Pampering Your Feet: Giving the Best our Feet Deserve

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While it is among the most important parts of the body, the feet is usually neglected and taken for granted. Their important role in supporting the entire body weight, keeping our balance, and controlling our posture is often ignored.

It is also often true that people only pay attention to their feet when, due to neglect, they develop various forms of discomforts such as calluses, corns, bruises, cracked heels, and fungal infection. Before anything unfortunate happens, it’s about time to look down and take care of your feet, and make it soft and shapely as it naturally used to be.

First stop – your shoes. More than the style and hip factor, one should buy those of the right size. You’ll know it’s your sole’s sister when it’s a half an inch longer than your foot, which will allow your toes to move. Put the shoes into a road test and walk around for a few minutes to make sure they don’t hurt your feet.

Apart from choosing the appropriate shoes, you should also exercise your feet. Contrary to what you may believe, using them does not necessarily mean you already have exercised them. Exercise your feet at the end of the day to achieve ultimate relaxation.

To avoid any fungal infection and eliminate bad odor, you should bathe your feet every day. While we usually spend lavish time in cleaning our face and body, we oftentimes fail to give the same attention to our feet. During bath, remove dead skin at your feet with a pumice stone or loofah.

You may also conduct daily footbath at the end of every exhausting day. Start by taking a basin of warm water. Add salt and soak your feet in the solution for a few minutes. Pat dry your feet. Make sure you dry it thoroughly, as fungi thrive on wet places. You may apply foot powder afterwards, as well.

To further give relief to your tired feet and help reduce swelling, it is also recommended to put them up daily against a wall. Lie down and raise your feet for at least 15 minutes.

It is also good to treat your feet to a pedicure twice a month to prevent dry nails and ingrown. If you have extra cash to spare, why don’t you indulge in a foot spa to achieve ultimate relaxation? Remember, your feet are among the most used body parts so it doesn’t hurt to put a little bit of extra care with them.

How to Get Rid of Smelly Feet

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Isn’t it embarrassing situation to remove your shoes and socks at the end of a very long day and noticing that people around you cringe their noses while a very foul odor fills the room, only to discover later that the source of the offending smell is your very own two feet. Yup, it is very embarrassing.

A foul smelling foot is usually caused by the sweat and bacteria which accumulated in the foot especially when wearing closed shoes. The closed shoes do not allow air to circulate on the foot nor for sweat to be released. Also, the temperature inside the shoes allows bacteria to propagate; thus the odor. Bad odor may also be caused by poor foot hygiene. For example, not washing the foot regularly and before wearing shoes may increase bacteria. To avoid smelly feet, the following may be done.

Keep feet clean and dry. Cleanliness and good hygiene is still the best defense against bad odor.

Talcum powder and cornstarch helps minimize odor. Apply some to your feet after washing. You may also use foot products such as foot wash and foot lotion containing talc or cornstarch. Also, you may sprinkle them inside your shoes before wearing them or keeping them.

Keep your socks and shoes clean and dry. Change socks everyday. If your shoes are made of materials that may be washed, wash them regularly then let them dry properly under the sun.

For shoes that may not be washed, you can leave them under the sun too to get rid of odor left inside.

Do not wear closed shoes without wearing socks, especially if the shoe is made of leather. The skin of the foot when directly against the material of the shoe produces more sweat. The socks shield the feet from direct contact from the shoe and from any bacteria which might have accumulated inside from previous use.

Avoid using other people’s shoes especially of you do not know them well. They might have very bad feet and shoe hygiene.

Do not only one pair of shoes everyday. Have two to three alternate walking shoes available. This way, there will be time left for each pair to dry of accumulated sweat, expel accumulated odor. It will also prevent accumulation of bacteria inside the shoes.

The feet are among the most important parts of the body as they help us move from one place to another. It is, therefore, important to give the right care for them to keep them healthy and fragrant all the time.

Aromatherapy: Inhaling Your Way to Cure and Prevention

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Sometimes, it takes more than clinical pills and medicines to cure a disease or prevent it from coming back. The use of herbal oils for massage and/or aromatherapy could be a great alternative in curing or preventing a person from usual diseases.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy has been around for decades as the art of holistic healing of the mind and body. This natural method basically uses highly potent oils derived from particular flowers, plants, and trees through a steam distilling process.

The chemistry of an essential oil may be made up of hundreds of components like terpenes, alcohol, and esters. These oils have minute yet strong molecular structures and are easily absorbed by the body through inhalation or direct contact to the skin. The healing process begins when these oils enter the bloodstream and get infused with the body’s chemistry.

Aromatherapy Oils

The following is a short list of the essential oils often used in aromatherapy.

Chamomile. Chamomile oil is native to western and southern Europe and cultivated in countries like France, Hungary, US, and Belgium. Chamomile contains anti-anemic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, hypnotic, and analgesic properties. It can cure acne, burns, insomnia, stress-related disorders, PMS, earache, and headache.

Eucalyptus. Aside from being the favorite food of koala bears, the eucalyptus is also famous for its medicinal properties. It is known as an expectorant, diuretic, stimulant, prophylactic, antiseptic, and analgesic. Because of this, it is good for blisters, burns, chicken pox, insect bites and stings, cold sores, arthritis, and muscular pain. It is native to Australia and Tasmania, but is cultivated in Russia, Portugal, Spain, China, and California.

Lemongrass. Because of its cleaning and antidepressant properties, lemongrass is believed to help cure scabies, insufficient milk in mothers, indigestion, fever, and poor blood circulation. Lemongrass is native to Asia.

Lavender. Native to the Mediterranean part of Europe, Lavender has anti-microbial, antispasmodic, and anticonvulsive properties that help cure allergies, athlete’s foot, asthma, insomnia, colic, and nausea.

Jasmine. Jasmine is good for laryngitis, depression, labor pains, and stress, owing to its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, analgesic, and antidepressant properties. It is native to India, China, and the Middle East, but is cultivated worldwide.

Basil. Basil is known as an antiseptic, antidepressant, and antispasmodic substance. It can cure respiratory disorders, colds, flu, depression, muscular pain, and stress. It is native to Asia and the Middle East.

Bergamot. Bergamot has properties that make it an effective laxative, diuretic, stimulant, antitoxic, and antidepressant substance. It can cure cystitis, colds, flu, depression, and PMS. The oil is produced in Italy, but the plant is native to Asia.

The list doesn’t end here. There are more essential oils available out there that could suit your mood and your needs. So go ahead and inhale your way to cure and prevention through aromatherapy.

The Origin of Aromatherapy

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Aromatherapy was discovered more than 5,000 years ago.

Two Phases of Aromatherapy

Its origin can be divided into two phases. The first phase is the discovery of preservative. Man needed to preserve meat and thus, herbs were utilized. In the process of experimenting and extracting the herbs’ juices and oils as preservative, man was also able to accidentally come across the use of such extracts for treating ailments through ingestion and through smell.

The second phase involved the Egyptians and is responsible for aromatherapy as it is used today. In ancient Egypt, people utilized oils from aromatic plants for various purposes such as medicine, embalming and for aesthetics.

Other ancient civilizations also utilized aromatic oils.

To the Greeks, who followed the footsteps of the Egyptians in this particular field, can be attributed the discovery of categorizing flowers and their scents either as having relaxing effect or for their stimulating properties. Furthermore, they discovered that by mixing olive oil, aroma is better preserved. This base oil is today known as the carrier oil which is mixed with the essential oils. Essential oils are concentrates and may be too strong on the skin if not diluted with a “carrier” and may thus further irritate the skin.

Various Types of Carrier Oils

Today, we have a variety of carrier oils.

  • Soya is known for its Vitamin E content and is thus perfect for additionally making the skin soft and hydrated.
  • Sunflower oil is enjoyed for its light wave of smell reminiscent of nuts.
  • Wheatgerm oil has loads of Vitamins such as A, B, C and E. It is said to be best combined with lavender to counter the carrier’s strong smell and for best results for skin problems like stretch marks and acne.
  • Almond oil is used primarily for the nails, skin and hair to make them smooth and strong.
  • Apricot oil is light and utilized for its anti-aging qualities.
  • Avocado oil is a viscose oil best for countering dryness of skin
  • Grapeseed oil should be applied with the essential oils for those with oily skin.

The Romans, in turn, acquired knowledge of aromatic oils from the Greeks. Their contributions in aromatherapy are bath salts and massage oils.

Aromatherapy in Asia and Europe

Moving on to Asia and the Arab nations, aromatic oils were also popular in India, ancient China and Arabia. For the Chinese, it involved using the oils in massages and acupressure. In addition, they also used it to honor their gods. In India, they used oils also for aromatic massages.

The monks are also known for growing herbs for their oils, medicines, and teas. Thus, during the Middle Ages, people traveled to monasteries to acquire such aromatic oils. They were especially useful for burns and for preventing the spread of diseases and infections.

The ancient Chinese both used acupuncture and herbal medicines in treating different illnesses. They were the early believers of life after death, through alchemy. Thus, they burned incense and soaked themselves in oil because they believed the aromatic smell held power for them to achieve immortality.

In 1972, during the Great Bubonic Plague in France, the perfumers were believed to be immune from the disease after drenching themselves with the perfumes. With the spread of this theory, four thieves in Marseilles stole a prophylactic mixture of aromatic oils and acetic acid (vinegar) and rubbed it all over their body before exposure to victims. This is how the famous term “Four Thieves’ Vinegar” came about. It was believed to have saved the lives of those still uninfected with the plague.

What is Aromatheraphy?

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Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils extracted from plants, trees, herbs, grasses, leaves and fruits for healing, relaxing, balancing the mind and other therapeutic purposes. It exploits the sense of smell as one of our most powerful senses. It goes on from the belief that what we smell greatly affects how we feel. Research shows that smell is the most acute of our senses and whatever we smell has a powerful influence on our bodies and minds.

The use of concentrated, fragrant extracts from plants, trees, herbs, grasses, leaves and fruits for medicinal and therapeutic purposes has been practiced by people from a thousand years ago. However, it was only in 1982, when the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefose first used it that the word aromatheraphy was coined. Gattefose first encountered the use of these essential oils during the First World War when he used it to treat wounds. He continued exploring the properties and the use of these oils after the war and published a book on the subject where he classified the different scents according to its property.

As it name implies, aromatheraphy is primarily done through smell therapy. However, these essential oils are primarily absorbed by the body through the skin as massage oil. It may also be absorbed through the lungs after inhalation. To inhale you may fill a basin with steaming water, add a few drops of oil and breathe in the fragrant fumes. You may also smell directly from the bottle or through a handkerchief. Inhalation may also happen by putting a few drops of oil into your bath. Many people consider massage as the most effective method of aromatheraphy.

Today, aromatherapy has become a specialized branch of herbal medicine. There are now approximately 40 different essential oils, each having its own purpose, used by practitioners singly or in combination in treatment. It is now an established branch of healing that there are now practitioners specializing in aromatherapy. However, aromatherapy, as a method, does not stand alone. It is usually done in combination with other forms of more established treatment or therapy.

Benefits of Aromatherapy Oils

There are many benefits which may be derived from aromatherapy. Oil for aromatherapy has healing qualities that can be anti-inflammatory. It has the ability to improve circulation, flexibility, well-being and ability to unwind. It makes you stronger and healthier by stimulating the immune system, circulatory system or the nervous system. It can influence individuals’ mood, emotions alertness. Most essential oils evoke calmness, increase energy, and relieve stress. The effect varies depending on the aromatherapy oil you use, either alone or in combination.

Some of the most common oils used and their benefits include the following:

  • Basil fights depression and relieves headache and nervous tension
  • Chamomile helps in teething, diarrhea and other digestive problems; relieves insomnia and tension; and cures some undesirable skin conditions
  • Eucalyptus and wintergreen oils relieve congestion, cool and deodorize the body
  • Jasmine helps in depression and nervous tension
  • Lavender treats burns and promotes healing; reduces anxiety, tension and depression; and improves sleep
  • Rosemary helps relieve flu, pain, muscle tension , fatigue, and headache
  • Thyme is a good antiviral and antibiotic oil that cures certain skin conditions

Additional benefits of these oils are that they leave the body quickly and they leave no toxins. Whatever oil is left in the body is dispelled through urine, feces or perspiration. Aromatherapy is seldom used as a primary mode of treatment. Most of the time, it is used as a complementary treatment with more conventional methods.

The Difference between Chiropractic Adjustment and Massage Therapy

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In today’s fast-paced world, people have the propensity to go for practices that promote instant cure to their ailments and conditions, regardless of the long term effects of these so called cures. It is unfortunate that, mainstream medicine, as we know it, is based on such practices. It prescribes drugs, developed to provide immediate relief to the patients’ conditions but are mostly treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause of the health condition. Since these drugs are developed in the laboratory, they are mostly synthetic and may bring about some side effects to the body. Surgery, the other important tool of modern medicine in treating diseases, is highly invasive and not natural.

Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy

Alternative or complementary medicine options have gained popularity among people who prefer natural methods in the treatment of illnesses. Chiropractic care and massage therapy are among them. They are both undoubtedly effective as health care options in providing relief for pain and aches and in facilitating the healing and preventing certain health conditions and illnesses. They are both considered holistic care and employ manual methods and do not prescribe drugs or surgery in the treatment and care process.

Both chiropractic and massage therapy trace their origins in Ancient China and the Middle East. Massage therapy has been traced to records and artwork in Egypt as early as 2330 BC. It is also believed to have been a popular form of treatment for medical conditions in China From 722 to 481 BC. Chiropractic care was also a therapy used in medicinal practice in Ancient China and Greece. Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived from 460 to 357 BC, mentioned in his writings about the importance of chiropractic adjustments and massage in the treatment of health conditions. He also emphasized the need for physicians at that time to study and get the knowledge about the spine to heal many diseases.

In the modern era, developments such as the advent of penicillin and other medicines called “miracle drugs” led to the decline in the popularity of natural methods of treating diseases, including chiropractic care and massage therapy.

Recently, peoples’ awareness of the importance of natural methods in body’s healing process and the risks associated with drugs and invasive methods is causing resurgence in the chiropractic and massage therapies in treating illnesses.

Differences between Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Adjustments

If you feel any pain or aches or have reasons to believe that there is a developing illness in your body, which of these two care options will you choose? It is best to know the differences between these two methods to get the most benefit from the therapy you will choose.

Massage therapy is best employed for pain or stiffness of the muscles. There are many styles and techniques in massaging muscles and connective tissues. The manipulation of soft tissues is however the main focus of massage therapy. All these different styles aim to improve the circulation and flexibility, activate the nervous system, enhance the healing of tissues, and bring about relaxation. Through massage therapy, lymphatic fluids are moved, circulation to the area of the body being treated is increased, and the increase of lactic acid that usually causes pain and spasms is controlled. Some of the techniques the massage therapist can use for the relief of sore muscles, for example, are pressure point massage, deep tissue massage and long strokes.

Neuromusculoskelatal care is the primary target of chiropractic care. Spinal manipulation to correct misalignments in the spine, called subluxations, is generally done by chiropractors. Manual force or pressure is applied to the joints to be able to bring the bones and joints into their proper alignment and position. Examples of spine-related conditions that chiropractic adjustments can be most useful in are slipped disc, pinched sciatic nerve, or sciatica, or joint pains. Chiropractors also hold that most illnesses and symptoms are associated with spinal nerve interferences and all can be addressed by the body’s natural healing ability when the nervous system is kept healthy through chiropractic care.

There is more to health care than just medications and invasive methods of treatment. Chiropractic care and massage therapy are two of the effective options that can be relied upon to aid in relieving aches and pains and preventing illnesses in a natural way.

How Chiropractic Care and Massage Work Together

Chiropractor touching the back of woman while standing in a medical room

Many ailments and symptoms can be treated and prevented without the use of drugs and surgery. Two of the most effective ways to be able to do this is through chiropractic care and massage therapy.

Chiropractic care aims to promote the general health of the individual through the correction of disorders in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems using manipulative adjustments in the spine, primarily. When used as a health care option, it can bring about relief in a lot of symptoms such as back pain, leg pain, headaches and migraines, neck pain, fatigue, injuries from accidents, bone problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, and extreme pain of the wrist, shoulder knee or hip. Chiropractic holds that maintaining a healthy nervous system can be the key to preventive health and a higher quality of life.

Massage therapy, like chiropractic care, is a hands-on technique that does not use drug or surgery. It is focused in the manipulation of soft tissues to relieve pain and muscle stiffness. Through massage therapy, circulation is improved, the nervous system is stimulated and tissues are healed, bringing about relaxation. There are different techniques in massage therapy. Among them are long strokes, deep tissue massage, and point massage.

Aside from utilizing natural, drug-free techniques, both chiropractic care and massage therapy offer holistic care. In chiropractic care, all necessary options in the relief of symptoms or health condition and total body healing are availed of. Chiropractors offer nutritional and lifestyle advice and recommend and supervise appropriate exercise program. They even go to the extent of recommending other complementary therapies, including massage. Many chiropractic offices in fact offer massage therapy service.

Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy

When employed together, chiropractic care and massage therapy can even be more powerful in the treatment of many health conditions. Here are some of the extra benefits that chiropractic care and massage therapy can bring to the patient:

  • Shorter recovery time – Many injuries and health conditions affect the spine and soft tissues, along with other supporting structures. Patients who are subjected to both chiropractic and massage therapies are likely to get the benefit of a quicker recovery form these treatment methods.
  • Easier chiropractic adjustments – The use of massage decreases muscle tension and allows relaxation, facilitating easier and more successful spinal adjustments.
    Improved range of motion – In some injury cases, it is not just the pain that is a concern with the patient, but reduced range of motion, as well. The goal of chiropractic care is to improve the patient’s comfort and range of motion. Massage therapy will also help in the improvement of the patient’s mobility and flexibility especially if the affected areas are muscles, ligaments and soft tissues.
  • Enhanced circulation – Circulation in the patient’s body is improved from the enhanced blood flow and relief of lactic acid buildup, two important benefits of the massage techniques. Chiropractic adjustments, on the other hand, help relieve nerve pressure from subluxations.
  • Good posture – Chiropractic care and massage therapy can work together and help bring about improved posture. Between the two techniques, ergonomics, exercise and muscle relaxation may be employed to improve the patient’s posture.
    Better pain management – Pain in the different parts of the body caused by joints, muscles and soft tissues such as from arthritis and fibromyalgia can be better managed through a combination of massage and chiropractic care.
    Better health and wellness – While chiropractic care by itself is a good model of preventive health and wellness, massage therapy can further complement it. People who receive chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy are bound to have reduced levels of stress and increased energy.

Chiropractic care and massage therapy are natural health care options to relieve pain and help the body heal. They are drugless, non-invasive and effective when utilized on their own, independently for appropriate conditions. When used together, they can offer even more amazing results.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Risks and Diagnosis

carpal_tunnel_diagram_600_px_03Some people are more prone to developing carpal tunnel syndrome than others. It may be because of a congenital predisposition or exposure to certain kinds of activities which promote the condition.

Who is at Risk?

Generally, women are naturally more prone to developing the disorder than men because they have smaller carpal tunnels. Thus, they are observed to be three times more likely to develop the condition than their men counterparts.

On the other hand, it has been observed that certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or other metabolic disorders, make people more susceptible to compression of the median nerve, which makes them at high risk of developing the condition. Based on industry, on the other hand, it cannot be categorically declared that people within a single industry are especially prone to the condition, although more from those performing assembly line work are found to have developed it. These people include those who are involved in manufacturing, sewing, finishing, cleaning and packing. Fortunately for children, they need not worry about carpal tunnel syndrome yet, for the condition is found mostly in adults only.

Early Diagnosis and Treatment

The effects of carpal tunnel syndrome are enough to scare one off from getting the condition. Thus, one should appreciate the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment. These are necessary to prevent permanent damage to the median nerve.

Diagnosis can be made by having a medical doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor make a physical examination on the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck of the patient. This physical examination includes tests for tenderness, swelling, and discoloration. Moreover, the examination should be made with a view of determining whether the complaints of the patient are related to daily activities or to an underlying disorder. This way, the doctor can rule out other painful conditions which only mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, the physician can perform routine laboratory tests which can reveal other relevant medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and fractures.

There are basically two tests used to determine whether a person has carpal tunnel syndrome or not.  The first one is called the Tinel test, where the doctor presses on the median nerve in the patient’s wrist, looking for any reaction which signifies shock-like sensation on the patient. If it does, then he has carpal tunnel syndrome. The second test is called the Phalen test, wherein the doctor will instruct the patient to hold his forearms upright. This can be done by pointing the fingers down, and the pressing the back side of both hands together. A positive diagnosis is confirmed if the patient feels one or more symptoms within one minute of doing the position.The diagnosis is then confirmed using electrodiagnostic tests, which utilize small electric shocks to determine the condition of the median nerve.

Your Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment

Anterior view of wrist comparing a healthy carpal tunnel with a compressed median nerve in the carpal tunnel; AMuscsk_20140312_v0_003; SOURCE: ortho_carp-tun-rel-endo_anat.ai; AMuscsk_20140312_v0_003_Layers.psd

As soon as a person has been diagnosed as having carpal tunnel syndrome, treatment should begin.  Treatment will depend on the state of the carpal tunnel syndrome, and the factors which caused it. If, for example, the condition is brought about by underlying medical conditions, say arthritis or diabetes for example, these underlying causes must be treated first before treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome itself is begun.

 

Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Treatment

 

Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is either through surgical or non-surgical means. However, before undergoing either of these, there are preliminary actions which must be made, with a view of minimizing the damage on the affected hands or wrists. These include resting the affected wrist and hand for not less than two weeks and avoiding strenuous activities which could worsen the symptoms. Sometimes, there might be a need to completely immobilize the wrist using a splint or a bandage to prevent further damage.

 

Medication

 

For people who had their carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed early and therefore experienced only minor symptoms, they can afford to escape surgical treatments and settle with non-surgical options. Among the non-surgical treatments is taking medication which eases the pain brought about by the condition, such as non-prescription pain relief medicines. One could also take drugs which reduce inflammation or swelling, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or orally administered diuretics.

 

Regular Exercise

 

Another good option is to exercise regularly. Particularly, stretching exercises can help people who have decreased symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is better to get a physical therapist to supervise one while exercising, so that he can be sure that his exercises are done with a view of treating the condition.

 

Alternative Medicine

 

There are also treatments that belong to alternative medicine which are believed to reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. While the effectiveness of these alternative methods has not yet been completely proven, a lot of cases showed how beneficial and successful they are to some patients. These alternative therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic care, and yoga. All these approaches help minimize pain and increase grip strength among people with the condition.

 

Surgical Operations

 

The last set of options involves undergoing surgery; the most common procedure of which is called the carpal tunnel release. The procedure involves separating the band of tissue located around the wrist to lessen the pressure that is felt by the median nerve. This is recommended for patients who have felt the symptoms for six months, in which case the carpal tunnel syndrome could be considered of an advanced stage already.

 

There are other kinds of surgical operations designed to reduce pressure on the median nerve and therefore alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, the important thing to note is that treatment will not end there, despite the fact that there might be immediate relief after surgery. Physical therapy is suggested for patients because they still need to regain their wrist strength and make necessary adjustments in their usual activities.