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Stroke

Stroke

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted, depriving the brain of oxygen. The bad news is that brain cells begin to die within minutes.  The good news is that immediate help and prompt treatment can minimize damage and complications.  The even-better news is that strokes can be treated and prevented, and many fewer Americans die of stroke now than even 15 years ago, according to the highly respected Mayo Clinic. You can read more here:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stroke/DS00150

They say that better control of major risk factors, including high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol, and factor into the decline.  Some risk factors, like the ones above, are potentially treatable.

Other treatable factors include:

  •  Diabetes
  •  Being overweight or obese
  •  Physical inactivity
  •  Obstructive sleep apnea
  •  Cardiovascular disease – heart failure, defects, infection or abnormal rhythm.
  • Use of estrogen-based birth control pills or hormone therapies
  •  Heavy drinking
  • Use of certain illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines

Unfortunately there are certain risk factors that are beyond anyone’s control. These include:

  •  Being 55 or older
  •  Having had previous strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
  •  Being African American
  •  Being male

The National Stroke Association believes that up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. You can use their interactive risk factor assessment tool here:  http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=riskfactors

While none of this should substitute for actual medical advice, the worksheet can give you a good basis of topics to bring up with your doctor, should you be interested in finding out more about your stroke risk, and preventing this potentially devastating condition.

There are two major types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke happens when a blood vessel supplying the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a weakened blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing blood to leak into the brain.

Symptoms of stroke can vary, with some of the common signs including headache, weakness on the left side of the body, dizziness, trouble with movement, coordination and walking, mental confusion and vision problems.  Commonly people can experience difficulty with swallowing, speaking, walking, memory, emotional regulation and self-care following a stroke, but for many these problems improve with therapy in the weeks and months following a stroke, although there are others who will require full-time care indefinitely following a stroke.

Treatment depends on the cause of the stroke but usually includes blood thinners. In addition, many types of therapy -occupational, physical and speech therapy- can help ease the after effects of stroke.

Of course we all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so any healthful habits – eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, having an active lifestyle, reducing stress – may help ward off risk of stroke.


Orange Pineapple Carrot Smoothie

Pineapple Orange Carrot Smoothie 

  •  1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup carrots (about 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple
  •  1/2 frozen banana
  •  1 handful of ice

Instructions: Add all the ingredients to a blender. Start on a low speed, slowly increasing to high. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Serves 5.

 

Thyme

Thyme 

Just in thyme for the beginning of the cold and flu season, nature’s herbal throat-soother may be growing in your garden.  This perennial herb has been used medicinally for thousands of years for everything from sore throats and laryngitis to skin disorders and intestinal parasites.

That’s quite a list for an herb as small, compact and hardy – not to mention as tasty – as thyme.  Best grown in sun and well-drained soil, thyme does well both in containers as well as in the ground, especially along paths as a sturdy, fragrant ground cover.

Low growing, with delicate leaves on woody stems, thyme comes in a nearly endless variety and range of colors including green, yellow and silver. Botanists recognize 300-400 species throughout the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe according to the website efloras.org  <http://efloras.org>.

Known for having both antibacterial and antifungal properties, oil of thyme is used to fight fungal nail infections naturally. Current research from Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom shows that thyme can even kill the bacteria that cause acne.

“If thyme tincture is proven to be as clinically effective as our findings suggest, it may be a natural alternative to current treatments,” researcher Margarita Gomez-Escalada, PhD, says in a news release.  Many current acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide, a harsh chemical with frequent common side effects including skin irritation and burning sensations.

Thyme was used in ancient Egypt and Greece. It was the Romans who were credited with spreading thyme through Western Europe.  Thyme is a main ingredient in the French bouquet garni herb bundle and used to flavor so many mouth-watering Provençal dishes. In the Middle East it is a key component to the za’atar mixture of savory herbs and spices, and a fixture dish in many regions.

Try making a simple tea from fresh thyme leaves next time you have a sore throat.  Or better yet, try making a delicious and nutritious smoothie like this one:

throat taming smoothieThroat Taming Thyme Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For a thicker smoothie use only 1/2 cup of rice milk and 1.5 cups of  pineapple. The rice milk can be replaced by water. For a cold smoothie  use frozen pineapple.

http://veggiestylewithdaphne.com/2013/06/07/a-throat-taming-smoothie/?cb=09709207529667765

Chitrak

Chitrak

Chitrak is a pungent herb used in Ayurveda to improve digestion and circulation, and to detoxify the GI tract.

Described in Ayurvedic medicine as being heating and bitter or pungent, chitrak balances Kapha and Vata doshas but may aggravate Pitta. If you would like to read more about doshas and digestion check out the California College of Ayurveda’s page here: http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/drhalpern/clinical/digestive

Often known as Ceylon leadwort and, tellingly, doctorbush, chitrak has been shown to fight H. pylori, the bacteria that most commonly causes stomach ulcers: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15708315

According to the Herbal Encyclopedia, Western research is once again playing catching up with “traditional” Chinese and Indian medicine where chitrak has been used for 2,500 years.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Human Oncology are studying the anti-cancer properties of this woody, herbaceous tropical plant. Plumbagin, a compound found in the root of this member of the plumbago species, has shown results against certain prostate and breast cancers in the lab, though much more research is needed.

The Herbal Encyclopedia has an amazing amount of information on Ayurvedic herbs and good articles on the uses and benefits of chitrak if you would like to read more: http://www.herbcyclopedia.com/index.php?option=com_zoo&task=tag&tag=GUJARATI:%20ચિત્રક%20CHITRAK&app_id=5&Itemid=193

Chitrak’s scientific name, Plumbago zeylanica, reflects how the plant’s pale flower resembles the color of lead. It is spread throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world, notably India, Hawaii, Southeast Asia, the southeastern United States and Central America.

In English folk medicine, the root of a closely related plant, chitrak’s European cousin, was used to make a special brew to relieve toothaches and other swellings and touted for its natural antibiotic properties, according to the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s website: http://ntbg.org/plants/plant_details.php?plantid=11896

Because of this herb’s potency, pregnant women should avoid it, and everyone should check with their doctor for any potential medication interactions.

Touted by Ayurvedic medicine for increasing Agni, or digestive fire, and its effect on spreading up metabolism, it is commonly used for weight loss.

The Indian city website for Chandigarh, http://chandigarh.gov.in/green_herb_gudu.htm, recommends chitrak for fever, gout, anemia, jaundice/ hepatitis, diabetes, itching, dyslipidemia, obesity, piles and geriatric problems. The wording is a little off to American English readers, but the information is pretty interesting.

Containing even further information about for chitrak’s use as medicine for thousands of years, consult a health care practitioner in case you might be thinking chitrak might be the herb you need to light a little fire in your belly.

Of course, here’s something else that could light a little fire in your belly, a beautiful smoothie recipe from reciperunner.com.

Sunrise Smoothie

Sunrise  Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Mango Pineapple Layer

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 t. honey

Strawberry Banana Layer

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 t. honey

Instructions:

Place all of the ingredients for the pineapple mango layer of the smoothie in the blender and blend until smooth.

Pour the pineapple mango layer into 2 glasses and place in the freezer.

Rinse out the blender and place all of the ingredients for the strawberry banana layer in it and blend until smooth.

Pour the strawberry banana mixture on top of the pineapple mango mixture.

Top with shredded coconut if desired.

Serve immediately.

http://reciperunner.com/sunrise-smoothie/

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