Prostate cancer in detail

Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, the gland that produces some of the fluid in semen and plays a role in urine control in men.

The prostate gland is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

In the United States, it is the most common cancer in men, but it is also treatable if found in the early stages.

In 2017, the American Cancer Society predicts that there will be around 161,360 new diagnoses of prostate cancer, and that around 26,730 fatalities will occur because of it.

Regular testing is crucial as the cancer needs to be diagnosed before metastasis.

Fast facts on prostate cancer:

Here are some key points about the prostate cancer. More detail is in the main article.

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.

It is treatable if diagnosed early, before it spreads.

If symptoms appear, they include problems with urination.

Regular screening Is the best way to detect it in good time.

Symptoms

There are usually no symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer. However, if symptoms do appear, they usually involve one or more of the following:

  • frequent urges to urinate, including at night
  • difficulty commencing and maintaining urination
  • blood in the urine
  • painful urination and, less commonly, ejaculation
  • difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection may be difficult

Advanced prostate cancer can involve the following symptoms:

  • bone pain, often in the spine, femur, pelvis, or ribs
  • bone fractures

If the cancer spreads to the spine and compresses the spinal cord, there may be:

  • leg weakness
  • urinary incontinence
  • fecal incontinence

Treatment

Treatment is different for early and advanced prostate cancers.

Early stage prostate cancer

If the cancer is small and localized, it is usually managed by one of the following treatments:

Watchful waiting or monitoring: PSA blood levels are regularly checked, but there is no immediate action. The risk of side-effects sometimes outweighs the need for immediate treatment for this slow-developing cancer.

Radical prostatectomy: The prostate is surgically removed. Traditional surgery requires a hospital stay of up to 10 days, with a recovery time of up to 3 months. Robotic keyhole surgery involves a shorter hospitalization and recovery period, but it can be more expensive. Patients should speak to their insurer about coverage.

Brachytherapy: Radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate to deliver targeted radiation treatment.

Conformal radiation therapy: Radiation beams are shaped so that the region where they overlap is as close to the same shape as the organ or region that requires treatment. This minimizes healthy tissue exposure to radiation.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy: Beams with variable intensity are used. This is an advanced form of conformal radiation therapy.

In the early stages, patients may receive radiation therapy combined with hormone therapy for 4 to 6 months.

Treatment recommendations depend on individual cases. The patient should discuss all available options with their urologist or oncologist.

Advanced prostate cancer

Advanced cancer is more aggressive and will have spread further throughout the body.

Chemotherapy may be recommended, as it can kill cancer cells around the body.

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), or androgen suppression therapy, is a hormone treatment that reduces the effect of androgen. Androgens are male hormones that can stimulate cancer growth. ADT can slow down and even stop cancer growth by reducing androgen levels.

The patient will likely need long-term hormone therapy.

Even if the hormone therapy stops working after a while, there may be other options. Participation in clinical trials is one option that a patient may wish to discuss with the doctor.

Radical prostatectomy is not currently an option for advanced cases, as it does not treat the cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Fertility

As the prostate is directly involved with sexual reproduction, removing it affects semen production and fertility.

Radiation therapy affects the prostate tissue and often reduces the ability to father children. The sperm can be damaged and the semen insufficient for transporting sperm.

Non-surgical options, too, can severely inhibit a man’s reproductive capacity.

Options for preserving these functions can include donating to a sperm bank before surgery, or having sperm extracted directly from the testicles for artificial insemination into an egg. However, the success of these options is never guaranteed.

Patients with prostate cancer can speak to a fertility doctor if they still intend to father children.

What causes prostate cancer?

The prostate is a walnut-sized exocrine gland. This means that it’s fluids and secretions are intended for use outside of the body.

The prostate produces the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm on their journey to fuse with a female ovum, or egg, and produce human life. The prostate contracts and forces these fluids out during orgasm.

The protein excreted by the prostate, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), helps semen retain its liquid state. An excess of this protein in the blood is one of the first signs of prostate cancer.

The urethra is tube through which sperm and urine exit the body. It also passes through the prostate.

As such, the prostate is also responsible for urine control. It can tighten and restrict the flow of urine through the urethra using thousands of tiny muscle fibers.

How does it start?

It usually starts in the glandular cells. This is known as adenocarcinoma. Tiny changes occur in the shape and size of the prostate gland cells, known as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). This tends to happen slowly and does not show symptoms until further into the progression.

Nearly 50 percent of all men over the age of 50 years have PIN. High-grade PIN is considered pre-cancerous, and it requires further investigation. Low-grade PIN is not a cause for concern.

Prostate cancer can be successfully treated if it is diagnosed before metastasis, but if it spreads, it is more dangerous. It most commonly spreads to the bones.

Stages

Staging takes into account the size and extent of the tumor and the scale of the metastasis (whether it has traveled to other organs and tissues).

At Stage 0, the tumor has neither spread from the prostate gland nor invaded deeply into it. At Stage 4, the cancer has spread to distant sites and organs.

Diagnosis

A doctor will carry out a physical examination and enquire about any ongoing medical history. If the patient has symptoms, or if a routine blood test shows abnormally high PSA levels, further examinations may be requested.

Tests may include:

  • a digital rectal examination (DRE), in which a doctor will manually check for any abnormalities of the prostate with their finger
  • a biomarker test checking the blood, urine, or body tissues of a person with cancer for chemicals unique to individuals with cancer

If these tests show abnormal results, further tests will include:

  • a PCA3 test examining the urine for the PCA3 gene only found in prostate cancer cells
  • a transrectal ultrasound scan providing imaging of the affected region using a probe that emits sounds
  • a biopsy, or the removal of 12 to 14 small pieces of tissue from several areas of the prostate for examination under a microscope

These will help confirm the stage of the cancer, whether it has spread, and what treatment is appropriate.

To track any spread, or metastasis, doctors may use a bone, CT scan, or MRI scan.

Outlook

If the disease is found before it spreads to other organs in a process known as metastasis, the 5-year survival rate is 99 percent. After fifteen years, this decreases to 96 percent. Once the cancer metastasizes, or spreads, the 5-year survival rate is 29 percent.

Regular screening can help detect prostate cancer while it is still treatable.

Risk factors

The exact cause of prostate cancer is unclear, but there are many possible risk factors.

Age

Prostate cancer is rare among men under the age of 45 years, but more common after the age of 50 years.

Geography

Prostate cancer occurs most frequently in North America, northwestern Europe, on the Caribbean islands, and in Australia. The reasons remain unclear.

Genetic factors

Certain genetic and ethnic groups have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

In the U.S., prostate cancer is at least 60 percent more common and 2 to 3 times more deadly among black men than non-Hispanic white men.

A man also has a much higher risk of developing cancer if his identical twin has it, and a man whose brother or father had prostate cancer has twice the risk of developing it compared to other men. Having a brother who has or has had prostate cancer is more of a genetic risk than having a father with the disease.

Diet

Studies have suggested that a diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy products may increase a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer, but the link is neither confirmed nor clear.

Medication

Some research has suggested that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Others have linked NSAID use with a higher risk of death from the disease. This is a controversial area, and results have not been confirmed.

There has also been some investigation into whether statins might slow the progression of prostate cancer. One 2016 study concluded that results were “weak and inconsistent.”

Obesity

It is often believed that obesity is linked to the development of prostate cancer, but the American Cancer Society maintains that there is no clear link.

Some studies have found that obesity increases the risk of death in advanced cancers. Studies have also concluded that obesity decreases the risk that a cancer will be low-grade if it does occur.

Agent Orange

Exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam war, may possibly be linked to the development of more aggressive types of cancer, but the extent of this has not been confirmed.

Diabetes: Nuts could reduce cardiovascular risk

New evidence supports the current recommendation for people with type 2 diabetes to eat nuts to prevent cardiovascular issues and premature death.

People with diabetes may benefit from eating nuts.

Nuts are packed full of essential nutrients that could benefit overall health.

They contain high levels of unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, folate, and minerals, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

The latest research has shown that nut consumption may help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

A recent study, which featured in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, identified an association between eating nuts and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Type 2 diabetes and nut consumption

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way in which the body metabolizes glucose, which is its primary source of fuel. Possible complications include kidney damage and cardiovascular disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2015, more than 30 million people in the United States had diabetes.

In the same year, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., with over 250,000 death certificates listing it as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

Every year, doctors diagnose 1.5 million cases of diabetes in the U.S.

Over the years, several studies have linked nut consumption to the prevention of coronary heart disease. In 2010, researchers noted that the results of these studies justified exploring the use of nuts in managing the symptoms and complications of diabetes.

A new study, which the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research has published, found additional evidence that supports the recommendation of incorporating nuts into a balanced diet to reduce the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes.

Boosting nut intake

In this latest study, researchers used self-reported diet questionnaires about nut consumption. Close to 16,000 adults participated, and they filled out the questionnaires before and after they received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that all types of nut offered health benefits, especially tree nuts.

As the name suggests, tree nuts, which include almonds and walnuts, grow on trees, while groundnuts, such as peanuts, grow underground. Tree nuts may offer more benefits because they contain higher amounts of nutrients in comparison with groundnuts.

Their analysis showed that people with type 2 diabetes who ate five servings of nuts per week had a 17-percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 34-percent lower risk of death relating to this condition.

Those who consumed more nuts after their diabetes diagnosis had an 11-percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25-percent reduced risk of death related to heart disease compared with people who did not increase their intake of nuts.

“Our findings provide new evidence that supports the recommendation of including nuts in [healthful] dietary patterns for the prevention of cardiovascular disease complications and premature deaths among individuals with diabetes.

Even small increases might help

The team of researchers found that eating even a small number of nuts made a significant difference. Each additional serving per week of nuts led to a 3-percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and a 6-percent lower risk of death due to heart disease.

Although the specific effects of nuts on heart health are not clear, findings suggest that the nutrients in nuts may improve blood pressure, blood sugar control, and inflammation as well as enhancing the metabolism of fats and promoting blood vessel wall function.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of heart attacks, strokes, and disability for people living with type 2 diabetes.

Efforts to understand the link between the two conditions are important to prevent cardiovascular complications of type 2 diabetes and help people make informed choices about their health.

Why a low-carb diet can help you lose weight and keep it off

“The largest and longest feeding study to test the ‘carbohydrate-insulin model, concludes that a lower carb intake burns more calories, which may help people maintain weight loss over a longer period of time.

Eating a high-quality, low-carb diet may help us stave off weight gain for longer.

when we lose weight, the body adapts by lowering its energy expenditure. In other words, it burns fewer calories.

This way, the metabolism protects itself against long-term weight changes.

However, when the weight loss is intentional, this adaptive response can be frustrating for dieters, as it leads to weight regain.

Although weight gain after dieting is a well-known phenomenon, researchers do not know much about how different diets affect the way the metabolism responds to them.

The so-called carbohydrate-insulin model, however, suggests one such mechanism. It posits that highly processed foods high in sugar drive hormonal changes that increase the appetite and lead to weight gain.

“According to this model, the processed carbohydrates that flooded our diets during the low-fat era have raised insulin levels, driving fat cells to store excessive calories. With fewer calories available to the rest of the body, hunger increases and metabolism slows — a recipe for weight gain.”

In this context, we decided to investigate the effects that different diets had on the metabolism. Specifically, we looked at the carb-to-fat ratio in varying diets over a 20-week period.

Studying carb intake, weight, and calories

The researchers examined the effect of different diets on 234 adults aged 18–65 whose body mass index (BMI) was at least 25. As part of the study, the participants had also adhered to a weight loss plan for 10 weeks.

By the end of the trial, 164 participants had achieved their weight loss goal of around 12 percent of their total weight. Then, they adhered to either a high-, moderate-, or low-carb diet for 20 weeks, allowing the researchers to examine if they managed to maintain the weight loss.

The high-carb diet was composed of 60 percent high-quality carbs, the moderate-carb one had 40 percent carbs, and the low-carb diet had 20 percent carbs. The diets also minimized sugar intake and used whole grains.

During this time, the scientists measured the participants’ weight and tracked the number of calories they burned. They also examined the participants’ insulin secretion and metabolic hormones.

‘A 20-pound weight loss after 3 years’

At the end of the study period, people in the low-carb group burned significantly more calories than those who had been on a high-carb diet.

Specifically, participants who were on a low-carb diet burned around 250 kilocalories more per day than those who were on a high-carb diet.

“If this difference persists — and we saw no drop-off during the 20 weeks of our study — the effect would translate into about a 20-pound weight loss after 3 years, with no change in calorie intake.”

The results also indicated that for participants who had the highest insulin secretion, the impact of a low-carb diet was even more significant: low-carb dieters burned 400 calories more per day than high-carb dieters.

“A low glycemic load, high-fat diet,” explain the authors, “might facilitate weight loss maintenance beyond the conventional focus on restricting energy intake and encouraging physical activity.”

 “Our observations challenge the belief that all calories are the same to the body.”

“This is the largest and longest feeding study to test the ‘carbohydrate-insulin model,’ which provides a new way to think about and treat obesity.”

12 Home remedy for coughs

Coughs play a role in clearing irritants and infections from the body, but persistent coughing can be annoying. The best treatment for a cough will depend on its underlying cause. There are many possible causes of coughs, including allergies, infections, and acid reflux.

Some natural remedies may help to relieve a cough. However, it is important to remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor herbs and supplements, so people who use them may be at risk of using low-quality products and impurities.

You should also be aware that some herbs and supplements can interfere with medications, which may result in unwanted side effects.

If a cough is severe or persists for more than a few weeks, it is essential to seek medical advice.

1. Honey tea

A popular home remedy for coughs is mixing honey with warm water.

According to some research, honey may relieve coughs.

A study on treatments for nighttime coughing in children compared dark honey with the cough-suppressing medication dextromethorphan and with no treatment.

The researchers reported that honey provided the most significant relief from coughing, followed by dextromethorphan.

Although the benefits of honey over dextromethorphan were small, parents rated honey most favorably of all three interventions.

To use honey to treat a cough, mix 2 teaspoons (tsp) with warm water or an herbal tea. Drink this mixture once or twice a day. Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.

2. Ginger

Ginger may ease a dry or asthmatic cough, as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may also relieve nausea and pain. One study suggests that some anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger can relax membranes in the airways, which could reduce coughing. The researchers mainly studied the effects of ginger on human cells and animals, so more research is necessary.Brew up a soothing ginger tea by adding 20–40 grams (g) of fresh ginger slices to a cup of hot water. Allow to steep for a few minutes before drinking. Add honey or lemon juice to improve the taste and further soothe a cough.

Be aware that, in some cases, ginger tea can cause stomach upset or heartburn.

3. Fluids

Staying hydrated is vital for those with a cough or cold. Research indicates that drinking liquids at room temperature can alleviate a cough, runny nose, and sneezing.

However, people with additional symptoms of a cold or flu may benefit from warming up their beverages. The same study reports that hot beverages alleviate even more symptoms, including a sore throat, chills, and fatigue.

The symptom relief was immediate and remained for a continued period after finishing the hot beverage.

Hot beverages that may be comforting include:

  • clear broths
  • herbal teas
  • decaffeinated black tea
  • warm water
  • warm fruit juices

4. Steam

A wet cough, which is one that produces mucus or phlegm, may improve with steam. Take a hot shower or bath and allow the bathroom to fill with steam. Stay in this steam for a few minutes until symptoms subside. Drink a glass of water afterward to cool down and prevent dehydration.

Alternatively, make a steam bowl. To do this, fill a large bowl with hot water. Add herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or rosemary, which may also relieve decongestion. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over the head. This traps the steam. Inhale the vapors for 5 minutes. If the steam feels hot on the skin, discontinue until the skin cools down.

5. Marshmallow root

Marshmallow root is an herb that has a long history of use as a treatment for coughs and sore throats. The herb can ease irritation resulting from coughing because of its high mucilage content. Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance that coats the throat.

One small study revealed that an herbal cough syrup containing marshmallow root, along with thyme and ivy, effectively relieved coughs resulting from common colds and respiratory tract infections. After 12 days of taking the syrup, 90 percent of the participants rated its effectiveness as good or very good.

Marshmallow root is also available as a dried herb or a bagged tea. Add hot water to either and then drink it immediately or allow it to cool first. The longer the marshmallow root steeps in the water, the more mucilage will be in the drink.

Side effects can include stomach upset, but it may be possible to counter this by drinking extra fluids.

6. Salt-water gargle

This simple remedy is one of the most effective for treating a sore throat and wet cough. Salt water reduces phlegm and mucus in the back of the throat which can lessen the need to cough.

Stir half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Allow the solution to cool slightly before using it to gargle. Let the mixture sit at the back of the throat for a few moments before spitting it out. Gargle with salt water several times each day until the cough improves.

Avoid giving salt water to younger children as they may not be able to gargle properly, and swallowing salt water can be dangerous.

7. Bromelain

Pineapples contain bromelain, which may help to treat a cough.

Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from pineapples. It is most plentiful in the core of the fruit.

Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties and may also have mucolytic properties, which means that it can break down mucus and remove it from the body.

Some people drink pineapple juice daily to reduce mucus in the throat and suppress coughing. However, there may not be enough bromelain in the juice to relieve symptoms.

Bromelain supplements are available and may be more effective at relieving a cough. However, it is best to speak with a doctor before trying any new supplements.

It is possible to be allergic to bromelain, and this herb can also cause side effects and interact with medications. People who take blood thinners or specific antibiotics should not take bromelain.

8. Thyme

Thyme has both culinary and medicinal uses and is a common remedy for a cough, a sore throat, bronchitis, and digestive issues.

One study found that a cough syrup consisting of thyme and ivy leaves relieved coughing more effectively and more rapidly than a placebo syrup in people with acute bronchitis. Antioxidants in the plant may be responsible for its benefits.

To treat coughs using thyme, look for a cough syrup that contains this herb. Alternatively, make thyme tea by adding 2 tsp of dried thyme to a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes before straining and drinking.

9. Dietary changes for acid reflux

Acid reflux is a common cause of a cough. Avoiding foods that can trigger acid reflux is one of the best ways to manage this condition and reduce the cough that accompanies it.

Every individual may have different reflux triggers that they need to avoid. People who are unsure of what causes their reflux can begin by eliminating the most common triggers from their diet and monitoring their symptoms.

The foods and beverages that most commonly trigger acid reflux include:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • citrus foods
  • fried and fatty foods
  • garlic and onions
  • mint
  • spices and spicy foods
  • tomatoes and tomato-based products

10. Slippery elm

Native Americans traditionally used slippery elm bark to treat coughing and digestive issues. Slippery elm is similar to marshmallow root as it contains a high level of mucilage, which helps to soothe a sore throat and cough.

Make slippery elm tea by adding 1 tsp of the dried herb to a cup of hot water. Steep for at least 10 minutes before drinking. It is important to note that slippery elm can interfere with the absorption of medications.

11. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is a supplement that comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. Taking a daily dose may lessen the frequency and severity of a wet cough by reducing mucus in the airways.

A meta-analysis of 13 studies suggests that NAC can significantly and consistently reduce symptoms in people with chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a prolonged inflammation of the airways that causes mucus build-up, a cough, and other symptoms.

The researchers suggest a daily dose of 600 milligrams (mg) of NAC for people without airway obstruction, and up to 1,200 mg where there is an obstruction.

NAC can have severe side effects, including hives, swelling, fever, and difficulty breathing. Anyone considering this approach should speak to a doctor first.

12. Probiotics

Miso soup is rich in probiotics.

Probiotics do not directly relieve a cough, but they may boost the immune system by balancing the bacteria in the gut.

A superior immune system can help to fight off infections or allergens that may be causing the cough.

One type of probiotic, a bacteria called Lactobacillus, provides a modest benefit in preventing the common cold, according to research.

Supplements containing Lactobacillus and other probiotics are available at health stores and drug stores.

Some foods are also naturally rich in probiotics, including:

  • miso soup
  • natural yogurt
  • kimchi
  • sauerkraut

However, the number and diversity of probiotic units in foods can vary greatly. It may be best to take probiotic supplements in addition to eating probiotic-rich foods.

Tips to help prevent a cold

It is not always possible to avoid getting a cough, but the following tips can reduce the risk:

  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick: Maintain a safe distance from people who have a head cold, flu, or a cough.
  • Washing hands regularly: Use soap and warm water to remove bacteria and viruses from the skin. Teach children how to wash their hands properly. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer outside the home when necessary.
  • Using disinfectant: When a family member is ill, clean the kitchen and bathroom regularly with a disinfectant. Wash bedding, towels, and soft toys on a hot wash.
  • Staying hydrated: Drink enough water, herbal teas, and other beverages to avoid dehydration.
  • Reducing stress: Stress affects the immune system and increases the risk of getting sick. To alleviate stress, a person can exercise regularly, meditate, do deep breathing, and try progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Getting enough sleep: Aim to sleep for 7–9 hours each night to stay fit and healthy.
  • Taking immune-boosting supplements: Consider taking zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics during cold and flu season to keep illness at bay.

Allergy symptoms can sometimes mimic those of a cold. Reduce allergy flare-ups by avoiding triggers such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. See a doctor about getting allergy shots or medications.

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if the following symptoms accompany a cough:

  • foul-smelling green or yellow phlegm
  • chills
  • dehydration
  • fever over 102°F
  • fever that lasts for more than 3 days
  • weakness

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if a cough:

  • brings up blood
  • causes breathing difficulties

 

QI deficiency explained in traditional Chinese medicine

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), qi is the vital energy that circulates through the body at all times. Practitioners believe that a qi deficiency is linked to the spleen and that rest and eating certain foods can treat the imbalance.

The concepts of TCM are not based in modern science but have their roots in ancient Chinese practices. TCM includes herbal remedies, acupuncture, and exercises such as tai chi or qigong.

While there is no scientific proof for qi or a deficiency of qi, many people understand these terms as ways to describe issues in the body as a whole — rather than taking the rigorous route that medical science does.

In this article, we will explore what a qi deficiency is, its symptoms and causes, and how it might be treated with rest and diet.

What is a qi deficiency?

According to TCM, qi is life force or vital energy. Everything in the world is made up of qi, including the physical body and the feelings a person has.

Followers and practitioners of TCM believe that to be balanced in life and free from physical or mental health issues, a person must have balanced qi. They suggest that illnesses or other conditions only appear when there is a qi imbalance or deficiency in the body.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)define qi as a vital energy that flows through the body, helping to maintain a person’s health. The NCCIH are interested in the ideas of TCM but do not focus on specific concepts, such as qi. Instead, the NCCIH take a more scientific view, looking at how these practices affect the body and their use in symptom management.

What are the symptoms?

Roughly translated, qi means energy, so, simply put, a qi deficiency means low energy. This low energy can affect the body as whole or just specific organs that cause different symptoms.

A general qi deficiency may cause some overall symptoms of fatigueand illness.

A 2015study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences uses the following five signs and symptoms to diagnose a qi deficiency:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath or no desire to talk
  • spontaneous sweating
  • a swollen tongue with teeth marks on the side
  • a weak pulse

Causes of qi deficiency

The study also outlines a range of possible factors that can lead to a qi deficiency.

The authors suggest that there could be a link between qi deficiency and aging.

Some practitioners believe that there is a relationship between qi deficiency and chronic medical diseases and their complications, such as heart disease, hypertension, or stroke.

Qi deficiency may also result from using too much qi in daily life. Many people in the western world are constantly working or on-the-go, leading busy lives, leaving no time to relax.

According to TCM, leading such a stressful life with little downtime may quickly drain the body of vital energy, making a person more susceptible to qi deficiency and the illnesses that follow. Think of qi deficiency as being burned out, a condition that can cause the symptoms and conditions associated with stress.

Treatments for qi deficiency

TCM places great importance on treating the body as a whole rather than merely managing symptoms. Where western medicine might treat tiredness with stimulants, such as coffee, TCM concerns itself with addressing the issues causing the fatigue in the first place.

There is little quality scientific research to support topics such as qi and qi deficiency, and most of the evidence for treating qi deficiency is anecdotal.

That said, many people may find relief from symptoms by making some changes in their diet and lifestyle to support their qi balance or using alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.

Focus on rest

People with qi deficiency may work too hard, are always on the go, and never have downtime. To help balance the qi in the body, many TCM practitioners recommend a heavy focus on rest.

This can include:

  • taking breaks throughout the day.
  • making time to take a nap.
  • doing relaxing activities, such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong.

Improve sleep patterns

People with a qi deficiency may have a tendency towards stress and may benefit from improving their sleep patterns. A study published inExperimental Neurobiologyreports that excessive stress is bad for both the body and the brain. Stress may activate the brain at night, making sound sleep difficult.

Reducing stress levels may help a person sleep better and have more energy or qi throughout the day. Try to find a set time to go to sleep and wake up each day, and aim to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Best foods for a qi deficiency

TCM suggests that a qi deficiency might be influenced by the spleen, which carries qi to other parts of the body. This is why a qi deficiency might occur in any area of the body.

To balance qi, TCM practitioners recommend eating foods that are good for the spleen.

Foods to eat

A healthful diet for a balanced qi includes:

  • fermented foods for digestive health, including sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir
  • healthful, energizing fats, such as olive oil, salmon, coconut oil, and avocados
  • a wide variety of lightly cooked fruits, vegetables, and nuts
  • adaptogenic herbs, such as ginseng, should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner or trusted TCM practitioner

Foods that are good for spleen qi include yang tonic foods and qi-circulating foods. According to TCM, these foods might warm the spleen and increase energy flow to the body.

Foods to eat for spleen qi include:

  • lentils
  • quinoa
  • oats
  • malted grain beverages
  • root vegetables including sweet potato and taro
  • pumpkin and other squash
  • miso soup
  • orange peels
  • mustard leaf

Foods to avoid for spleen qi include:

  • refined sugar
  • refined grains
  • fried or salty foods
  • iced or refrigerated foods or drinks
  • dairy products
  • citrus fruits
  • pork
  • yeasty foods, such as beer or dough
  • banana

Spleen qi deficiency

In western medicine, the spleen is considered a non-vital organ. It is a small organ that helps filter blood and is part of the immune system, but people can live without it.

In TCM, the spleen is central to digestion and is considered a vital organ. The spleen is said to pull qi from all the foods we eat and deliver it to the rest of the body. When a TCM practitioner suspects a qi deficiency, they often look to treat the spleen first.

TCM pairs the stomach and spleen as the sources of digestion and the digestive system as a whole. Any imbalances in the spleen qi would create what western medicine calls gastrointestinal issues.

Spleen qi deficiency may cause symptoms such as:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or diarrhea
  • gas or bloating
  • varicose veins
  • hemorrhoids
  • acid reflux
  • trouble waking up in the morning
  • brain fog throughout the day
  • diabetes
  • eating disorders

Other types of qi deficiency

TCM works on the basis that qi is everywhere in the body, so a qi deficiency in one body system or organ might cause different symptoms to a qi deficiency in another. For example:

Symptoms of a heart qi deficiency may include:

  • sweating without exerting oneself
  • palpitations when moving
  • anxiety
  • nightmares or restless sleep
  • mood swings

Symptoms of a lung qi deficiency include:

  • a cough, which may be mild but continuous
  • shortness of breath
  • low speaking voice
  • a tendency to catch colds

Symptoms of a kidney qi deficiency include:

  • cold limbs
  • asthma
  • hair loss
  • urinary problems
  • very clear urine

10 home remedies for wheezing

 

Wheezing is a common symptom of various respiratory disorders that cause tightening in the throat. There are several ways a person can stop their wheezing at home without using an inhaler, but these will depend on the cause.

Wheezing happens when the airways are tightened, blocked, or inflamed, making a person’s breathing sound like whistling or squeaking. Common causes include a cold, asthma, allergies, or more serious conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Steam inhalation is an effective home remedy for wheezing.

The following home treatments for wheezing aim to open up the airways, reduce the irritants or pollution that a person breathes in, or treat the underlying causes of the wheezing.

If a person has asthma or another medical condition that causes wheezing, they should speak to our doctors in clinic and use the medications prescribed for it, such as an asthma inhaler.

Effective home remedies for wheezing include:

1. Steam inhalation

Inhaling warm, moisture-rich air can be very effective for clearing the sinuses and opening up the airways.Peppermint essential oil may have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. Research suggests that it may relax the muscles of the respiratory system, which could help to relieve wheezing and other respiratory problems.

If a steam bath does not appeal to you, a sauna room or hot shower can also help loosen congestion. Gently tapping on the back or chest and breathing deeply can help the steam work even better.

2. Hot drinks

Warm and hot drinks can help to loosen up the airways and relieve congestion.

Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, so adding a teaspoon of honey to a hot drink may further improve a person’s symptoms.

A 2017 study found that eating one tablespoon of honey twice a day, along with other treatments, helped to relieve throat congestion.

Some people find that peppermint or other menthol teas work well. A person can try experimenting with different teas to find one that helps.

3. Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises may help with COPD, bronchitis, allergies, and other common causes of wheezing.

A 2009 study found that certain yoga-inspired breathing techniques could help with breathing difficulties related to bronchial asthma, including wheezing.

Breathing exercises often include deep, regular inhalations and exhalations. A doctor or respiratory therapist can help with deciding the most effective breathing techniques.

A person may find that they have trouble breathing during a panic attack. Deep breathing exercises can also assist here. It may help to try slow breathing, focusing on breathing deeply into the stomach, and counting breathes.

4. Humidifiers

A humidifier may help to reduce wheezing.

During the dry winter months, wheezing often gets worse. A humidifier in the bedroom can help loosen congestion and reduce the severity of wheezing.

A person can add peppermint or other oils to the water in the humidifier, though they should check the humidifier’s instructions before adding anything other than water.

5. Air filters

Many conditions that cause wheezing can get worse when the air is polluted or in response to allergens. A home air filter can reduce the presence of irritants that may trigger wheezing and breathing trouble.

6. Identifying and removing triggers

Chronic illnesses such as asthma and allergies may get worse in response to certain triggers, such as stress or allergens. Controlling these triggers, as much as possible, can help.

For instance, a person with a chronic respiratory condition who also has allergies might take allergy medication and avoid allergy triggers.

7. Allergy medications

People with allergies can benefit from a wide variety of allergy medications, including decongestants, corticosteroid tablets, and antihistamines.

Nasal sprays may be especially helpful to relieve a tight chest, congestion, and inflammation that can cause wheezing.

More severe allergies may require prescription allergy medication.

8. Allergy immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a process of retraining the immune system not to react to allergens.

The most common form of immunotherapy is allergy shots. A person may need several treatments, but over time, immunotherapy can reduce the frequency of wheezing.

Immunotherapy may also be helpful for people with other chronic conditions, such as COPD, who also have allergies.

9. Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are medications that help relax the lungs and prevent the airways from narrowing. They can help with wheezing caused by COPD and asthma.

Bronchodilators come in two forms:

  • Short-acting bronchodilators. Sometimes known as rescue inhalers, these can stop an asthma or COPD attack.
  • Long-acting bronchodilators. This variety helps relax the airways over the long-term, reducing the frequency and severity of wheezing episodes.

Bronchodilators should be obtained from a doctor and can then be used at home, as needed.

10. Other medications

A wide variety of medications can treat wheezing that is due to underlying illness. A person who experiences wheezing due to a severe allergic reaction, for instance, may require epinephrine or corticosteroids.

People with heart health issues may take blood pressure medication or blood thinners to prevent further damage to the heart.

It is vital to discuss with a doctor whether medication might help, and how various medications may interact with one another.

Outlook

The long-term outlook for wheezing ultimately depends on its cause. Even when wheezing is due to a chronic illness, it can often be well-managed with medication and home treatments.

Ongoing medical care remains important, however, and people whose symptoms do not improve should consult a doctor. Consider tracking symptoms to identify any underlying triggers for symptoms.

If wheezing is causing concern, it is essential to remain calm, as panicking can worsen wheezing. Keep the breathing slow and regular and seek medical treatment when appropriate.

Even when wheezing is due to a serious medical condition, medications can improve symptoms.

Treating Allergic Reaction

 

Treating allergic reactions

Allergies are a common cause of illness and can occur at any stage in someone’s life. Numerous different things cause allergies from pollen to food to medication, meaning it is not always easy to know the best treatments or home remedies.

What is an allergic reaction?

Many people have allergies, which may cause symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

An allergic reaction occurs when cells in the immune system interpret a foreign substance or allergen as harmful.

The immune system overreacts to these allergens and produces histamine, which is a chemical that causes allergy symptoms, such as inflammation, sneezing, and coughing.

Mild allergic reactions can usually be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications

Fast facts on treating an allergic reaction:

Most minor allergy symptoms can be treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestants.

Saline nasal rinses can be used for congestion-related allergy symptoms.

Corticosteroid creams can treat skin rashes related to allergies.

mmunotherapy is a long-term treatment option for chronic allergy symptoms.

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, and people should call 911 if they suspect someone is having an anaphylactic reaction.

Treating allergic reactions

Many mild to moderate allergic reactions can be treated at home or with OTC medications. The following treatments are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction:

Antihistamines

Antihistamines can help to treat most minor allergic reactions regardless of the cause. These drugs reduce the body’s production of histamine, which reduces all symptoms, including sneezing, watering eyes, and skin reactions.

Second-generation antihistamines, including Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine), are less likely to cause drowsiness than first-generation antihistamines, such as Benadryl.

Antihistamines come in several forms, usually to help deliver the medication closer to the source of the reaction or make it easier to consume, such as:

  • oral pills
  • dissolvable tablets
  • nasal sprays
  • liquids
  • eye drops

Antihistamines in these forms are available from pharmacies, to buy online, or on prescription from a doctor.

Antihistamines can also be taken to prevent allergies. Many people with seasonal or pet allergies will begin taking antihistamines when they know they are going to be exposed to an allergen.

A person who is pregnant or has a liver disorder should consult their doctor before taking antihistamines.

Nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestant pills, liquids, and sprays can also help reduce stuffy, swollen sinuses and related symptoms, such as a sore throat or coughing.

However, decongestant medications should not be taken continuously for more than 72 hours.

Nasal decongestants are available over the counter and online.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may also be used to help temporarily reduce pain, swelling, and cramping caused by allergies.

Avoid the allergen

The best way to treat and prevent allergic reactions is to know what triggers the reaction and stay away from it, especially food allergens.

When this is not possible or realistic, using antihistamines or decongestants when in contact with allergens can help to treat the symptoms.

Use a saline sinus rinse

A saline sinus rinse may treat symptoms such as a runny or itchy nose.

When allergies cause sinus problems, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) recommend a person rinse their sinuses with saline. This can remove allergens and clear the airways.

The AAAAI recommend the following saline recipe:

  • mix 3 teaspoons of salt (without iodide) with 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of boiled water
  • dissolve the mixture in the water then use as a saline rinse

Sinus rinsing devices can be purchased online or from a pharmacy.

Treating environmental allergies

For airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mold spores, additional treatment options include:

  • throat lozenges with soothing ingredients, such as menthol, honey, or ginger
  • shower and wash all clothing after being exposed to an allergen
  • exercise for a few minutes to help reduce nasal congestion

Treating allergies on the skin

For allergic reactions that cause skin symptoms, including those associated with allergens found in animal saliva, poisonous plants, drugs, chemicals and metals, additional treatment options include:

  • Topical corticosteroid creams or tablets. Corticosteroids contain steroids that reduce inflammation and itching. Mild forms of these creams can be found online, and a doctor can prescribe stronger versions.
  • Moisturizing creams. Emollient creams with soothing ingredients, such as calamine can treat skin reactions.
  • Bite or sting medication. Medication targeted to reduce allergic reactions to insect bites or stings have a similar effect to other allergy medications.
  • Ice pack. Applying an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the area for 10- to 15-minute intervals can reduce inflammation.

Treating severe allergies

People should speak to a professional if they have or suspect that they have severe or chronic allergies. You are always more than welcome to call our clinic for more information.

A doctor can prescribe medications that contain much stronger doses of the compounds found in OTC products.

Treatment options for chronic or severe allergies include:

  • Immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Immunotherapy can be between 90 and 98 percent effective at reducing allergic reactions to insect stings, for instance.
  • Prescription asthma medications, such as bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids.
  • Oral cromolyn can be taken for food allergies.
  • Drug desensitization therapy is used for specific allergens.

Natural remedies for allergic reactions

Many traditional medicine systems use herbal supplements and extracts to both treat and prevent allergic reactions, especially seasonal allergies.

Though there is little scientific evidence to support the use of most alternative or natural remedies, some people may find that some can provide relief from their symptoms.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians recommend the following natural treatments for allergies:

  • Dietary changes. A low-fat diet high in complex carbohydrates, such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables may reduce allergy reactions.
  • Bioflavonoids. These plant-based chemicals found in citrus fruits and blackcurrants may act as natural antihistamines. These can also be taken as supplements.
  • Supplements. Flaxseed oil, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E are suggested to improve allergy symptoms.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture treatments may help some people to find relief from their symptoms.

High and low blood pressure meaning

The terms diastole and systole refer to when the heart muscles relax and contract. The balance between diastole and systole determines a person’s blood pressure.

The heart is a pump that supplies all tissues and organs of the body with oxygen-rich blood. The heartbeat is caused by the heart muscles relaxing and contracting.

During this cycle, the period of relaxation is called diastole and the period of contraction is called systole.

What are diastole and systole?

Diastole is when the heart muscle relaxes and systole is when the heart muscle contracts.

Diastole is defined by the following characteristics:

  • Diastole is when the heart muscle relaxes.
  • When the heart relaxes, the chambers of the heart fill with blood, and a person’s blood pressure decreases.

Systole is defined by the following characteristics:

  • Systole is when the heart muscle contracts.
  • When the heart contracts, it pushes the blood out of the heart and into the large blood vessels of the circulatory system. From here, the blood goes to all of the organs and tissues of the body.
  • During systole, a person’s blood pressure increases.

Differences

The heart is a pump composed of four chambers. It is divided in the middle into a right and left side, and each side is divided further into two chambers — the upper and lower chambers.

The two upper chambers of the heart called the atria receive the blood that is entering the heart. The two lower chambers are called the ventricles. They pump the blood out of the heart to the rest of the body.

To pump the blood around the body, the heart contracts and then relaxes over and over again in a cycle called the cardiac cycle. The cycle begins when the two atria contract, which pushes blood into the ventricles. Then, the ventricles contract, which forces the blood out of the heart.

The deoxygenated blood that comes back from the body to the right side of the heart is then pumped through the lungs where it picks up oxygen. The oxygenated blood then travels to the left side of the heart and is pumped to the rest of the body.

Diastole and systole affect a person’s blood pressure differently, as follows:

  • When the heart pushes blood around the body during systole, the pressure placed on the vessels increases. This is called systolic pressure.
  • When the heart relaxes between beats and refills with blood, the blood pressure drops. This is called diastolic pressure.

What is a healthy blood pressure?

Normal blood pressure will be under 120/80 mmHg.

When a person receives their blood pressure results, they will see two numbers that represent the diastole and systole measurements. These measurements are given as millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

The first number is the systolic pressure and the second is the diastolic pressure.

According to the American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) updated 2017 guidelines, the current blood pressure categories are:

  • Normal blood pressure: under 120/80 mmHg
  • Elevated blood pressure: a systolic pressure of between 120-129 and a diastolic pressure of under 80
  • Stage 1 hypertension: a systolic pressure of between 130-139 or a diastolic pressure of between 80 and 89 mmHg
  • Stage 2 hypertension: a systolic pressure of at least 140 or a diastolic pressure of at least 90 mmHg

These updated guidelines are likely to place 46 percent of Americans in the category of having high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is always measured when the person is at rest and over several days. Its measurements are also called blood pressure readings.

High blood pressure

Gender and age may increase a person’s risk of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure or hypertensionis when a person has abnormally high pressure against the walls of their blood vessels. This condition develops gradually over many years and may go unnoticed for a long time, as there are often no symptoms.

The following risk factors increase a person’s risk of high blood pressure:

  • Age. Blood pressure is usually higher with age.
  • Gender. Men are more likelyto have high blood pressure before the age of 55, but women are more likely than men to have the condition after the age of 55.
  • Race. High blood pressure is more common in African Americans than Caucasian or Hispanic Americans.
  • Family history. Having a family member with high blood pressure increases the risk of a person developing high blood pressure in the future.
  • Obesity. A person who is overweight or obese is more likely to develop high blood pressure. This is because a higher volume of blood circulates through blood vessels to supply the cells with oxygen and nutrients. Because there is more blood circulating, there is a higher pressure on the vessel walls.
  • Lifestyle habits. A lack of physical activity, smoking tobacco (including second-hand smoking), drinking too much alcohol, consuming too much salt (sodium) or too little potassium, and stressmay increase the risk.
  • Certain chronic conditions. Kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy. In some cases, pregnancy can cause high blood pressure.

When left untreated, high blood pressure can cause complications and, eventually, serious health problems, such as:

  • Heart attack. A block in the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the heart, preventing that portion of the heart from getting oxygen.
  • Stroke. A strokehappens when there is a block in the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, preventing that portion of the brain from getting oxygen.
  • Heart failure. Failure of the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands, caused by the increased pressure on the vessels.
  • Peripheral artery disease. This is the narrowing of blood vessels other than those that supply the heart or the brain, most commonly of the legs. Blood flow to that part of the body is affected.
  • Aneurysm. An aneurysmis the development of an abnormal bulge in a blood vessel wall, which may press on other organs, block blood flow, or eventually burst.
  • Chronic kidney disease. Kidney disease can be caused by narrowing of blood vessels in the kidneys, which prevents them from working properly.

Low blood pressure

Low blood pressure or hypotension occurs when a person has abnormally low blood pressure against the walls of their blood vessels.

Risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing the condition include:

  • Age. People older than 65are more likely to experience a drop in blood pressure while standing up, or after eating. Children and young people are more likely to experience a rapid drop in blood pressure accompanied by dizziness, blurred vision, and fainting, which is known as neurally mediated hypotension.
  • Certain medications. High blood pressure medicines, including diuretics, can cause hypotension.
  • Certain diseases. Conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and some heart conditions increase the risk of low blood pressure.
  • Other factors. Pregnancy, standing in the heat, or standing still for long periods of time can also cause low blood pressure.

A person with mild low blood pressure may experience fatigue, fainting, or dizziness.

More severe forms of low blood pressure can compromise oxygen-rich blood flow to the body’s major organs, including the brain. If this happens, a person may feel sleepy, confused, or light-headed. In serious cases, this can evolve to heart or brain damage.

Top Seven Safest and effective antibiotics

Certain natural substances have antibacterial properties, but which are safe to use, and when should a person use them?
Prescription antibiotics, such as penicillin, have helped people to recover from otherwise fatal diseases and conditions since the 1940s.
However, people are also turning to natural antibiotics for treatment.
According to the NHS, 1 in 10 people experiences side effects that harm the digestive system after taking antibiotics. Around 1 in 15 people are allergic to this type of medication.
In this article, we look at the evidence behind seven of the best natural antibiotics. We also discuss which to avoid, and when to see a doctor.

Seven best natural antibiotics

Garlic may be an effective treatment against bacteria.
The scientific jury is still out concerning natural antibiotics. While people have used remedies like these for hundreds of years, most treatments have not been thoroughly tested.
However, some show promising results under medical review, and further studies are underway.
With an ongoing increase in drug-resistant bacteria, scientists are looking to nature when developing new medications.
Here, we examine the science behind seven natural antibiotics.

1. Garlic
Cultures across the world have long recognized garlic for its preventive and curative powers.
Research has found that garlic can be an effective treatment against many forms of bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Garlic has even been considered for use against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

2. Honey
Since the time of Aristotle, honey has been used as an ointment that helps wounds to heal and prevents or draws out infection.
Healthcare professionals today have found it helpful in treating chronic wounds, burns, ulcers, bedsores, and skin grafts. For example, results of a study from 2016 demonstrate that honey dressings can help to heal wounds.
The antibacterial effects of honey are usually attributed to its hydrogen peroxide content. However, manuka honey fights off bacteria, though it has a lower hydrogen peroxide content.
A 2011 study reported that the best-known type of honey inhibits approximately 60 kinds of bacteria. It also suggests that honey successfully treats wounds infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Antibacterial properties aside, honey may help wounds to heal by providing a protective coating that fosters a moist environment.

3. Ginger
The scientific community also recognizes ginger as a natural antibiotic. Several studies, including one published in 2017, have demonstrated ginger’s ability to fight many strains of bacteria.
Researchers are also exploring ginger’s power to combat seasickness and nausea and to lower blood sugar levels.

4. Echinacea
Echinacea has been used to treat infections for many years.
Native American and other traditional healers have used echinacea for hundreds of years to treat infections and wounds. Researchers are beginning to understand why.
A study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology reports that extract of Echinacea purpurea can kill many different kinds of bacteria, including Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes).
S. pyogenes is responsible for strep throat, toxic shock syndrome, and the “flesh-eating disease” known as necrotizing fasciitis.
Echinacea may also fight inflammation associated with bacterial infection.

5. Goldenseal
Goldenseal is usually consumed in tea or capsules to treat respiratory and digestive problems. However, it may also combat bacterial diarrhea and urinary tract infections.
In addition, results of a recent study support the use of goldenseal to treat skin infections. In a lab, goldenseal extracts were used to prevent MRSA from damaging tissue.
A person taking prescription medications should check with a doctor before taking goldenseal, as this supplement can cause interference.
Goldenseal also contains berberine, an important component of natural antibiotics. This alkaloid is not safe for infants, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

6. Clove
Clove has traditionally been used in dental procedures. Research is now finding that clove water extract may be effective against many different kinds of bacteria, including E. coli.

7. Oregano
Some believe that oregano boosts the immune system and acts as an antioxidant. It may have anti-inflammatory properties.
While researchers have yet to verify these claims, some studies show that oregano is among the more effective natural antibiotics, particularly when it is made it into an oil.

Risks of natural antibiotics
Just because something is labeled natural, it is not necessarily safe.
The amounts and concentrations of active ingredients vary among brands of supplements. Read labels carefully. A person should also inform their healthcare provider if they plan to take these supplements.
While cooked garlic is usually safe to consume, research suggests that taking concentrated garlic may increase the risk of bleeding. This can be dangerous for people facing surgery or taking blood thinners.
Garlic concentrates may also reduce the usefulness of HIV medications.
Certain products should be avoided, including colloidal silver. This substance consists of microscopic pieces of silver suspended in water.
Colloidal silver has been recommended as a treatment for a variety of diseases, including the bubonic plague and HIV. However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, it can be dangerous, and no credible studies back up these uses.
Taking colloidal silver supplements may interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics and medication used to treat an underactive thyroid gland.
Silver can also build up in the body and turn the skin bluish-gray. This condition is called argyria and is permanent in most people.

Do you bleed when you blow your nose?

Epistaxis, or a nosebleed, is generally caused by a broken blood vessel in the nose or sinuses. Bleeding from the nose, especially when blowing it, is very common and usually not a cause for concern.
An estimated 60 percent of people experience nosebleeds but only around 6 percent of cases require medical attention.
It can be hard to determine what causes broken blood vessels in the nose. However, there are several factors that may contribute to or cause the nose to bleed when blowing it.

Causes
Blood appearing when blowing the nose may be caused by dry nasal cavities, an injury, nose picking, or blowing too hard.
Common causes of blood appearing when blowing the nose include:
* blowing the nose too hard or too frequently
* inflammation or mucosal irritation caused by infection or allergies
* very dry nasal cavities or sinuses
* prolonged inhalation of very dry or cold air
* nose picking
* antibiotic medications
* blood thinning medications, such as warfarin, aspirin, and clopidogrel
* injury to the nose or face
* environmental factors, such as humidity or being at a high altitude
* abnormalities in the septum, which is the wall that separates the nostrils
Less common causes of nosebleeds include:
* nasal, sinus, face, or eye surgery
* foreign bodies in the nose
* nasal polyps or tumors
* inflammatory conditions
* high blood pressure
* holes in the septum
* blood disorders, such as low blood platelet levels and anemia
* conditions affecting the blood vessels, such as arteriosclerosis
* leukemia, a type of blood cancer conditions affecting the immune system
* liver or kidney problems
* scurvy, or severe vitamin C deficiency
* chemotherapy
* congestive heart failure
* chronic use or overuse of certain herbal supplements, most commonly vitamin E and gingko biloba
* exposure to toxic chemicals
* use of illicit drugs, especially cocaine
Some hereditary or genetic conditions that cause abnormal bleeding can also lead to blood appearing when the nose is blown. These conditions include:

* von Willebrand disease
* hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia
* factor VIII deficiency (hemophilia A)
* factor IX deficiency (hemophilia B)
* factor XI deficiency

Treatment options
Gently and firmly pinching the nose may be a recommended treatment option for bleeding noses.
In most cases, a nosebleed or minor bleeding from the nose eventually stops on its own after a few minutes.
There are a few at-home remedies, however, that may encourage nosebleeds to stop earlier or reduce the amount of bleeding.
Basic treatment options for bleeding noses include:
* laying down flat with the head tilted backward to reduce blood flow to the nose
* relaxing and breathing through the mouth
* not touching or picking the nose once it has stopped bleeding
* laying down or resting in a seated position for a few hours after the bleeding has stopped
* gently but firmly pinching the nose, especially if the site of the bleeding is known
Around 90 percent of nosebleeds occur in the front bottom portion of the septum, the fleshy wall that divides the nostrils.
Prolonged or repetitive nosebleeds, or those caused by an underlying medical condition, require medical attention and treatment.
If nosebleeds are severe, a person may require more aggressive treatment to prevent extensive blood loss.
Medical treatment options include:
* nasal packing, where sterile cotton pads or dressings are packed into the nostril to limit bleeding
* topical medications to limit bleeding, known as local hemostatic agents
* topical antiseptic and antibiotic ointments and creams
* sealing a blood vessel shut using an electrical device or chemical such as silver nitrate
* surgery where the blood vessel is packed with sterile materials to block it off
* surgery where the blood vessel is tied together to seal it shut
* clotting medications
* blood transfusions

Prevention tips
In many cases, there is no specific way to avoid nosebleeds, but there are some things that may help prevent or reduce the risk of them.
Blowing the nose gently and not picking at the skin can usually prevent minor bleeding.
Other tips for preventing bleeding when blowing the nose include:
* using over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays or pills to treat allergies
* applying over-the-counter nasal lubricants or petroleum jelly in the nostrils to prevent dryness
* using saline sprays to prevent dryness
* avoiding picking the nose, especially scabs
* avoiding blowing the nose aggressively or too frequently
* protecting the nose from cold or dry air by using a scarf
* not overusing or misusing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and antibiotics
* reducing inflammation and nasal congestion by using a nasal or sinus rinse
* avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals
* not using illicit drugs, especially cocaine
One example of a nasal rinse is a Neti pot. These are commonly available online and can be used at home.

When to see a doctor
If nosebleeds are chronic or repetitive, a healthcare professional should be consulted.
People should seek medical attention anytime a nosebleed does not stop naturally within 20 minutes. They should also seek medical attention if it does not respond to initial treatments, such as applying pressure.
Although nosebleeds tend to be harmless, severe or prolonged nosebleeds can cause serious blood loss, especially in:
* young children
* people over the age of 65
* people with immune conditions
It is also important to talk with a doctor about chronic or repetitive nosebleeds.
Chronic nosebleeds can be a sign of underlying medical conditions, such as blood or inflammatory disorders. Repetitive nosebleeds can also be a sign of nasal deformities or tumors, especially when they only involve one nostril.
People should also seek medical attention if nosebleeds are accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
* pain or tenderness around the eyes
* stuffy nose that continues to get worse and will not clear
* mucus that drips in the back of the throat
* change in the appearance of the nose or surrounding area
* pus in the nose
* chronic watery eyes
* reduced sense of smell
* change in vision
* enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
* pain or pressure in the ears
* hearing loss
* numbness in the face
* loosening, numbness, or pain in the teeth
* difficulty opening the mouth
* headache

Outlook
Bleeding from the nose when blowing it is a common experience. It is usually due to inflamed or damaged nasal tissues and blood vessels, and is not a cause for concern.
Nosebleeds are generally harmless, and stop on their own or after applying gentle pressure to the area.
Severe or repetitive nosebleeds can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that may require treatment, such blood disorders or obstructions.
People should speak with a doctor about severe or repetitive nosebleeds, especially when accompanied by additional symptoms.