10 Home remedies for Shingles

When adults have extremely itchy or painful lesions across their torso or face, the diagnosis may be shingles. It is essential that people with this condition visit a doctor for treatment, but some home remedies can help to relieve symptoms.

In the United States, there are up to one million estimated cases of shingles every year. Shingles refers to the reactivation of the dormant herpes varicella zoster virus after childhood. Aging, trauma, stress, or another illness can all activate the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend seeking medical advice as soon as any symptoms appear.

Natural remedies

Some of these remedies may relieve pain and itchiness and improve healing:

1. Essential oils

People have used essential oils as herbal remedies for many years, often for skin conditions.

Some essential oils have properties that may help with skin irritation and healing These oils include:

Chamomile oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can improve ulcers and pressure sores by aiding skin-cell regeneration.

Eucalyptus oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can increase the speed at which cancer patients sores heal.

Tea tree oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can promote wound healing.

2. Cold compresses

Holding cool cloths or compresses against the rash site may assist in relieving itchiness and reducing inflammation.

People can lightly soak a natural cotton cloth or towel with cool water and wring it out before placing it on sore, itchy areas. They can then repeat this as necessary.

It is also best not to expose the skin to extreme temperatures, so people should avoid using ice baths or very hot water. Hot water will increase blood flow and potentially slow down the healing of sores, whereas ice will increase skin sensitivity.

3. Witch hazel

Researchers believe that witch hazel is more effective than chamomile for reducing inflammation and itchiness in some individuals.

It is possible to purchase witch hazel in a variety of forms, the most common of which are creams or witch hazel water. Many witch hazel creams are available online (visit Vivoderm.com).

People can apply witch hazel topically to areas of irritation and inflammation to achieve relief.

4. Cool baths

Taking cool baths or showers every day, with minimal scrubbing, will help to keep sores and blisters clean and reduce the risk of infection.

Cool water should also relieve sore and itchy spots, helping to prevent scratching, which could cause scarring.

5. Oat baths

Some studies suggest that oat extract may moisten dry skin and soothe sensitive and inflamed skin.

The FDA have approved colloidal oatmeal as a safe and effective treatment. Colloidal oat products usually exclude oat protein to prevent allergic reactions.

The active ingredients that help reduce inflammation include flavonoids and saponins. People can use oat products in a cool bath to help relieve pain and itchiness.

6. Gentiana scabra

Researchers have found that Gentiana scabra, a blue or purple flower occurring throughout North America, has a positive effect on pain relief in shingles and decreases the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia.

By reducing inflammation in the skin, Gentiana scabra minimizes pain and promotes healing. A reputable Chinese medicine practitioner can prepare the herbal formula by boiling the plant in water. People can then take the remedy orally

7. Diet

A healthful diet is vital for preventing and fighting illness.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a varied diet comprising many vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains as well as legumes, nuts, and lean meats.

People should aim to include orange, red, and green foods that contain the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and provitamin A in their diet. Carotenoids are very important for immune function, and occur in the following foods:

  • orange foods: carrot, pumpkin, and apricot
  • red foods: watermelon, red pepper, grapefruit, and cherry
  • green foods: kale, parsley, spinach, melon, lettuce, and endive

Limiting trans and saturated fats, and avoiding added sugar and salt where possible can also reduce inflammation and improve immune function.

8. Vitamin supplements

Healthy individuals should not need to take supplements. However, individuals who are immune-compromised and over the age of 50 should consider supplementation to maintain good health and strong immunity.

There is a link between vitamin D and immune function. Many older people are at risk of low vitamin D levels, so they must ensure that they get sufficient sun exposure or take supplements to protect their immunity.

Taking vitamin C, zinc, and selenium supplements can also improve immunity in older adults.

However, taking high doses of vitamins and minerals can do more harm than good. Multivitamins, which contain lower and safer levels of many vitamins and minerals, are usually a better option.

9. Quit smoking

Smoking offers no health benefits and is always harmful. It is vital to quit smoking as it increases the risk of many cancers and diseases.

Smoking lowers immunity against infection, especially in older people, and can delay recovery and healing.

10. Reduce stress

Using meditation to relax and trying to rest when possible may help to reduce the symptoms of stress.

Know your brain. Left And Right brain.

7 things you didn’t know about your brain

The brain — the central “control unit” of our bodies, repository of memories and emotions. Throughout history, philosophers have believed that the brain may even house that intangible essence that makes us human: the soul. What should we know about our brains?

The main organ of the human nervous system, the brain manages most of our bodies activities and processes information received from both outside and inside the body and is the very seat of our emotions and cognitive abilities, including thought, long- and short-term memory, and decision-making.

The first mention of this organ was recorded in an Ancient Egyptian medical treatise known as the “Edwin Smith surgical papyrus,” after the man who discovered this document in the 1800s.

Since then, our understanding of the brain has expanded immeasurably, although still we contend with many mysteries surrounding this key organ.

In this Spotlight, we look at some of the most important facts we have uncovered about the brain — and some aspects that remain to be understood.

1. How big are our brains?

Brain size varies widely, depending largely on age, sex, and overall body mass. However, studies have suggested that the adult male brain weighs, on average, about 1,336 grams, whereas the adult female brain weighs around 1,198 grams.

In terms of dimensions, the human brain isn’t the largest. Of all mammals, the sperm whale — an underwater denizen weighing an impressive 35–45 tons — is known to have the biggest brain. But, of all the animals on Earth, human brains have the largest number of neurons, which are specialized cells that store and transmit information by electrical and chemical signals.Traditionally, it has been said that the human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, but recent investigations have questioned the veracity of that number. Instead, Brazilian neuroscientist has discovered that the number is closer to 86 billion neurons.

2. What makes a brain?

The human brain makes up, alongside the spinal chord, the central nervous system. The brain itself has three main parts:

The brain is globular in shape and made of soft tissue.

  • the brainstem, which, like a plant’s shoot, is elongated, and which connects the rest of the brain with the spinal chord
  • the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain and which is deeply involved in regulating movement, motor learning, and maintaining equilibrium
  • the cerebrum, which is the largest part of our brains and fills up most of the skull; it houses the cerebral cortex (that has a left and a right hemisphere separated by a long groove) and other, smaller structures, all of which are variously responsible for conscious thought, decision-making, memory and learning processes, communication, and perception of external and internal stimuli

Brains are made of soft tissue, which includes gray and white matter, containing the nerve cells, non-neuronal cells (which help to maintain neurons and brain health), and small blood vessels.

They have a high water content as well as a large amount (nearly 60 percent) of fat.

The brain of the modern-day human — Homo sapiens sapiens — is globular, unlike the brains of other early hominids, which were slightly elongated at the back. This shape, research suggests, may have developed in Homo sapiens about 40,000–50,000 years ago. 

3. How ‘hungry’ are our brains?

Despite the fact that the human brain is not a very large organ, its functioning requires a whole lot of energy.

“Although the [human] brain weighs only 2 percent of the body [mass], it alone uses 25 percent of all the energy that your body requires to run per day,” Herculano-Houzel explained in a presentation.

And why does the brain need so much “fuel?” Based on studies of rat models, some scientists have hypothesized that, while most of this energy is expended on maintaining ongoing thought and bodily processes, some of it is probably invested in the upkeep of brain cells’ health.

But, according to some researchers, at first sight, the brain, seemingly inexplicably, uses up a lot of energy during what is known as the “resting state,” when it is not involved in any specific, targeted activities.

According to James Kozloski, “Inactivity correlated networks appear even under anesthesia, and these areas have very high metabolic rates, tipping the brain’s energy budget toward a large investment in the organism’s doing nothing,” he writes.

But Kozloski’s hypothesis is that no large amount of energy is spent for no reason — so why does the brain seem to do it? In fact, he says, it doesn’t.

Energy spent “doing nothing,” he says, is actually put toward assembling a “map” of accumulating information and experiences that we can fall back on when making decisions in our day-to-day lives.

4. How much of our brains do we use?

One long-circulating myth has it that humans typically use only 10 percent of their brain capacity, suggesting that, if only we knew how to “hack into” the other 90 percent, we might be able to unlock amazing abilities.

The idea that we only use 10 percent of our brains is a myth. Actually, we use most of our brains pretty much all of the time.

While it remains unclear exactly where this myth originated and how it spread so speedily, the idea that we could somehow tap into as yet unclaimed brain power is certainly a very attractive one.

Still, nothing could be farther from the truth than this piece of urban lore. Just consider what we discussed above: even in a resting state, the brain is still active and requires energy.

Brain scans have shown that we use pretty much all of our brains all of the time, even when we’re asleep — though patterns of activity, and the intensity of that activity, might differ depending on what we’re doing and what state of wakefulness or sleep we’re in.

“Even when you’re engaged in a task and some neurons are engaged in that task, the rest of your brain is occupied doing other things, which is why, for example, the solution to a problem can emerge after you haven’t been thinking about it for a while, or after a night’s sleep, and that’s because your brain’s constantly active,” said neurologist Krish Sathian, who works at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

“If it were true that we only use 10 percent of the brain, then we could presumably sustain damage to 90 percent of our brain, with a stroke […] or something like that, and not [experience] any effects, and that’s clearly not true.”

Krish Sathian

5. Right- or left-brained?

Are you right-brained or left-brained? Any number of Internet quizzes will claim to be able to assess whether you predominantly use the right or left hemisphere of your brain.

And this has implications about your personality: allegedly, left-brained people are supposed to be more mathematically inclined and analytical, while right-brained people are more creative.

But how true is this? Once more the answer, I’m afraid, leans toward “not at all.” While it is true that each of our hemispheres has slightly different roles, individuals do not actually have a “dominant” brain side that governs their personality and abilities.

Instead, research has revealed that people use both of the brain hemispheres pretty much in equal measure.

However, what is true is that the left hemisphere of the brain is more concerned with the use of language, while the right hemisphere is applied more to the intricacies of nonverbal communication.

6. How do brains change with age?

As we age, parts of our brain begin to shrink naturally and we begin to gradually lose neurons. The frontal lobe and the hippocampus — two key brain regions in regulating cognitive processes, including memory formation and recall — start shrinking when we hit 60 or 70.

As we age, we begin to lose neurons. But new research suggests that adult brains can also generate new cells.

This means that we could naturally begin to find learning new things, or performing several tasks at the same time, more challenging than before.

There is some good news, as well, however. Till not too long ago, scientists used to believe that once we started to lose neurons, that would be it — we would be unable to create new brain cells and had to resign ourselves to that.

However, it turns out that this isn’t true. Researcher Sandrine Thuret, from King’s College London in the United Kingdom, has explained that the hippocampus is a crucial part in the adult brain in terms of generating new cells.

(And this makes sense if you consider that it plays an important role in processes of learning and memory.)

The process in which new nerve cells are created in the adult brain is called neurogenesis, and, according to Thuret, estimates suggest that an average adult human will produce “700 new neurons per day in the hippocampus.”

This, she suggests, means that when we reach middle age, we will have replaced all the neurons that we had in this brain region in the beginning of our lives with ones that we produced during adulthood.

7. Is perception ‘a controlled hallucination?’

A great mystery of the human brain is linked with consciousness and our perception of reality. The workings of consciousness have fascinated scientists and philosophers alike, and though we are slowly inching closer to an understanding of this phenomenon, much more still remains to be learned.

Anil Seth, a professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience from the University of Sussex in the U.K., who specializes in the study of consciousness, has suggested that this intriguing process is based on a sort of “controlled hallucination,” which our brains generate to make sense of the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=lyu7v7nWzfo

Study shows a partner’s touch relieves pain.

Lovers’ heartbeats and respiration patterns tend to synchronize when the partners are simply in each other’s presence. But what does the role of touch play in this synchronization, and what happens when one of the partners is experiencing pain?

Have you ever noticed that when you walk alongside your partner, your steps tend to synchronize? Or that when you speak to a close friend, you tend to adopt the same posture as them?
The scientific name for this is “behavioral synchrony,” and it refers to the human ability to synch up with other people for the sake of living in a society.
Some studies have shown that people are not only able to synchronize their behavior, but that they can also sync up their physiology.
“Interpersonal synchronization” can manifest in various ways. For example, when people watch the same movie, their brain activity synchronizes. Similarly, when lovers stare into each other’s eyes, their hearts quite literally beat as one.
New research carried out by scientists at University of Colorado (CU) Boulder explores the role of touch in driving interpersonal synchronization in the context of pain.
The team was led by Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder, and the findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Studying pain and touch in couples
Dr. Goldstein and colleagues gathered 22 heterosexual couples for their study, who were all aged between 23 and 32.
The researchers asked the couples to participate in a range of tests that replicated the experience of being in a delivery room.
The female participants were assigned the role of “pain receiver,” while the men were “pain observers.”
Dr. Goldstein and team recorded the participants’ respiration rates and heartbeats using an electrocardiogram under both pain and no pain conditions, as well as in both touch and no touch conditions.
Under the no pain condition, the couples either sat together without touching, sat together while holding hands, or were in separate rooms. In the pain scenario, all three situations were repeated, but the woman was subjected to “mild heat pain” for 2 minutes.
Touch restores synchronicity, eases pain
The study confirmed previous findings and showed that couples do synchronize physiologically just by being in each other’s company.
When the woman was subjected to pain and her partner did not touch her, that physiological coupling was considerably diminished. However, when the male partner held her hand, heart rates and respiration rates synched up again, and the woman’s pain was reduced. Additionally, holding hands increased the male partner’s empathy.
Overall, touch seems to play a key role in interpersonal synchronization, as it increased physiological coupling regardless of whether the woman was in pain or not.
This confirms Dr. Goldstein’s previous research, in which he showed that the more empathetic a man is toward a woman, the less pain the woman feels.
It appears that the more physiologically synched we are, the more our pain subsides. However, the researchers do not know whether lower-intensity pain increases interpersonal synchronicity, or whether it is the other way around.
“It could be that touch is a tool for communicating empathy, resulting in an analgesic, or pain-killing, effect,” Dr. Goldstein says. Interpersonal coupling may also enhance the analgesic effects of touch using the autonomic nervous system, the authors hypothesize.
Dr. Goldstein also supposes that interpersonal synchronization may affect a brain region called the anterior cingulate cortex, which has been associated with decision-making, social interactions, pain perception both in oneself and in others, and empathy.
But more research is needed, he concedes, to understand the precise mechanism by which a partner’s touch helps to diminish pain.
Limitations of the study include the fact that it did not examine same-sex couples or the effect of touch on men experiencing pain.

Early-life asthma may contribute to childhood obesity

Asthma affects millions of children in the United States, and so does obesity. A new study may have found a link between the two, as early-life asthma may contribute to the development of childhood obesity.

New research suggests that asthma may increase the risk of childhood obesity.
It is estimated that asthma affects around 1 in 10 U.S. children.
As for childhood obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 12.7 million children in the U.S. – or approximately 17 percent – are obese.
Childhood obesity and asthma are often found to occur together, but existing research has not yet clarified whether asthma actually contributes to the childhood obesity “epidemic.”
New research from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles aims to fill this research gap by examining the effects of asthma and asthma medication on childhood obesity.

Assessing the link between early-life asthma and childhood obesity
The researchers examined the medical records of 2,171 non-obese children between 5-8 years old.
These children were enrolled in the Southern California Children’s Health Study (CHS) and were clinically followed for 10 years.
CHS is a large-scale, long-term, detailed study of the lasting effects of air pollution on the respiratory and metabolic health of children.
The USC researchers examined 10 years’ worth of data collected in the CHS, and they also performed a replication analysis on an independent sample of 2,684 CHS children. This latter cohort was followed from the average age of 9.7 years to 17.8 years.
During this time, researchers measured the children’s height and weight annually, categorizing them into normal, overweight, and obese. Children were deemed overweight or obese if their body mass index (BMI) was at or above the 85th and 95th percentile, respectively, compared with the BMI standards set by the CDC.
Researchers team assessed the children’s asthma using the physician’s diagnosis as reported by the children or by their parents.
The parents also filled in complex questionnaires on sociodemographic factors and smoking exposure at home or in utero, as well as physical activity patterns and history of respiratory illness.
The scientists used Cox regression to evaluate the associations between asthma and the incidence of obesity during the follow-up period.
Children with asthma 51 percent more likely to become obese
At the beginning of the study, over 18 percent of the children were overweight and over 13 percent had been diagnosed with asthma.
During the follow-up period, 15.8 percent of children developed obesity.
After statistical adjustments, the researchers found that early childhood asthma did contribute to the development of obesity in subsequent years, mainly during early childhood and adolescence.
Compared with non-obese, asthma-free children, the non-obese children who did have asthma were 51 percent more likely to develop obesity during follow-up. The results stayed the same following sociodemographic adjustments and adjustments for other variables.
Additionally, children with a history of wheezing were at a 42 percent higher risk of developing obesity.
The age of asthma onset did not seem to influence the obesity risk.
Regarding the link between the use of asthma medications and obesity, the researchers made another interesting discovery. They found that the use of asthma rescue medications, such as an asthma inhaler, significantly lowered the risk of obesity. These results were independent of physical activity.

Significance of the study
The authors note that theirs is one of the few studies to link early-life asthma with an increased risk of developing obesity.
Some of the study’s limitations include the fact that the information was self-reported, and that the scientists did not have access to sufficient information regarding diet or physical activity patterns.
Frank Gilliland, the study’s senior author, points out that a combination of asthma and obesity can trigger other metabolic diseases in adulthood, including prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Children who have asthma are often overweight or obese, but the scientific literature has not been able to say asthma causes obesity.
However, our study and that of others support the finding that having asthma in early childhood may lead to increased risk of childhood obesity.

Although it could be that the respiratory problems prevent children with asthma from playing and exercising as much as healthy children, it is interesting, the authors note, that this study accounted for physical activity yet still showed these results.
Early diagnosis and treatment of asthma may help prevent the childhood obesity epidemic. Part of the problem may be a vicious cycle where asthma and obesity negatively affect each other. Our results also suggest that asthma inhalers may help prevent obesity in children. Although this observation warrants further study, it is interesting that the correlation exists irrespective of physical activity and other asthma medication use.

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