Detox, short for detoxification, is the removal of potentially toxic substances from the body. Although detox is primarily thought of as a form of drug rehabilitation, used to treat alcoholism or other drug addiction, the term also refers to diets, herbs, and other methods of removing environmental and dietary toxins from the body.
Kidney Cleanse – Should You Try a Kidney Cleanse?
Kidney cleanse proponents claim that certain herbs and foods can flush out your kidneys and, in turn, prevent kidney stones and boost your overall health. Learn more about the science behind kidney cleanses, and find out how to care for your kidneys in the everyday.
Located near the middle of your back, your kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs responsible for clearing waste from your body. Each day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to help remove about two quarts of excess water and waste products (from food and normal breakdown of active tissues).
Kidneys also release three important hormones: erythropoietin (which stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells), renin (which regulates blood pressure), calcitriol (the active form of vitamin D, which helps maintain calcium for bones and for normal chemical balance in the body).
What Is a Kidney Cleanse?
The kidney is actually self cleansing if you consume adequate fluids, which can take the form of foods such as fruits and vegetables as well as water and other liquids.
Typically marketed under the term "kidney cleanse" or "natural kidney cleanse," a number of products (or specialized diets) claim to detoxify the kidneys in order to promote healthy kidney function and prevent kidney stones. Kidney cleanses are also purported to help keep blood pressure in check, improve functioning of the urinary tract and bladder, boost immunity, and clear toxins from the entire body.
Benefits of Kidney Cleanse
Although the individual components of a kidney cleanse (such as certain herbs, foods, or nutrients) may offer various health benefits, there's no scientific evidence to support their use in cleansing the kidneys or preventing kidney stones. If you're interested in taking natural approaches to enhancing your kidney health, consider consulting a naturopathic physician.
Kidney Cleanse Recipes
Kidney cleanses vary in approach. While kidney-cleanse proponents suggest that these approaches enhance the kidneys' ability to remove waste from the body, their claims are not backed by scientific data. Here's a look at some of the most common types of kidney cleanse.
1) Kidney Cleanse Herbs
Some kidney cleanses are based on herbal remedies, such as:
# marshmallow root
# red clover
2) Kidney Cleanse Foods
Other kidney cleanses emphasize certain foods, including:
# lemon juice
# cranberry juice
# pumpkin seeds
3) Kidney Cleanse Vitamins
Some proponents recommend incorporating the following vitamins and minerals into a kidney cleanse:
# vitamin B2
# vitamin B6
In many cases, a kidney cleanse will integrate herbs, vitamins, and minerals into a whole-foods-based diet designed to flush out the kidneys.
Caring for Kidneys
Here are several science-supported methods of caring for your kidneys and reducing your risk of kidney disease:
# avoid smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine
# maintain normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels
# keep your cholesterol in check
# drink plenty of water (at least eight glasses daily)
# stay at a healthy weight
A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals that have separated from the urine within the urinary tract. In most cases, kidney stones develop because calcium oxalate within the urine has crystallized.
Kidney Stone Symptoms
Usually marked by extreme pain in the area of the kidneys or in the lower abdomen, kidney stones may also cause difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, nausea, and fever.
Preventing Kidney Stones
Although there's no evidence that a kidney flush can help prevent kidney stones, you might reduce your risk by drinking lots of water and cutting back on sodium. People with a history of kidney stones may also want to avoid foods rich in oxalate, such as chocolate, okra, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, greens, nuts, and spinach.
Kidney Stones and Calcium
Despite claims to the contrary, research shows that a high intake of calcium through foods may decrease risk for kidney stones. However, taking calcium in supplement form may increase risk.
A detox diet can give you greater energy, clearer skin, stronger digestive health, and better focus. But to get the most out of your detox diet, you need to make a few changes to your daily routine before you begin. For detox diet success, learn how to prime your system for optimal cleansing.
Designed to promote whole-body health, a detox diet is a short-term program that helps eliminate environmental and dietary toxins from your system. Although there are many different types of detox diets, most focus on decreasing your intake of potentially harmful chemicals and increasing foods that aid the body in cleansing. By clearing toxins from your body, you may raise your energy levels, stimulate your digestive health, and improve your concentration. Considering the touted benefits, it's easy to see why a detox diet might be appealing to some -- but there are important things to consider before jumping in.
Is a Detox Diet Right for You?
If you're considering a detox diet, it's important to consult with your doctor prior to starting. People with certain health conditions (such as anemia, diabetes, and kidney disease) should either avoid this diet or perform detox only under the supervision of a health care provider. The detox diet is also unsafe for pregnant or nursing women.
The Basics of Detox Safety
How to Prepare for a Detox Diet
Before you begin your detox diet, you need to get your body ready for optimal cleansing. Here's how:
1) Give Your Diet a Mini-Makeover
Some foods can interfere with the liver's ability to detoxify your body, which could impair your detox efforts. For the week leading up to your detox diet, try to avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame), trans fats, refined carbohydrates (such as white rice and white pasta), gluten, processed soy foods, and alcohol.
You may also want to take this time to rid your kitchen of any foods or beverages that might tempt you during your detox diet.
2) Prevent Caffeine Withdrawal
If you drink caffeinated beverages on a regular basis, you may experience caffeine withdrawal at the start of your detox diet. To prevent headache, fatigue, and other withdrawal symptoms, gradually decrease your caffeine intake (by switching from coffee to lower-caffeine green tea, for instance) at least a week starting your diet.
3) Drink More Water
Your body needs plenty of water to flush out toxins during your diet. Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated and may help flush out toxins, so make sure to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of filtered water daily.
4) Stock up on Tools for Detox Success
Some practices may help promote cleansing throughout your detox diet. Exfoliating your skin with a dry brush, for instance, may help support circulation and prompt the passage of toxins from your lymph.
To enhance relaxation as you detox, consider buying some essential oils to add to your bathwater or use for massage. Incredibly calming, lavender oil may be especially helpful for those suffering from caffeine-withdrawal-related headaches.
Detox Diet - Nutrients and Support for Detox
This is a list of some foods and nutrients often included in a detox diet.
The liver requires certain nutrients for detox. In addition, increasing the flow of bile is an important part of detox because bile carries stored fat-soluble toxins away from the liver to be excreted in the stools.
Signs of poor bile flow include constipation aggravated by fiber supplements, flatulence, dry skin and hair, indigestion 1-2 hours after eating, indigestion after fatty foods and small, hard stools.
Choose a high-potency multivitamin with selenium, molybdenum, and zinc.
Choline and Methionine
Known as lipotropic factors, the supplements choline and methionine help to regulate fat metabolism and increase bile flow.
A water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports detox. It may also help to decrease some of the side effects of detox, such as headache or nausea.
This herb has many positive effects on the liver. It is an antioxidant, assists in liver cell regeneration, and is used after exposure to chemical and industrial pollutants or adverse effects from excess alcohol or fat consumption.
Contains plant compounds known as caffeoylquinic acids, which increase the flow of bile and help to digest fats.
Beets contain betaine, which promotes the regeneration of liver cells and the flow of bile. It also has a beneficial effect on fat metabolism.
Broccoli and other members of the brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kholrabi) support the liver's detoxification enzymes.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Food sources of vitamin C and glutathione, which are essential for detox.
Protein is required by the liver for detox. Beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa, protein powder. Some people may choose to eat fish in moderation.
Onions and Garlic
Rich in sulfur-containing compounds. Involved in sulfation, the main detox pathway for environmental chemicals and certain drugs and food additives. Helps with the elimination of harmful heavy metals from the body.
Increases the flow of bile. Can be taken as a tea.
Proper Elimination During the Detox Diet
Common methods of ensuring proper elimination from the digestive tract on the detox diet.
Flaxseeds and Lemon Water
Getting enough fiber can help to ensure normal bowel movements. Ground flaxseeds are thought to have laxative properties, although only one study has examined it as a laxative. Some alternative practitioners believe that flaxseeds or psyllium may also help the body to detoxify.
It's important to take it with an adequate amount of water or it could potentially lead to constipation or bowel obstruction. Ground flaxsseds or psyllium can be taken in a drink by mixing one to two teaspoons in a glass of water. It's often taken first thing in the morning or before bed.
Some alternative practitioners recommend having some lemon juice in water to improve digestion. A typical recommendation is to squeeze a wedge or 1/4 lemon into warm water and drink it in the mornin
Sample List of Foods to Avoid on a Detox Diet
A detox diet is recommended by some alternative practitioners to promote the elimination of unwanted chemicals and environmental and dietary toxins from the body for optimum health.
This is a sample list of foods to avoid on a detox diet.
Includes sugar, products containing sugar, and hidden forms of sugar, such as sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup, brown sugar, and turbinado. Artificial sweeteners are usually not recommended. Stevia and erythritol are allowed natural sweeteners.
Milk, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and other dairy products.
Wheat and products containing wheat, such as pasta and bread.
All gluten-containing grains: wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, and barley
Although most detox diets recommend avoiding coffee, both regular and decaffeinated, one cup a day is usually acceptable and may reduce the occurrence of caffeine withdrawal headaches.
Other Foods to Avoid
* Food additives and preservatives
* High-Fat Foods
Sample List of Allowed Foods on a Detox Diet
Fresh or frozen fruit.
All fresh vegetables. Vegetables thought to be particularly good detox foods include broccoli, cauliflower, broccoli sprouts, onions, garlic, artichokes, beets, red and green vegetables.
All forms of rice, including rice cakes, rice crackers and rice pasta. Brown rice is typically preferred.
Quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat can be used instead of rice. They can be purchased at a health food store or in some grocery stores.
Split yellow and green peas and lentils are easiest to digest and require the least soaking time. Other good options include kidney beans, pinto beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and adzuki beans.
Nuts and Seeds
Unsalted nuts or seeds can be sprinkled over salads or eaten as a snack. Good options include flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and walnuts. Nut butters are permitted. Peanuts and peanut butter are usually not recommended.
Extra-virgin olive oil is a preferred oil.
Breaking a Fast
Here is an example:
* Day 1
Two pieces of fruit. Each piece of fruit is divided in half so there are four servings for that day.
* Day 2
Lightly steamed non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach.
* Day 3
Brown rice, fresh salad.
* Day 4
Organic yogurt, unflavored and unsweetened. Eggs.
* Day 5
Meat, chicken, fish, tofu, if eaten.
* Day 6
Beans, other grains may be introduced, if eaten.
* Day 7
Other foods, as desired.
# When introducing foods back into the diet, proponents of fasting suggest: chewing food well so they are more easily digested
# not overeating
# noting any food reactions as new foods are introduced, such as energy, digestion, cravings, and other symptoms.
# transitioning to a healthier long-term diet. Trying new, healthy foods.
What is a Juice Fast?
A juice fast is a type of detox diet. A juice fast involves the short-term intake of raw vegetable and fruit juice and water only. Proponents of juice fasting use juice because it's thought to be a good source of vitamins and antioxidants.
A juice fast is considered an extreme form of detoxification because no solid food is consumed. More moderate detox methods, such as the detox diet include solid food.
Who Shouldn't Try a Juice Fast?
* Pregnant or nursing women or children shouldn't try a juice fast.
* People with diabetes, low blood sugar, eating disorders, kidney disease, liver disease, malnutrition, addictions, underweight, anemia, impaired immune function, infection, nutritional deficiency, low blood pressure, ulcerative colitis, cancer, terminal illness, epilepsy, or other chronic conditions shouldn't try a juice fast or should do so only under strict medical supervision.
* People shouldn't try a juice fast before or after surgical procedures.
* A juice fasting can reduce blood proteins and change the way prescription drugs react in the body. People taking prescription medications should consult a health professional skilled in detoxification before trying a juice fast, and should never discontinue or reduce their medications on their own.
It's important to consult a qualified health professional before trying a juice fast.
Possible Side Effects of a Juice Fast
Common temporary side effects of a juice fast include headaches, tiredness, hypoglycemia, constipation, acne, increased body odor, and bad breath.
Other side effects of a juice fast can include fainting, dizziness, low blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, weight loss, hunger, vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney problems. If these side effects occur, there is a worsening of symptoms, or new symptoms appear, the fast should be discontinued and it should prompt an immediate visit to a qualified health professional.
Another possible side effect of a juice fast is diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte loss.
If continued for a longer time, juice fasting can lead to nutrient deficiencies, particularly protein and calcium deficiency.
Grapefruit juice should not be used during a juice fast, especially by people taking certain prescription drugs. A compound in grapefruit can change the way certain prescription drugs are metabolized in the body. Recent evidence suggests that pomegranate juice may also have the same effect.
How Long Does a Juice Fast Typically Last?
A juice fast typically lasts for one to three days. A longer fast requires medical supervision and possibly monitoring to ensure that nutrient deficiencies don't result.
What Does a Typical Juice Fast Involve?
* Proponents of juice fasting suggest fasting only during the warmer months of the year. Spring is thought to be the best time of the year for juice fasting.
* Seven or more days before the fast, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat, animal meat, fish, and eggs are typically reduced or eliminated from the diet. This preparation diet often consists mainly of organic fruits, vegetables, and beans.
* Between 32 and 64 ounces of juice is usually recommended per day during the fast. The juice is sipped throughout the day. Typical fruits and vegetables include celery, carrot, kale, cabbage, apple, pineapple, cranberry, spinach, beet, and greens. Citrus fruits are often avoided.
* Approximately 6 glasses of room temperature or warm filtered water is often recommended in addition to the juice.
* Organic fruits and vegetables are usually recommended. If organic produce isn't available, practitioners suggest peeling the skin off fruits and vegetables or washing vegetables with a non-toxic produce cleaner, usually available at health food stores.
* Freshly juiced fruits and vegetables are preferred, but if unavailable, practitioners suggest buying it from the health food store or juice bar as fresh as possible.
* Green vegetables and sprouts contain the pigment chlorophyll, which juice proponents believe are especially beneficial during a juice fast.
* A combination of fruits and vegetables is recommended.
* Variations on the strict juice fast include eating one meal a day in addition to the juice.
# Certain fruits and vegetables and their parts should not be juiced, such as the pits of peaches, apricots, cherries, and other fruits, apple seeds, citrus peels, carrot and rhubarb tops, tough skins (such as kiwi, pineapple, mangoes), and bananas and avocados.
What Do People Eat After a Juice Fast?
There should be a gradual return to solid foods. Read the sample guidelines on how to break a fast.
What is Detox?
Detox, short for detoxification, is the body's natural, ongoing process of neutralizing or eliminating toxins from the body. Toxins (anything that can potentially harm body tissue) are transformed chemically to less harmful compounds and excreted via stools or urine.
Sources of toxins include those produced in the body during normal functions, such as the ammonia produced during the breakdown of protein, and chemicals such as pesticides, household cleaners, food additives, drugs, pollution, cigarette smoke, and heavy metals like lead that enter the body when we ingest or inhale them.
What is a Detox Diet?
Although detox is primarily thought of as a treatment for alcohol or drug dependence, the term is also used to refer to diets, herbs, and other methods of removing environmental and dietary toxins from the body for optimum health
There are many different types of detox diets. Generally, a detox diet is a short-term diet that:
* Minimizes the amount of chemicals ingested (for example, by the use of organic food).
* Emphasizes foods that provide the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that the body needs for detoxification.
* Contains foods, such as high fiber foods and water, that draw out and eliminate toxins by increasing the frequency of bowel movements and urination.
Why do People go on a Detox Diet?
A growing body of research suggests that many of the chemicals we ingest daily through food, water, and air can become deposited in fat cells in our bodies. A diet that lacks certain nutrients may also impair our natural ability to detoxify chemicals, which further leads to their build-up in the body.
The cumulative load, called the "body burden", is thought to lead to illness and has been linked to hormonal imbalance, impaired immune function, nutritional deficiency, and an inefficient metabolism. Signs are thought to include indigestion, bad breath, fatigue, poor skin, and muscle pain.
Some private labs, such as Great Smokies Diagnostic Labs, offer tests that assess urine, stools, blood, and liver function. These tests are not standard medical tests and many medical doctors do not recognize them or consider them valid.
People often report improved energy, clearer skin, regular bowel movements, improved digestion, and increased concentration and clarity after a detox diet.
Who Shouldn't Try a Detox Diet?
Anyone considering a detox diet should consult a qualified health professional and/or their medical doctor first.
Pregnant or nursing women or children shouldn't go on a detox diet. People with anemia, eating disorder, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, terminal illness, certain genetic diseases, and other chronic conditions shouldn't try this diet or should do so only under the supervision of their primary care provider. It is not intended for alcohol or drug detoxification.
One of the most common side effects is headache within the first few days of starting the detox diet, often due to caffeine withdrawal. For this reason, practitioners often suggest gradually decreasing the amount of caffeine prior to starting a detox diet. In addition, some people opt to take time off work to begin a detox diet or start the diet on the weekend.
Other side effects include excessive diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte loss. Constipation may occur if people consume excess fiber without also increasing their fluid intake. Other side effects can include tiredness, irritability, acne, weight loss, and hunger. Any worsening of symptoms or new symptoms that occur during a detox diet should prompt a visit to a qualified health professional.
If a detox diet is continued for a longer time, it may result in nutrient deficiencies, particularly protein (some detox diets omit animal products) and calcium.
Fatigue, indigestion, cough, muscle pain, and poor sleep can be signs of serious illness. That's why it's important to see a primary care provider for a thorough assessment to ensure that any symptoms are not caused by a medical condition that requires immediate treatment.
Choosing a Detox Diet Method
Detox diet plans may include a special diet, herbs and supplements, hydrotherapy, exercise, breathing techniques and/or sauna therapy. Although more controversial, some detox programs include fasting, colon hydrotherapy, liver flush, and chelation.
Alternative practitioners usually recommend that people trying a detox diet for the first time opt for a gentle detox diet plan.
Some detox diets claim to target different organ systems involved in detoxification, such as the skin, liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and lymph system.
Alternative practitioners often can customize a program to suit individual needs.
How Often Do People Go On a Detox Diet?
Proponents of detox diets generally recommend one to two times a year to improve health and prevent disease. They are usually not recommended more than three times per year. In some cases, however, alternative practitioners may recommend a detox diet more frequently or may recommend a longer detox diet.
What Do People Eat After the Detox Diet is Over?
After the detox diet is over, alternative practitioners often suggest gradually easing back into a healthy, but less restrictive diet. Many people use a detox diet as a springboard for a healthier lifestyle and continue eating many of the vegetables and fruits they ate on the detox diet.
Do People Temporarily Stop Taking Medication During a Detox Diet?
No. Medication should never be discontinued or reduced without consulting the prescribing doctor and/or your primary care provider.
What Critics of the Detox Diet Say
* Detox diets aren't needed. The body can detoxify on its own without the help of a detox diet. Our system has evolved to adequately elimate new chemicals in our environment without extra assistance.
* There is no evidence that detox diets work.
* Herbal detox products are unproven and expensive. In some cases, they can even be harmful.
Natural Treatments of Gas, Flatulence, and Bloating
Gas, flatulence, and bloating can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are some natural remedies that can help. Before trying any natural remedy, however, it's important to consult a qualified health care provider to rule out other causes.
Some people habitually swallow air, called aerophagia. They're usually unaware they do this, and the cause is often anxiety-related.
The gas swallowed is composed mainly of oxygen and nitrogen. Most of the oxygen is absorbed by the mucous lining of the gut or is used up by colon bacteria, with very little ending up in flatulence.
Nitrogen, on the other hand, is poorly absorbed by the mucous lining and most of the swallowed nitrogen ends up in flatulence.
1. Becoming aware that air is being swallowed can help. People become conscious of their breathing patterns.
2. Relaxation techniques may help to reduce anxiety.
3. Avoid lying down after eating. Gas from the stomach passes into the intestines more readily in this position.
Poorly Absorbed Carbohydrates
Hydrogen and carbon dioxide are produced by colon bacteria in the presence of poorly absorbed carbohydrates. If flatulence is accompanied by diarrhea and weight loss, it may indicate a malabsorption disorder such as lactose intolerance or pancreatic insufficiency, and should be evaluated by your primary health care provider.
More common is excess flatulence after eating large amounts of poorly absorbed carbohydrates such as beans or foods to which you have a food sensitivity. Common food sensitivities include milk and wheat products.
1. Chew food carefully. Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth. Any work your teeth don't do, your stomach will have to do later.
2. An alternative practitioner may suggest an elimination and challenge diet. This is a diagnostic diet to help uncover food sensitivities and intolerances.
3. Consult your primary care provider to rule out malabsorption disorder if you are also experiencing weight loss and diarrhea.
Gas and Flatulence After High-Fat Meals
Eating a high-fat meal can generate a large amount of carbon dioxide, some of which is released as gas. That's because carbon dioxide is produced in the small intestine when bicarbonate is released to neutralize stomach acid and fat during meals.
1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large meals.
2. Avoid high-fat meals.
3. Consult your primary care provider to rule out the possibility of fat malabsorption. Signs of fat malabsorption include loose and light-colored stools.
Odorous Flatulence and Gas
Gas that has a strong odor usually results from the metabolism of sulfur-containing proteins and amino acids in the intestines.
1. Chew meat and other protein foods carefully. Avoid excessive protein in your diet.
2. Taking activated charcoal tablets can help to remove the odor.
Eating Foods that Produce Gas
Certain foods are inherently gas-producing. Gas-producing foods include beans, cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, fluffy wheat products such as bread, apples, peaches, pears, prunes, corn, oats, potatoes, milk, ice cream, and soft cheese.
Foods that produce minimal gas include rice, bananas, citrus, grapes, hard cheese, meat, eggs, peanut butter, non-carbonated beverages, and yogurt made with live bacteria.
When someone has persisting bloating and flatulence, lab tests and x-rays are first conducted to exclude the presence of medical disease. Colorectal cancer often presents with the symptoms of abdomen discomfort and bloating. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease may have similar symptoms.
It's important to remember that gas and bloating are vague symptoms that can be associated with many medical diseases, so consultation with your primary care provider should always be the first step.
Weight Gain Constipation Causes Diseases Causes Causes Skin Rash Causes Hair Loss
It's true that we gain weight when we eat more than we can burn off. But this conventional diet wisdom does not always hold true. Weight gain can also be caused by health conditions such as hypothyroidism, food sensitivity, Cushing's syndrome, organ disease, prescription drug use, anxiety, blood sugar imbalance, and essential fatty acid deficiency.
Thyroid hormone deficiency can decrease metabolism of food, causing appetite loss and modest weight gain. Weight gain is from fat accumulation and fluid retention caused by protein deposits in the body.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, lethargy, swelling of the face or around the eyes, dry, coarse skin, decreased sweating, poor memory, slow speech and hoarse voice, weakness, intolerance to cold and headache.
Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
Essential fatty acids, such as in flaxseed oil, are good fats that are needed by the body to make hormones and maintain the body's metabolic rate. A deficiency may cause cravings, particularly for fatty foods.
The first signs of deficiency are often dandruff, dry hair and dry, scaly skin. Deficiency is also associated with arthritis, eczema, heart disease, diabetes and premenstrual syndrome.
Reactions to foods are not always immediate. They can occur many hours later as bloating and swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, abdomen, chin and around the eyes. Much of the weight gained is fluid retention caused by inflammation and the release of certain hormones. In addition, there is fermentation of foods, particularly carbohydrates, in the intestines which can result in a swollen distended belly and gas production.
Symptoms of food sensitivity can include headache, indigestion or heartburn, fatigue, depression, joint pain or arthritis, canker sores, chronic respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, sinus congestion or bronchitis and chronic bowel problems such as diarrhea or constipation.
Cushing's Syndrome is a disorder caused by an excess of the hormone cortisol. Fat accumulates in the face, abdomen and upper back, often producing a characteristic rounded "moon" face and "buffalo hump". The arms and legs usually remain slender.
Other symptoms of Cushing's Syndrome include muscle wasting and weakness, thin skin, poor wound healing, easy bruising, purple "stretch marks" on the abdomen, menstrual irregularities, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and hair loss in women.
Hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives containing estrogen can cause fluid retention and increased appetite. Other drugs that can cause weight gain are steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants and diabetic medications.
Kidney, Heart or Liver Disease
Disease in these organs can cause fluid retention, which appears as general puffiness all over the body, especially the eyes and ankles.
Many people respond to stress or depression by eating excessively. Sources of stress may not always be apparent, but may still affect eating habits and cause weight gain.
Blood Sugar Imbalance
Eating simple, refined carbohydrates can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. For example, eating chocolate increases the amount of sugar in the blood. The hormone insulin is released which causes sugar to be stored away and blood sugar levels to be lowered, which can trigger cravings for more sweets in order to stabilize blood sugar balance.
Weight gain can also be caused by organ enlargement, such as from an ovarian cyst, and obstruction of lymph fluid.
The above conditions must be diagnosed by a qualified health care practitioner, especially since serious disease may not always be accompanied by overt symptoms.
Skin Brushing and Contrast Showers
Skin is considered to be the largest organ of elimination. Alternative practitioners use skin brushing, the technique of very gently brushing the skin with a soft, natural bristle, dry brush to help skin do its job. It's believed to enhance elimination by removing dead skin cells and enhancing the circulation of blood and lymph.
Skin brushing is simple. To try it, use a soft, natural bristle brush. It should be dry.
Start brushing at your feet and brush in the direction of your chest, since it is important to follow the flow of lymphatic fluid. Then go to the fingertips and brush up the shoulders and toward the chest. Use small strokes and light pressure.
Do not brush over broken, weak, irritated or infected skin. Avoid the face.
Skin brushing can easily be incorporated into a daily routine if done before showering or bathing.
Contrast showers are a home remedy for preventing colds, but also for improving circulation, which some alternative practitioners believe can help promote detoxification.
To try it, start with three minutes of comfortably warm water in the shower, followed by less than one minute of cool water.
This hot-cold cycle is repeated at least once. For example, three minutes hot, one minute cold, three minutes hot, one minute cold, three minutes hot, one minute cold. It's recommended that people always finish with cold water.
Stool - Healthy and Unhealthy Stool
Alternative practitioners often ask clients about their stool as part of their assessment. Find out what normal stool should look like, and learn about the causes of green stool, pale stool, yellow stool, blood in stool, mucus in stool, pencil thin stool, infrequent stool, and more.
What Does an Ideal Bowel Movement Look Like?
An ideal bowel movement is medium brown, the color of plain cardboard. It leaves the body easily with no straining or discomfort. It should have the consistency of toothpaste, and be approximately 4 to 8 inches long. Stool should enter the water smoothly and slowly fall once it reaches the water. There should be little gas or odor.
Stool That Sinks Quickly
Rapidly sinking stool can indicate that a person isn't eating enough fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, or drinking enough water. This stool is often dark because they have been sitting in the intestines for a prolonged time. Learn 5 tips to boost your water intake.
Stool that is pale or grey may be caused by insufficient bile output due to conditions such as cholecystitis, gallstones, giardia parasitic infection, hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, or cirrhosis. Bile salts from the liver give stool its brownish color. If there is decreased bile output, stool is much lighter in color.
Other causes of pale stool is the use of antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide. Stool may also temporarily become pale after a barium enema test.
Pale stool may also be shiny or greasy, float, and be foul smelling, due to undigested fat in the stool (see soft and smelly stool).
Soft, Smelly Stool
Soft, foul-smelling stool that floats, sticks to the side of the bowl, or is difficult to flush away may mean there is increased fat in the stools, called steatorrhea. Stool is sometimes also pale. Learn more about the causes of soft, foul-smelling stool.
Mucus in Stool
Whitish mucus in stool may indicate there is inflammation in the intestines. Mucus in stool can occur with either constipation or diarrhea. Read more about the causes of mucus in stool.
The liver constantly makes bile, a bright green fluid, that is secreted directly into the small intestine or stored in the gallbladder. Continue reading about the causes of green stool.
In traditional Chinese medicine, loose stools, abdominal bloating, lack of energy, and poor appetite can be signs of a condition known as spleen qi deficiency. It doesn't necessarily involve your actual spleen, but it is linked to tiredness and weak digestion brought on by stress and poor diet. Learn more about the causes of loose stool.
Pencil Thin Stool
Like loose stools, stool that is pencil thin can be caused by a condition known in traditional Chinese medicine as spleen qi deficiency.
Other symptoms of spleen qi deficiency are: easy bruising, mental fogginess, bloating, gas, loose stools, fatigue, poor appetite, loose stools with little odor, symptoms that worsen with stress, undigested food in the stools, and difficulty ending the bowel movement. Spleen qi deficiency can be brought on by stress and overwork.
Eating certain foods in excess is thought to worsen spleen qi deficiency. Offending foods include fried or greasy foods, dairy, raw fruits and vegetables, and cold drinks, all believed to cause "cold" and "dampness" in the body. Dietary treatment of spleen qi deficiency involves eating warm, cooked foods. Ginger tea and cinnamon tea are also warming.
Pencil thin stool can also be caused by a bowel obstruction. Benign rectal polyps, prostate enlargement, colon or prostate cancer are some of the conditions that can cause obstruction.
With constipation, infrequent or hard stool is passed with straining. Learn about the causes of infrequent stool.
Pellet stool is stool that comes out in small, round balls. In traditional Chinese medicine, pellet stool is caused by a condition known as liver qi stagnation. Liver qi stagnation can be brought on by stress. Lack of exercise can worsen the problem. Find out more about the causes of pellet stool.
Yellow stool can indicate that food is passing through the digestive tract relatively quickly. Yellow stool can be found in people with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, chest pain, sore throat, chronic cough, and wheezing. Symptoms are usually worse when lying down or bending. Foods that can worsen GERD symptoms include peppermint, fatty foods, alcohol, coffee, and chocolate.
Yellow stool can also result from insuffient bile output. Bile salts from the liver gives stool its brownish color. When bile output is diminished, it often first appears as yellow stool. If there is a greater reduction in bile output, stool lose almost all of its color, becoming pale or grey.
If the onset is sudden, yellow stool can also be a sign of a bacterial infection in the intestines.
Stool that is almost black with a thick consistency may be caused by bleeding in the upper digestive tract. The most common medical conditions that cause dark, tar-like stool includes duodenal or gastric ulcer, esophageal varices, Mallory Weiss tear (which can be linked with alcoholism), and gastritis.
Certain foods, supplements, and medications can temporarily turn stool black. These include:
* Bismuth (e.g. Pepto bismol)
* Activated charcoal
* Aspirin and NSAIDS (which can cause bleeding in the stomach)
* Dark foods such as black licorice and blueberries
Dark stool can also occur with constipation.
If you experience this type of stool, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Bright Red Stool
When there is blood in stool, the color depends on where it is in the digestive tract. Blood from the upper part of the digestive tract, such as the stomach, will look dark by the time it reaches exits the body as a bowel movement. Blood that is bright or dark red, on the other hand, is more likely to come from the large intestine or rectum.
Conditions that can cause blood in the stool include hemorrhoids, anal fissures, diverticulitis, colon cancer, and ulcerative colitis, among others.
Eating beets can also temporarily turn stools and urine red.
Blood in stool doesn't always appear bright red. Blood may be also present in stool but not visible, called "occult" blood. A test called the Fecal Occult Blood Test is used to detect hidden blood in stool.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself.
Research suggests that mindfulness meditation may improve mood, decrease stress, and boost immune function.
How to Try Mindfulness Meditation
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.
2. Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.
3. Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.
4. Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don't ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
5. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.
6. As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.