Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Turmeric: The Gold Standard for Health

A daily dose of turmeric in your diet could be the key to keeping inflammatory diseases and conditions at bay, as well as shrinking tumors and preventing dementia and heart disease.

With its distinct, bright sun color and pungent taste, turmeric is a cornerstone of Indian culinary and medicinal history. 

For thousands of years, turmeric has been used to dye Buddhist monk’s robes bright yellow and to provide brilliant orange-gold hues to foods such as India’s iconic curries.

Turmeric has also been used in India as “golden bullet” to treat a host of diseases and conditions. Used both internally and applied topically as a paste, turmeric’s antioxidant qualities make it one of nature's most versatile food-medicines. 

Turmeric is used to treat a host of maladies such as: osteoarthritis, eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune disease, poor circulation, atherosclerosis, sexually transmitted diseases, salmonella, urinary tract infections and other related diseases.


The Latin name for turmeric is curcuma longa, from kurkum, the Arabic name for the plant. 
Botanically speaking, turmeric is a rhizome (the modified subterranean part of a plant’s stem). Turmeric belongs to the same family as ginger, another rhizome with significant medicinal attributes.

Turmeric’s main ingredient is the polyphenol curcumin. Polyphenols are plant-based antioxidant chemicals abundant in micronutrients that prevent degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Cancer researchers are closely evaluating curcumin for its ability to shrink tumors in cancer patients, particularly for prostate cancer

Other researchers are studying turmeric for its potential to slow the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting the formation of amyloid plaque in the brain. 

In 2012, researchers from Michigan State University found that curcumin may be beneficial for people with Parkinson’s disease.    

Curcumin also inhibits the body’s production of prostaglandins, powerful enzymes that cause the pain and swelling associated with arthritis, menstrual cramps and all other conditions related to inflammation. 


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the following are recommended doses of turmeric for adults:

Cut root: 1.5 - 3 g per day
Dried, powdered root: 1 - 3 g per day
Standardized powder (curcumin): 400 - 600 mg, 3 times per day
Fluid extract (1:1) 30 - 90 drops a day
Tincture (1:2): 15 - 30 drops, 4 times per day

NOTE: because of its blood thinning properties, turmeric should be used with caution if you are taking blood thinners such as Plavix, Coumadin or even aspirin. People with bleeding ulcers or acid reflux should also exercise caution in taking turmeric.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How Sweet It Is: Use Medicinal Honey For Wound Care

Since ancient times, honey has been used to treat infected wounds, burns, skin ulcers and scrapes.

But honey fell out favor as a wound dressing when antibiotic dressings were developed during World War II. New research, along with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, is introducing a new generation to honey’s many medicinal uses.

Twenty-first century laboratory tests show that honey has a strong anti-microbial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi. This is good news for anyone suffering from diabetic ulcers or hard-to-heal wounds such as pressure ulcers (bed sores) as well as boils, abscesses or necrotising faciitis (flesh eating bacteria syndrome).


Honey helps wounds by providing a thick protective barrier. It also contains hydrogen peroxide that is slowly released to kill germs in wounds. Honey has a natural capacity to hold water and attract water and is acidic in nature. Thus it prevents bacteria from colonizing and helps to dry up wounds.  Most microorganisms won’t not grow in pure honey because of its low water activity.

And honey even makes wounds smell better, possibly because when bacteria in wounds eat honey's sugars, they give off sweeter-smelling gases.


In the past decade, several companies have developed and marketed wound products such as honey-based dressings. In 2007, the FDA approved Derma Sciences Inc., to produce Medihoney, a dressing saturated with manuka honey, a potent type of honey from Australia and New Zealand.

But you needn’t buy specialized products. Anyone can use organic honey to treat simple wounds such as cuts, scrapes and other non-critical injuries.

Here's how:

*Spread a light coating of organic honey over a sterile dressing (a typical proportion is 1 oz./25 grams of honey on a 4"x4" dressing) and apply to affected area.

*Cover the initial dressing with a sterile waterproof secondary dressing to prevent honey from oozing out. You can also use adhesive tape to hold the dressing in place if you do not apply a secondary dressing.

*If applying honey to abscesses, cavities or depressions, fill the depression with honey first before applying the dressing.

For more information about medicinal honey, visit http://www.manukahoney.co.uk/howtouse.htmlhttp:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our Bodies Are Hardwired to Move...At Any Age!

Children need to run, jump and play not only to burn off energy but to enable their brains to grow. If children don’t get enough locomotor play, it affects not just their coordination, but also their ability to learn.

Physical movement is the basis of a great amount of academic, social and emotional intelligence. Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Rodolfo Llinas, author of “I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self,” tells the story of the lowly sea squirt. These primitive organisms contain just 300 brain cells. On the first day of its life, the organism swims until it finds a permanent place to attach itself. Once it’s anchored, it does not move for the rest of its short life.

Here’s the fascinating part: the sea squirt has a primitive nervous system while it’s in motion. Once it finds its permanent anchor, it eats up its brain since it no longer needs it once movement has ceased. According to Dr. Llinas, the reason we have brains is so we can move, grow and develop.

In short, our bodies are hardwired to move.

Movement is critical for brain health at all stages of life. Even in old age, the brain can grow new neurons. Most age-related losses in memory or motor skills result from inactivity and a lack of mental and physical exercise and stimulation.

It's important to challenge your brain to learn new and novel tasks, especially processes that you've never done before. Examples include square-dancing, chess, tai chi, yoga, sculpting, making pottery or any other tactile process.

Working with modeling clay is an especially good way for seniors to grow new brain connections. It helps develop agility and hand-brain coordination, (like controlling the computer mouse with your opposite hand).


Neurobics is a unique system of brain exercises using your five physical senses and your emotional sense in unexpected ways that encourage you to shake up your everyday routines. They are designed to help your brain manufacture its own nutrients that strengthen, preserve, and grow brain cells.

Created by Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center, Neurobics exercises are simple and can be performed by older adults of all abilities.

Here are some examples of Neurobics:

Try to include one or more of your senses in an every day task:
*Get dressed with your eyes closed

*Wash your hair with your eyes closed

*Share a meal and use only visual cues to communicate. No talking.

Combine two senses:

*Listen to music and smell flowers

*Listen to the rain and tap your fingers

*Watch clouds and play with modeling clay at the same time

Break routines:
Go to work on a new route

*Eat with your opposite hand

*Shop at new grocery store

For more information about Neurobics and other brain exercises visit: http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/exercise.html

Monday, July 18, 2011

Zinc-based Denture Creams Linked to Neurological Damage

Did you know that many denture creams contain zinc? 

While zinc is an important essential trace element, in excess it can cause numbness, gait disturbances, tingling in hands, metallic taste in the mouth, low blood pressure, yellow eyes and skin, nausea and vomiting.

A study published in 2008 in the journal Neurology found that excessive use of denure creams containing zinc could result in serious neurologic disease http://www.neurology.org/content/71/9/639.abstract

These symptoms occur because denture adhesive users swallow small amounts of zinc during the course of a day (this is especially true for people who use large amounts of adhesive). When zinc levels reach 40mg a day or higher, zinc begins to displace copper (another essential trace element), and central nervous systems dysfunction occurs.

Zinc also interacts with medications some antibiotics (such as Cipro and tetracycline).

Zinc can reduce the absorption and action of penicillamine, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. And zinc can also interfere with diuretics such as chlorthalidone (Hygroton).

Manufacturers are not required to list zinc or zinc toxicity on product lables. So it is up to health care providers, family members and concerned individuals who wear dentures to pay attention to unexplained neurologic symptoms or abnormal blood test levels or zinc or copper.

Some zinc-free denture adhesives include:

*Secure Denture Bonding Cream
*Secure Denture Adhesive Cushion Strips
*Sea-Bond Denture Adhesive Wafers

For more options visit http://zincfreedentureadhesives.com/

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just One More Step, Dad....

Helping my dad go to the doctor was a major undertaking for both of us. He was disabled and dreaded leaving his wheelchair. It was always a delicate negotiation between us. Sometimes the love between a father and daughter comes out in strange and unexpected ways.

Listen to my audio essay about driving my dad from WFDD's "Real People: Real Voices" series.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Tai Chi: Go Slow to Improve Cardiovascular Health

You’ve probably heard the old adage, slow and steady wins the race.

Practitioners of Tai Chi, the ancient form of mindful exercise, know that by moving slowly through specific, simple movements, they can increase longevity and significantly improve heart health. Tai Chi has been used in China for millennia as a form of exercise that is especially suited for seniors. Today, Tai Chi is a medically accepted form of holistic exercise with benefits ranging from lowering blood pressure to potentially staving off Alzheimer's disease.


Tai Chi is based on the Eastern mind-body philosophy that chi (the vital life force--pronounced chee) flows throughout the body. If the flow of chi is interrupted, a person’s health becomes unbalanced. Imbalances result in disease and illness. Restoring the balance of chi is the goal of Tai Chi.

Derived from martial arts, Tai Chi is made up of slow, deliberate movements accompanied by deep breathing techniques and meditation. Tai Chi exercises encourage practitioners to move from their center of gravity. This enhances balance, agility, strength, flexibility and stamina—especially in the joints. All major muscle groups get a gentle, but thorough workout.

Tai Chi’s gentle, low impact movements have an added benefit: they burn almost as many calories per hour as downhill skiing.

But Tai Chi’s benefits go deeper. Through maintaining deep breathing during Tai Chi, practitioners build lung capacity, improve over all blood circulation to the brain (thus helping to prevent dementia) and decrease stress levels that lead to cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.


In a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Gerontology, men and women 60 and older who practiced Tai Chi for 20 minutes a day lowered their blood pressure and heart rate, as well as significantly reducing the activity of their sympathetic nervous system—the part of the brain responsible for the “fight or flight” response.

An excessively stimulated sympathetic nervous system leads to serious alterations in cardiovascular health and is responsible for metabolic conditions such as diabetes and renal failure.

Tai Chi also helps practitioners get better sleep— a key component to heart health. People with chronic heart failure often have insomnia and impaired breathing while sleeping—key factors the lead to dangerous heart rhythm disturbances.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, just two weeks of Tai Chi training helped patients with sleep disorders significantly improve their sleep stability and quality of life.

To view a Tai Chi class for seniors click here:


To get a free Tai Chi lesson, find a Tai Chi class and find out more about World Tai Chi Day (coming April 30), visit  http://www.worldtaichiday.org.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yoga Postures Help Bone Health: The How and the Why

In previous posts on holisticelderwellness.blogspot.com we’ve noted that yoga is a great form of exercise for promoting bone health. Yoga postures are easily adaptable to all levels of flexibility and health making it an ideal exercise for seniors or anyone looking to build bone health.

But don’t just take our word for it.

How Yoga Helps Build Healthy Bones:

Like jogging, walking weight lifting, yoga is a type of weight bearing exercise. Simple yoga poses use the weight of the body up against gravity. The form of resistance training puts a mild stress on bones that encourages new bone growth.

But unlike other forms of weight bearing exercise, yoga doesn’t stress cartilage or damage joints. Yoga postures lengthen muscles and hold them in place. This creates tension on bones and helps to realign muscles, ligaments and tendons.

"Yoga helps grow bone mass, but because yoga poses pull and stretch the bones from every conceivable angle, yoga also may stimulate the formation of a bone structure that is able to resist greater amounts of pressure, as well as many different types of challenges," writes Loren Fishman, MD, co-author of Yoga for Osteoporosis

“That pull of muscle on bone is the single major factor in bone strength,” writes Sara Meeks, a physical therapist who specializes in osteoporosis and a yoga teacher. “By putting tremendous pressure on the bones without harming the joints, yoga may be the answer to osteoporosis.” (see the May 2011 edition of Yoga Journal to read the full text of “Good to the Bone”).

In a 2009 article published in Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, a study of people with osteoporosis with an average age of 68, showed that people who practiced yoga for as little as 10 minutes a day gained bone in their spine and hips.

Like any form of exercise, yoga needs to be practiced wisely and certain yoga postures should be done with caution for people with osteoporosis.

Dr. Fishman cautions people with osteoporosis that simply practicing yoga, without proper attention to alignment, may do more harm than good

If you’re new to yoga, go to a beginner class. You can always talk to the teacher before class if you are unsure if the class is right for you. Or you can ask to observe the class.

Here are some yoga posture suggestions for building bones:

*Standing postures such as Warrior I and II
*Tree pose (standing on one leg posture...use the wall or a chair for balance!)
*Bridge pose
*Gentle twists on your back (avoid seated or standing twists)
*Seated forward bends (use pillows, blankets or other props under knees and gently round the back-- NEVER force forward bends!).

For more information about how people with osteoporosis and arthritis can safely practice yoga, visit Dr. Loren Fishman visit sciatica.org.

To read more about Dr. Fishman's study about yoga and bone health read: