fat, the lower the levels of detected vitamin D.

“Although we did not measure vitamin D deficiency in our study, the strong relationship between increasing amounts of abdominal fat and lower levels of vitamin D suggests that individuals with larger waistlines are at a greater risk of developing deficiency, and should consider having their vitamin D levels checked,” study colleague Rachida Rafiq said. The researchers now plan to investigate what may underlie this strong association between vitamin D levels and obesity – whether a lack of vitamin D is predisposing individuals to store fat or whether increased fat levels are decreasing vitamin D levels is not yet clear. However, this research points to a more important role for abdominal fat in the relationship, and a place to focus future studies on.

“Due to the observational nature of this study, we cannot draw a conclusion on the direction or cause of the association between obesity and vitamin D levels,” Rafiq added. “However, this strong association may point to a possible role for vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function.”

Vitamin D And Diabetes

More than 27 million people in the United States are living with type-2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the population ages and a growing percentage of people become overweight or obese, that number is expected to increase. A study, published recently in Cell, reports that researchers from the Salk Institute have found a potential new approach for treating diabetes by protecting beta cells – the cells in the pancreas that produce, store and release the hormone insulin. When beta cells become dysfunctional, the body can’t make insulin to control blood sugar and levels of glucose can rise to dangerous or even fatal levels.

Vitamin D in cells and mouse models proved beneficial in treating damaged beta cells. It also provided new insights about gene regulation that could be applied to developing treatments for other diseases, including cancer. “We know that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation,” says senior author Ronald Evans, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and holder of Salk’s March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology. “In this study, we identified the vitamin D receptor as an important modulator of both inflammation and beta cell survival.”

Using beta cells created from embryonic stem cells, the investigators were able to identify a compound – iBRD9 – that appeared to enhance the activation of the vitamin D receptor when it was combined with vitamin D to improve the survival of beta cells. The team accomplished this by conducting a screening test to look for compounds that improved the survival of beta cells in a dish. They then tested the combination in a mouse model of diabetes and showed that it could bring glucose back to normal levels in the animals.

“This study started out by looking at the role of vitamin D in beta cells,” says Zong Wei, a research associate in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory and the study’s first author. “Epidemiological studies in patients have suggested a correlation between high vitamin D concentrations in the blood and a lower risk of diabetes, but the underlying mechanism was not well understood. It’s been hard to protect beta cells with the vitamin alone. We now have some ideas about how we might be able to take advantage of this connection.”

Combining the new compound with vitamin D allowed certain protective genes to be expressed at much higher levels than they are in diseased cells. The underlying process has to do with transcription – the way that genes are translated into proteins.  “Activating the vitamin D receptor can trigger the anti-inflammatory function of genes to help cells survive under stressed conditions,” says Michael Downes, a Salk senior staff scientist and co-corresponding author. “By using a screening system that we developed in the lab, we’ve been able to identify an important piece of that puzzle that allows for super-activation of the vitamin D pathway.”

The researchers feel that the discovery’s implications can have far-reaching implications. It identifies a basic mechanism that can be translated into drugging many different targets in the clinic. “In this study, we looked at diabetes, but because this is an important receptor and it could potentially be universal for any treatments where you need to boost the effect of vitamin D,” adds Ruth Yu, a Salk staff researcher and one of the study’s authors. “For example, we are especially interested in looking at it in pancreatic cancer, which is a disease that our lab already studies.” The investigators say that, although the new compound did not appear to cause any side effects in the mice, further testing is needed before clinical trials can begin.

Can Vitamin D Improve Sunburn?

High doses of vitamin D taken one hour after sunburn significantly reduce skin redness, swelling, and inflammation, according to a study by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. The results were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

In the study, 20 participants were randomized to receive a placebo pill or 50,000, 100,000, or 200,000 IU – international unit – of vitamin D one hour after a small UV – ultraviolet – lamp “sunburn” on their inner arm. Researchers followed up with the participants 24, 48, 72 hours and one week after the experiment and collected skin biopsies for further testing. Participants who consumed the highest doses of vitamin D had long-lasting benefits including less skin inflammation 48 hours after the burn. Participants with the highest blood levels of vitamin D also had less skin redness and a jump in gene activity related to skin barrier repair.

“We found benefits from vitamin D were dose-dependent,” says Kurt Lu, MD, senior author on the study and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “We hypothesize that vitamin D helps promote protective barriers in the skin by rapidly reducing inflammation.  What we did not expect was that at a certain dose, vitamin D not only was capable of suppressing inflammation, it was also activating skin repair genes.”

The trial is the first to describe acute anti-inflammatory benefits from taking vitamin D. According to the authors, despite widespread attention given to vitamin D deficiency, “there is a lack of evidence demonstrating that intervention with vitamin D is capable of resolving acute inflammation.” By measuring gene activity in the biopsies, the researchers also uncovered a potential mechanism behind how vitamin D aids skin repair. The results suggest vitamin D increases skin levels of an anti-inflammatory enzyme, arginase-1. The enzyme enhances tissue repair after damage and helps activate other anti-inflammatory proteins.

The trial tested very high doses of vitamin D that far exceed daily allowances. The Food and Drug Administration’s recommended adult daily allowance for vitamin D is 400 IU. “I would not recommend at this moment that people start taking vitamin D after sunburn based on this study alone,” Lu added. “But, the results are promising and worthy of further study.” The researchers plan additional studies that could inform treatment plans for burn patients.

Vitamin D Deficiency And Cardiovascular Disease

In overweight and obese children and adolescents, vitamin D deficiency is associated with early markers of cardiovascular disease, according to research results presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Endocrine Society last year. “Pediatric obesity affects 17 percent of infants, children, and adolescents ages two to 19 in the United States, and obesity is a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency,” said lead author Marisa Censani, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist and director of the Pediatric Obesity Program in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, N.Y.

These findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency may have negative effects on specific lipid markers with an increase in cardiovascular risk among children and adolescents. “This research is newsworthy because this is one of the first studies to assess the relationship of vitamin D deficiency to both lipoprotein ratios and non-high density lipoprotein (non-HDL) cholesterol, specific lipid markers impacting cardiovascular risk during childhood, in children and adolescents with obesity/overweight,” Censani noted.

The researchers reviewed the medical records, including vitamin D levels, of children and adolescents between six and 17 years of age who were evaluated at the pediatric endocrinology outpatient clinics at Weill Cornell Medicine over a two-year period. Overall, 178 of 332 patients met criteria for overweight and obesity: Body Mass Index (BMI) above the 85th percentile; and 60 patients with BMI above the 85th percentile had fasting lipid test results available. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and non-HDL cholesterol were collected; and total cholesterol/HDL and triglyceride/HDL ratios were calculated.

Vitamin D deficiency was found to be significantly associated with an increase in atherogenic lipids and markers of early cardiovascular disease. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, non-HDL cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol/HDL and triglyceride/HDL ratios, were all higher in vitamin D-deficient patients compared to patients without vitamin D deficiency. “These results support screening children and adolescents with overweight and obesity for vitamin D deficiency and the potential benefits of improving vitamin D status to reduce cardiometabolic risk,” Censani added.

Green Healing: The Amazing Health Benefits Of Being In Nature


Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature

Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature by FactDr

10 Best Foods To Keep Gums And Teeth Healthy

When people think about healthy teeth and gums, the first things that come to mind are daily brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash. But there are also subtle changes you can make in your diet to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Even if you are fastidious about oral hygiene, it might be difficult to keep your mouth healthy if you don’t watch what you eat.

Teeth and gums require good nutrition to function correctly. Eliminating sugary foods and acidic drinks from your diet can help to prevent tooth decay. Easting a diet rich in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, and packed with bacteria-fighting antioxidants is important.

Best Foods For Healthy Teeth And Gums

There are many healthy and delicious foods that are good for the health of your teeth and gums. Ask your dentist to confirm which foods can help with your oral health and which foods to avoid. Below is a list of the top 10 foods that help teeth and gums stay healthy.


Water helps to wash away any leftover food particles inside the mouth and helps to keep saliva levels high. Saliva is the best and first defense against tooth decay because it is made up of different minerals and proteins that work to fight plaque naturally.


Milk is high in calcium, a mineral that helps strengthen your teeth. It also contains phosphorous which protects tooth enamel and revitalizes teeth. Milk helps to lower the acidic levels inside the mouth and prevents tooth decay and gum disease because it contains a protein called casein.

Black And Green Tea

Black and green teas are rich in polyphenols. This can help eliminate bad breath and reduce the growth of bacteria and different toxins in the mouth, which help stop inflammation and prevent gum disease.

Raw Vegetables

Crunchy raw vegetables such as carrots and celery can help stimulate gums and maintain healthy teeth. Carrots and celery are also high in beta-carotene, which helps the body produce vitamin A. Vitamin A is very important for the body as it plays an important role in building strong teeth.


Strawberries are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and malic acid, so they are the perfect healthy snack. As well as helping keep teeth and gums healthy, strawberries have also been shown to whiten teeth when mixed with baking powder and gently applied to the teeth. The berry-baking soda mixture removes plaque and other debris creating an illusion of whiter teeth.


Apples are full of key vitamins and nutrients and stimulate the gums as well as reduce any bacteria build-up. Eating an apple also helps to produce a flow of salvia, and this helps to fight tooth decay.

Apples have been referred to as nature’s toothbrush because the fiber-rich skin on the apple creates a similar effect to a toothbrush. The abrasive texture loosens debris in the crevices of your teeth, keeping your pearly whites plaque free.


Garlic contains the antimicrobial property Allicin. This helps fight tooth decay and periodontal disease. Allicin encourages healthy bacteria to grow.


Ginger contains properties that can stop bacteria growth while also freshening your breath. Raw ginger can help remove any plaque from your teeth.


Just like milk, natural cheese is rich in calcium and whey protein. Cheese improves dental health and restores enamel. It also lowers the acid levels within the mouth which create a climate for stubborn plaque. Cheese also produces more saliva to help wash away bacteria in the mouth.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A and vitamin C. These vitamins play an important role in tooth formation, and enamel restoration. The vitamins are also important in maintaining a protein called keratin which maintains tooth integrity.

Author Bio:

Dan Ray works at Dentalkind, a quality dentist in Billericay, Essex. Dentalkind has a team of qualified and experienced dentists offering honest and ethical dental advice and treatments to suit your needs, all under one roof for your convenience. Visit for more information.

What Is Croton Oil?

The earth is a magical place. When we think about the plethora of plants, seeds and natural components that it bares for free and how they have healing powers, it’s pretty remarkable that more people aren’t more holistically geared in how they live and treat illnesses. But not all plants or oils are created equal. Even some of the most popular remedies in traditional scenes have lost their appeal and luster in modern day healing. There are reasons for this.

Croton oil is an oil that used to be used for stomach issues, digestive interruptions and constipation. Due to its very acrid nature, it’s no longer used in such a matter as it would clean out a person’s intestines almost violently, leaving them grappling with diarrhea after an hour.

However, despite not being an oil that is readily suggested for what it used to be used for, it’s still used in very small doses for skin care purposes. It is the active ingredient in a phenol-based facial which is a peel that can be professionally administered. It helps to even the skin tone and eliminate the top layer of skin that is often uneven and suffering from various types of damage.

The amount of croton oil that the skin can safely handle is very specific for peeling, and then the necessary amount of healing after the facial, is required. Due to its incredibly strong and toxic compositional makeup, only a drop or two of oil should be used at a time. If you happen to have very sensitive skin, try using a tiny drop on the inside of your wrist and see if you have any sort of harsh or negative reactions to it.

Exfoliate Regularly

It is classified as an irritant of the skin, yet also an exfoliant. If you are familiar with the inner workings of skin care, then you know just how crucial it is to exfoliate your skin on a regular basis. So much of the gunk that makes skin look old, weighs it down or causes imperfections, exists on the very top layer of the skin.

In order to get to the healthier, more even skin, you have to effectively buff off the dead skin cells and first layer of skin. It’s so important that you take extra precautions when dealing with an oil as potent and toxic as this one. This is not an oil you want to use too much of because it could end very badly.

The outer most layer of the skin is called epidermis. This is specifically what this oil targets when it is used sparingly in skin-care regimens. After the skin takes its time to heal after the initial exposure, it heals stronger with elastin fibers and renewed collagen at the forefront of the skin. This helps to eliminate the signs of aging as well as any scarring you may be suffering from.

Chemical peels are very serious so make sure you do the proper research if you consider doing a deeply invasive one with croton oil because your skin will need to heal immediately after. But once it does, the results are truly amazing.

You can purchase croton oil online from several companies at


Ingredient Adds Wettability To Skin

Researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York may have discovered the future of healthy skin. An anionic surfactant known as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – an ingredient often found in cosmetic cleaners – may play a role in protecting our skin from chemicals and the effects of the environment. “Skin acts as the first line of defense to the outside world and the wettability plays an important role in contact inhibition of microorganisms,” says Guy German, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “We can alter the wettability of the human skin.”

The teams of researchers are led to believe that their discovery could not only have a big impact of controlling microorganisms finding their way into our skin, but also have an influence of our sensory area.


Also known as C12H25SO4Na, SLS can be frequently found in numerous hygienic, cosmetic, and cleaning products. The material is mostly used to remove everyday residue and stains. However, German and his team of researchers seem to have cracked the code to explore the changes in the mechanics and functionality of healthy skin tissue.

Basically, the wettability of the top layer of our skin can be controlled by continuous treatment of C12H25SO4Na at various pH levels. Then, the surfactants, which are amphiphilic chemicals, are able to both attract and repeal water simultaneously. In harmful environments, your skin will be able to have both a positive and negative charge that can repel water as necessary. In other environments with high alkaline, the process will attract more water. “We can change the surface wettability of skin, it’s quite neat,” says German. “We can actually flip these little molecules upside down.”

German and his team continue to utilize their resources to explore the various fluctuations this ingredient has to treat disordered skin from natural processes such as aging and infections. While we continue to use this common ingredient in our homes and sometimes use them to alter the wettability of hair, it seems that its potential extends onto our skin. This would mark the first time that anyone has been able to alter any kind of bacterial growth on the human skin.

Hydrophobic Skin

The next step of this discovery would be to translate the results of German’s research to everyday use. The hope of this innovative sulfate discovery is to exploit the results that have the potential to help improve drug delivery, deter bacterial growth on human skin, and even progress biointegrated electronics and sensor systems. “If you think about what that could  be good for, well, if you say you had an environment where you didn’t want droplets of water in contact with your skin, we are able to make your skin hydrophobic, which means the water wouldn’t spread itself,” says German.

This discovery means that we could potentially control the water coming into contact on our skin and avoid it at all costs. On the other hand, for those who use cosmetic products on an everyday basis, and may or may not have trouble with its usage, because of German’s discovery, you could allow the product to become hydrophilic to enhance spreading.

German and his team hope to put their discovery to practical use in the near future. Who knows, maybe the material could extend its use onto our leather shoes. It would be nice if they were hydrophobic on those cold, rainy days.

New Study: Six Years Of Exercise May Be Enough To Change Heart Failure Risk

By analyzing reported physical activity levels over time in more than 11,000 American adults, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers conclude that increasing physical activity to recommended levels over as few as six years in middle age is associated with a significantly decreased risk of heart failure. This condition affects an estimated five million to six million Americans. The same analysis found that as little as six years without physical activity in middle age was linked to an increased risk of the disorder.

Unlike heart attack, in which heart muscle dies, heart failure is marked by a long-term, chronic inability of the heart to pump enough blood, or pump it hard enough, to bring needed oxygen to the body. The leading cause of hospitalizations in those over 65, the disorder’s risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and a family history.

“In everyday terms our findings suggest that consistently participating in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week, such as brisk walking or biking, in middle age may be enough to reduce your heart failure risk by 31 percent,” says Chiadi Ndumele, M.D., M.H.S., the Robert E. Meyerhoff Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the senior author of a report on the study. “Additionally, going from no exercise to recommended activity levels over six years in middle age may reduce heart failure risk by 23 percent.”

The researchers caution that their study, described in the journal Circulation, was observational, meaning the results can’t and don’t show a direct cause-and-effect link between exercise and heart failure. They say the trends observed in data gathered on middle-aged adults suggest that it may never be too late to reduce the risk of heart failure with moderate exercise.

Strategies For Prevention

“The population of people with heart failure is growing because people are living longer and surviving heart attacks and other forms of heart disease,” says Roberta Florido, M.D., cardiology fellow at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. “Unlike other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, we don’t have specifically effective drugs to prevent heart failure, so we need to identify and verify effective strategies for prevention and emphasize these to the public.” There are drugs used to treat heart failure, such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, but they are essentially “secondary” prevention drugs, working to reduce the heart’s workload after dysfunction is already there.

Several studies suggest that in general people who are more physically active have lower risks of heart failure than those who are less active, but little was known about the impact of changes in exercise levels over time on heart failure risk. For example, if you are sedentary most of your life but then start exercising in middle age, does that decrease your risk of heart failure? Or, if you are active much of your life but then stop being active at middle age, will that increase your risk?

To address those questions, the researchers used data already gathered from 11,351 participants in the federally-funded, long-term Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, recruited from 1987 to 1989 in Forsyth County, North Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; greater Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Washington County, Maryland. The participants’ average age was 60. Fifty-seven percent were women and most were either white or African-American. Participants were monitored annually for an average of 19 years for cardiovascular disease events such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure using telephone interviews, hospital records and death certificates. Over the course of the study there were 1,693 hospitalizations and 57 deaths due to heart failure.

In addition to those measures, at the first and third ARIC study visits – six years apart – each participant filled out a questionnaire, which asked them to evaluate their physical activity levels, which were then categorized as poor, intermediate or “recommended,” in alignment with guidelines issued by the American Heart Association. The “recommended” amount is at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. One to 74 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or one to 149 minutes per week of moderate exercise per week counted as intermediate level activity. And physical activity qualified as “poor” if there was no exercise at all.

After the third visit, 42 percent of participants – 4,733 people – said they performed recommended levels of exercise; 23 percent – 2,594 people – said they performed intermediate levels; and 35 percent – 4,024 people – said they had poor levels of activity. From the first to the third visit over about six years, 24 percent of participants increased their physical activity, 22 percent decreased it and 54 percent stayed in the same category. Those with recommended activity levels at both the first and third visits showed the highest associated heart failure risk decrease – at 31 percent – compared with those with consistently poor activity levels.

Reducing Heart Failure Risk

Heart failure risk decreased by about 12 percent in the 2,702 participants who increased their physical activity category from poor to intermediate or recommended, or from intermediate to recommended, compared with those with consistently poor or intermediate activity ratings. Conversely, heart failure risk increased by 18 percent in the 2,530 participants who reported decreased physical activity from visit one to visit three, compared with those with consistently recommended or intermediate activity levels.

The researchers determined how much of an increase in exercise, among those initially doing no exercise, was needed to reduce the risk of future heart failure. Exercise was calculated as METs (metabolic equivalents), where one MET is 1 kilocalorie per kilogram per hour. Essentially, sitting watching television is 1 MET, fast walking is 3 METs, jogging is 7 METs and jumping rope is 10 METs. The researchers calculated outcomes in METs times the number of minutes of exercise. The researchers found that each 750 MET minutes per week increase in exercise over six years reduced heart failure risk by 16 percent. And each 1,000 MET minutes per week increase in exercise was linked to a reduction in heart failure risk by 21 percent.

Benefits Of Physical Activity Vs. Impact Of Obesity

The benefits of physical activity may outweigh the impact of overweight and obesity on cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and elderly people, according to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The observational study was conducted in more than 5,000 people aged 55 years and older who were followed-up for 15 years. “Obesity is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and it is recommended to lose weight,” said author Dr. Klodian Dhana, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “But in the elderly this is slightly different because weight loss, especially unintentional, is associated with muscle loss and death. Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of age. We investigated the combined impact of body mass index (BMI) and physical activity on cardiovascular disease in the middle age to elderly population.”

The study included 5,344 individuals aged 55 to 97 years of age  – average 70 years – who participated in the Rotterdam Study and were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. Information about BMI, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use, diet, education, and family history of premature heart attack was collected during the enrollment period from 1997 to 2001. Participants were categorized by BMI: normal weight, overweight, and obese; and physical activity, which was below and above the median in the study population. The group was followed from 1997 to 2012 for cardiovascular events – heart attack and stroke.

During the 15-year follow-up, 16% of participants had a cardiovascular event. When analyzed alone, physical activity was associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of BMI category. There was no association between BMI alone and cardiovascular disease. “In the overall population we found that physical activity was protective for cardiovascular risk,” Dhana said. “Overweight and obese participants were not at increased cardiovascular risk compared to those of normal weight. We do not refute the risk associated with obesity in the general population even though we did not find it in this older group. BMI may not be the best way to measure adiposity risk in the elderly.”

The Impact Of BMI

The researchers analyzed the joint effect of physical activity and BMI. Compared to normal weight people with high physical activity levels, overweight or obese individuals with high levels of physical activity were not at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but overweight or obese people with low levels of physical activity had 1.33 and 1.35 times higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, respectively. “Our results show that physical activity plays a crucial role in the health of middle age to elderly people,” Dhana said. “Those who are overweight and obese without adequate physical activity are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”

Those overweight or obese exert harmful effects through adipose tissue which accelerates the atherosclerotic process and increases cardiovascular risk. Physical activity lowers the harmful effects of atherosclerosis by reducing the stabilization of plaques on blood vessels and reducing the heart’s oxygen demand. “People who engage in high levels of physical activity are protected from the harmful effects of adipose tissue on cardiovascular disease,” Dhana said. “This may be why we found that the beneficial impact of physical activity on cardiovascular disease outweighs the negative impact of BMI.”

The Rotterdam Study was an active population, with the “low” and “high” groups doing two and four hours of daily activity. This included biking, walking and housework. The important point was that the study compared the two groups and found that more activity was better for health. “Any physical activity is positive for cardiovascular health and in elderly people of all weights walking, biking and housework are good ways to keep moving,” Dhana added. “European guidelines recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Mindful Motivation To Move

A meditation and stress reduction program may be as effective at getting people to move more as structured exercise programs, according to a new study led by an Iowa State University researcher. The study compared two intervention programs – mindfulness-based stress reduction and aerobic exercise training – with a control group and measured changes in exercise, general physical activity and sedentary time. People assigned to the two interventions were more active than those in the control group, logging roughly an extra 75 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity following the eight-week interventions. The results are published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Jacob Meyer, an ISU assistant professor of kinesiology, and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Mississippi Medical Center, say helping sedentary adults get those 75 minutes of exercise can extend life expectancy by nearly two years. Researchers expected the exercise intervention to increase physical activity more than the meditation training. Meyer says to see similar results from the mindfulness intervention was somewhat surprising. “Structured exercise training is something as a field we have used for decades to improve physical activity and physical health,” Meyer said. “To see a similar effect on physical activity from an intervention that focuses on the way someone thinks or perceives the world, was completely unexpected.”

The researchers used a mindfulness-based stress reduction program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which aims to reduce stress through meditation, self-awareness and being present in the moment. People in the mindfulness intervention spent two-and-a-half hours a week in class learning how to be mindful. They practiced mindful stretching and movement as well as breathing exercises to incorporate into their daily activities. Similarly, those in the exercise group attended two-and-a-half hour weekly sessions learning various exercise techniques and discussing strategies to change behavior. An hour of each class was dedicated to a group activity such as walking or jogging. Both groups were encouraged to do the intervention at home for 20 to 45 minutes each day.

Shifting From Structured Exercise To Overall Movement

While the interventions did not significantly increase time spent exercising or decrease sedentary time, participants generally maintained activity levels. This is important given the timeframe for the study. Researchers collected data during the fall and early winter months as part of a larger study focused on the cold and flu season. Seasonal variation in weather likely contributed to the sharp decline in activity for the control group, but the intervention groups did not experience the same drop-off. The study focused on exercise in bouts that lasted at least 10 minutes, but also tracked general physical activity, such as walking from the parking lot to the office or working in the yard. Both intervention groups saw smaller drop-offs in general activity levels than the control group.

Researchers used the 10-minute threshold to be consistent with guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise weekly, in bouts of at least 10 minutes. However, the recommendations only focus on a small percentage – 1.5 percent – of minutes in the week. That is one reason why updated federal guidelines emphasize overall activity regardless of length of time. “There are clinical and cardiovascular health benefits to exercise training, but there are also important general health benefits from a more active lifestyle,” Meyer said. “Shifting from thinking we need to be in a gym for an hour at a time to thinking about being more active throughout the day helps people understand how physical activity could play a role in helping improve their health.”

Resistance Training And Depression

A primary focus of Meyer’s research examines the benefits of exercise for people with depression. As part of a separate study, Meyer worked with researchers at the University of Limerick in Ireland and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden to test the effects of resistance training on symptoms of depression. The results, published in JAMA Psychiatry, found weightlifting and muscle-strengthening exercises significantly reduced depressive symptoms.

The meta-analysis, led by Brett Gordon at the University of Limerick, included 33 randomized controlled trials with more than 1,800 participants. Resistance training reduced symptoms for adults regardless of health status, the volume of training and whether or not strength improved. The results appear similar to the benefits from aerobic exercise found in other studies. Depression affects more than 300 million people, according to the World Health Organization. Meyer says resistance training could provide a treatment option with benefits that extend beyond mental health. In the paper, researchers explain the economic costs as well as other health risks associated with depression. Resistance training also gives patients an alternative to medication.

“For general feelings of depression and the beginning phases of major depression, antidepressants and medications may not be very effective,” Meyer said. “There also is a shift toward finding options that do not require someone to start a drug regimen they may be on for the rest of their lives. Understanding that resistance training appears to have similar benefits to aerobic exercise may help those wading through daunting traditional medication treatment options.” Future research is needed to know if aerobic exercise and resistance training work through similar channels to reduce depressive symptoms or work independently.

Stairs For Stimulation

A midday jolt of caffeine isn’t as powerful as walking up and down some stairs, according to research from the University of Georgia. In a study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, researchers in the UGA College of Education found that 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs at a regular pace was more likely to make participants feel energized than ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine – about the equivalent to the amount in a can of soda.

“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt,” said Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology who co-authored the study with former graduate student Derek Randolph. “But with exercise they did feel more energetic and vigorous. It was a temporary feeling, felt immediately after the exercise, but with the 50 milligrams of caffeine, we didn’t get as big an effect.”

The study aimed to simulate the hurdles faced in a typical office setting, where workers spend hours sitting and staring at computer screens and don’t have time for a longer bout of exercise during the day. For the study, participants on separate days either ingested capsules containing caffeine or a placebo, or spent 10 minutes walking up and down stairs – about 30 floors total – at a low-intensity pace. O’Connor wanted to compare an exercise that could be achieved by people in an office setting, where they have access to stairs and a little time to be active, but not enough time to change into workout gear, shower and change back into work clothes.

“Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal. It has never rained on me while walking the stairs,” said O’Connor. “And a lot of people working in office buildings have access to stairs, so it’s an option to keep some fitness while taking a short break from work.” Study participants were female college students who described themselves as chronically sleep deprived – getting less than six-and-a-half hours per night. To test the effects of caffeine versus the exercise, each group took some verbal and computer-based tests to gauge how they felt and how well they performed certain cognitive tasks. Neither caffeine nor exercise caused large improvements in attention or memory, but stair walking was associated with a small increase in motivation for work.

There is still much research to be done on the specific benefits of exercising on the stairs, especially for just 10 minutes. But even a brief bout of stair walking can enhance feelings of energy without reducing cognitive function. “You may not have time to go for a swim, but you might have 10 minutes to walk up and down the stairs,” O’Connor added.

Bitter Gourd Oil For Your Beauty Needs

Bitter gourd – also known as Karela or bitter melon – is relatively well known in many cultural circles as a fruit that is used in various ways. This fruit, despite its odd shape and texture, is incredibly full and dense with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that the body needs and thrives off of. This fruit can be used in a number of ways to the betterment of not just your internal health, but your hair and skin as well. Here are some ways that bitter gourd oil can be used.

Skin Issues

The skin is one of the most fragile organs of the body. Due to the fact that it is external, it is exposed to many environmental elements that can compromise it – things like air, smoke, sun and harsh chemicals. Taking care of your skin can feel like a job and when it is not done properly, you may start to deal with issues like acne, rashes, wrinkles, age spots and a plethora of other issues. The presence of bitter gourd on the skin helps to eliminate these issues by helping to enhance blood purifying. This will help to fight against the presence of toxins which often contribute to the presence of those issues we listed before. You can use a few drops on your face after cleansing and toning.

Heals Skin Ailments

If you suffer from something like eczema and psoriasis, you know how terrible those outbreaks can get – dry, flaky and cracked skin that is positively unsightly. Bitter gourd oil can help to treat these issues and also reduce inflammation and irritation. It’s also been known to work on fungal infections, ringworm and athlete’s foot. Many of the over-the-counter remedies for these ailments actually contain ingredients that are bad for your skin and potentially harmful to you. Add a few drops of bitter gourd oil into some coconut oil and apply it on the affected areas three times a day. You’ll soon start to notice a difference.

Age Buster

Signs of aging can be incredibly disconcerting. One minute we look youthful and glow, the next minute we start to see traces of laugh lines, crow’s feet and dull skin. What is there to do? No need to panic because bitter gourd oil is the perfect antidote. The amount of vitamin C helps to protect the skin from the sun and wrinkles with its high levels of antioxidant power. What’s more is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on wrinkle creams and anti-aging serums when you can get inexpensive and highly effective bitter gourd oil and experience even greater results.

Dandruff Eliminator

Those pesky white flakes are no match for the impressive elements of bitter gourd. The oil not only treats the appearance of dandruff but helps to regulate the scalp back to a normal pH balance which will prevent further occurrences of dandruff. Add a couple of drops to your regular shampoo and you are well on your way to improving your scalp and the overall look of your hair. This oil increases shine and repairs split ends as well.

You can purchase bitter gourd oil online from several companies at


The Link Between Gum Disease And Rheumatoid Arthritis

The results of a study – presented recently at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology – demonstrates increased levels of gum disease and disease-causing bacteria in individuals at risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). “It has been shown that RA-associated antibodies, such as anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, are present well before any evidence of joint disease. This suggests they originate from a site outside of the joints,” said study author Dr. Kulveer Mankia of Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Muscoskeletal Medicine and the Leeds Biomedical Research Centre. “Our study is the first to describe clinical periodontal disease and the relative abundance of periodontal bacteria in these at-risk individuals. Our results support the hypothesis that local inflammation at mucosal surfaces – such as the gums in this case – may provide the primary trigger for the systemic autoimmunity seen in RA.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects a person’s joints, causing pain and disability. It can also affect internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in older people, but there is also a high prevalence in young adults, adolescents and even children – and it affects women more frequently than men. The prevalence of gum disease is increased in patients with RA and could be a key initiator of RA-related autoimmunity. This is because autoimmunity in RA is characterized by an antibody response to citrullinated proteins and the oral bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) is the only human pathogen known to express an enzyme that can generate citrullinated proteins.

The Study                                 

“We welcome these data in presenting concepts that may enhance clinical understanding of the key initiators of rheumatoid arthritis,” said Professor Robert Landewé, Chairperson of the Scientific Program Committee, EULAR. “This is an essential step towards the ultimate goal of disease prevention.” The study included 48 at-risk individuals with a positive test for anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, musculoskeletal symptoms but no clinical synovitis, 26 patients with RA, and 32 healthy controls. The three groups were balanced for age, gender and smoking. At-risk individuals underwent ultrasound assessment to assess for subclinical synovitis; only two were found to have ultrasound synovitis. Dentists examined six sites per tooth in each participant and a clinical consensus was agreed in each by three dentists.

Study: Can A New Material Regenerate Dental Enamel?

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have developed a new way to grow mineralized materials which could regenerate hard tissues such as dental enamel and bone. Enamel – located on the outer part of our teeth – is the hardest tissue in the body and enables our teeth to function for a large part of our lifetime despite biting forces, exposure to acidic foods and drinks, and extreme temperatures. This performance results from its highly organized structure. Unlike other tissues of the body, enamel cannot regenerate once it is lost, which can lead to pain and tooth loss. These problems affect more than 50 percent of the world’s population and so finding ways to recreate enamel has long been a major need in dentistry.

The study, published in Nature Communications, shows that this new approach can create materials with remarkable precision and order that look and behave like dental enamel. The materials could be used for a wide variety of dental complications such as the prevention and treatment of tooth decay or tooth sensitivity – also known as dentin hypersensitivity. “This is exciting because the simplicity and versatility of the mineralization platform opens up opportunities to treat and regenerate dental tissues,” says Dr. Sherif Elsharkawy, a dentist and first author of the study from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science. “For example, we could develop acid resistant bandages that can infiltrate, mineralize, and shield exposed dentinal tubules of human teeth for the treatment of dentin hypersensitivity.”

The Key Discovery

The mechanism that has been developed is based on a specific protein material that is able to trigger and guide the growth of apatite nanocrystals at multiple scales – similarly to how these crystals grow when dental enamel develops in our body. This structural organization is critical for the outstanding physical properties exhibited by natural dental enamel. “A major goal in materials science is to learn from nature to develop useful materials based on the precise control of molecular building-blocks,” added lead author Professor Alvaro Mata, from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science. “The key discovery has been the possibility to exploit disordered proteins to control and guide the process of mineralization at multiple scales. Through this, we have developed a technique to easily grow synthetic materials that emulate such hierarchically-organized architecture over large areas and with the capacity to tune their properties.”

Enabling control of the mineralization process opens the possibility to create materials with properties that mimic different hard tissues beyond enamel such as bone and dentin. As such, the work has the potential to be used in a variety of applications in regenerative medicine. In addition, the study also provides insights into the role of protein disorder in human physiology and pathology.

Stay Sun Safe This Summer

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States.  One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer, and one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.  With summer here and as we spend greater time outdoors throughout the year, we place ourselves at risk for over-exposure and cumulative, toxic effects of the sun that can eventually promote the growth of skin cancers.

Common risk factors for developing skin cancer include blue, green or hazel eyes, many moles, history of severe sunburns, and a family history of skin cancer.  People of color can get sunburned, and the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage their skin leading to the development of skin cancer. Adopting a common-sense approach to prevention through lifestyle choices that include sun-protective measures and limiting time outdoors will reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

Our lifestyle choices contribute greatly to our chances of getting skin cancer. The most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers is sun exposure. According to Tamar Zapolanski, M.D., FAAD, Dermatologist, Valley Medical Group – Park Ridge, “Repeated overexposure to the sun can lead to premature aging and skin cancers called basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

Slow The Signs Of Aging With Sun Protection

Environmental factors can damage the skin in multiple ways, from UVB rays causing sunburns and uneven pigmentation to UVA and infrared radiation penetrating more deeply into the skin to damage existing collagen and reduce collagen production, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin. Habitual UV exposure can cause blood vessels to become more prominent, causing skin redness while visible light and pollution can cause uneven skin tone, especially in darker skin types. “Although there have been some impressive strides in anti-aging treatments, no one product or procedure can completely reverse the long-term effects of poor skin care decisions, and protective measures are the cornerstone of good skin care,” says Arianne Shadi Kourosh, MD, MPH, FAAD, director of community health and co-director of the multiethnic skin clinic in the department of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston

As we’ve just discussed, too much time in the sun can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summer offers plenty of opportunities to be out basking in the sun and enjoying the outdoors at the beach, park or in your own back yard. But with sun exposure being the largest factor for development of skin cancer later in life, it’s important to take some simple precautions to ensure you’re doing your best to protect your skin from sun damage. Each day in the sun adds to the risk of developing skin cancer.

Since both types of UV rays can damage the skin, Dr. Kourosh says, it’s important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF of 30 or higher. She recommends sunscreens containing the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as a good source of broad-spectrum protection suitable for sensitive skin. She also says formulations containing antioxidants may provide some protection against uneven skin tone and aging caused by free radical damage from infrared light, visible light and pollution.

Sunscreen Tips

Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapplied every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. “Sunscreen protects against harmful radiation from the sun by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays on the skin,” explains Dr. Zapolanski. They are available in many forms including creams, lotions, gels, ointments, wax sticks, sprays or in cosmetic products like make-up and lipstick.

Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible. For road trips, gardening, and walking or hiking, consider a travel kit that contains a small bottle of sunscreen, wrap-around sunglasses (ANSI UV), and a hat – with a three-inch brim or greater all around. UV-protective clothing is also a great sun-protective option.

Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn. Sunburns cause long-lasting damage from UV rays.  Set a timer on your phone to avoid losing track of the time you spend in the sun.  If you do get burned, cool your skin with water or cool compresses, cover up, moisturize and replenish with fluids. Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.

Avoid Tanning Beds

In addition to practicing sun protection, it’s important to avoid indoor tanning, which exposes users to harmful UV rays that can increase skin cancer risk and accelerate skin aging. Those who wish to look tan may want to consider a self-tanning product but should continue using sunscreen with it. “Whether you’re on a beach vacation or your daily commute, it’s crucial to protect yourself from exposure to harmful UV rays on a regular basis,” Kourosh says. “If you want healthy, younger-looking skin, it’s better to prevent now than try to correct later. If you have questions about sun protection, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.”

Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. The risk for skin cancer increases 75 percent for people who use a tanning bed before age 35. Tanning lamps give out UVA and UVB rays, which can damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. “Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning beds not only can increase your risk of skin cancer but also can contribute to skin aging,” Kourosh said. “Moreover, other forms of radiation, such as heat and visible light, can negatively impact the skin, as can pollution, so protecting your skin from the environment can benefit both your health and appearance.”

Any time you notice anything changing, growing or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early. Regular dermatologic exams, and self-skin exams will help with early recognition of skin cancer.  When performing self-exams, use the ABCDE method of mole/spot skin; A = asymmetry, B = border – irregular; C = color – not uniform, D = diameter – greater than 6mm, E = evolving – change in size, shape or elevation.  “Whether you’re on a beach vacation or your daily commute, it’s crucial to protect yourself from exposure to harmful UV rays on a regular basis,” Kourosh added. “If you want healthy, younger-looking skin, it’s better to prevent now than try to correct later. If you have questions about sun protection, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.”

New Device Gives Accurate Sleep Readings

Since the beginning of sleep studies, the most accurate readings that could be gathered were typically under the express supervision of a doctor. Many options that are currently available don’t give the levels of accuracy that are often sought in such situations. There is a larger, ongoing human sleep project that is still trying to determine very integral things about sleep that so many are curious about. Why is it so vital to our everyday functions? What happens if we don’t get enough of it? Are sleep quality and quantity interchangeable?

Sleep cycles are a very interesting and fickle thing. Things like stress levels, body temperature, and room temperature play a huge role in this process.

Researchers from Germany have asserted that new technology present in a piece of wrist wear could potentially record real-life sleep habits and patterns that could impart necessary knowledge that would be able to improve the resting hours of many individuals.

Objective Actimeter Tracking

A very small, wrist-worn gadget can be purchased for as little as $150 that can accurately track how deep you’re sleeping, your breath patterns and many other discernible factors that accurately imply how effective the sleep you’re getting is. The gadgets – called actimeters – can also track important things about your body, vitals and health throughout your day, and not just when you are asleep.

“There has been practically no possibility of getting detailed sleep structures in a normal life setting over a long period of time,” says Till Roenneberg of LMU Munich. “You can’t easily give somebody an EEG to take home and put next to the bed. You can’t do this over six weeks or six months. We are going to see things nobody has seen before. Right now, we’re not able to judge the outcome of interventions. If, for example, we change school times, is sleep quality changed? What about shift work times or indoor lighting? All interventions necessary to improve sleep today are only judged by sleep duration and by asking people how they feel and if they have slept. There’s no objective way to measure sleep quality, and we need this desperately.”

Importance Of Sleep

The deepest sleep that one can experience is called REM sleep – rapid eye movement. During this type of sleep, your body’s extremities will often naturally twitch, and this can be picked up and tracked by the actimeters. There is even a keen interest in tracking and measuring the difference of sleep patterns and what they could potentially mean for individuals in different climates, cultures, latitudes and lifestyles.

It’s a real interesting paradigm to be in because sleep is such an imperative part of our everyday life. Sleep is tied to so many things that people often don’t even think of. It’s tied to our ability to concentrate. It’s tied to our mood. It’s tied to our ability to lose weight. It deeply affects the nervous system and a whole host of other things.

Having more complete insight into sleep will do an entire heaping bit of good for our rest framework and really drive the point home that sleep is essential, and that doing what you can to have better quality sleep will only positively improve your life.